A Complete Approach to Sound for the Modern Saxophonist – Ben Britton (2012)

Sound is where it all begins for the listener. No matter how much of a virtuoso a performer is, if their sound is not good then the listener will ignore their best efforts. What use is the ability to play the changes, extend the range, or use advanced techniques if the player does not sound pleasing to the ear? How to develop a personal and pleasing sound is the first and most important thing every musician should learn to do. Recognizing a need for a more modern interpretation of this age old lesson, saxophonist and blogger Ben Britton has created an instructional method which that is creative and builds on the general saxophone tradition.

When I first flipped through this book I began to recognize ideas and concepts that I had read before. if you have read any of the following: Top Tones for the Saxophone by Sigurd Rascher , Developing A Personal Saxophone Sound by David Liebman, or Tone Quality by David Hollingsworth; then you will likely recognize half of the presented material. To me this isn’t a bad thing. The author does a great job of citing ideas which are not his and his bringing together ideas from multiple sources saves the reader a lot of money. Consider going to your local small business and sourcing the reference material. It could cost you up to 10x the cost of this print and you would still have to read and extrapolate the high value lesson within each one.

What separates this book from many others you many others? The first separator is: lessons which are not gathered from outside sources is generally well written and explained. There are very few “what’s” without an accompanying “why”. The second is the available audio recordings. Ben has provided audio recording of the lessons as demonstrated by him on tenor saxophone. These samples give more understanding and context to each lesson. The time spent adding quality samples is what helps this book stand out. No longer does the student have to wonder if they are getting it right. All the student has to do now is listen and emulate Ben’s examples.

>> Link to Audio <<

TAKE AWAY: The exercises in this book will, if used as directed, will lead to better control and a more personal relationship with your sound. Period. This is a great book to give beginners and experienced players alike. Though beginners should have some professional guidance in the early stages of learning the horn.

Bebop Bible by Les Wise

I came across references to this book while searching for material to practice II V I lines. Imagine my surprise when I learned that the book was out of print. After searching all of the common areas that one would look for a book library, Amazon.com, and a few of the online music retailers I settled on calling up a guitar player friend of mine to see if he had a copy of it lying around. Is my great luck that he did and now I have a copy of this excellent book.

The best part about this book is that it is not only for guitar players. It is written well within the range of most treble clef instruments and it’s spiral-bound so that it sits on a music stand perfectly without flipping close like a standard bookbinding. But enough about how it’s produced let’s talk about what’s inside.

The book opens with a section of major ideas. These lines begin on various degrees of the scale until he has created lines that include all the degrees of the scale. The second section features minor ideas and rotates through scale degrees like the first section. The third section like the second and the first rotates through scale degrees but is ideas based on dominant 7. In the fourth section begins ideas based on the II V I movement. In the previous three sections the ideas presented were based on one chord across the entire line whereas this section features the standard progression. The last two sections of the book are dedicated to simple lines and turnarounds

It is my opinion that to gain the most from this book you have to spend a lot of time with it. Mr. Wise did not spoon feed all of the ideas in all 12 keys so you will have to spend the time doing it yourself. Which we all know is the best way to learn any material anyway. With that in mind the 824 jazz ideas listed in this book have kept me occupied for the last two months. Slowly I have seen the material creep into my improvisation I still think I’m several months away from having a firm grasp on a quarter of what is shown in this book.

Take away: this is an excellent reference material book for anyone who wants to learn new material and broadened their bebop vocabulary. The only downside to this book is that it is very difficult to find it in print. On Amazon there’s a single seller trying to sell the book at over hundred dollars. Of course I don’t see this book being valued at $100 but there are many digital versions of this book floating around. See the link below.


I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to broaden their bebop vocabulary.