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Tim was my saxophone teacher whenever I visited California. I was in Canada when Tim died in his home city of San Diego. Thinking about him, I chose a mental epitaph thatI thought was apt: HE KNOWS EXACTLY WHAT HE IS PLAYING. Tim used this line when referring to musicians that he considered first rate. Interestingly, they were mostly those that played "by ear." Being an ear player myself may have been the reason he was the best saxophone teacher for me. Though he never learned to read music until he was well past forty, Tim never let that fact interfere with his passion for making a career out of music.

Living close to the line, as many musicians do, he sometimes had to work other jobs. He led his own quartet, playing saxophones and flute regularly at many of San Diego's restaurants and clubs. He played for a popular group "Quiet Storm."

Tim learned to play the saxophone from Terry Hyndes, his primary teacher and friend. They played together for many years in Kent, Ohio, in a very well-known group called "The Numbers Band 15-60-75." That band is still in existence and Tim is featured on their inaugral LP. Robert Kidney is still the leader of that band, along with his brother John Kidney. Many, many great musicians passed and played with the Numbers Band throughout the years.

Unlike his Dad, Tim did not learn to read music until late in life. Over forty years old, he decided to take a college course in Musicianship in San Diego so that he could add teaching to his skills. I did not know at the time but I was one of his first students. I was working as a puppeteer in that sunny, easy-going city of San Diego. Taking up the saxophone in my sixties was difficult so I responded to a classified ad in
The Reader. Tim was offering lessons to jazz saxophone students. The dingy rehearsal space he used as a studio was frequented mostly by rock and roll bands. It always smelled of beer and cigarettes when I took my lesson on a Sunday morning. One morning, when I arrived early, Tim was cleaning up the whole studio complex. He had taken on the job of janitor so that he could stay in the business he loved.

The lessons never felt like study. They were fun and although there was theory, Tim had the knack of understanding by
listening to me what it was I wanted to learn and he worked from there. Techniques like alternative fingerings and the value of practising long tones are just two that come to mind; they were lessons that stuck in my mind. He used a mix of his own natural ability plus the newly-acquired theory. I think I impressed him with my ear. Being twenty years older than Tim, I knew more of the old songs by memory and could often play them without the music. Apart from the lessons, another way I learned from this man was by hearing him play at Jimmy Loves and other restaurants in the Gaslamp district in downtown San Diego and Delmar. That is where I first heard him play Estate on the flute. The one passion that I did not share with Tim was his work as a Synthephonist - playing a kind of electronic saxophone powered by a combination of breath and old tube amplifiers. I guess I like the real thing.

Apart from our teaching relationship, we were friends. We would often meet for coffee on the Pacific Beach boardwalk, Tim on rollerblades, me on my bike. After I left San Diego, our friendship continued by email until his death. In parting with this friend, I want to share some correspondence which I believe illustrates his talent as a teacher and a decent man.

From: Tim Maglione timmag@inetworld.net
To: Ray Turner <
raymondo@islandnet.com
Date: Tuesday, November 21, 2000 12:28 PM Subject: Re: More from InSane Diego


RAY:  Hi! Tim, I really appreciate your writing. I have been persisting at the Sunday Jazz Jam and have worked through some frustrations. When I practise at home in my basement/cavern/closet it is like singing in the shower. Confidence abounds. I think I'm the best I could play anything, anywhere, in any key. So when I got to the jam, the leader, Phil asked me what I wanted to play, showing me the band's play list. I confidently pointed to three or four titles. I should have noticed I was trembling slightly. When I got to the bridge of "Have You Met Miss Jones" I realised my fingers were not able to keep up with my brain. I mean, there were sharps and flats beyond my immediate scope. I lost it, fumbled through and managed to finish my solo without puking. I was better with the other numbers. It was a humbling experience.

TIM:
No doubt, little did you know that you were playing some of the most difficult changes in all of jazzdom! It is a little known fact that the changes to the bridge of "Have You Met Miss Jones" embrace a concept of "descending thirds". This particular pattern is thought to have been an influence on John Coltrane as he was struggling to invent the concept of the so-called "Coltrane Changes" of...you guessed it! Descending Thirds! I won't go into it too deeply here, suffice to say that as you progress and continue studying...you will realize what it is that I'm talking about. The main thing I'd like to say is that...don't feel too bad! These particular changes ARE difficult to play! Our fingers want to fight us as we attempt to play them!


RAY:  I was awake most of the night. At one point I went to the computer to draft lyrics for "A-flat Major Embarrassment Blues", even composed a melody for it. I decided I would not return to the Jam until I was a perfect musician. I then understood what you meant about being a "street" player with "Big Ears". I have not finished the composition ( I will send it to you) but I did decide to get back on the horse. I revised my list of "All The Songs I Think I Know" (3 million) to "Songs I Can Actually Play" (7). I took my list, told them Blues in Ab, like you said, as well as a couple of others, and it went really well. Someone bought me a beer. My, that felt good. Now I stand at the side. If I know the song, I join in, if not I stand aside or play the maracas.

TIM:  Good idea but, don't be afraid to get up there for even more difficult numbers! You may surprise yourself with how big your ears have grown!

RAY:  I have had two teachers here, both well qualified but they did not seem to hear my needs. Both of them have to read charts while playing and that's OK for them but it doesn't seem to suit. I understand the "chord" theory but feel better letting my ears choose the notes. I am sorry I forgot your advice about Band In A Box. I got so keen on the shareware program "Harmony Assistant" that I bought it for $75. It is great for notation and printing sheet music. There is also an Optical Music Recognition program where you can scan the sheet into "Harmony" and then make changes. It is a French company <
http://www.myriad-online.com You might enjoy a free download. I like it because it really is teaching me notation, transposing.

TIM:  There is a site that contains some great advice about jazz improvisation. It is called "A Jazz Improvisation Primer" and it is at: http://www.outsideshore.com/primer/primer Check it out, I think you may find something there that may help to inspire you. Something I especially liked is the idea of substitute chords. For instance: when you are playing a ii-V7-I in any particular key, you can substitute what they call the "tritone substitution". The way this would work is instead of playing the dominant V7 change you would play the dominant chord a tritone up from the regular V7, i.e. if you are playing a ii-V7-I in the key of C, you would normally play a D minor (for the 2), then G7 for the V7 change, then C major for the 1 change. Okay, now the way you would play the tritone substitution is: you would still play the D minor for the ii change, but then you would play Db7 (enharmonically up a tritone from G) instead of the G7 change, then you would still finish with the C major for the I change. The reason this works is that the Db note is the same as the b5 of the G7. The chord tones of the Db7 would be: Db-F-Ab-B. The F is the same as the b7 of the G7 chord. The Ab is the same as the b9 of the G7 chord. And the B is the same as the major 3 of the G7 chord. So it simply lends itself as a very "jazzy" substitution! This is just one example of what you might get from visiting this site!

RAY: I don't like AWARDS very much. There are such things in puppetry circles and they usually cause nitty problems.

TIM:  Since I didn't win...I must say that i don't particularly like awards much either!

RAY:  Well, we are waiting here in Canada to see Bush and Gore take turns in being President. Is guess that is what democracy means.

TIM:  Yeh, we are still waiting here to find out who wins too! I voted for Gore, but I don't think he's going to get it! I would have voted for Nader if I had thought he had any chance in Hell of getting it.
Some of my more unusual tips for improving you saxophonic skills!
1. Keep practicing! At least 20 minutes a day.
2. Soak your hands in hot water!
3. Practice your tongue-ing (articulation) while you drive! Try to ta-ta-tatata-ta as fast as you possibly can!
 4. Also while you are driving, press your lower lip hard up against your upper lip...hold to the count of ten or so. Then repeat this about 50 times. If you are doing this correctly, you will feel a burning sensation in you embouchure. You will find that this helps to develop a great 'chops' for saxophone!

peace,

tim

TIM MAGLIONE 
was my sax teacher and the inspiration for the naming of my first website "bigearsray.com." Tim used to say "If you want to play jazz, or any kind of music, you have to have big ears." In other words, or one word, listen. Here is what I wrote about my friend Tim after he died in 2004.        

TIM MAGLIONE 
was my sax teacher and the inspiration for the naming of my first website "bigearsray.com." Tim used to say "If you want to play jazz, or any kind of music, you have to have big ears." In other words, or one word, listen. Here is what I wrote about my friend Tim after he died in 2004.