Blog # 89: Sound Quality
One thing I've been thinking a lot about recently about is sound quality. I know when I was in school I would always hear "Oh my god, have you heard _____?, he has the biggest sound." or "I saw ____, last night, what a HUGE sound!".
Recently I've been thinking about this, and I'm just over the cliche of having a 'big sound'. I've come to the conclusion that I'd rather have a 'beautiful sound' than a 'big sound'. In fact, I've heard stories that Joe Henderson's sound on saxophone wasn't particularly big. He played pretty light reeds and usually hugged the mic. Towards the end of his career Chet Baker used to put the microphone all the way into the bell of his horn. And lastly, Ron carter has been documented as saying Miles Davis' sound wasn't big, but it was 'focused'. Isn't Miles the best example of how much focus, intensity and quality can overcome having a big sound? When Miles played a note, everyone would lean forward and anticipate the next one. Plus, he's arguably the greatest Jazz Musician of all time.
Anyway, I'm over it. I've been spending a lot of time just trying to get my tone the exact way i want it over the past several months and I've come to the conclusion that I'd rather have a beautiful, perfect tone than a big one. If the sound is the quality I want it, I don't care if its big, small or in between. I've been obsessing with the details of every interval, and every nuance of a note. You really can play every note an infinite number of ways. The fewer notes you play, the more you can obsess about the details of just one note.