Adolphe Sax was a Belgian clarinetist and flautist who, while he was working on improvements to the bass clarinet, had an idea for an instrument that had the power and range of a brass instrument (such as the trumpet) while maintaining most of the features of a woodwind. He received a patent for the saxophone in 1846.
Although typically made of brass, the saxophone is considered a woodwind instrument, because rather than the player vibrating their lips into a cupped mouthpiece like a typical brass instrument (trumpet, trombone, etc.), the player blows through a reed that’s held in place in a mouthpiece. There are about a dozen different types of saxophone, but the ones most commonly used are the soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone.
Saxophones can be curved, which is most common, or straight, like the soprano sax Kenny G plays. It’s popular in marching bands and in jazz, smooth jazz, blues, and rock.
Since today is also Monday, and because Monday around here is “Monday’s Music Moves Me!” day, how about some saxophone music?
- David Sanborn, “Chicago Song” David on alto sax. He got his start with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band.
- The Dave Brubeck Quartet, “Take Five” Featuring Paul Desmond on alto sax. One of the most recognizable jazz tunes, from their Time Out album.
- Bud Shank, “Michelle” I first heard Bud playing flute on an interesting album with Japanese koto player Kimio Eto. He also worked with the LA4 and did plenty of solo work, including an album of him playing the tenor sax.
- Phil Woods, “Stolen Moments” Another one of those players I heard on an album I picked up somewhere along the way. Mary is a knitter, and one of her “gurus” is Meg Swansen, who is the daughter of another knitting guru, Elizabeth Zimmerman. Meg’s husband Chris used to play keyboards with Phil.
- Astrud Gilberto and Stan Getz, “The Girl From Ipanema” Tenor saxophonist Stan Getz had already made a name for himself in the bebop and West Coast jazz scenes when he connected with Antonio Carlos Jobim and became an impoertant name in bossa nova. Astrud Gilberto is one of the premier chanteuses in bossa nova.
- Jr. Walker & The All-Stars, “Shotgun” Jr. was a tenor player and singer who could blow with the best of them. This topped the R&B chart and was #4 on the Hot 100 in 1965.
- King Curtis, “Soul Twist” A great tenor sax player whose life was cut tragically short. This was #1 on the R&B chart in 1962.
- Boots Randolph, “Yakety Sax” A song that will forever be connected with Benny Hill, Boots worked out of Nashville and was part of the “Nashville Sound” promoted by Chet Atkins when Chet was running RCA’s Nashville operation. There are lots of videos of Boots with Chet and pianist Floyd Cramer.
- Gerry Mulligan, “Bernie’s Tune” I wanted to get an example of baritone sax, and who better than the man best known for playing the instrument?
- Kenny G, “Songbird” Again, wanted to get an example of soprano sax, and Kenny might be the best around right now.
So that’s “S” day in the A to Z Challenge and Monday’s Music Moves Me for April 22, 2019.