The Sound and Me with Jordan VanHemert

The Sound and Me avec Jordan VanHemert
Korean American saxophonist Jordan VanHemert is renowned for his skills as a modern jazz improviser, composer and educator. Today he talks about sound and working on sound...


"I had a teacher when I was young telling me that the first thing that anybody hears when you play is your sound. And it's the one aspect of music that most people understand. You don't have to be a musician, let alone a saxophonist.

For me, I've always had a strong passion for working on my sound and trying to play in such a way that what I am hearing in my head - it sounds simple, right - but, what I'm hearing in my head is what comes out of the saxophone.

When I think about sound and working on sound, of course, we have all of the conventional long tones and making sure that you're playing top quality equipment. But I think learning how to make a great sound and learning how to play with a great sound is really not necessarily just learning how to play, but learning how to listen. How to listen to others who have come before you, in the tradition of jazz, which I mostly play, but also learning how to listen to yourself and how to listen to yourself, not just with criticism of: oh, I'll never sound like John Coltrane, but with the affirmation that I'm the only person who will ever sound completely like me.

To me, the saxophone has always been an exciting instrument to play because of that, it has some of the most flexibility out of any other instrument. Everybody has their unique sound that you can hear within an instant of hearing them play. It's a passion of mine, and I'm never done. There's never a place where I feel like I've achieved the perfect sound, because that doesn't exist. But I think that we play an instrument that is so flexible in that way and encourages this pursuit. It's one of the most exciting things about playing saxophone is that search for sounding exactly like yourself."

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