I am actually not a sax player, I play smooth jazz guitar these days. For almost 40 years I was a solo pianoman/singer, but about 4 years back I contracted an auto immune disorder similar to Multiple Sclerosis, which progressively damages nerves in the arms and legs beyond repair. It is also an agonizing disorder 24/7 and is rightfully nicknamed "the suicide disorder" as it has driven many out of their mind, with tragic consequences.
The dexterity in the fingers of my right hand is substantially worse than the left hand so playing piano has become very difficult. I love my music and performing and was facing a bleak future and fell into deep depression. I taught music in schools many years ago and learned how to repair and set up guitars, although I was just a very basic strummer for most of my life. 2 years ago, a guy brought in a hollow body guitar for a make-over, and asked if I knew anyone who might be interested in buying it. He wasn't asking a whole lot, so I took it myself.
Over the next couple of days I restored it and fitted new flat wound strings. I plinked and plunked away quietly and most undeliberately, and while I was having a coffee, a track came on the radio by Larry Carlton and Lee Ritenour, and I really lost myself in the tone of the guitars. I started hunting down a couple of backing tracks, and of an evening began creating simple melodies. Night by night, month by month, I was improving, and without noticing it at first, my depression was slowly diminishing. So that's how playing smooth jazz guitar saved my life. Sitting in almost complete darkness late at night in my music room, the process of creating melodies to original tracks somehow suppresses the pain. My shrink says it's because the brain is sparking with so many diverse synapses that it is too busy to be aware of the pain-sweet deal, I say!
I have really connected with your tracks Mark, they reflect a lot of experience and a great set of ears. I like the mix and the "liveness" of the feel and sounds, and everything has the ability to possess the right amount of tightness and looseness, which is one of the signature marks of seasoned musicians. I am able to hook into each track straight away, but they also encourage some "elbow grease" to come up with some more elaborate phrases and licks.
I am very grateful for the opportunity to be playing music again, and so far you are my favorite producer of inspirational backing tracks-and may you continue the great work Mark. The world needs more people like you. I don't know how you find the time to maintain a live performance and recording career, while managing your website and all that it encumbers. You must be very efficient with time management is all I say! ~Paul S., Australia
Mark, just have to say, dude your tracks are the BOMB! I mean the real deal brother...I'm a guitarist, and I gig locally in the Chicago land area, and I am a one man band so to speak, so I am always on the prowl for Great Backing Tracks, and I simply can't say enough about yours, brother! The enclosed link is for my version of your track, What's Going On. I'm on YouTube as Macuser2 as well as Fandalism: https://youtu.be/ljWGvgSKBzs. Keep cooking! ~Joe W., Chicago, IL
Hi Mark. Fantastic! That's what you are! Your playing, arrangements, backing tracks are all over the top! Besides all that, I see that you are a perfectionist and tweak your arrangements until you get that smile. I watched your video on the making of "Game Of Thrones" and that was awesome. Best regards to you, ~Rick Hunt (Saxy Rick)
Hi Mark, thank you for the backing track very kind of you, I enjoy your style of music I work as a part time tourist guide and play a little saxophone with a DJ some times on a wedding, but I just enjoy playing the saxophone when I can, It’s my passion and your backing tracks are great and so is your playing the saxophone I will buy more of your music in the future thank you very much. All the best, ~Joe Barreiros, Portugal
Mark, you have very nice style, one of the best I’ve heard ! I’ll be buying more of your backup tracks and practicing for sure. That’s one way to get better - listen to others and learn their styles, licks, etc. I appreciate your work my friend! ~Tim H.
Hey Mark. You are great. I love your sound and also your backing tracks :)) I am not a professional sax player, but one with passion. I will play a wedding in August and the bride asked me to perform Ain’t No Mountain High Enough. Congrats for your absolutely smoothy sound - a best of sax-music. ~Roni Haug mistersaxr.ch
Hi Mark - thanks to you --- Great tracks for sure! I look forward to learning plenty from your recordings and I will be purchasing more tracks in the immediate future! Keep up the stellar work! ~Randy S.
Hi Mark, thanks to you for your music. I like your play-along versions very much. I live in Italy, near Siena, in Tuscany and I'm an old beginner sax player - I'm 46 years old - but I like playing and to learn and improve my music... It's not easy but I'm not in a hurry.... Thanking to you again, I'll listen and follow you on YouTube. Best regards, ~Simon Bazzotti