Is your Saxophone tone thin?

Is your Sax Section not blending?

In Part 2 of my interview with Tim Price, world-renowned saxophonist, we spoke about the importance of listening, getting a good saxophone tone, taking good care of your instrument, mouthpiece, reeds and case, lower lip position, how to keep your throat open, as well as tips for helping players function like a jazz sax section.

I had been reading Tim's article's on the Saxophone Journal for many years now, and had gotten to know him over the last 2 years while we met up at NAMM in Anaheim.

You can listen to Part 2 by clicking here.

If you want to get access to the entire video interview for both Parts 1 and 2, click below…
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 Tim Price

Tim Price discusses saxophone tone

Here's Tim's Bio, (originally appearing on the D'Addario page here.):

In the last few years, Rico artist Tim Price  has had the extreme good fortune to have bands of his own featuring world class stellar players like Lew Tabackin, Bennie Green,Carl Allen, Ray Drummond, Allison Miller and Bill Goodwin.

Tim's travels have also taken him to New Orleans in September 2004 for a very special “Coltrane Tribute” with Tony Dagradi, and superstar drummer Stanton Moore from the jam band “Galactic”. The Coltrane event as well as the club “Snug Harbor” was SRO !!
As were gigs that Tim played in the East Coast area with his bands with Rachel Z and drummer Bill Goodwin. At this point in time Tim's career couldn't be more positive, things are moving in a very positive way.

Tim Price is a proud Rico artist, performer and educator worldwide. A Berklee College of Music graduate and one of the country's foremost woodwind artists.

His stature at the North Sea Jazz Festival couldn' t have been more prestigous with a backup band of Bennie Green on piano, Ray Drummond on bass, and Carl Allen on drums. Tim's special guest that night at the end of his set was Dutch superstar tenor titan Hans Dulfer.Tim also has been a special guest with Grateful Dead member Bob Weir's RATDOG.

Tim has played with musicians like Bennie Green, Hans Dulfer, Lew Tabackin, Ray Drummond, Jon Mayer, Greg Bandy, James Gadson, Don Patterson, Billy James, Major Holley, Alan Dawson, Bill Doggett, Jack Mc Duff, Cecil Payne, Richie Cole, Charlie Watts from the Rolling Stones, Gary Burton, Doc Severinson, Dr. John, Lew Tabackin, Charlie Mariano, Shirly Scott, Trudy Pitts, Bootsie Barnes, Sonny Stitt, Ernie Krivda, Rachel Z, Larry Young,George Young, Sweet Sue Terry, Greg Piccolo & Super Heavy Juice and Claire Daly.

He's spent years in the trenches with the big bands of Tommy Dorsey under both Murray McEachern and later Buddy Morrow, Cab Calloway and Harry James. He's also been part of Ernie Krivda's Fat Tuesday big band. Tim's bassoon has been a part of the Lawrence “Butch” Morris Orchestra at the 2004 “Vision Festival” in New York City.

He loved the soul and rock gigs he's played with Aretha Franklin, Billy Paul, The 5th Dimension, Lou Christie, Lloyd Price, Four Tops,Ike Turner, Lynyrd Skynyrd and many others from that idiom.

Some people might find this facet interesting considering that when Tim left Berklee he went on the road playing the jazz organ bar circuit. Tim has played with every major organ player except Jimmy Smith. Tim feels that was a great proving ground for a young saxophone player and something that is really missing today- Those classic jazz bars in major cities and small industrial cities scattered through the United States. Playing jazz 6 nights a week in a environ that is a proving ground for your growth.

Mr. Price's writing on jazz and the saxophone appears regularly in the Saxophone Journal, he has been a featured writer for that publication for over 18 years.

In addition to being the recipient of a Pennsylvania Council on the arts fellowship jazz grant five times!!
His saxophone books are published through Hal Leonard. He currently writes workshop-ma ster class articles for SONIC , the innovative German / Dutch music magazine.

