George Garzone made a bit of a wild statement when he said that cutting a saxophone player’s tongue out could make them play better…..
But he has a point.
Tonguing on saxophone sometimes serves as a crutch to cover up weaknesses in our technique. These weaknesses are often caused by lack of skill in the fingers. But it can be corrected by listening and practicing with intention.
The idea of slurring music and not using the tongue at all help your sound on sax. I have practiced it and epxerimented with this technique. It definitely can make a huge difference in your playing.
The attack using your tongue gives the note a fresh start. Whether your attack is good or bad is another issue. But if you tongue between two notes, the transition does not need as clean of technique with your fingers.
So slurring and not using your tongue starts to reveal small imperfections in the technique of your fingers. If you’re going from an A to a C#, you’re lifting two fingers…… Maybe one of them lifts a hair of a second before the other. You wouldn’t notice it so much if you tongued. But if you slur, it becomes more apparent.
In this way, slurring music can act as a diagnostic tool. It will strengthen your abilities to play music. And then when you add in tonguing later, it will sound better still.
You’ll be able to hear your fingers in action more clearly and correct things that need to be corrected. There may be fluctuations in dynamics that you were not terribly aware of. Dynamics should be under your control.
How much tongue you add back in is a matter of personal preference. From reading a discussion (on SOTW) George Garzone tended to not articulate as strongly. And he can play. You might want to use the tongue a little more, your call. But being able to play without it, without relying on the crutch all the time will make you better.
Garzone talks about tonguing and a little about reeds, he is endorsed by Rico after all.