Education Page

Clinician Page

Online and Studio Lessons
Now using Skype World Wide


CDs Online


Warm Winds

Review:, Audiophile Edition

Just Friends Friends & Mentors Mel Martin Plays Benny Carter
DJay is the newest and best software to use on current Macs to vary pitch and tempo of MP3s and Playalongs without adding audio artifacts. Even more impressive that it is free (for now). A word to the wise...............Smart Music

Mel Martin's Tips
Mel Martin

| Study with Mel | Background | Recommendations | Private Lesson | Words from Masters | Performances |

Private Lessons 

Private lessons for intermediate and advanced students take place at my
studio in Novato, CA. For information contact me at (415)892-5911 or e-mail me at

My Background and Teaching Philosophy

I have had a longstanding commitment to education. I believe that part of a musician's function is to pass along their standards, knowledge and tradition to others. Teaching allows the musician to continue their own learning process. I have taught privately for many years and continue to do so. I have also taught in colleges and have done numerous clinics and Jazz Workshops throughout the United States. I have honed my private teaching methods to two separate but parallel areas. I emphasize development of tonal and technical studies while simultaneously emphasizing application of these techniques to musical situations. My belief is you cannot have one without the other. My educational background includes thorough musical training at Sacramento High School with bandmaster Aubrey Penman, private studies with saxophonist Bud Harphum of Sacramento and a few profound lessons with Lee Konitz. I attended San Francisco State University where I studied flute with Herb Benkman and Paul Renzi and composition with Albert Socco. The rest of my jazz studies took place on the streets of San Francisco during the early 'sixties.

Some Recommendations for Beginning Students
If you are a beginning saxophone student, I would like to recommend the three texts that I use in my private teaching studies. They are:

1.THE UNIVERSAL METHOD FOR SAXOPHONE by Paul Deville, published by Carl Fischer Music, Inc. - this is by far the most comprehensive method for saxophone ever written (Copyright 1908!). It includes exercises from A. Mayeur, H. Klose and others. It also includes dynamic and articulation and register building studies as well as unlocking all of the mysteries for correct alternate fingerings for saxophone.

by Larry Teal, published by Summy-Birchard Company - it is the best book of Saxology I have seen. It includes all of the tips and practical guides which takes most saxophonists years to collect in a single publication. Last but not least is

by Sigurd M. Rascher, also published by Carl Fischer Music, Inc. - ostensibly written to give the saxophonist the ability to play the altissimo register, it contains some the best information and exercises on sound production and overtones. The altissimo fingerings and exercises are not given until the END of the book.

Although there are many other fine books and methods on the saxophone, these three are readily available at most music stores and will give the beginning student all of the basics needed to become a thoroughly schooled saxophonist. Of course, these studies should be undertaken with the assistance of a qualified teacher.

An excellent recent publication is Saxophone & Flute Lessons With the Greats - Bruce Mishkit's fine tome includes a demonstration CD and interviews with the following artists ___________________

Joe Lovano - On Practicing--"Throughout your musical life, your practice routine has to change. A lot of guys practice the same way today as they did ten or fifteen years ago---as a result their playing has never developed past a certain point."

Dave Liebman - On Improvisation--"When I was younger, what bothered me was that I couldn't play like Coltrane, that I couldn't play like my idols. What I realized, of course, is that you can't play like someone else. The message is not "Play like me," the message is "Do like me."

Hubert Laws - On Learning From The Masters--"Music is a language, and like any other language, people speak with different accents. An accent is not something you pick up from a book; it's an aural concept. When you listen to someone improvise, the notes that are played are only half the story."

Lenny Pickett - On The Altissimo Register--"Mastering the altissimo register requires both extensive practice and a firm knowledge of the basics--the ability to change the speed and force of the air stream must be accomplished--biting on the reed won't do it."

Paquito D'Rivera - On Working On Tunes--"In general, I like to figure things out at the piano. I remember something Miles Davis once said. A young musician came up to Miles and asked him for tips on becoming a better trumpet player. Miles looked at him and told him to buy a piano."

Ernie Watts - On Earning A Living--"The bottom line always comes down to what you believe. Starving musicians are the ones who believe musicians starve--they believe life is hard--that jazz musicians have to scuffle. And as long as they do, they will."

