- Artist: Lenny Pickett
- Album: Tower of Power – Back to Oakland (1975)
- Track: Oakland Stroke
- Instrument: Tenor Sax
More Lenny Pickett as Tenor month continues…
This is a short one, but a fun solo to play. Only eight bars, and it really moves. If you’re looking to learn Lenny Pickett solos, this is an excellent one to start with. It’s pretty straight forward, and only goes up to altissimo G. Just slow it down and take it bar by bar.
I’ve been struggling with altissimo G on tenor. I can play almost a full octave above that much more consistently, but G eludes me. I’ve tried a bunch of different fingerings with no luck.
I found a blog post by Donna Schwartz that had some good general advice for altissimo which I’ll sum up as:
- Pre-visualizing the note in your head/ear by listening to it and singing it
- Priming your embouchure by singing the pitch into your mouthpiece and then playing.
These help me a lot for the upper register (above altissimo D), where you absolutely have to have the pitch in your ear to hit it. But the G was still problematic.
Then I discovered that my front ‘fork’ key was opening the palm key F too high. I adjusted the screw to lower it as much as I can and the G speaks much easier now. I’d like the key to be even lower, but that’s a job for my sax tech the next time I see him.
Once you’ve checked out the tenor solo a few times, go back and listen to the rhythm section a few times. It’s mind blowing to hear how intricate the Tower of Power grooves are, especially at this tempo. My band has played this groove a bunch, and every time we have a new keyboard player work with us, we spend at least an hour in rehearsal on this groove. You can’t just blindly comp on a feel like this. Every instrument has their part to play, and they all fit together perfectly like a puzzle.