This past week I had the pleasure of getting a lesson with saxophone god, George Garzone. For those of you who are unaware of Mr. Garzone, he is an extremely well known and sought-after jazz educator. He is currently teaching full time at the Berklee College of Music.
The very thought of this lesson had been sending shivers down my spine for the past two weeks, and I have been “shedding” (or practicing for all my non-jazzers out there) profusely. Luckily, the lesson went much better than I originally planned. For some reason I had some horrible idea that he was going to tear me apart limb from limb. However, when I got in to the lesson, I realized that I really had nothing to worry about; I was prepared, I could play, and I had been preparing for this for a couple of weeks. We played through some standards: All the Things You Are, Invitation, and Take the A’ Train, and then he had me improvise using only straight eighths and quarter notes. If you haven’t done it before, it’s fairly difficult to do. The urge to swing, for me, was so strong that I would play an idea or a lick and jump right back into a swing feel. It was a great exercise it helping me to emphasize my downbeat as much as typically emphasize my upbeats. Additionally, Mr. Garzone requested that I continue studying with him whenever I am home on break; something that I am definitely looking forward too.