dinsdag 27 februari 2007

Yesterday was my birthday and Ailed invited some friends without me kn...

Yesterday was my birthday and Ailed invited some friends without me knowing it. We had a great time, talked, listened to music and of course I got gifts: Jazz DVD's (Armstrong, Parker), Stevie Wonder DVD, Songs in the Key of Life, some books (humour in ancient Greece), magazines, Dickie gave my wine and Nesquick (?).
Now I have some domestic and administrative chores to do.
Oh, Griff my good friend from 92-92, Charlotte NC will be over this weekend!

vrijdag 23 februari 2007

Right, with the right material (well, other material) I can finallly s...

Right, with the right material (well, other material) I can finallly start to study again like I should. I practiced this morning and it's ok. I got myself a Reference neck and I am continuing on the Vandoren AL3 like I wanted. The Reference is very much in tune, but hte low notes don't speak so well. Apparantly that's a typical Reference problem. Since my students who play Reference don't have real problems with the low notes I should be able to resolve this as well!

Yesterday I went to the Concertgebouw with Evert. We went to hear the Budapest Festival Orchestra with Ivan Fischer playing Haydn (88), Mozart and Beethoven (4). I love the Haydn and especially the Beethoven. The orchestra played great. Lots of risk taking involved. I did not get bored, it was an adventure to listen to. A real story. For a saxophpnist it is almost provocative to visit a concert like this: good composers, a good orchestra, a great hall, great conductor... Nothing experimental in the form. But the music spoke!
I want to visit more concerts. I have some time now, still for a week or more... So let's what else is coming to Amsterdam.

woensdag 21 februari 2007

One blog entry just before I am going to yoga

One blog entry just before I am going to yoga. After yoga I am off with my mom to try some saxophones (alto). The whole mouthpiece question has evovled into the saxophone question. What can I do?
I had a long talk with Arno about ti yesterday and all the probles seem familiar. Although he adviced me to go on with what I have. I am not sure... I want to try other saxophones. The intonation is the biggest problem. I want to continue with the Vandoren mouthpiece but it makes my SIII out of tune. It works great on a Reference I found out. So maybe I should switch... Otherwhise I cannot play a Vanodren mouthpiece and I have to continue on a C*, and that is a big problem. Since I cannot find a decent C*. I have heard from many people that the production of S80 mouthpieces changed dramatically over the years. So I guess that's why I couldn't find a good mouthpiece....

zaterdag 17 februari 2007

What a healthy Sunday morning: running in the park with Beethoven 6 (B...

What a healthy Sunday morning: running in the park with Beethoven 6 (Barenboim) on my iPod and then a Vrije Geluiden episode with Gino Vanelli and Michiel Borstlap on tv.
Now a bit of studying and then a meeting at Bagels and Beans. Tonight Ailed will dance at the Balie at the 8mm film festival.

A good Sunday! Relaxed and I am not just doing nothing! Some yoga and meditation in between....


Now watching the Aurelia Saxophone Quartet playing Mozart string quartet on a former Vrije Geluiden episode on the internet. (here it is) Strange, Mozart on saxophone. But they play well, with a lot of initiative and flexible tempo, that is something I am looking for myself, also in the quartet. Of course there some problems, but as Niels explains, the quartet tries to make beautiful music together and give their own vision on the piece. Also they claim that classical music in major is not suited for saxophone quartet. Hm, I don't know. They give an example. It has something with the specific Aurelia sound as well: fat and heavy. My Amstel Quartet tried to play classical music as well and that seemed to work, but we played a minor piece too. Major might work with the Amstel Quartet, since we have a somewhat lighter sound than the Aurelias, keep your eyes and ears open.

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vrijdag 16 februari 2007

Today at Matthew's in Edam I tried all of their C* mouthpieces and too...

