Silent Night!- Tomas Trulsson's reharm

Here's a nice reharm of Silent Night for your X-mas gigs.
Thanks Tomas!
(click the above graphic to enlarge)
Silent Night! mp3


iReal Book- wireless chord changes on the your iPhone

Music is moving into the 21st century and with the introduction of the iReal Book you can now get changes to tunes on your iPhone. For $7.99 you can now download a new iPhone app called iReal Book that allows you to access 500 tunes on your iPhone. My buddy Charles writes,
"After it was installed I was completely blown away with how easy and fast you could pull up a tune and with two taps of your finger you can transpose the changes to any key. And the list of tunes is not just from Vol. 1, but the best from many books. It took less time for it to download and install than to type my Apple password (about 5 seconds). You first have to use iTunes on your computer to set up an Account with credit card info. Cheers from Charles."


Herbie Hancock's Round Midnight reharm

(click on above graphic to enlarge)


Triadic etude #3- combining a traditional triadic approach with Garzone's TCA

I wrote this etude to illustrate how one might combine Garzone's Triadic Chromatic Approach and a more traditional triadic approach.

The first eight bars of this etude consists of Major triads used over a C7 alt or dim chord the triads used are (in order): F#, D, Bb, C, Ab, D, E, Eb, F, B, Bb, C, Ab, D, F, Ab, E, Ab, E, Bb.

The second eight bars were written using Garzone's TCA, then every eight bars alternate between the two different approaches.

You can hear how bars 1-8 and 17-24 actually fit neatly over the C7 alt/dim chord, but bars 9-16 and 25-31 sound more harmonically nebulous and freer. I do like both sounds and they contrast nicely with each other.

You might experiment with limiting the number of triads that you use to contrast the TCA to three or four instead of the eight that I used. This will create a bigger contrast between the traditional triadic approach and Garzone's TCA. For example by using Ab, F# and D Major triads over the C7 alt, when you make the shift to the fully chromatic triads of the TCA it will really sound more like it has opened up harmonically.(click on the above graphic for a larger view)
Listen to the audio file of this etude

House concerts

Next week I'm going to Ajijic, Mexico, which is just outside of Guadalajara. I'll be there for two weeks. I have a couple of gigs at a nice club right on beautiful Lake Chapala, Mexico's largest lake. I'm just taking my mouthpiece, there's a retired LA studio guy there who's going to let me play his horn. It's freezing right now in Portland and they say that tomorrow will bring six inches of snow. In Ajijic it almost 80 degrees, oh yeah baby. I'll try to do some writing while I'm down there, I won't have much else to do really.

I played a session today at my place with guitarist John Stowell, who I try to play with whenever he isn't out of the road. John sounded killing, as usual. He has been making his living for many years doing small clubs, clinics and house concerts on the road. He goes out alone and drives all over the country in his little Honda Civic. He says that the generosity of the friends that he stays with allows him to do what he does. He seems to have built up enough connections over the years to keep him working most of the year.

John was saying today that he was hearing from musicians all over the country that things were getting pretty rough. He thinks that the future of Jazz is house concerts. He may be right about that. The future certainly doesn't seem like it's going to be the Jazz clubs. There's nothing more rewarding than playing for a small room full of people who are intensely interested in your musical performance. No blenders whining in the middle of a ballad or smokers in the first row chatting away, just attentive listening.

House Concerts in Your Home web site


Monks advice- 1960

Damien Erskin just sent me this treasure. It appears to be advice Monk gave to a sidemen.

My favorite is- A genius is the one most like himself.

Thanks D! (Click on graphic to enlarge)


Etude combining all elements of Garzone's TCA

(Click on graphic for larger view)

Audio file of above etude
(I bet you guys weren't expecting this!)


Matt Otto's Triadic Chromatic Blues #6

This is a blues etude based on Garzone's Triadic Chromatic Approach that Matt Otto just sent me. This is in every key, moving up by half-steps. Matt studied with Garzone for several years, at Berklee and at the New School.

Matt writes:
"One other thing we used to do in lessons was mix up the number of notes in each triad .. even playing only one note from a triad occasionally, the cool thing is the weird groupings of 8th notes that arise, like in your line grouped in 3s over the bar.... one could do 3s and 4s and 2s and 3s etc.. "
Blues #6- by Matt Otto
Analysis of Blues #6

Triadic Chromatic Approach lines

I wrote this as an exercise for myself, to better to hear the differences when the different types of triads are used with Garzone's Triadic Chromatic Approach.

(click on image to enlarge)


Review of George Garzone's Triadic Chromatic Approach DVD

In the world of Jazz education there are few teachers who have been as influential as George Garzone over the past few decades. He is the quintessential musician’s musician. Most serious players are aware of his playing; yet few outside of Boston, MA know his music. . The list of his students reads like a who’s who of major modern Jazz saxophonists. Just a few of the students he taught when I was studying with him in the 80’s were Donny McCaslin, Josh Redman, Douglas Yates, Kenny Brooks, Chris Speed, Seamus Blake, Mark Turner, Matt Otto, Chris Cheek, and Teadross Avery. Rest assured there will be more major artists emerging from the Garzone School in years to come.

George has been promising an method book for as long as I can remember and some of his signature lines have been circulated by his students, but up 'till now there has been no way to learn his method
without attending an East Coast Jazz conservatory and shelling out $100 an hour to study with him privately.

