What was the Guildhall School of Music and Drama like?
Well, I already knew some people there, but it was a great experience to meet other musicians and create a bit of a network. The teaching was of course outstanding, but the overall experience was just brilliant. At the School there were great opportunities to play in orchestras, small ensembles and learn about composition, rhythm, and performance from some of the best. There used to be an evening jam session twice week where you could just go onto stage and play which was great fun and a great experience.
Where would you suggest people buy a saxophone from?
I always recommend Sax.co.uk which is online, but they also have a shop in London. There is also a great shop on Baker Street Howarth of London.
What age do you recommend starting to play the saxophone?
Starting at around age 9 (which is when I started) makes sense as you are more likely to be able to understand the music, deal with the weight of the instrument and be self- motivated to practice. Younger than that might be a bit trickier also breathing-wise, even if not impossible of course.
So, what are you like as a teacher?
After knowing and consolidating the foundations, to me teaching is all about showing someone the possibilities and steering them into their preferred path. It is only at a later level that you need to decide to do Jazz or Classical saxophone (due to the embouchure/sound differences) but most people up to a certain level can learn both and I enjoy teaching both.
What has been your career highlight to date?
I love playing in a band where I have the freedom to create and compose as well without stylistical limitations. I have been part of a band called “Los Padres” , electronic/impro trio which is saxophone, guitar and drums. With this band, in order to blend with the other sonically, I’m using sound effects (I have my own pedal board). We are also about to release an album by this year. My other current project is called “Nereus” an acustic quintet composed by saxophone, violin, viola, cello and drums. With them we explore the connections between jazz, classical and world music, putting together original tunes with free improvisation moments.
What saxophone pieces would you recommend people listen to, to inspire them to play?
It’s very difficult to say because there are so many that I love. However, as a good starting point would suggest listening to “In a sentimental mood” by Duke Ellington (the version with John Coltrane) as an example of sheer beauty.
I would also recommend just listening to some of the other great jazz heroes(giants, like Miles Davies, Duke Ellington, Chet Baker, Lester Young and Louis Armstrong. Then check out Wayne Shorter, Joe Henderson and Sonny Rollins. And many more…