Today at Matthew's in Edam I tried all of their C* mouthpieces and took one home. I hope I wil stil like it tomorrow. I have gotten used to the Vandoren sound though. I might go and look for an A17 Tuesday at Bakker. If that doesn't work out I'll call it 'a day', or 'a mouthpiece'.
Matthew's never had the inquiry before to rtry more than 3 mouthpieces of the same type. Which is strange. Maybe they don't deal with professionals so often. I don't know. I am glad I found something though. I'm going to rule out the A17 as an option (it is nice and dark like the AL3 but a bit stuffy). We'll see again!

woensdag 14 februari 2007

Right ,the AL3 mouthpiece definately does not work

Right ,the AL3 mouthpiece definately does not work! It plays out of tune with piano and I can't correct it. Playing ease, sound, all that doesn't matter when I can't play in tune. When I play with a tuning machine it's ok, but with the piano it's awful...

In the mean I am trying to do some meditations. Werner's and a book I got '3 minute meditations'. They seem to work.

I just came back from a rehearsal with Wijnand which I enjoyed but because I played so much out of tune with that new mouthpiece it was too frustrating. I cancelled some work tomorrow to go mouthpuece hunting. I hope I will find one soon. Maybe a normal C* again....
We'll see...

vrijdag 9 februari 2007

Yesterday we played at Gert-Jan's party with the quartet in Overtoom 3...

Yesterday we played at Gert-Jan's party with the quartet in Overtoom 301. It was a great night. What a shame I had to leave early because today we recorded all 40 voices for Tallis' Spem in Allium in an arrangement for saxophones.
GJ's party was in Overtoom 301, a small theater in Amsterdam West. We performed Glazounow for the first time by heart. That was very exciting. Even more so because the crowd came to party and before us played our firends, the Boogie Tree: smooth acoustic pop music. We played hard core romantic chamber music repertoire. But we did good I think. We got through it and the piece is falling together.
After all the acts at the party the crowd seemed very happy, Wouter de Moor gives a textual and graphic impression of this evening: http://wozo66.spaces.live.com/

Check them out!

As I said, today we recorded Spem in Allium for forty saxophones, played by ourselves. We will perform that last four voices live. Witness this experiment live in the Noorderkerk on March 3rd!

donderdag 8 februari 2007

Yesterday night I studied for the first time trying to use Werner's me...

Yesterday night I studied for the first time trying to use Werner's method of detachment. It's almost like meditating! It is hard. I have to eliminate thought in my playing (not in my technical practicing as far as I understand). And that is difficult. My mind keeps wondering off... But it feels good when it happens. I have to some 'reprogramming'. Also Mr. Werner wants the musician to think that every note he plays is the most beautiful he has ever heard. That gives comfort and ease. It makes the musician an objective listener while the notes actually come from 'within', wherever that may be :-)

dinsdag 6 februari 2007

Kenny Werner's book is a revelation for me

Kenny Werner's book is a revelation for me! I recognize so many things. Let's see what I'll get from it. I am ready for some new insights. Werner focusses on liberation: Moksha. No more focussing on the 'valid' rules on making music. Of course I never tried to do that. But I feel there's more music in me than there's coming out.
Now listening to Harry Connick Jr's new album: very good. I love his big band stuff.

 /><br /><br />Earlier today:</div>Started reading Kenny Werner's 'Effortless' Mastery' yesterday. Already the preface seems like it was written for me... I think this book might be able to get me further in my (musical) life. I'll post my progress with it on this blog.<br />Other than that, I finally found a DVD of the Gadd Gang, with Ronnie Cuber (Barisax), Cornell Dupree (guitar), Richard Tee (keys) and of course Gadd himself. Great DVD with instrumental souls classics. I remeber seeing this band on tv when I was in middle school. They had also Nick Brignola on bari then.<br /><div align= src=

zondag 4 februari 2007

Writing this message at the Artez Conservatory

Writing this message at the Artez Conservatory. I always come a bit earlier to do some studying. This is my coffee and internet break. I am playing the AL3 now, with a clarinet rope, it sounds nice, dark and smooth. Claude Delangle plays with a rope too, but I never tried it before.


donderdag 1 februari 2007

Sometimes there are more prozaic things to do

Sometimes there are more prozaic things to do. This morning I closed off a life-annuity. Since I am a free-lance musician and my work in Arnhem Tilburg does not provide enough pension I had to start some day with saving a bit of extra money for my old age.