I had posted a few pages of George’s lines and an explanation of his triadic concept by one of his former students over a year ago and George contacted me to ask me to take down the post. He told me that his book was in the works and that when it was finished I would be one of the first people to get a copy. I was skeptical because he had been working on this fabled book for over a decade. I was surprised and more than a little excited to learn that Jody Espina (also a former student of Garzone) of JodyJazz mouthpieces (which Garzone endorses), had produced a Jazz improvisation instructional two DVD set called The Music of George Garzone & the Triadic Chromatic Approach.

When I studied with George twenty years ago his teaching concept seemed fairly abstract and esoteric. He was known for turning all the lights out during his Avant-Garde ensemble and telling his students to play a tree or play a sweep. It was hard to define his concept and
it seemed there was a certain amount of osmosis involved in his teaching style. George didn’t teach the nuts and bolts of Jazz improvisation. He was more like a Zen master you went to after you had all your fundamentals together and were ready to have your concept expanded. Back then it seemed to me that the way he skated on the jagged edge of the chord changes was something so abstract that it couldn’t be talked about directly. Twenty years of teaching has crystallized George’s concepts to the point that he is able to convey them simply and clearly- in a way that can be widely understood.

George’s deceptively simple yet devastatingly profound triadic chromatic concept can be explained in a just few minutes - although he stresses that the concept takes many years to truly master. He also emphasizes that a player first needs a strong foundation of Jazz harmony and the language of bebop in order to apply this triadic concept effectively- otherwise when you take it out using the concept you’ll have nothing to come back inside with.

Without going into full detail, the idea of the triadic chromatic concept is to take either major, minor, diminished or augmented triads and move them around chromatically and in random inversions. If you don’t repeat the same inversion twice in a row and move chromatically on each successive triad you will be borrowing from the twelve-tone row. Triadic lines created in this way have a strong forward motion and resolve themselves often. George argues that lines created using this concept are even more likely to resolve than lines created using chord-scales. He notes that scales cover and obscure the underlying chords, but that triads played in this particular way allow you to explore all of the different available tonalities.

When watching George demonstrate his concept on the piano, playing a root/fifth drone, I was surprised at how logical and melodic the triadic lines sounded. Structures are created with the CTC that are harmonically ambiguous, but they support the underlying harmony. This concept is much more than, as one of my students recently remarked, just a fancy way of skating over changes. The significant innovation here is the application of the 12-tone system in a way that allows the player to create these lines in a spontaneous and flexible way while improvising over changes. Many players have experimented with incorporating 12-tone lines in jazz improvisation, but all too often the 12-tone lines are taken note for note from sources like Slonimsky's Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns. Probably because 12-tone lines are almost impossible to improvise on the fly.

It is clear that, as George says in the DVD, to fully apply this concept takes many years of practice. It’s quite a simple concept to understand, but in order to pull it off you need to be able to think very, very fast and woodshed it for a while. The thing I wonder about is: did Garzone develop this concept as a rationalization/explanation for the way he naturally hears things, or does he have this concept in mind clearly when he plays his crazy lines? It is hard to imagine someone of George’s caliber thinking so intensely when he’s playing free music with the Fringe.

I must say that this DVD did give me a totally new understanding of why Garzone’s lines sound so unique, and for that alone it is worth the price of the admission ticket.

The other piece the Garzone’s formula is his Random Chromatic Approach, which consists of two basic principles:
  1. The constructed melodic lines MUST stay within an interval of a Major 3rd.
  2. The same intervals CANNOT be repeated consecutively in the same direction within the chosen Major 3rd.
The idea here is avoid repeated patterns, which seems to one of George’s major guiding principles in life and music. George once told me that the finest example of the CTA is his line on Have You Met Miss Jones. When I first heard this line on his Four’s and Two’s CD I was floored. This line moves so unpredictably in the direction it takes as it weaves in and out of the changes that you almost lose track of which way is up and which way is down. The line is pretty dissonant if you take the time to analyze it, but it never seems to stray too far from the changes as to not sound good when played with the standard head.

I think that if you really want to get inside this concept then some time spent with this line would be a good place to start. With George’s permission I have included a link to a PDF chart of this line.

The two DVDs in the set are packed with over three hours of footage, plus 32 pages of supplemental material in PDF format. The first DVD has six performances by the Fringe + saxophonist Frank Tiberi (a major inspiration and influence for Garzone), vibraphonist Mike Manieri, and guitarist Chris Crocco. One of these tracks is of George doing a solo version of "I Want to Talk About You" with a nod to Trane. George’s sound is amazing on these DVDs. As a television and DVD producer myself I really appreciated the production quality of every aspect of this project.

The Jody Jazz mouthpiece George plays is, to my ears at least, more focused, centered and maybe even cleaner sounding than the Otto Links that he used to favor. It’s hard to imagine how a tenor sound could be any better; it's rich, warm, sweet, fat, and complex. I must say that this recording made me want to try a hard rubber Jody Jazz piece. There’s also a duo version of Soul Eyes with Mike Manieri that is stunningly beautiful. George’s sound here is something like a perfect marriage of Getz and Trane.

There are examples on the first DVD of the CTC played on piano, soprano, tenor and guitar, all over a root/fifth pedal. The last two are play along tracks, one in 3/4 and the other in 3 over 4, so the student can practice the concept over a drone. After watching the first DVD the student should have a clear understanding of how to apply the concept and be able to start the process of applying it.

The second DVD in the set starts off with a great exposition by George on sound. After all, George is like the Louis Armstrong of the saxophone and a Garzone DVD wouldn’t be complete without this lesson. George stresses the importance of a loose lower lip and gives an airstream development exercise that Joe Viola (who also taught George) used to have me do. He also talks about focusing the airstream down into the instrument. George plays a 10* tip opening, but I wouldn't recommend such an extreme tip opening to just anyone. He guarantees a hernia within two weeks to anyone who isn’t prepared for such a monster piece.

