Search Forum topics of discussion in The SK Improvisation Studio Below:

  • Alain L – Tenor Sax

    Posted by Alain on September 6, 2023 at 7:38 am

    Greetings everyone. I’m a tenor saxophonist originally from Belgium but based in Canada in the Toronto region.

    I’m a college professor locally so that I can invest in my jazz hobby 🙂

    I have had an ear for jazz since I was a kid when my mom would play this cassette tape (remember those) with the label “Satchmo” on it. I couldn’t read a note or play anything (I never had a music program in my small schools).

    Spending a few years in Houston, Tx and later in Montreal, Canada as a student, I was drawn especially to all jazz programming mainly in festivals. I even volunteered at the Toronto jazz fest for many years when it actually had solid jazz content. I would bump into many musicians and just chat when the opportunity presented itself. Some wondered if I played and since I didn’t, many encouraged me to just play.

    After completing the formal education, and with time on my hands, and realizing that life’s too short, I started taking sax lessons and learning how to read music note by note. This was around 2003. I started with the Aebersold play-alongs and even attended jazz camp in my first year. Our combo instructor acted like a drill sergeant but luckily he didn’t destroy my interest in progressing. In fact, that end of week combo got me to improvise in a relaxed way and more so than others in the group. Of course, I would not want to hear that tape but it was a good start.

    I played for a few years with a Latin Jazz group which was technically a class at the local conservatory. It was fun but the problem is that for years I had no direction or concept to improvise.

    Thanks to the pandemic, I made a new concerted effort to deepen my understanding of jazz in the hope of becoming a better musician and improvisor. I follow the Kenny Werner approach and not put pressure on sounding the best or letting the ego dominate but to just play. As an academic, I thought that jazz theory would set me free but that’s not the reality. It can provide a framework to check what you learn.

    I am in a jazz band with people who are not comfortable improvising but it’s my first post-pandemic stint.

    I am hoping to incorporate my practicing and playing in the midst of the day job and hope to find like-minded people to play with on jazz standards and classic tunes.

    Hope to make great strides this year. Let’s support and encourage each other in the new Steve Kortyka studio! I am hopeful for the direction and methodology to take us to our respective new levels.

    Keep swingin’


    Alain replied 8 months, 1 week ago 4 Members · 6 Replies
  • 6 Replies
  • knowatall

    August 19, 2023 at 5:20 pm

    Not too dissimilar to my own journey; now 65 and playing in a wind ensemble, big band, and wedding/funk band. Haven’t climbed the Michael Brecker mountain completely, but can play some of the stuff. It’s a long haul (been back at it actively for 10 years now), but there is loads of good web-based instruction now that didn’t exist back in the day.

    • Alain

      August 20, 2023 at 7:28 pm

      Yes there a more resources than ever before. Thanks to the pandemic, I’ve been practicing more than ever and feel bad when other parts of life get in the way. I like analyzing things and have been guilty of paralysis by analysis. Scaling (pun intended) things down as to what to work on is still a work in progress. Fortunately, I am okay with playing even if I’m the only audience member 🙂

      Keep swingin’

  • Steve

    August 21, 2023 at 3:20 am

    Love this Alain – somehow I have managed to miss your posts I apologize for this! Such a great journey you have chosen for yourself and I can safely say that the more you do it, the more fun it gets because you just start to gain more and more options as a player the more things you work out and get under your fingers. I can already hear you walking down this path and am so thankful to have you here and working on these concepts giving your feedback. Im looking forward to hearing you internalize these things and further define your musical voice – thanks for sharing!

    • Alain

      August 21, 2023 at 8:26 pm

      Thanks for the guidance and support @SaxophoneSteve Wish I also had super headphones where I could listen to tunes, repeated patterns and solos while I sleep to internalize everything! Buhh!

  • Carmen

    September 17, 2023 at 1:53 pm

    Just curious, do you pronounce your name Alan, or with the accent on the second syllable with a long a? I played hockey with some Canadians who pronounced it like the latter.

    • Alain

      September 17, 2023 at 4:36 pm

      Thanks for asking Carmen. My name is pronounced the French way. I was scrambling to find some phonetic clip but came up with this (not endorsing the site or anything):
      The tool is okay for the French pronunciation (from France!)