Saxophone #atozchallenge (Also Monday’s Music Moves Me!)

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.

L-R: alto, soprano and tenor (curved) saxophones (Ommeh at English Wikipedia [Public domain])

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?

  1. David Sanborn, “Chicago Song” David on alto sax. He got his start with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band.
  2. The Dave Brubeck Quartet, “Take Five” Featuring Paul Desmond on alto sax. One of the most recognizable jazz tunes, from their Time Out album.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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?
  10. 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.

Sullivan #atozchallenge


I am, of course, talking about Ed Sullivan.

Embed from Getty Images

Ed was a sports and entertainment reporter for the New York Daily News and was syndicated through The Chicago Tribune New York News Syndicate (now Tribune Media Services) who wrote a column called “Toast Of The Town.” In 1948, when TV was in its infancy, he was asked to do a show named after his column, which eventually became The Ed Sullivan Show. The show ran for 23 years and TV critic David Hinckley called it “The last great television show.”

Mary and I have been watching The Best Of The Ed Sullivan Show on Decades every evening (as always, check local listings). Granted, it’s been over 40 years since the last show aired, but we had forgotten just how diverse a show it was. If it was entertainment, Ed had it on his show. No kidding. Musical acts, comedians, circus acts, animal acts, ballet, cast members from Broadway shows, you name it, it was on the show. A lot of comedians got their start on The Ed Sullivan Show, including George Carlin, who included this on his FM & AM album.

Ed gave Elvis Presley his first national exposure. This is from Elvis’ third appearance on the show, and Ed has some very nice words to say about him at the end of this clip.

On February 9, 1964, Ed brought Beatlemania to the US. They were on the next three shows, the last by videotape. I think this is from their first. Sorry it cuts off mid-song.

As well as the bands from the British Invasion, Ed was one of the major promoters of African American talent. Sammy Davis Jr. was a frequent guest, as were Louis Armstrong, Pearl Bailey, Ella Fitzgerald, and Nat King Cole. Just in the last week, I’ve seen The Supremes, The Fifth Dimension, Lou Rawls, and Richard Pryor. There wasn’t a prominent Black performer that didn’t appear on Ed’s show, acccording to one TV writer. He took a lot of heat from sponsors for that, but he held firm and treated everyone who appeared on his show with respect.

Ed Sullivan’s show was where many of us encountered acts we wouldn’t see otherwise. And, as George Carlin said, we never got to thank him. Well, thanks, Ed! Those who grew up watching your show thank you for introducing us to a diverse and rich world of entertainment.

Do you have any memories of Ed Sullivan?

Statement #atozchallenge


Here’s one of those words that has a bunch of meanings. The simplest definition is that it’s “something that’s stated,” like “I am eating a cookie” or “I like cookies.” We learned in English class that a statement is one type of sentence, the others being a question, an exclamation, and a command. At least those are the ones I can remember; there are probably others. Or maybe I just made all that up.

You also get a statement from the bank every month, as well as the credit card companies and everyone you owe money to, like the gas company. It’s a document that tells you how much money you have, or how much you owe. For years, the post office used to process millions of pieces of mail, most of which were statements of one kind or another. Most people now get their statements online, which is a good thing: it saves money for the bank or company mailing out the statements, and it prevents people from going into your mailbox and taking the statement out and using the information to clean out your bank account or take out an auto loan for a BMW Nazca M12, which this article says costs almost $650,000 (US).

Speaking of the BMW Nazca M12, it’s what some people say is a statement car. A car that makes a statement. I honestly wonder what statement a person who buys one of them is trying to make. There’s a joke that compares a BMW to a porcupine, which I won’t tell unless someone asks me in a comment.

We used to have a cartoon on the door of one of the rooms in our apartment, where a couple is sitting in their run-down living room, and the man says “They say each room should make a statement. This one’s must be ‘KA-BOOM!'”

And let’s not forget the use of statements in writing computer programs. I spent years writing programs in COBOL that had statements like this:


If this seems to have gone off in all different directions, remember: it’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday.