JAZZ IMPROV - A great publication featuring in depth interviews, analysis, transcriptions and more. I am currently contributing new articles and CD reviews.

Private Lesson
Among the first things I talk to students about is tone production and articulation. Usually, these are considered separate studies but I deem them completely interconnected. Any study of any type of saxophone techniques are, in reality, studies in moving sound through the instrument. Therefore ALL exercises are 'long tone' exercises. In other words, even articulation exercises should utilize the same physical capabilities as do long tones. The first five pages of Top Tones For Saxophone are devoted entirely to basic tone production and should be studied slowly and methodically. An attack is defined by Larry Teal as preparation and release. Air is inhaled, the embochure already formed and then the tongue is simply released. Sounds easy enough but trying this on a low Bb can be disastrous for many. I recommend using 'D' syllables for saxophone articulations (clarinet as well) and 'T' syllables for flute. DA is for accenting, DIT for staccato and DO for legato. I have included three exercises utilizing these basic concepts. These were published in The Saxophone Journal, Volume 19, Number 6 - May/June 1995 along with my Masterclass CD and is available directly from me. Go to my Sheet Music Page and download the GIF copies of the exercises as well as sheet music of compositions by Benny Carter, Dizzy Gillespie and Mel Martin as recorded by me and Bebop and Beyond.

Quotes from former students:

"By the way, I know you recall those exercises that I shared with you and some of the books I referenced years ago all came from Mel. I recall discussing how to do them. A rigid regimen of that simple-yet-complicated stuff is what helps my physical chops, intonation and control.

"My tuba stuff came from Don Butterfield and Sam Pilafian, both of the Arnold Jacobs school, but the sax stuff was from Mel alone. No earlier teachers impacted me like Mel's influence. Although an amateur, what Mel gave me made it possible for me to hold down the FSJ chair and be a halfway decent amateur. I firmly believe my earlier tuba playing and Sam lessons helped my bari sound, it is all in the breathing, a la Jake. But 2 hours a day, 365, in the practice room with my binder from Mel was terrific stuff and changed my ability to execute on bari in FSJ." - Fred Urrutia 2004

Yates credits another mentor and music teacher, Mel Martin, with whom he studied saxophone after attending the famous Jamie Aebersold Jazz Camp, while still at Miramonte High School. "What really set Mel apart as a teacher was his willingness to be honest," Yates explains. "He always told me about my weaknesses, pushing me to play better, having me learn difficult improvisations. This was important because at that time, I was winning awards and praise from many. I needed to be challenged and kept humble in my learning process in spite of my success." - Doug Yates 2007

Words from Three Master Musicians

One of my earliest influences was Charlie Parker. I have done post graduate work with Benny Carter and Dizzy Gillespie. At this time, I would like to present to you some of the wisdom imparted to me from the school of Carter-Gillespie-Parker.

 Diz & Fidel
Diz & Fidel

Click photos for a beautiful remembrance of the great Dizzy Gillespie

The Bashere of Iparu
Photo by Gerry Waitz

Dizzy Gillespie and Mel Martin
Dizzy Gillespie and Mel Martin
Photo by Tom Copi

Some of the Prerequisites for a Successful Jazz Musician
John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie

I. Mastery of Instrument - "Important because when you think of something to play, you must say it quickly because you don't have time to figure how, chords changing so quickly."

II. Style - "Which I think is the most difficult to master in as much as there are not too many truly distinctive styles in all of jazz."

III. Taste - "Is a process of elimination. Some phrases that you play may be technically correct but do not portray that particular mood that you are trying for."

IV. Communication - "After all, you make your profession jazz because first, you love it and secondly, as a means of livelihood. So if there is no direct communication with the audience for which you are playing............there goes your living."

V. Chord Progressions - "As there are rules that govern you biologically and physically, there are rules that govern your taste musically. Therefore, it is of prime interest and to one's advantage to learn the keyboard of the piano, as it is the basic instrument for Western music which jazz is an integral part of."

VI. Rhythm - "Which includes all of the other attributes because you may have all of these other things but don't have the rhythmic sense to put them together, then it would negate all of your other accomplishments."

Quoted from To Be or Not To Bop

Buy Bebop & Beyond Plays Dizzy Gillespie

(Click for video)
Benny Carter, Jeff Chambers and Mel Martin

Video 2
Video 3

" I play and whatever the hell comes out, that's it." Benny Carter
Buy Just Friends - The Mel Martin / Benny Carter Quintet

Charlie Parker"That's what I said when I first started talking, that's my first conception, man, that's the way I thought it should go, and I still do. I mean music can stand much improvment. Most likely in another 25, or maybe 50 years some youngster will come along and take the style and really do something with it, you know, but I mean ever since I've ever heard music I've thought it should be very clean, very precise - as clean as possible anyway - you know, and more or less to the people, you know, something they could understand, something that was beautiful, you know."

"I put quite a bit of study into the horn, that's true. In fact the neighbors threatened to ask my mother to move once when we were living out West. She said I was driving them crazy with the horn. I used to put in at least 11 to 15 hours a day."

"There's definitely stories and stories and stories that can be told in the musical idiom, you know."
Charlie Parker from his interview with Paul Desmond

These words need to be read with extreme care and taken very seriously for within them lie the wisdom of three of the greatest masters of jazz.

Jam Sessions

Jam Sessions are an old Jazz tradition, and serve several important functions in the Jazz community.  They allow new emerging players to test their skills in front of an audience.  Jam sessions also provide an opportunity for "cutting contests" where musicians vie for dominance by comparing their imaginations and improvisational skills in a live face-to-face situation.   Also, Jam sessions allow musicians new to the area to network, and show what they have to offer.  Finally, club owners get cheap entertainment on an off-night, which is why these typically occur on Monday and Tuesday nights.  Philadelphia and other cities have several long-standing jam sessions.

Jam Session Etiquette

Players who are new to the scene would do well to visit a few times without their axes, and check out the scene.  Get a feel for the type of tunes played, and how other sitters-in are treated. 

It doesn't hurt to buy the leader a drink, and make some small talk but watch how quickly a beer drinker can acquire a taste for Courvoisier when you do !!  When you do get the nod, you should be aware of the "house rules". 

You may get to choose your tune, but be prepared to have it chosen for you, and not necessarily in the key you are used to.   If you are a beginner, don't overstay your welcome.  If you are invited back for a second tune, that's a good sign.  If you are not, don't leave in a huff, but promise yourself to woodshed more starting the following day. 

In general, singers tend to get "no respect" at jam sessions unless they are well known.  Don't take it personally, but if you do get selected, try to pick something unusual. 

Tunes to avoid for singers:

1. Stormy Monday Blues

2. Misty

3. All of Me

4. Over the Rainbow

5. Lover Man (or just about any Billie Holliday tune, unless you REALLY, REALLY do it well.)

6. My Funny Valentine (above all!)

(Borrowed from the Phillyjazz Web Site) (Now with an updated version!)


Chamber Music America
Marin Arts Council
Zellerbach Family Foundation

Interviews and Articles


Real Audio Logo You will need RealAudio Player - a free download
Special thanks to Augie Bloom, Dean Reilly and Bobby Shew

BirdCharlie Parker interviewed by Paul Desmond RealAudio
Hear Bird and Paul Desmond discuss music, saxophone and the early days when good, clean living and much poverty was the norm. Boston radio, early 1954
Text Version - 14:51

Charlie Parker Blindfold Test RealAudio- Leonard Feather conducts his famous blindfold test with none other than the Bird. 45:00

'TraneJohn Coltrane interviewed by Augie BlumeRealAudio
'Trane discusses spirituality, Monk, philosophy and Sonny Rollins.

45:00 6/15/58 Baltimore, MD

SonnySonny Rollins interviewed by Ralph J. GleasonRealAudio
Sonny talks about his music and what he considers most important...rhythm.

8:25 3/6/63 San Francisco

WayneWayne Shorter interviewed By Mel MartinRealAudio
Wayne and I talk about horns, philosophy, Miles, Lester Young, Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane and composing. "Jazz, to me, is no category."
July, 1996
Text Version

PrezLester "Prez" Young InterviewRealAudio
A legendary interview with Lester Young done shortly before his passing. Unfortunately, he was drinking as the interview progressed. He liked to use...umm... colorful language so this one is 'R' rated.


