Regina Carter

I must have had heard of this lady violinist before, but today she really hit me and deep when I bumped into her version of Mood Indigo. Pretty much the only thing I could think during listening her solo was “OMG OMG OMFG OMG…”

She is freakin’ good. If me saying so doesn’t quite convince you, check this out:

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Musical Thursday

Since today I had several hours to use for practicing I started warming myself with piano, fooling around with different chords and just trying to make music, and after that I concentrated to the major scales from G#/Ab to B. Then I concentrated a good while for a little Bach practice with metronome, trying to make the switches smooth, starting from 50bpm. I finished piano rehearsals with Chopin, also trying to polish it and make it as correct as possible.

While finishing my piano practice I realized how big a difference going through them scales really makes when it comes time to play songs; almost like every new scale I get into my fingers brings some extra flexibility to the songs I practice, too. Thought of the day: rehearsing to play music with piano is like teaching my hands and fingers to dance!

Today’s sax practice included a new song (Lazy bird) and some chord progression and improvisation practice to Boplicity. I also reminisced Airegin and Afternoon in Paris, and went through Donna Lee few times 138bpm, just to remind my fingers of those changes.

All around a good rehearsals today!

Developing

Before I really started practicing piano I thought sharing my time between two instruments would be easy; just practice one first and then give time to another. I was soon to find out that it wasn’t quite that easy since I tend to get drawn, could even say “drown” into practice and thus use way more time for practicing one instrument I usually think I will. So I have ended up having sax-days and piano-days. That works well practice-wise and seems to also work best for my hands which soon start aching if I give them too much piano practice – they still haven’t gotten used to stretching so much.

What I have noticed is that even if I have had more days off of sax lately, my sax playing has been benefiting big time from my practicing piano; my fingers feel much more flexible nowadays! I have payed attention to this for some while now, and in yesterdays jazz jam session I noticed couple of other things, too; I am more adventurous with my solos nowadays while simultaneously my solos have started to make more sense. Development!

(Even though my adventurousness sometimes throws me far out with my solos, too, and struggling back from the thick bushes isn’t always a picnic!)

I played one of my best solos ever yesterday. That feeling when after my solo I burst into laughter (what happened and where did that come from?), the audience roars and musicians one after another come hug me like I had just made a goal for us all to win the game. There is no other feeling like that, and there is no other adrenaline rush like that.

It’s good to be queen, if only one night. Now, back to practice!

Sunday jazz jam solo

Yesterday we had a very nice, mellow jam session. Everyone was enjoying themselves to the max and everybody sounded quite good! Ted, who brought his guitar this time, recorded this piece, and I got to play the first solo!

A bit too many winds at the beginning which makes it sound a bit disoriented at times (I do confess playing few mistakes, too!) but all around I kind of like my solo here. It has idea, and I was also able to follow and build on top of that idea quite well, too.

And then… back to practice! Thanks Ted!

Sunday jam

One very nice and mellow jazz jam session behind. I played a lot of solos and one semi-primavista head, too, and got to dance on the edge of the knife in couple of less familiar songs. But very enjoyable!
The thought lingering in my head after today’s session is that as a sax player I am finally reaching the point where my solos are becoming relatively homogenous. I mean even if I don’t know the song beforehand I usually can play around it and sound tolerable, unless it is in one of the most difficult keys. Or maybe it’s just that after all this practice I don’t feel quite as lost as I did say, year ago, when it comes to improvising.

Nonetheless I enjoyed myself today very much. Thanks to all participiants!

About breathing

As a sax player and (former) singer I had to learn how to breathe all over again. It might sound funny, but human beings often when growing adults “forget” the best ways for body to act via learning wrong methods (superficial/stressful breathing, bad postures etc.) for a reason or other (too much sitting, injuries that effect body etc.). Anyway the fact remains: most people don’t know how to breathe. It took me months and months worth of practice and singing lessons to learn to breathe again myself (thanks belong to my beautiful singing teacher Ulla <3) and when I had learned what a revelation: one can manipulate one’s body with breathing, warm it up, cool it down, just by breathing differently! Not to forget how one can manipulate state of mind, calm down or escalate just by changing breathing.

Lately I’ve been thinking breathing a lot, again, entertaining the idea of breathing effecting in deeper level and how one can balance oneself with breath. I think of the fire, campfire; if one is constantly blowing air into fire surely the fire becomes big and very hot, but also burns material down quicker! Whereas when the material (I think of the logs) are set into fire in a position where there’s just enough gaps between the logs for air to run through the pile naturally, drawn by the physical phenomenon where warm air while rising up draws that colder air with (the best saunas usually use this phenomenon, it’s called “painovoimainen ilmanvaihto”, rough translation would perhaps be gravity based ventilation), the woods usually burn evenly and long, offering very economical but still effective fire. Makes sense, no?

So. One can definitely put oneself in fire with breathing but if that continues long it might eventually burn one down. And vice versa if one constantly breathes superficially, as if being afraid of lungs to explode if more air was drawn into them, one will eventually start feeling sick and wane.

In other words: to gain balance it’s best to breathe to keep that fire burning, but breathe not to burn out!

(I still think breathing is the most important thing in life; to live is to breathe. And since playing sax is practically breathing, to live is to play sax! Here’s wishing everyone who happened to read this a breezy, airy good night!)

Raw morning porridge & Chopin with two hands

Slumps are best to take care of by cutting the proverbial bs and take out everything that isn’t necessary. Rest and food can be medicine just as well as they can be poisonous! My recipe for the last few days have been good, fresh food, a bit earlier awakenings, being outside (the benefits of my husband being away is that I just have to walk our dog more often), non-scheduling my time and the improvisation that follows. I like to go with the flow instead of planning my life weeks beforehand, the latter only makes me anxious and nervous.

So. I love smoothies for breakfast, they’re healthy, yummy and easy to make. Since we got a bag of apples and plums from our friends last week my last few days’ smoothies have been composed pretty much on top of those fruit. Here’s what I had today:

a banana, an apple, two plums, little piece of fresh ginger, handful of sunflower seeds, couple tablespoonfuls of linen seeds, a little bit of dried rye bread, cup or so of orange juice. I mixed all this in a blender, and it turned out to be perfect! Rye bread brings some good carbs, seeds offer some protein, and from fruit comes loads of vitamins and sugar that kick me out of the awakening zombie mode.

And last but not least, gotta tell you that my piano teacher made me play that Chopin with both hands! Boy how much can a person’s brain hurt… but I made it! I do feel great sympathy for both him and his neighbors.