I hear that George runs ten miles each morning, which has to be a big factor in his ability to get such a massive sound. George goes on to talk about how his sound concept was influenced by his uncles and cousins, who all had the spectacular Garzone family sound. George learned the saxophone in the back of his uncle Rocco’s pizza shop and would come home from his lessons with flour all over his clothes from the flying spinning pizza dough. This chapter is as entertaining as it is educational.

There are twelve play along tracks on the second DVD, some are the usual Aebersold style play-along and some have George trading choruses with you. These tracks are like sitting in with the Fringe (but without the intense stress that comes from the real experience.) No other play-a-long will ever seem satisfying again after a few hours with this multi-media Fringe play along DVD. Here again the production quality shines. The second DVD is rounded out by extended interviews with all the musicians on the project.

The price tag of close to a hundred dollars may seem high compared to other instructional videos,DVDs or books, but when you see just how much great content is here you’ll realize that it really is a bargain. You’d have to spend many hundreds of dollars to obtain this material in private lessons with Garzone (if you could even get accepted to the colleges where he teaches).

George, Jody Espina, and everyone else involved obviously have put a lot of love of hard work into the production of this project. I must say that it was well worth the long wait. This DVD is a must have for any serious student looking to expand their harmonic horizons and I have no doubt that it will be an important and influential piece of work in the years to come.

The Chromatic Triad Approach has been unveiled!

Link to buy The Music of George Garzone & the Chromatic Triad Approach

George Garzone's web page
Video trailer for the DVD
Garzone's line on Have You Met Miss Jones

[Special thanks to Monk's Dream, Carlitos and Chicken Little]


Bob Berg @ Eastman

Here's a nice recording of Bob Berg with the Eastman big band from the 80's.

It's nice to hear Bob playing very straight-ahead in a situation like this. His rhythm changes later in the set is really nice. Someone please transcribe this solo because and send it to me!

I'm also posting a what I consider one of Berg's signature recordings- Steppin' from Live in Europe, an incredible rhythm changes track.

(You can hear that this was recorded on an old school Marantz recorder from the octave shift at the beginning)

Bob Berg @ Eastman

Steve Grossman Clinic

Steve Grossman is a very bad man.

This clinic was recorded when Grossman came to Berklee in 1985. Thanks to Nat Kline for this recording.

Grossman Clinic


Michael Brecker Master Class- Berklee 1987

My buddy Nathan Kline recorded this 84 minute master class when Michael Brecker came to Berklee.

Michael Brecker Master Class


Brain Push Ups

Mr.Otto just sent me an interesting PDF document called KEEP YOUR BRAIN ALIVE - 83 Neurobic Exercises to Help Prevent Memory Loss and Increase Mental Fitness by Lawrence C. Katz and Manning Rubin.

There's some interesting exercises and ideas in this this book, definitely worth checking out, especially considering how so many Jazz musicians treat their brains.


Thanks Matt!



Saxophonist Curtis Swift was encouraged to transcribe solos by Matt Otto. Matt told him that transcribing would be good for his ears. By now Curtis' ears must be amazing because he has transcribed almost 1600 saxophone solos.

Curtis' transcriptions are accurate and very clear. You can buy individual solos for fifty cents per page directly from his Saxsolos.com website.

Here are a few sample solos from Curtis' site:

Impressions- Trane, Impressions (32 pages!!)
Impressions mp3

Boston Bernie- Dexter Gordon, Long Tall Dexter

Sammy Nestico fake book

Sammy Nestico fake book

Library of Musicians' Jazz fake book

Library of Musicians' Jazz fake book

On the cover in small print it says:

This collection of popular music has been compiled to furnish a compact library of the most requested songs for professional musicians and is not intended for sale to the general public.

557 JazzStandards (Swing To Bop) Fake Book

557 JazzStandards (Swing To Bop) Fake Book


Study with David Valdez online!

I'm now accepting students online (Skype or iChat) and by phone. I accept PayPal and my rate is $35 for 30 minutes.

Send me an email at: casavaldez@comcast.net

Gordon Lee w/John Gross- videos

Here's another tune from the DVD I just finished producing.

Some of you were having problems opening the last.mp4 files I posted, so I encoded these in .mov format.

Land Whales

Note: These are huge high quality files so they will take a while to load even with a fast connection.


Voice leading exercises

Players of non-chordal instruments tend to think about chord changes very differently than chordal instrumentalists do. A pianist or guitarist is usually much more aware of how chord changes are connected to one and other because they are constantly creating chord voicings that move from change to change. The strong chromatic and stepwise motion between chord changes is the glue that binds strong chordal progressions together. Voice leading is like the veins and arteries that move the harmonic blood through the chord progression. Without strong voice leading between changes chords sound choppy and disconnected to each other.

It's just as important for horn players to be able to create strong voice leading lines as it is for harmonic instrumentalists. Strong voice leading lines give a solo powerful forward motion and a sense that you're really playing though the changes, rather than just puttering around on top of the changes. Voice leading exercises are a great way to get beginning players to understand chord progressions and navigate through them. I find that beginning players are usually pretty stressed when they first try to blow over changes. They find it hard to relax and think calmly when first attempting to improvise. The voice leading exercises that I have them do gets them focused on creating simple melodic lines with strong forward motion.

