Learning Hip Licks

I’ve always loved the sound of saxophone solos since I was turned onto jazz. I think it’s because they are so melodic, between the note choices and the phrasing. To be a little more technical, the phrases have a variety of intervals whereas a lot of guitar solos involve similar intervals (half/whole steps or pentatonic patterns). The guitar has so much more potential than that.

I just picked up Greg Fishman’s Hip Licks for Saxophone and highly recommend it not just for jazz but also jazz fusion (eg Greg Howe). Not because you will learn melodic and tasty licks over all chord types but from the work you will do to get them into your playing. This involves playing the phrases in all 12 keys, recalling the phrases from your mind/ear, trying to connect and develop the phrases in a logical manner.

Having technique helps you get these licks up to speed but it still takes practice as many ‘moves’ are unfamiliar so you wouldn’t be able to play them if you haven’t practiced them beforehand, especially at faster tempos. Drilling down even further, many of the licks are made up of smaller, repeatable cells that are combined in different ways, so these cells could be extracted and practiced as well.

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