Ties Mellema and his music

Being a classical saxophonist, influences come from all directions. Mellema's most important influence was the French saxophonist Marcel Mule. Hearing a recording of him playing la Création du Monde was one of the most important reasons to start studying saxophone and trying to imitate that sound. Michael Brecker was another important influence, Brecker is one the greatest virtuosos of the saxophone, he demonstrates that everything can be done on the saxophone and that you can truly sing on the instrument.

Next to this, there was always music sounding in Mellema' parental home, music from all styles. He was confronted at an early age with all sorts of music, ranging from the genius pianist Horowitz (who Mellema still has a great admiration for), composers like Bach and Händel to singer/songwriter Randy Newman and contemporary composers like Arvo Pärt and Louis Andriessen. Also, when choosing his instrument, he was proposed different wind instruments (Mellema had asthma, hence his parents proposed a wind instrument, this could help his illness) and in the end the choice was between clarinet and saxophone. In practice the meant choosing between a Charlie Parker and Benny Goodman album: the choice was easily made: Bird won! Mellema owned his first saxophone one month later.
Mellema's first teacher was René de Jong in the south of the Netherlands. De Jong was a very enthusiatic teacher who at that time had a exceptional number of very talented students in his class. They joined in saxophone orchestra, saxophone quartets and the big band. Ensemble playing really stimulated Mellema's love for music. He loved (and still does!) to interact with his colleagues and talk about music and saxophone playing.
When it was time to choose a school to learn how to play saxophone professionally, Mellema did not choose the school that his teacher at that time graduated from, the Tilburg conservatory. Mellema chose Amsterdam, to study with the young up and coming saxophonist Arno Bornkamp, who just won the Netherlands Music Award. Mellema also wanted to be in a major European city. Amsterdam was the place for him to discover al sorts of music and go hear the Concertgebouw Orchestra, see museums, visit underground performances. The Amsterdam Conservatory and the city itself shaped Mellema's musical background further.
Mellema's conservatory teacher was the one who taught him to combine the saxophonistic details and big form: Arno Bornkamp. He was the first generation that can really say that classical saxophone is to be taken seriously and that has a general level of playing that is comparable to that of other classical instruments, like violin, oboe, clarinet, etcetera. Bornkamp showed him how to blow through the instrument, how to make different colours, the possibilities of phrasing. Having lessons from Bornkamp and him playing for Mellema, many times was an 'aha erlebnis'; "of course it should be played like that, why didn't I think of that!".
Swedish saxophonist Christer Johnsson was Mellema's teacher during his time in Sweden. Johnsson showed him that making music is flexible and ever changing. A whole new door towards thinking about music, which in the end led to the same goal as Bornkamp.
Mellema is always looking for recordings that can inspire him. Ma, Maisky, Argerich, Heifetz, Tiempo are among his favourtie classical musicians right now. Especially freedom in making music is something that he is looking for now. To have the feeling that you are improvising, even when playing a piece that he has been playing 15 years.
"Making music is something that is very abstract, something that you cannot grab a hold of. Once you've played a note, it is gone, forever. The next time you play it it will be different, sometimes completely different. Cd recordings help to conserve the style of a plyer, but his true soul can only be heard during a live performance. That is the beauty of music. The audience always hears a concert that is especially for them. That is the only time they will hear these notes played like this. That is extraordinary. In my playing and preparation I always want be aware of this. I want to feel the notes and phrases like they are made of elastic: they keep their basic form but I can stretch them as much as I like."