  • Play whole notes on chords that last a full bar, half notes for two beat chords, ect. Pick a chord tone on the first chord of the tune, it doesn't matter what chord tone you choose. On successive chord move down in half-steps or whole steps, depending on what would make the strongest line. Make sure you're not playing avoid notes, such as a natural 11 on a Major or Dominant or a root on a Major 7th chord. If there's a dominant 7th chord that is going down a fifth in root motion to the next chord then feel free to add any alterations you like, such as b9,#9, #11, b13. Remember that you may add a #11 to any Major or Dominant chord at any time. If you can not move down in half or whole-steps then stay on the same note. Each new chorus try starting from different chord tones on the first chord of the tune. The Jobim Aebersold (vol.98) works well for these exercises.
  • Pick a note to start on like exercise #1 and play one note per chord except this time try to stay on the same note if at all possible, that is if that next note works well over the chord. If you cannot repeat the note you are playing then move down by a half-step. If the note a half-step below isn't good then move down by a whole-step. This exercise gets you to be more aware of common chord-tones from chord to chord and helps you create suspensions.
  • For this exercise move upward by half-steps or whole-steps instead of down. Like before if you cannot move up then stay on the same note.
  • Now try playing two notes per chord using the guidelines from one of exercises above. Try starting with two notes that are close together, then space these note further apart (one octave or even two octaves). Next try making these two notes move in contrary motion. You might want to do this set of exercises over a ballad so you have more time to think about the notes you are choosing.
I like to think of these voice-leading lines exercises as a way to learn to build sturdy framework that will support the rest of your solo. Once you learn to hear and play these strong leading lines your solos will become more solidly melodic and have more compelling forward motion. The voice leading lines can also become anchor points that hold together more complex lines and give them more harmonic cohesion.


Gordon Lee's Rough Jazz Videos

Here at Casa Valdez Studios we just finished producing an hour long DVD project (after about six months of work) for the Diatic record label. The DVD is of pianist/composer Gordon Lee's Rough Jazz project and it is a live concert shot here in Portland at Jimmy Mak's.

The band features Gordon Lee on piano, John Gross on tenor saxophone, Dan Schulte on bass and Alan Jones on drums. You can order the full DVD directly from the Diatic Records web site.

Tobacco Monkey
Yi Meng Shan


McCain & Palin Sing!

My buddy David Goldblatt just forwarded me these YouTube clips of McCain and Palin speeches. Pianist Henry Hey has transcribed the vocal tracks and written accompaniment to fit to them. These candidates can really sing JAZZ!.


Chris Potter must DIE!!!

If you play the saxophone then this recording will surely make you feel like switching to the wash tub bass or kazoo.

Chris Potter is a guy that makes me say to myself,
"Self, why even bother practicing anymore? You'll never practice even a fraction of the time that Chris Potter put in practicing the saxophone. Give it up!"
Chris Potter plays a solo version of All the Things You Are

(This track was from the very good Urge To Burge Jazz Blog)


RadioDirectX update

I thought I should give you guys an update on how my RadioDirectX investment has panned out so far.

The charge to submit a Jazz CD for six months is about $500. It's been just a few couple of months and so far we've sent out fifty CDs directly to radio DJs and programmers. These are people who have already heard several tracks from the RadioDirectX site of our CD and want to play it on the radio, not just random mailings.

The countries that I've sent CDs to are: France, Luxembourg, Columbia, Netherlands, Turkey, Italy, Australia, Armenia, Macedonia, Germany, Poland, Canada, Trinidad and Tobago, Scotland, Ukraine, and Belarus. By far the most requests have been from Australia.

We've gotten some very good feedback, including contacts for Polish CD distribution and yesterday we were invited to play at a Jazz festival in Columbia (often DJs are also involved in promoting festivals).

I would say that RadioDirectX has been a worthwhile investment. After all, those CDs could still be sitting in boxes in my basement.



The Sideman's By-Laws

These were posted on Craig's List here is Portland yesterday:
  • Never recommend anyone who plays better than you.
  • Always suck up. (Leaders, bartenders, bride and/or groom, management, etc.)
  • If you don't know it, play harmony.
  • Double book, then choose.
  • Always assume the leader knows nothing.
  • Always degrade types of music you can't play or know nothing about.
  • Always bring your own business cards and solicit during breaks.
  • Never play requests (especially if you know it).
  • Never smile. Always complain.
  • Save all high notes for warming up and after engagement.
  • Never show up sooner than 30 seconds before an engagement. (One minute if you have equipment to set up.)
  • Never leave a book in order. Whenever possible, write on music in ink.
  • Always play Trane or Parker licks during fox trots, tangos, waltzes, or anything in D minor.
  • Always open spit valves over music.
  • If the leader is not sure of a tune, always use substitute changes over his vocals or solos.
  • Always worship dead jazz greats.
  • Be negative about anything connected with the job.
  • Always bring drinks back to the band stand.
  • When a break is over, always disappear. If this is not possible, make a phone call.
  • If you're backing up an act, talk when not playing. If it's a comic, don't laugh.
  • Always bum a ride.
  • Always wait until someone else is buying before you get thirsty.
  • Never bring your own cigarettes to an engagement.
  • Avoid tipping at all cost (waitresses, coat room, valet, etc.).
  • Always ask, "When does the band eat", or "Where's our table"?
  • Remember, it's not your gig. Mingle with guests and enjoy yourself.


Eddie Harris- The Electrifying Giant

I have always loved Eddie Harris. Many people have only heard Eddie's funky stuff might say 'Eddie who?', but Eddie was a giant and a true musical genius. Eddie recorded seventy albums wrote seven great books. On the official Eddie Harris web site I discovered that Eddie was an astrologer and numerologer and that he had written a book about the astrology and numerology of Jazz.

I found it interesting, but not surprising, that Eddie became sick of playing Funk after his huge Swiss Movement album became a massive hit (one of the few Jazz albums to sell of a million copies).
The Swiss Movement is a live album recorded on June 21, 1969 at The Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. The Les McCann trio, Eddie Harris, and Benny Bailey came together to record one of the better live jazz albums of the era. Even though the band played at a very high level, both Eddie Harris and Benny Bailey say that they were unprepared because they had not had rehearsals. "I didn't know any of the tunes, and there was no rehearsal. They had to call out the changes for me." said Benny Bailey. Eddie Harris was also unprepared and said this: "I told Les just to play his normal stuff with the Trio, and I would look over his shoulder to check the chords- because I used to be a piano player." One of the albums biggest songs was "Compared to What" which spoke out against the Vietnam War, other songs like "You Got it in Your Soulness" and "Cold Duck Time" featured explosive solos from McCann, Bailey, and Harris. The hit song "Compared to What" quickly grew in popularity, especially among the young African Americans integrating college campuses thanks to the civil rights movement. The song's themes are relevant today with their focus on an unwanted war, racism and poverty. Elders in the civil rights movement and African American community, however, were often offended by elements of the song and seldom fans of the piece.

Eddie's biography from his official web site:

Eddie Harris was born October 20, 1934 in Chicago, Illinois. He began his career as a singer in various Baptist churches throughout Chicago. Around the age of three, Eddie’s cousin, Bernice Benson, who played piano at Eddie’s mother’s church, began teaching him how to play the piano where he learned how to play by ear and eventually learned to read music.

Eddie Harris’ educational background began at the John Farren and Burke Elementary schools. He later attended DuSable and Hyde Park High Schools in Chicago. Eddie Harris first started playing the vibraphone while attending DuSable High School under the guidance of a well-known and influential Black leader, Captain Walter Dyette. Capt. Dyette was responsible for the development of several Jazz musicians who came out of Chicago during the 1940’s, 1950’s and the early 1960’s. Capt. Walter Dyette passed away in the mid 1970’s.

Eddie Harris always wanted to play the saxophone simply because he admired the way it looked. But in order to play saxophone for Capt. Dyette one had to play the clarinet first, so Eddie’s first wind instrument was the clarinet. Eddie took private clarinet and saxophone lessons for many years and then began his saxophone career playing with all types of bands.

After graduation from high school, Eddie Harris continued his musical studies at Illinois University and Roosevelt University. Eventually, he was drafted into the Army, at which time he was placed in the area of electronics. He later went airborne and soon became disgusted with seeing many of the soldiers being injured. He auditioned for the Army band. By this time, Eddie could play the piano, saxophone, vibraphone, clarinet, trumpet, trombone, and the bassoon. He took the Army’s music exam and out of a possible score of 100 where he was tested on reading music, ear training, written phrases and command of the instrument, Eddie received a score of 98. His score was so high that it was recommended that he play in the Seventh Army Symphony Orchestra in Germany. The symphony was unable to take on any additional band members at that time, so Eddie was placed in the Army band in Fulda, Germany for eight months. Subsequently, Eddie became a member of the Seventh Army Symphony Orchestra and he became part of the Jazz band that was formed from the orchestra and was able to tour France and Germany. As a result, Eddie became internationally known. He also took classical saxophone lessons at the Paris Conservatory of Music. Upon his return to the United States after leaving the armed services, Eddie began living and playing in New York City. He worked consistently with Pit Bands, Jazz Bands and combos as well as playing piano.

Due to an illness in his family, Eddie returned to Chicago, Illinois and eventually met and married Sara Elizabeth and they had two daughters - Lolita and Yvonne. Eddie has always been known for his experiments with the tenor saxophone. For example, he used to play the tenor saxophone with a trombone mouthpiece and called it the Saxobone. In later years, he began using a clarinet, double barrel joint in between the neck and the instrument. The tenor sax was made to sound like a bass clarinet. He then began playing saxophone with a bassoon boccel instead of the tenor sax neck. He recorded with these sounds on his album entitled, A Study in Jazz on Vee Jay Records. The main purpose with the boccel substitution was to make the tenor sax sound like a bassoon. He could make all these sounds with only a few spare parts along with the tenor saxophone.

Another one of Eddie’s creations and most popular was the reed mouthpiece. He holds the U.S. patent for the reed mouthpiece for the trumpet, coronet, trombone and flugelhorn. Eddie Harris was the first musician to create the Electro Voice and Selmer Saxophone creation for all saxophones and the attachment was called, The Varitone which was designed in order to play along with the sound of the saxophone a sub octave plus a filter that could change the timbre of the tone. Eddie later signed onto the Chicago Musical Instrument Company, also known as Noreland. He introduced their new unit called the W2, a filtering unit for the saxophone and the clarinet that emulated the organ stops. He then went with a company called Innovex, a division of Hammond Organ that created a unit called the Condour. This unit was similar to the W2 but had more tabs and a modern circuitry. Eddie began advertising for a company called Frapp which had one of the most sophisticated audio pickups for wind instruments. Eddie developed The Eddie Harris Attachment, a wind synthesizer housing four oscillators that enable any sax player to play in five (5) part harmony as in a reed section of a big band. Eddie played on a Selmar sax, a Mark VI with a Selmar mouthpiece called a C start with a Selmar reed size number three (# 3). Eddie encompasses the use of his genius ability of the reed trumpet, tenor sax and the Eddie Harris Attachment on the CD entitled, Eddie Harris Quartet Steps Up on the track Freedom Jazz Dance. Eddie Harris was a man immersed in music as a composer, bandleader, performer, writer, innovator, inventor, and social critic.