He has authored three books on sax playing, and his blogs for Rico Reeds on Facebook and Myspace appear every Monday.

His original tunes have been recorded by Houston Person, Supersax tenor player Jay Migliori and his composition ” Twins Of Spirit” has been recorded by the Sean Kennedy 5 featuring Bob Mintzer.

Tim played the NORTH SEA JAZZ FESTIVAL in Holland in July 2002, as well as many radio shows and clubs with Dutch tenor sax player Hans Dulfer. Other festivals include Newport Festivals,Vision Festival in NYC, Tri-C Jazz Festival, Berks Jazz Festival ,Cape May Jazz Festival & Boston Globe Jazz Festival.

Tim performs and does clinics throughout the world. He teaches private instruction in New York City and from his home studio in Reading, Pennsylvania. Professor Price teaches jazz saxophone at the New School University in New York City. He is also a saxophone instructor at Long Island University / Brooklyn campus. His teaching on Skype has become a worldwide trend setter. You can reach him on Skype here:

One of the Rico's most requested clinicians, Mr. Price travels worldwide performing with and teaching student and professional jazz ensembles.

You can contact Tim at

Tim's Advice on Saxophone Tone

If your equipment isn't of good quality, and you don't take care of it, you can't possibly get a good tone.

Here's some points Tim made:

  1. Good tone starts with having good equipment and taking proper care of the instrument, mouthpiece and reeds.
  2. Starting with a good set-up – there are many great mouthpieces and reeds to choose from – is key.
  3. Clean up your case! Candy, food, moldy reeds, newspapers have no business being in your case!
  4. You should know which reeds are your good reeds. Learn how to rotate them and label them and definitely get a 4-reed Reedguard.
  5. Always have a mouthpiece cap on when you're not playing, and be sure to swab out your instrument when done playing.
  6. The neck strap is really important too. Get a better neck strap so that your posture will improve and your hand position can be more relaxed. (I did a neck strap review article that you can read here.)
  7. Don't get the hardest reed because you think the higher the number the better you are. Your chops will dictate to you when you need to get the next highest strength.

On Saxophone Tone:

  1. Bottom lip position is important. Think the word “Victory”, or the letter “F” to see how much (or little) bottom lip is placed over the bottom teeth.
  2. “Hot air plays the Saxophone; Cool air plays the Flute.”
  3. Keep your throat open – same way as when you burp – and push the warm air through.

On Work Ethic:

Students should always work on the materials at home, not just in the band room. Their job is to “get the material to the best of their abilities at home so that we can tighten it up during rehearsal.”

You can listen to this interview (Part 2) by clicking here.

Tim's Advice on Developing a Jazz Saxophone Section Personality

(If you missed Part 1, click here We talked about how to start beginner Jazz improvisers, in a private and school setting, and strategies to keep the jazz language authentic.)

It's all about LISTENING!

There are so many free resources out there for musicians to check out, and teachers should be assigning listening assignments as part of lessons.

What kind of listening assignments?

  1. Listen to Saxophone players from many eras – see how the styles evolved over time.
  2. Listen to the Saxophone Sections of the Big Bands, like Count Basie, Duke Ellington, up to Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Maria Schneider, Gordon Goodwin, etc.  Even listen to the horn sections of Ray Charles in the 1960's. Listen to how Basie's band played behind the vocalist in Everyday I have the Blues, or how they played April in Paris. Each Saxophone Section has a personality all its own.
  3. Listen to the Bass and the Drummer and how they lock in the time.
  4. Listen to what the Rhythm Section players are doing.

Listening helps develop a player's vocabulary…

“It all depends on what you know…”   Lester Bowie

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Upcoming Events with Tim

Tim has ongoing Improvised Duo Projects with Kazzrie Jaxen. Here's a link to a recent event.

Tim will be appearing at the Berks Jazz Fest on Sat Apr 2, 2016 with Greg Hatza: Greg Hatza/Tim Price Organ Quartet. More info can be found by clicking here.

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