I graduated at the Conservatory of Amsterdam in 1994. My perception of the blues at that time was a 12-bar tune in swing feel with three basic cords and the use of many harmonic substitutions and turnarounds. I would use the blues scale and play various bebop licks. I basically adopted the same jazz approach as within any other bebop tune. It was not until the next century that I realized that I had never seriously played Blues.
Time for research.
My research question: what are the essential characteristics of the blues, what makes music sound blue? And can I become a better musician by doing this research and implementing the required techniques in my playing? By using the latest music analyzing techniques, I tried to dig deep Into the Blue and find the essentials needed to give my playing the bluesy sound.
The conclusions of my research were that ‘slurs, slides and bended notes’ are the true blues essentials.
In order to make my own playing more bluesy, I have to make more use of these elements since the ‘blue’ sound is in fact created by a slide-up, the blue movement. This was the starting point for the development of a modified saxophone with open tone-holes, dedicated to playing the blues, ‘The Blueshorn‘. Saxophone specialist Paul Feldmann was responsible for the modifications made on a Buescher 400 tenor-saxophone.