It was during the 1960’s that Vee Jay Records asked Eddie to record for their label, but they wanted Eddie to play piano. After some discussion, it was agreed that Eddie would record half the album playing piano and the other half playing saxophone.

Eddie made his first major recording under his own name with Vee Jay Records in 1961. One of the tunes made on his first album was entitled, Exodus to Jazz. This composition was entitled, Exodus from the motion picture of the same title. The song was first released on a 45 rpm and sold well over a million copies which placed him at Gold Status. After two years, Eddie left Vee Jay Records and began recording for Columbia Records and then Atlantic Records. He recorded on Atlantic Records for over a decade.

Eddie recorded Listen Here (a hit which coined Eddie, The Electrifying Eddie Harris) and composed the jazz tune, Freedom Jazz Dance which became a standard modern work recorded by Miles Davis and 53 other artists. He is noted for a very successful partnership with pianist Les McCann in the late 60’s; a union which produced the Atlantic LP Swiss Movement - another million seller in 1969. In 1970, this record awarded Eddie and Les a Grammy nomination at the 13th Annual GRAMMY Awards for the category of Best Jazz Performance/Small Group or Soloist with Small Group. Eddie performed throughout the world at several domestic and international venues, concert halls, NBA games, and festivals. Some of his most notable festival performances are: The Montreaux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, Soul to Soul in West Africa, The North Sea Jazz Festival in the Netherlands and The Playboy and Monterey Festivals in California.

Although Eddie played and experimented with several instruments, his primary and by far most proficient instrument was the tenor saxophone. Eddie Harris, the saxophonist, is the exploration in self-study. He describes his sound as a soft sound. Some call it the Stan Getz School, but it’s really the Lester Young School. Eddie plays this type of sound so he can skip over the horn faster, in which he sacrifices volume for speed. According to Eddie, “cats can play loud like Gene Ammons and Sonny Rollins but don’t play as fast as Sonny Stitt. When anyone else plays fast, they get softer because they can’t maintain volume going that fast.”

In later years, Eddie began singing due to the restrictions he faced playing the saxophone on funk tunes. “I would play more saxophone, but I realized the fact that if I played more saxophone I’d have to play a lot more Listen Here, and that was limiting my saxophone playing, so I figured that a way that I didn’t have to play so much funk on the saxophone was to start singing.” Vocal recordings for Eddie represented pragmatism rather than fashion and provided both latitude and fulfillment for him as a jazz instrumentalist.

As a composer and performer, Eddie is not limited to any of the musical vehicles within his grasp. He is most closely identified by the public and music critics in the funk-fusion genre – identification not without benefits. One such benefit has been access to the mass audience. A second product of the funk label, not necessarily a benefit, has been the problem of stereotyping and categorization. His reputation as a funk player has narrowed the public and music industry’s view of him. As a result, in the mid-1970s, Eddie worked consistently, but he did not have access to many of the prestigious and profitable musical outlets (concerts, tours, etc.) his situation did not embitter Eddie, but has made him an astute businessman and musician and in turn, allowed him to concentrate more on his music.

Part of understanding Eddie Harris, THE MUSICIAN, is understanding, Eddie Harris, THE MAN. One characteristic of Eddie the man is his dislike for cliques and fads. “I’m not hung up with fads, for the simple reason that they stunt my growth.”

This love for individuality is apparent in Eddie Harris’ music and in whom he cites as influences. “I call it inspiration,” and “I like to hear anybody that is individualistic especially if they are individualistic minded. You can hear it come out in their playing…Monk, Miles, Mingus, Duke, Sun Ra, Tristano, Kool and The Gang, Sly, Bartok, Scheonberg… anything that people do that is unique and different.”

Eddie Harris is much more than the funk player and humorist that he is often presented as. His musical and intellectual interests and capabilities are broad and he seems guided by one consistent force which is HONESTY. After talking with him briefly or listening to one of his live performances, his sincerity and honesty are easy to detect.

In the course of recording more than 70 albums and CD’s, and the author of seven (7) music books, Eddie has displayed himself as a jazz artist who has played blues, rock, jazz fusion, straight-ahead, soul and funk grooves. Eddie’s pioneering work in musical electronics and the effective conjunction of different elements of blues, rhythm and blues, jazz and funk has had widespread influence of what is generally considered today’s music. Eddie’s music has been sampled by over 30 artists including: Macy Gray, Jamiroquai, DJ Jazz Jeff, Heavy D and the Fresh Prince.

Eddie was by far and foremost a great musician and a great human being. He was a master of his talents and a wonderful family man. His demise in November 1996 was a tragedy to his family and fans. His contributions to the music world will always be appreciated, recognized, and remembered. Eddie is survived by his wife Sara and their two daughters.

When I was younger I used to practice out of Eddie's Jazz Cliche' Capers book, which is one giant long etude consisting entirely of pieces of tunes and Jazz cliches'(including Freedom Jazz Dance in just about every key). Next I picked up Eddie's crazy hard book called The Intervallistic Concept, which is mostly unplayable by anyone but Eddie Harris himself, but still very cool. This book was inspired by Eddie's mastery of the altissimo range of the saxophone, which he used to more interesting effect than just about anyone who has ever lived.

Today I just discovered that Eddie wrote a book of Jazz duets that I didn't know about called Fusionary Jazz Duets. I've always enjoyed playing Jazz duets so I just ordered this one from Amazon.

