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Back when I was in high school, I attended some jazz workshops on Long Island, and I met Andy Farber at a couple of them. We became friends, and even back then I was astounded by the knowledge he had of jazz recordings and artists.

Well, our show today will be like a jazz history lesson for you.

The people that Andy and his family have worked with are among the Who’s Who of Jazz, and the details about some of those performances and composing and arranging jobs are really interesting.

We focused a lot on the music, which is important because it’s the music that we play. The instrument is just the voice or vehicle for our expression. At the end, we get into some more saxophone-specific talk, with his recommendations on horns and mouthpieces.

Let me tell you a little about Andy…

A Long Island native from an artistic family, Andy Farber started his studies on clarinet at the age of 8, and then quickly moved over to saxophone the following year. He attended many jazz camps and workshops during his high school years (USDAN, Manhattan School of Music, Jamey Aebersold).

He studied composition and arranging with Carl Strommen and his uncle Mitch Farber, and continued his studies at the Manhattan School of Music, where he studied with David Berger, and Mike  Abeme. He won the Manny Albam prize for jazz composition. 

He has continued to compose, arrange and perform, and has worked with Jon Hendricks, Shirley Horn, Bobby Short, Joe Lovano, Joe Temperley, Stevie Wonder, and many others.

He is the Musical Director for the BMI Composers Workshop, and teaches Jazz Composition and Arranging at Juilliard.

The LJCO has commissioned a work from Andy to be performed in April, 2020.

In this show, we talked about 

  • What is education? Andy’s thoughts on this
  • How he became friends with Wynton Marsalis and has been performing with him and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra (LCJO) since 1995
  • What he feels is missing from some artists today
  • Andy’s recommendations for who to research for jazz composition and saxophone history to build your foundation
  • A resource (under $100) that Andy finds indispensable for transcribing
  • His thoughts on doubling
  • Andy’s advice on equipment, and what NOT to do
  • HIs suggestions for learning tunes, based on Barry Harris’ method
  • And more

Some great quotes: 

From Andy:

“Learning by ear is permanent.”

“Music business has no rules, and they’re strictly adhered to!”

“If you want to find your voice, study the entire history of jazz.”

From his father, “If you’re the best musician in the room, you’re in the wrong room. You can’t learn anything that way, and it actually hurts you because the other people are dragging you down.”

From Duke Ellington – “There’s only 2 kinds of music: good music and the other kind.”


Resource mentioned:

Transcribe – for Windows and Mac: