Alto saxophonist Andrew Gould On Practicing, the State of Jazz, and Much More
Saxophonist and composer, Andrew Gould, has established himself as one of the most in demand saxophonists on the NYC music scene. A graduate of both Manhattan School of Music and SUNY Purchase, Andrew continues to hone his craft on and off the bandstand. In 2013, Andrew competed in the Thelonious Monk Saxophone Competition and finished as a Semi Finalist. When Andrew is not teaching both private lessons and masterclasses to students of all levels, he can be seen playing extensively with various famous musicians across multiple genres. To date, Andrew has performed with musicians such as: James Moody, Benny Golson, Wallace Roney, Jon Faddis, The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, The Mambo Legends Orchestra, David Weiss, Ray Vega, Bobby Sanabria, Ricky Rodriguez and the list goes. In addition, Andrew has performed and recorded on MTV, Universal Records, Warner Bros Music, and Capitol Records for artists including Fifth Harmony, Mac Miller, 88 Keys, and Sebastian Kole.
Most Recently, Andrew has been writing and touring worldwide with funk/jazz group Nuf Said with their 2nd album “Rise” that was recently released on Ropeadope Records. Andrew is excited to share that he continues to compose and perform with his own group and will be releasing his debut album “First things First” in March 2018 on the Outside In Music label.
Andrew is an endorsing artist with Yanagisawa Saxophones, D’Addario Reeds, and Silverstein Ligatures.
ZS: Why did you choose the saxophone?
AG: Well I actually started on the cello when I was in 4th grade, but unfortunately I think I was too young to really appreciate it. I just remember lugging this big, smelly old rental instrument to school every day and having no idea how to play it. The cello never really stuck… but I did wind up getting really interested in learning about music. Since all the cool kids in school wanted to play the saxophone, naturally that was the one I wanted to try out in 5th grade band. My appreciation for the saxophone and jazz grew as I got older, mostly because I was ridiculously lucky to have some amazingly awesome teachers early on. John Marshall, Joel Levy, Dave Fletcher, Steve Engel, Abby Behr, Bill Katz, and pretty much all the music teachers in East Meadow School District at the time were very passionate educators and they shared so much knowledge and made music so fun and interesting. They are a HUGE reason why I stuck with it and wanted to get better. Most of all though, it was my parents that inspired me to keep it going and not give up just because I may get bored or a little tired. They really gave me the opportunity to try and learn, and encouraged me to go for it and work hard. I was so lucky. By the time I got to high school, I starting listening to the greats, and after hearing Cannonball Adderley on his record “Somethin Else” I was hooked!
ZS: Why did you choose to study music at the Manhattan School of Music?
AG: New York City simply put, is the place you want to be as a jazz musician. I had already ruled out going to school in any other city since I’m from NY to begin with and I knew I wanted to base myself here. I had also started playing with musicians around NYC because I had just finished my undergrad at SUNY Purchase. MSM was my first choice because I wanted to learn from the awesome teachers they had on the faculty. Also, a lot of musicians that I really look up to had graduated from MSM – Will Vinson, Miguel Zenon, Jon Gordon, and Jaleel Shaw are just a few examples, but there are way more! While I was there I got a chance to study saxophone with George Garzone, who was an amazing mentor. He totally made me approach the horn and improvising in a different way. I had a really great experience going to school there and met a lot of incredible musicians in my classes. These musicians became my friends that I still play with today.
ZS: What material do you find yourself practicing the most these days?
AG: A lot of what I practice these days has been what I’d call survival practice. There’s a lot of running from a rehearsal to a session to a gig, being sent a list of music or charts and having to learn new stuff or compose music. That’s all totally awesome and all that experience leads to a lot of musical growth, but there’s a lot less time to be home really shedding with an organized practice routine as I would like. So when I do get the chance I focus mostly on long tones, overtones and scale exercises – basically the kind of stuff that keeps me in shape on the horn. That being said, here’s a little nugget that I like to make use of to help me come up with some new lines.
It involves picking a chord quality and then a group of notes that fits within that chord quality. So let’s say we are in D-7, one possible 4 note group would be A-D- C- G or the 5-1-b7-4. I would then shed this little shape in all 12 keys, going both up and down in half steps, minor 3rds, and through the circle of 4ths. The example below uses this pattern going down in half steps.
Now to add a little more flavor to the sound, let’s make it a 5 note grouping. You can experiment with adding or removing notes to change the harmonic rhythm of the line and give it a different feel.
Although the concept is relatively simple, it actually opens up a TON of doors both rhythmically and harmonically. It gets you thinking about groups of notes and shapes that clearly outline a given chord. It can also work muscle memory and technique. To really start getting more involved, you can change the chord qualities as you transpose into different keys all while maintaining the same shape of the line. Notice on the Bb-6 chord below, I added a few extra notes all within that chord to help tie it into the next chord change – enclosing the D on the G7. In the next example I pick my own sequence of chords and each key will be a different chord quality AND a different number of notes.
ZS: What’s the single best piece of advice you’ve been given over the course of your playing career and why?
