Tag Archives: alto saxophone

Below is a transcript of a 1954 radio interview with Charlie Parker. He is talking with fellow altoist Paul Desmond and announcer John McLellan.

PD: Another thing that’s been a major factor in your playing is this fantastic technique, that nobody’s quite equaled. I’ve always wondered about that, too … whether there was … whether that came behind practicing or whether that was just from playing, whether it evolved gradually.

CP: Well,you make it so hard for me to answer, you know, because I can’t see where there’s anything fantastic about it all. I put quite a bit of study into the horn, that’s true. In fact the neighbors threatened to ask my mother to move once when we were living out West. She said I was driving them crazy with the horn. I used to put in at least 11 — 11 to 15 hours a day.

PD: Yes, that’s what I wondered.

CP: That’s true, yes. I did that for overa period of 3 to 4 years.

PD: Oh, yeah. I guess that’s the answer.

CP: Well, that’s the facts anyway. (chuckle)

PD: I heard a record of yours a couple of months ago that somehow I’ve missed up to date, and I heard a little two-bar quote from the Klose book that was like an echo from home …[Desmond scats the quote.]

CP: Yeah, yeah. Well that was all done with books, you know. Naturally, it wasn’t done with mirrors, this time it was done with books.

PD: Well, that’s very reassuring to hear, because somehow I got the idea that you were just sort of born with that technique, and you never had to worry too much about it, about keeping it working.

JM: You know, I’m very glad that he’s bringing up this point because I think that a lot of young musicians tend to think that …

PD: Yeah, they do. They just go out …

JM: It isn’t necessary to do this.

PD: … and make those sessions and live the life, but they don’t put in that 11 hours a day with any of the books.

CP: Oh definitely, study is absolutely necessary, in all forms. It’s just like any talent that’s born within somebody, it’s like a good pair of shoes when you put a shine on it, you know. Like schooling brings out the polish of any talent that happens anywhere in the world. Einstein had schooling, but he has a definite genius, you know, within himself, schooling is one of the most wonderful things there’s ever been, you know.

JM: I’m glad to hear you say this.

CP: That’s absolutely right.

Read the rest of the interview at



Happy New Year to you all! I thought I would start off 2013 with a look at one of my favourite musicians, Eric Dolphy. There is a great interview with Dolphy’s parents from 1975 (11 years after he passed) that can be found on youtube, and there are some nice insights into his practice habits. The following is from the 2nd video:

Do you think he would he have any words of advice for people?

(Sadie Dolphy) I think he would tell them to practice, because that’s all he did!

He would get up in the morning before he went to school, say about 4.30 or 5, and practiced until it’s almost time to get his breakfast and leave for school. And he’d hurry home to start practicing again until really late in the evenings.

Did he mostly just practise scales and exercises?

Yes, and tone qualities. He’d blow one note for all day long.

(Eric Dolphy Sr) I’ve seen him blow one note on the saxophone for weeks at a time. I’d be out in the yard working and I’d go in and say, “There’s no more keys on that saxophone but that one?” And he’d play it and put it on his tape recorder, and he’d listen to it. He’d say, “Daddy, it’s gotta be right.” I’d say, “Sounds right to me.” “No, it’s not right yet.””