March 1, 2024

Boots Randolph’s Rock and Roll Saxophone – Techniques and Fundamentals for Today’s Players by Boots Randolph and Mike Shannon is 63 pages that try to show you how to play rock and roll like Boots. Not that Boots playing could in any way be condensed down to so few pages.

The first part of the boot, about 20 pages, deals with scales. Major, minor, blues, dorian, mixolydian, in thirds, fourths and arpeggios. Nothing new. Then the book moves into long tones, and has a little discussion about how tone/ear training is important. It is worth reading.

Page 30 on out gets into the stuff you wanted to know, how to play Rock and Roll saxophone like Boots. The book goes over Growls, Slap tonguing, Throat trills, pops, and vibrato in addition to a bunch of other things. There are some excellent examples of what these sound like on the CD. Then there is an excellent discussion about altissimo, and how to do it, when to use it, how to practice it, and a fingering chart for it. It is not in any means a complete altissimo fingering chart, but the fingerings there work.

Pages 42 to 52 contain a great interview with Boots. You get some great insights about him, how he became who he is, and how he approaches playing, practicing, and the whole business. Plus, you get a little bit about his mouthpiece usage history and what sax brand he has played on over the years.

The last, painfully short, section of the boot is musical example. I really wish this section was three times what it is. The six examples are, in my opinion, great, but not nearly enough. Of course his famous Yakety Sax is in there.

Overall, for $17, it is worth it. There is very few books that deal with Rock and Roll saxophone playing, and a book from a legend such as Boots Randolph is not something to be missed. This man was on over 4,000 recordings, and has 45 of his own albums out. Simply amazing. I just wish it was twice the size that it is. More material would have made this book even better. 9/10

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