Greg Fishman Jazz Saxophone Etudes

Saxophonist and flutist Greg Fishman is an accomplished performer, recording artist, author, teacher and clinician. Born in Chicago in 1967, he grew up in the northern suburbs, graduated from De Paul University, and earned his Masters Degree in Jazz Pedagogy at Northwestern University. He is one of the foremost experts on the music of Stan Getz, and is the author of three Getz transcription books for Hal Leonard. Greg has performed with such artists as The Woody Herman Band, Louis Bellson, Clark Terry, Slide Hampton, Jackie & Roy, Marian McPartland, Ira Sullivan, Benny Golson, Jimmy Heath, Lou Donaldson, and Eddie Higgins.

Chicago has a long history of great tenor saxophonists. One of the truly great young champions of this tradition is Greg Fishman. Greg is a well-known player from Chicago whose recording work can be heard on the critically acclaimed recordings of the duo Two For Brazil, a band that he and Paulinho Garcia (guitar) formed in 1998. As an educator, he has taught jazz improvisation for more than twenty years and is the author of three best-selling Stan Getz solo transcription books. His latest educational offering is “Jazz Saxophone Etudes”.

In “Jazz Saxophone Etudes”, melodic master Fishman illustrates to students flowing lines that will help them get inside of a tune. To illustrate jazz as a language, Greg bases each of the etudes on standard tunes and progressions such as Take the ‘A’ Train, Satin Doll, Rhythm Changes, Autumn Leaves, Body and Soul, Green Dolphin Street, etc. The etudes are named after twelve well-known streets in Chicago. The student should be able to quickly discern which classic tune each etude is based upon.

The book has about eight pages of text that gives the student a guideline to get the most out of the etudes. Specific goals are given for the intermediate, advanced, and professional level saxophonist. This collection was written for the advancing student, and as a result, the tempos are at a brisk pace. As with any practice routine, Fishman reminds the reader that it may be necessary to take certain passages slower than marked and to work them up to tempo. Greg gives some wonderful examples of voice-leading and sequences. He also discusses the use of enclosures and thematic references within the etudes.

One of the most unique features of this book is the accompanying play-along CDs. Separate CDs are included for Bb instruments and Eb instruments. The rhythm section transposes so the player simply plays the notes on the page (which are the same for all horns) instead having two separate etudes which would have meant one of the parts wouldn’t be placed as effectively in the range of the horn. On the CD, the odd numbered tracks have sax plus rhythm section and the even numbered tracks have only the rhythm section, with extra choruses for extended solos. While Fishman’s reputation has been made playing the tenor for many years, he shows on the included discs that he also is a very accomplished alto player.

Listening to the play along CD’s are a great lesson to students of all levels. I have found that they can be used in a multitude of fashions. First, they can be used as an illustration of the appropriate jazz tone and phrasing. Second, they are beneficial to the student as an example of feel and the use of space. Finally, they can be used for transcribing practice that can be checked against the written etudes. Each approach offers further insight and challenges to the advancing student. Furthermore, teachers can use the etudes as a learning tool to illustrate how a saxophonist could conceptualize a variation on a melodic line such as the melodies from any of the included etudes, and use a variation to build a complete alternative chorus or solo.

There’s a select list of players who can play night in and night out and that can teach at the highest level. In the saxophone world that list generally includes the likes of Dave Liebman and Joe Lovano. Greg Fishman’s “Jazz Saxophone Etudes” shows that he belongs with Liebman and Lovano not only for the quality of his playing but for the quality of his instruction. “Jazz Saxophone Etudes” is bound to become one of the classics of saxophone literature for the advancing player.

You may purchase the book at [link]

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