Eddie Harris comedy (not for kids)-
Ain't Shit Happening
Eddie takes questions from the audience
What I'm Thinking, Before I Start Playing
In the Projects and High Rises
The Next Band
Singing and Straining
People Enjoying Themselves

Solo 'The Song Is You'
Eddie singing That's Why You're Overweight
Eddies sings Sonnymoon For Two
On A Clear Day

Eddie Harris official site
Jazz Cliche' Capers book from Sheet Music Plus


New Sextet recording project

This weekend I took a three-horn group into the studio to record a demo to send to festivals in Spain for next summer. My partner in crime Pere Soto wrote all the charts and will be adding his guitar tracks at a studio in Barcelona before giving the demo to our manager. The session was on of the most stressful recording that I've ever done. There were a lot of problems with our headphone mixes, time limitations and worst of all Pere had overlooked some problems with the charts.

Here are a couple of tunes from the session for your listening pleasure.......

Bossando Pra Ella
Chick Came Around

The lineup-
David Valdez- alto sax
Dick Titterington- trumpet
John Moak- bone
David Goldblatt- piano
Dan Schulte- bass
Alan Jones- drums

Coming soon....

I just wanted to let you know what to expect here at Casa Valdez in the immediate future, so you can be motivated to keep checking back.

  • In depth interview with master sax mouthpiece maker/refacer Brian Powell.
  • Master Jazz flutist Anders Bostrom talks about constructing post-Trane Jazz lines
  • Full review of Gearge Garzone's long awaited instructional/play-along 2-DVD set
  • Interview with Jazz educator Gary Campbell about the use of Triad Pairs in Jazz.

Trio Live @ the Jazz Bungalow

Last weekend I played a house concert with pianist David Goldblatt and bassist Al Criado. There's no comparison in my book between a large talkative crowd at a night club and a highly attentive audience in an intimate room.

More people should throw these sorts of Jazz parties in their homes, especially at this time when clubs are closing right and left. We had a great time and walked with more bread than we usually make at many so called 'Jazz rooms'. I threw in a couple of CDs, our host put up some of his poetry books and we had a raffle to support the band.

If things keep going like they seem to be going these type of events may soon be the only real Jazz gigs around.

Here's our last tune of the evening 'Incognito', which was composed by my good friend Art Lillard:

(This gig was our first attempt at experimenting with a laptop for percussion loops)


New Matt Otto CD- free download!

Matt Otto has just released his new CD "La Commune" for free on his blog. If that isn't enough you can also download all the scores in PDF format. In your face Radio Head!!

Matt Otto's blog


George Garzone Instructional DVD!

Finally George Garzone, arguably the most important and influential saxophone teacher in the country, has put together a three hour instructional DVD. This is long overdue and now you don't need to get into Berklee, New England or the New School to learn from the master.

Jody Jazz is releasing Garzone's DVD and it will be shipping in early November. The price is $89.95 for the two DVD disk set and you can pre-order now.

Here's what the website has to say about it:

About This DVD
"The Music of George Garzone & The Triadic Chromatic Approach", is a Jazz Improvisation Instructional DVD and much, much more.
  • Performances:
    Solo, Duos, Trios, an Sextet performances
  • The Triadic Chromatic Approach:
    23 Chapters & 30 Examples of In-Depth Lessons
  • Trading Play Alongs:
    George Plays / You Play w/ Rhythm Section
  • Pure Play Along:
    You Play w/ Rhythm Section
  • Garzone On Sound:
    In-depth Lesson of Saxophone Sound Production
  • PDF Supplements:
    Transposed for all instruments, examples, exercises and lead sheets
  • Bonus Features:
    Interviews, Alternate Takes, Extra
Who Can Benefit From This DVD?
  • Wants to Improve their Improvisation Skills
  • Wants to Improve their Saxophone Sound & Playing
  • Wants an intimate and unprecedented access to one of the greatest musicians and teachers of our time
  • Would like to be inspired to take your playing to the next level and beyond
  • Wants to improve their time
Triadic Chromatic Approach
This method is a new innovative approach to jazz improvisation developed and created by George Garzone over the last 25 years of teaching and playing. It teaches you how to generate non permutative lines. That means lines that aren't predictable or repetitive and sound totally fresh. It will allow you to play over chord changes without fear.
The Garzone Instructional DVD webpage

Music Minus One- Lee Konitz Duets

I just bought the Lee Konitz duets volume of Music Minus One. This is the first MMO volume that I've bought, though I've seen them in stores for decades. The Konitz volume has some tracks that are just sax duets and a few that are large groups with solo sax (with or without Lee's part).

This is the bright idea that made Jamey a wealthy man. After practicing with Aebersolds for many years it was a nice change to play with a MMO. The MMOs have elaborate large ensemble arrangements and they're recorded extremely well. There are a some very cool looking MMO volumes, such as the Zoot Sims sax duets, the piano trio volume and the lead alto big band volume.

I'm definitely going to pick up a few more of these myself.

Lee Konitz Somewhere Sax Duet PDF


Dixie Steps

Regular reader Thomas Trulsson sent me this entertaining rendition of Giant Steps:

Trad Giant Steps


Wynton shreds on Letterman

My buddy Pat Tucker just sent me a link to a YouTube video that is pure genius. This is incredibly funny, especially if you're a big Wynton fan or hater.