BudBud Powell InterviewRealAudioRealAudio
A brief interview with bop great Bud Powell where he speaks of recent compositions, Monk and some of his favorite musicians..


HawkColeman Hawkins InterviewRealAudio
A long interview where he talks of his travels and early years, the making of Body and Soul, playing jazz in New York, rock and roll, and the state of jazz. He's got a wonderful speaking voice.


Max Roach Interview with Mel Martin and Dr. Herb Wong RealAudio
A fascinating interview with jazz great Max Roach. We discuss the early days in New York when Max's first road gig was with Benny Carter. He was also working with Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. Max explains why bebop became music that the audience had to sit and listen to.


Eli "Lucky" Thompson Interview with Daniel BreckerRealAudio

A rare and important interview with one of the most underappreciated giants of jazz. Lucky speaks humbly and cogently about his times with Monk, Miles, Dizzy and Bird. He also alludes to why he quit playing. Done a few years ago, I believe he is still alive and, hopefully, well in Seattle.


Mel Martin Interview with Randy McElligott as recently broadcast on CHUO-FM in Ottowa, CanadaRealAudio

Mel Martin discusses his early years, many influences, his role in the San Francisco jazz and rock scene, his experiences with jazz masters Benny Carter, Dizzy Gillespie, McCoy Tyner, Joe Henderson and Freddie Hubbard and lots more.


Mel Martin
Tim Armacost

Mel Martin and Tim Armacost Interview w/ Chris Cortez about The Tenor Conclave broadcast on KCSM October 13, 2004 RealAudio

Mel and Tim discuss the new Tenor Conclave band, the tenor tradition, working with Joe Henderson and more. 20:20

Sigurd RascherSigurd Rascher Masterclass

This is a fantastic Masterclass by the great Sigurd Rascher, author of 'Top Tones for the Saxophone". This is a promotional film made for The Buescher Saxophone Company in the 1950's. Rascher discusses all the techniques in his book, performs with a full orchestra and lays out a solid basis for learning saxophone. Notice his fine use of vibrato even on overtone practice and use of the keyless saxophone. It's in three parts.

Mel Martin and Bebop and Beyond have performed concerts and clinics at many colleges and universities including:
Berkeley Jazz Camp
California State University, San Luis Obispo
Santa Clara University
California State University, Bakersfield
California State University, Sacramento
California State University, San Jose
Fresno Community College
Solano Community College
International Association of Jazz Educators
Arizona State University
Lamonte School of Music - University of Denver

Booking Information

Mel Martin and Bebop and Beyond are available for clinics, master classes, residencies and perform in concert as well as featuring workshops emphasizing improvisation, rehearsals, instrumental technique, jazz styles and arranging. They are able to communicate their comprehensive knowledge and experience in the jazz idiom in an entertaining and effective way to students and audiences alike. Mel Martin brings a wealth of practical professional experience to his clinics and workshops, emphasizing musicianship and professionalism. Small group and big band arrangements are available. For corporate and private functions click here.

Mel Martin is a Yangisawa (Conn_Selmer, Inc./Leblanc Division) and Rico Reeds (D'Addario Corporation) clinician.

Contact for concert performances:

The Mel Martin Quartet, The Benny Carter Cenntenial Tribute Band, Bebop and Beyond, All-Star Big Band or The Tenor Conclave

Phone & Fax:(415)892-5911
P.O. Box 2758

Novato, CA 94948-2758

For clinics contact:

Kristin McKeon
Rico Reeds

Bob Lichty
Conn-Selmer, Inc.
574-523-0717 Ext 1717
Fax:(574) 295-5405
| Main Menu | Special Features | Upcoming Events | Bios | Education Page | Interviews and Articles | Recordings | Mel Martin Quartet | Benny Carter Tribute Band | Bebop and Beyond | Booking Information | Endorsments and Awards

| Home |
© COPYRIGHT 1996 - 2012 and Beyond - Mel Martin
Nashvar Health & Fitness