World-Renowned Saxophonist, Tim Price: How to Teach Authentic Jazz Language

World-Renowned Saxophonist, Tim Price: How to Teach Authentic Jazz Language


Struggling with jazz improvisation?

I recently had the honor and pleasure of chatting with Tim Price, world-renowned saxophonist, about how to teach authentic jazz language.

I had been reading Tim’s article’s on the Saxophone Journal for many years now, and had gotten to know him over the last 2 years while we met up at NAMM in Anaheim.

We had a terrific conversation, that I split into 2 parts:

Part 1 – we talk about how to start beginner Jazz improvisers, in a private and school setting, and strategies to keep the jazz language authentic.

(You can listen to Part 1 of the interview by clicking here.)

Part 2 – (coming soon) – we talk about helping beginner and intermediate saxophone players with tone quality and technique (and other topics).

jazz, music ensemble
All-National Honor Jazz Ensemble, Photo by Howard Rockwin, Musical Memories Photography


Tim Price

Here’s Tim’s Bio, (originally appearing on the D’Addario page here.):

In the last few years, Rico artist Tim Price has had the extreme good fortune to have bands of his own featuring world class stellar players like Lew Tabackin, Bennie Green, Carl Allen, Ray Drummond, Allison Miller, and Bill Goodwin.

Tim’s travels have also taken him to New Orleans in September 2004 for a very special “Coltrane Tribute” with Tony Dagradi, and superstar drummer Stanton Moore from the jam band “Galactic”. The Coltrane event as well as the club “Snug Harbor” was SRO!!
As were gigs that Tim played in the East Coast area with his bands with Rachel Z and drummer Bill Goodwin. At this point in time Tim’s career couldn’t be more positive, things are moving in a very positive way.

Tim Price is a proud Rico artist, performer and educator worldwide. A Berklee College of Music graduate and one of the country’s foremost woodwind artists.

His stature at the North Sea Jazz Festival couldn’t have been more prestigious with a backup band of Bennie Green on piano, Ray Drummond on bass, and Carl Allen on drums. Tim’s special guest that night at the end of his set was Dutch superstar tenor titan Hans Dulfer. Tim also has been a special guest with Grateful Dead member Bob Weir’s RATDOG.

Tim has played with musicians like Bennie Green, Hans Dulfer, Lew Tabackin, Ray Drummond, Jon Mayer, Greg Bandy, James Gadson, Don Patterson, Billy James, Major Holley, Alan Dawson, Bill Doggett, Jack McDuff, Cecil Payne, Richie Cole, Charlie Watts from the Rolling Stones, Gary Burton, Doc Severinson, Dr. John, Lew Tabackin, Charlie Mariano, Shirly Scott, Trudy Pitts, Bootsie Barnes, Sonny Stitt, Ernie Krivda, Rachel Z, Larry Young,George Young, Sweet Sue Terry, Greg Piccolo & Super Heavy Juice and Claire Daly.

Tim Price

He’s spent years in the trenches with the big bands of Tommy Dorsey under both Murray McEachern and later Buddy Morrow, Cab Calloway and Harry James. He’s also been part of Ernie Krivda’s Fat Tuesday big band. Tim’s bassoon has been a part of the Lawrence “Butch” Morris Orchestra at the 2004 “Vision Festival” in New York City.

He loved the soul and rock gigs he’s played with Aretha Franklin, Billy Paul, The 5th Dimension, Lou Christie, Lloyd Price, Four Tops,Ike Turner, Lynyrd Skynyrd and many others from that idiom.

Some people might find this facet interesting considering that when Tim left Berklee he went on the road playing the jazz organ bar circuit. Tim has played with every major organ player except Jimmy Smith. Tim feels that was a great proving ground for a young saxophone player and something that is really missing today- Those classic jazz bars in major cities and small industrial cities scattered through the United States. Playing jazz 6 nights a week in a environment that is a proving ground for your growth.

Mr. Price’s writing on jazz and the saxophone appears regularly in the Saxophone Journal, he has been a featured writer for that publication for over 18 years.

In addition to being the recipient of a Pennsylvania Council on the arts fellowship jazz grant five times!! His saxophone books are published through Hal Leonard. He currently writes workshop-master class articles for SONIC , the innovative German / Dutch music magazine.

He has authored three books on sax playing, and his blogs for Rico Reeds on Facebook and Myspace appear every Monday.

His original tunes have been recorded by Houston Person, Supersax tenor player Jay Migliori and his composition ” Twins Of Spirit” has been recorded by the Sean Kennedy 5 featuring Bob Mintzer.

Tim played the NORTH SEA JAZZ FESTIVAL in Holland in July 2002, as well as many radio shows and clubs with Dutch tenor sax player Hans Dulfer. Other festivals include Newport Festivals,Vision Festival in NYC, Tri-C Jazz Festival, Berks Jazz Festival ,Cape May Jazz Festival & Boston Globe Jazz Festival.

Tim performs and does clinics throughout the world. He teaches private instruction in New York City and from his home studio in Reading, Pennsylvania. Professor Price teaches jazz saxophone at the New School University in New York City. He is also a saxophone instructor at Long Island University / Brooklyn campus. His teaching on Skype has become a worldwide trend setter. You can reach him on Skype here:

One of the Rico’s most requested clinicians, Mr. Price travels worldwide performing with and teaching student and professional jazz ensembles.

You can contact Tim at


Tim’s Advice on Jazz Improvisation

Tim studied Jazz BA (Before Aebersold!).

The way he learned was via Call and Response, which is what he suggests for teachers.

The difference is that when he uses this technique, he’s not just listening for correct notes; he’s listening for the language – the swing, groove, feel, etc…

The goal is to “get a pocket with sim ple notes.”

If you give an entire scale right away, it can be overwhelming for the student – too many notes, too many choices.

Most important, DEMONSTRATE, don’t explain!

Music is aural – it needs to be heard.

With just a few notes at a time, students will first internalize the feel and language, and later embellish by accident. The “simpler the better” cements the language into their chops and ears.

“The more notes you give somebody, the more confused they can become.”

Concept of Time

Tim was really passionate about students keeping a good pocket; the language of knowing where to put the time.

He suggests that students imagine the steady “dang” of the ride cymbal – by doing this, you won’t need to rely on a play-along to keep time.

It’s all about imagination…

You can listen to Part 1 of the interview by clicking here.

Upcoming Events with Tim

Tim has ongoing Improvised Duo Projects with Kazzrie Jaxen. Here’s a link to a recent event.

Tim will be appearing at the Berks Jazz Fest on Sat Apr 2, 2016 with Greg Hatza: Greg Hatza/Tim Price Organ Quartet. More info can be found by clicking here.

To learn more practicing techniques so you can master playing your favorite songs, enter your name and email address in the form below. I’ll also send you a bonus tip every week that will help you play the saxophone with confidence by practicing just 30 minutes a day (yes, really just a half-hour per day!).

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About the author:

donna schwartz

NAfME member Donna Schwartz  has been teaching band, jazz band, and general music in public schools for over 13 years, and private brass and saxophone lessons for over 26 years. She is known for coming up with solutions to common performance problems, in particular brass embouchure issues. Schwartz has studied with Vince Penzarella, Laurie Frink, Ed Treutel, Mel Broiles, Lou Doboe and Jeff Lange. She has her own radio show, entitled “The Music Teacher’s Resource Guide,” on the BAM Radio Network. Contact her at

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