Here's what Pat says about the clip:
My friend took a Wynton Marsalis video and erased the strings and his trumpet playing and then put on a sound track of messed up strings and then he recorded himself playing trumpet with the same fingerings that Wynton is using and played all this messed up stuff and then linked it up to the video, this is awesome. Enjoy!
Wynton shreds
Jaco Pastorius shreds
Steve Vai Shreds
Joe Satriani Shreds
Eric Clapton Shreds
Stevie Ray Vaughan Shreds
Eddie Van Halen Shreds
Slash Shreds
Metallica shreds
Santana shreds
Led Zeppelin shreds
Paco De Lucia Shreds

Saxophone Multiphonics book

Saxophone Multiphonics book



This week I finally sprung for a Radio Direct membership. They were offering a 50% off special that I just couldn't pass up. The idea is that radio (conventional, satellite and Internet) DJs and programmers go to the Radio Direct site and listen to tracks that artists upload from their CDs. If they hear something they like then they put in a request for that CD. Radio Direct then lets you know about the request and gives you the mailing address.

When you send out your CD you know that it's going directly to someone who has already heard it and is want to broadcast it. Twenty days after you indicate that you have mailed the CD there is a page to request feedback. You hit a button and a feedback request is sent to the the DJ/programmer. You then can access your feedback on your artist page. If you like you can also send messages directly to the person that got your CD, you may want to ask if there are any festivals or clubs in the area that your CD was played.

I paid $400 for two categories, Jazz and Latin, for six months. The usual price for Latin is $300 and $500 for Jazz (which is the most expensive category for some reason). In the first week I have gotten 29 CD requests already. A good 20 to 25% of the requests have been from Australia. The other countries I have sent CDs to include Italy, the Netherlands, Germany Canada, Columbia, Trinidad and Tobago, Scotland, the Ukraine, France, England, and Belarus (which I bet you can't find on a map). So far all have been radio stations, except for one Jazz magazine.

Here's something from the Radio DirectX website:

RadioDirectx is THE service delivering new music - your music - to the world. With more than 5000 member radio stations, music reviewers and club DJs looking for the newest releases in our digital stacks, we offer a one-of-a-kind service for both independent artists and labels to promote their music to audiences in markets around the world.

From XM and DMX Satellite Radio USA, commercial radio (all formats), mix shows, 100s of college stations (the bleeding edge in shaping tastes in music), 1300+ club DJs, record pools, national radio networks and others in need of the newest best. – we deliver the quality that music movers want. We cover the full spectrum: pop, dance, Reggae, country, folk, hip-hop, metal, easy listening, punk, soundtracks, world and more... - we have the markets and the outlets for your releases.

RadioDirectx is undeniably effective in its simplicity. We list your music so our radio and media members can quickly and easily preview your music. If they like what they hear, they request to have a promotional CD mailed to them for airplay or review. When a CD request comes in, all you do is ship it out, the radio/media member plays or reviews it - and you've started generating airplay around the world.

We promote your release to all Radio, Media & Club DJs (Club Djs for specific genres only) via our weekly release notices. WE tell them what's new and what's hot each week.
They login into Radiodirectx and preview any release they are interested in and if they like - they request a copy.

We create a CD listing on the Radiodirectx site, complete with biography, reviews/quotes, streaming audio samples and the ability for all registered Radio, Club DJs & Media to request and receive a promotional copy of your CD for airplay and/or review.

You only mail your CD when requested. This saves you time, money, CDs and greatly increases the opportunity for radio airplay as each Radio/Media Member has to actually request your CD. In 4-5 weeks we ask that all Radio/Media Members that requested your CD to provide some type of feedback - charts, playlists, comments, reviews, etc...

The number one reason that Radio, Media & Club DJs around the world come to RadioDirectx for new music is that they can choose what they want, when they want. They love to login and browse our selection of quality releases at their leisure - from home or at the office. When they find a release they like and feel appropriate for their program or review, they can request to have a copy mailed to them. They also know that if it's listed on Radiodirectx - it will arrive.

I can see that at a certain point I'll need to unsubscribe to the service when I feel that I've given enough CDs away. At $4.20 a pop the international airmail adds up fast. My first trip to the post office cost me almost $75, ouch!

So far it seems like Radio DirectX has been a very good investment for me. As independent Jazz artists how else are we going to get international radio airplay? I've heard plenty of horror stories from Jazz musicians who hired PR agents for $1500 per week and only got a couple of CD revues in obscure Jazz rags.

We need to get our CDs out of the boxes stacked in our garages and out into the world for people to hear. We also need press quotes that rave about our masterpiece recordings, and it's nice if those quotes are from a radio stations in Australia, France or Poland (or even Belarus) rather than from a CD review in your local Jazz society newsletter.

Radio Direct X


Straight Life: Stories of Art Pepper Flash Movie

Art Pepper's widow Laurie Pepper was responsible for putting together Art's autobiography Straight Life. She transcribed hours of cassette recordings that she made of Art telling stories and edited them into an entire book. I remember running across the book when I was still at Berklee. I don't think I put it down until I read every last page. I was completely captivated by Art's first hand accounts of club hopping with Dexter Gordon while toasted on Dexedrine (back when there were Jazz clubs all over L.A. that were open all night long). Straight Life is truly one of the greatest books about the Jazz life ever written.

After the book was published Laurie received a lot of interest from the movie studios wanting to make it into a movie. They of course wanted to make Art into a one dimensional wild man Jazz junkie, like Clint did to Bird, and they wouldn't even promise to use Art's own music. Laurie finally decided to make a movie herself, a Flash movie. Below are some YouTube clips from the movie, they're not in order unfortunately, and some music videos.

From Laurie Pepper's Straight life Flash Movie:

Johnny Dep reads Laurie Pepper's script:

Art Pepper Music videos:

"I want to be more than just a "jazz player" playing. I want to make people forget the categories and hear what's really happening. I want to make them feel the joy or sadness. I want to make them open up and listen. That's what I've always wanted."- Art Pepper

Straight Life web site
Laurie Pepper's Movie Blog