AG: That’s a tough one! I may just be a slow learner, but I feel like I’ve always been the type to have to go through dealing with every individual musical problem or bad habit and slowly figure things out just through time and experience. It’s rare or maybe never ever happened when I was given advice and everything instantly worked out from the get-go. It’s always a long process filled with trial and error… with an emphasis on error. That being said, I think that George Garzone repeatedly telling me “Ange, just chill the F out and play!” has actually had the most impact on me. He has this crazy zen thing going on, he’s just super relaxed and calm and collected when he plays even though he can channel so much intensity. Every week when I would stand across from him, we would play a few tunes duo and I couldn’t help but be taken back by this aspect. He really got me to stop sweating all the small stuff and try to focus more on the bigger picture with things.
ZS: How do you see Jazz evolving in the next 10 years?
AG: I feel like right now, Jazz is evolving in a million directions at the same time. Since I started learning and playing, music technology has improved so much. That’s impacted how people learn music, how people write music and how people perform music. Most of all though, I think it’s made what we do as musicians much more easily accessible to each other. I think younger students have so much more information at their fingertips, and because of this there are increasingly high numbers of students that can play at a young age popping up in major cities and out of schools. I think Jazz musicians are integrating more and more with different styles and genres, and hanging out more with musicians from different scenes and creating new sounding material combining all of their influences. Of course, there are the negative aspects of the technology side as well… about streaming music, and musicians getting the proper royalty payments, music pirating and worrying about selling enough albums, or filling enough seats at the venue because everyone is content just watching your show on YouTube. It’s tough to say exactly how I think these problems are going to be solved, but I do think that things will change for the better for musicians within the next 10 years, and as a community I think we are going to find a way to make things work and keep the art strong. Music will always be a reflection of the times, and whether those times are good or bad, our art will grow and change and take different shapes.
ZS: Outside of playing and teach music, what do you like to do with your free time as well as what career would you have chosen if music was not an option?
AG: Hmm, I think I honestly can’t imagine myself doing anything other than music. It’s a blessing and a curse I guess haha, but seriously it’s been pretty much my 100% main focus in life. If I wasn’t playing saxophone I’d just be playing a different instrument (probably the bass) or doing something else associated with music in some way. Outside of music though, I’ve been really into biking. Not racing, or anything hardcore but I really enjoy just riding and seeing where I end up, and exploring different nooks and crannies around the city. It’s also been great exercise and a good way to clear my mind. You just really gotta watch out for crazy drivers, especially cabs and make sure you keep your eyes open! I’m also a huge foodie, and since I live in Astoria I’ve been taking full advantage of the enormous amount of awesome food that’s here. So yeah, I like eating large quantities of food and then attempting to burn it off by biking around and then coming home and playing scale exercises.
ZS: What Current Project(s) are you working on?
AG: There’s a couple of different projects that I’m involved with now that I’m really excited about. I’m actually gearing up to release my first album. It’s called “First things First” and it will be released on March 30th, 2018 on the Outside In Music label. The album features Steven Feifke on piano, Marco Panascia on bass, Jake Goldbas on drums, Ioana Vintu on vocals, and Scott Wendholt on trumpet. This is a very meaningful recording for me, not only because it’s my first album, but because we really developed a band sound through playing gigs in NYC over the past year or two. The tunes are pretty varied stylistically, which I think is really a direct representation of my musical activities lately. I tried to incorporate using effects pedals, and going in a more funk based direction on a couple of tracks. The music all came together in a pretty natural way, and we recorded literally a day after we played at Smalls… so I feel like the music had a lot of that live energy that we took straight from the gig.
I’ve also been writing a lot music for another band called Nuf Said, which has been playing around NYC and touring for the last few years. This band really focuses more on groove based R&B and funk influences that I’ve been loving getting into more recently. With a singer I find myself playing a totally different role and using a somewhat different aesthetic, but I still try to combine my jazz background with all of that. We recently recorded some brand new music videos which will be released really soon as well.
ZS: What’s your current Setup?
AG: For the last few years I’ve been exclusively playing on Yanagisawa saxophones and I’ve been loving them! It started since about 2002, when I purchased my Yanagisawa soprano. Basically that horn has been amazing ever since, and I think I’ve literally only needed to get it repaired once or twice total… since I bought it!!! I play a lot of soprano too! Because that horn has been so amazing, I decided to try out the new Yani altos which recently came out and I was so blown away not just with how comfortable they are to play, but also the depth of tone they have. As for my reeds, I’ve also been playing D’addario reeds which have been awesome, and I’ve been using the Jazz Select reeds on all of my horns. I got into playing Silverstein Ligatures a few years ago as well. The people from Silverstein have been amazingly nice and they were kind enough to let me try their ligatures a few years ago. I could instantly tell they made a difference in response, and increased the vibration of the reed. In general, I just like equipment that vibrates and allows for the maximum amount of vibration of the reed and overall resonance.
- Soprano: Yanagisawa S902
- Alto: Yanagisawa AW01
Link: Yanagisawa Saxophone
- Soprano: Selmer Super Session F mpc
- Alto: Meyer NY USA 6M mpc
- Tenor: Otto Link New Vintage 7
- Soprano: D’Addario Select Jazz Select 3 hard filed
- Alto: D’Addario Select Jazz 3 medium unfiled
- Tenor: D’Addario Select Jazz 3 medium unfiled
Link: D’Addario Jazz Select Reeds
- Soprano: Silverstein Works
- Alto: Silverstein Works
- Tenor: Silverstein Works
Link: Silverstein Ligature
- Protec, Fusion Cases Soprano/Fl/Clarinet bag
February 6, 2018 @ 11:30 am