Tag Archives: Croatian Army Band

Developing a Personal Saxophone Sound by Dave Liebman

Developing a Personal Saxophone Sound by Dave LiebmanDeveloping A Personal Saxophone Sound by Dave Liebman is the book which changed my life regarding saxophone playing. I got this book in December 1996 and started reading thoroughly sentence by sentence, chapter by chapter. At that time I already had a degree in classical saxophone from the Zagreb Music Academy and played professionally for four years in the Croatian Army Wind Orchestra, Big Band and in some jazz combos and pop bands. My embouchure and approach were based on French school classical saxophone playing (heavily influenced by Claude Delangle) and when I played jazz I just tried to be more relaxed (now I see that really wasn’t possible). But I realized that this approach really did not work for me regarding sound and flexibility, and I constantly had a sore lower lip, so I couldn’t go on like this anymore and I had to change. I was kind of afraid to do it, but I decided to sound and feel comfortable when I play or I would abandon playing so I had to do it and I began to change my entire approach to the instrument based upon this book. I can’t say that everything was wrong: my tongue position, breathing and vibrato were more or less fine, but my embouchure was definitely wrong. Also I have to admit that studying classical helped me to understand sound focus, precise and clear execution needed for classical playing and musical thinking from the classical aesthetic point of view. Anyway, I will not go into details, but from the first day I felt like I released the car handbrake, although it took me a year to get rid of the bad habits and the evil spirits sometimes even reappeared years after. I had to do it on the move because I had to play in a band and had no time to take a break until it settled, but I made it.

Years later I was fortunate enough to spend an evening with Dave, during his visit to Zagreb, talking about all that stuff and music in general in a relaxed and pleasant conversation, and tell him how much his book helped me.

This book is based on the Joe Allard school of saxophone playing and I have tried to find useful information about this school whenever I have the chance and also from watching this video The Master Speaks – Joe AllardThe opinions other people have about the book read on SOTW forum. Another great book I use as a supplement is Sigurd Rascher’s Top-Tones for the Saxophone: Four-Octave Range.

In Croatia that French school of classical saxophone playing is kind of official approach to teaching saxophone in music schools, but there are a few of my colleagues and students who have become interested in the Joe Allard school, after having similar problems as I had.

Finally I have to say that with Joe Allard school I feel comfortable in classical, jazz or any other style, I just have to change the sound imagination and mouthpiece to facilitate this.

Zdenko Ivanušić – Biografija

Zdenko Ivanušić, saksofonist i kompozitor, dinamičan je član hrvatske glazbene scene od 1990. Preko bogatog iskustva u klasičnoj glazbi, jazzu, fusionu i funku postiže jedinstven pristup u raznim izvođačkim situacijama, od simfonijskog orkestra, komornog ansambla do big banda, kvarteta saksofona ili malog sastava.

Kao voditelj Donna Lee Saxophone Quarteta, Funk Elastica, Zdenko Ivanušić Quarteta, uz jazz standarde, promovira vlastite kompozicije i originalne aranžmane. U kompozicijama koristi poliritmiju i politonalnost, kojima u izvedbama postiže emocionalni intenzitet i improvizacijsku jasnoću.

U Simfonijskom puhačkom orkestru Hrvatske vojske sedamnaest je godina bio vođa dionice saksofona (1992-2009). Surađuje sa Zagrebačkom filharmonijom, Simfonijskim orkestrom Hrvatske radiotelevizije, Jazz orkestrom Hrvatske radiotelevizije, Hrvatskim narodnim kazalištem u Zagrebu i gradskim kazalištem “Komedija”. Bio je solist je i lead altist u HGM Jazzorkestru Zagreb, pod umjetničkim vodstvom poznatog austrijskog band leadera Sigija Feigla od osnutka orkestra 2002. godine pa do 2006. godine. Surađuje s poznatim hrvatskim glazbenicima i popularnim sastavima kao što su Mr. Dynamite (također je glazbeni direktor/aranžer u tom ansamblu), General Woo – Tram 11, Brain Holidays, Soul Fingers, Songkillers, Soul Shadows, Freak Out Band, Neki Novi Klinci, Bučersi, Swing Again, Swingers Band, itd.. Nastupao je s brojnim svjetskim glazbenicima kao što su Randy Brecker, Bob Mintzer, Don Menza, Bobby Shew, John Riley, Earl Gardner, Peter Herbolzheimer, Kevin Mahogany, Charles Tolliver i drugi, te je imao priliku svirati i sa slavnim Duke Ellington Orchestrom prilikom gostovanja tog orkestra u Zagrebu 2012. godine.

Izdao je četiri albuma za Zivaldo Records: “Four Odd” i “Mellow(s Donna Lee Saxophone Quartetom) te solo albume “Lost in HTML” i “Free Fall“.

And now…

I am retired after seventeen years in Croatian Army Band (1992-2009), and I have to a make a living as a full freelance musician (quite a challenge in this small country). Now I will have more time to concentrate at my own music to learn and study things I missed before because of lack of time. My new album (Free Fall) is already on its way and should be released early next year (2010). This is my second solo album and fourth counting two with Donna Lee Saxophone Quartet. This will be full jazz quartet album recorded live (no overdubs) in a vintage manner for Zivaldo Records. After this CD I will probably try to explore some other settings and more modern genres. Next thing I would consider more is saxophone education. Generally saxophone education in this country (Croatia) is quite questionable. Of course, there is a lot of music schools and saxophone class at the academy, but it is hard to find a usable and versatile sax player, and believe me most of them have basic problems regarding sound, embouchure, technique, etc. Education in this country is strictly classically based and suffers from a lot of disadvantages which I will explain in a separate post. The worst thing above all, there is no doubling discipline in educational system at all, which is unforgivable, it is is even forbidden to double on other reed instrument, which is insane, but more on that in a next post. All those things I told I experienced myself, because I went through all of it at some point of my education, because after I graduate at Zagreb Music Academy I realized that I do not sound good and I’m not versatile enough to survive as a sax player, so I once again begin it from the scratch, and I made it thanks to a great deal to a few books and especially Dave Liebman’s “Developing a Personal Saxophone Sound“. After that I was lucky to spend some time, hang out and play with great saxophone players and such as Dick Oatts and Don Menza and even Dave Liebman to learn some more. So my next goal will be to educate younger generation how to play saxophone and all interested may go here for more info.