The Top Five From “Super CFL”, April 22, 1971 #atozchallenge


WCFL logo (source: Wikipedia, fair use)

WCFL (“The Voice of Labor,” “The Big 10,” and “Super CFL”) was owned by the Chicago Federation of Labor and for many years broadcast union and labor-related news, Chicago White Sox baseball, and some music. In 1965, they became Chicago’s second rock station, competing with WLS. The offices and studios of the two stations were about three blocks apart, with WLS’s in the Stone Container Building at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive and WCFL’s in Marina City (which had just been built, mostly at the behest of the Chicago Federation of Labor) at State Street and Wacker Drive, on the north bank of the Chicago River. Over the years, many on-air personalities moved between those two buildings.

“Super CFL,” as it was called in the years leading up to its abandonment of the Top 40 format, issued a weekly survey of the Top 40 in Chicago, based on record sales and requests to the station, which explains the occasional differences between its survey and WLS’s. Here is the Top Five on the station on this date in 1971.

#5: Put Your Hand In The Hand – Ocean The sound of early Christian rock. It reached #3 at the Voice of Labor in early May, but fell to #11 the week of May 20 and started its descent.

#4: Another Day – Paul McCartney This was the first single by the band which would become Wings. A friend of mine tells me he was in a record store and overheard one pre-teen girl tell another, “Did you know Paul McCartney was in a band before Wings?” The song dropped to #10 the following week.

#3: Never Can Say Goodbye – The Jackson Five I chose the “live” version they did on The Flip Wilson Show over the single version because the dancing is tremedous. It went to #2 the week of May 13 before beginning its descent.

#2: Joy To The World – Three Dog Night This song rose to #1 the following week and stayed there for four weeks before being supplanted by Donny Osmond’s “Sweet And Innocent.”

#1: Stay Awhile – The Bells This song had peaked the week before and was still enjoying the top spot this week. Listen to (or read) the words; they’re kind of creepy…

WCFL dropped the Top 40 format on March 15, 1976, at 5:00 PM. They played two hours’ worth of sounds of the ocean before slipping into their new “beautiful music” format. The last Top 40 song they played was a modified version of “Life Is A Rock (But The Radio Rolled Me)” by Reunion. Hall of Fame disc jockey Larry Lujack, who had just signed a big contract with the station that they were going to hold him to, is the announcer here. Here are the last ten minutes of “Super CFL.”

After a few years and several more format changes, WCFL became WMVP, or “ESPN Radio 1000,” which it is today. The call letters now belong to a Christian station out of Morris, Illinois, which simulcasts WBGL, a Christian station out of Champaign, Illinois.

And that’s your history lesson for today. Many thanks to my friends at Oldiesloon, which is a tremendous resource for popular music surveys.

#atozchallenge: Sitcom

sitcom =
situation + comedy


The cast of I Love Lucy: William Frawley (Fred Mertz), Lucille Ball (Lucy Ricardo), Desi Arnaz (Ricky Ricardo), Vivian Vance (Ethel Mertz). Source: MovieFanGirl20/

A sitcom, or situation comedy, is a comedy centered around a group of characters who share a common environment, typically living or working together. They’ve been around since television’s infancy. Some, like The Honeymooners with Jackie Gleason, Art Carney, and Audrey Meadows or I Love Lucy with Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance, and William Frawley, have run continuously since they were first aired in the 1950’s, others last less than one season.

A couple of examples:

  • The Andy Griffith Show, with Andy as the sheriff of Mayberry, North Carolina, which also starred Don Knotts, Ronny Howard, and Francis Bavier.
  • The Dick Van Dyke Show, where Dick played the head writer of The Allan Brady Show. We saw him at work with co-writers Buddy Sorrell (Morey Amsterdam) and Sally Rogers (Rose Marie), director Mel Cooley (Richard Deacon) and the star (Carl Reiner), and at home with wife Laura (Mary Tyler Moore), son Richie (Larry Matthews), and neighbors Jerry and Millie Helper (Jerry Paris and Anna Morgan Guilbert).
  • All In The Family, with Carroll O’Connor playing blue-collar bigot Archie Bunker, with his wife Edith (Jean Stapleton), daughter Gloria (Sally Struthers) and Gloria’s husband Mike (Rob Reiner), also known as Meathead.
  • Murphy Brown, with Candice Bergen in the title role as a reporter on a weekly newsmagazine show, also starring Faith Ford, Joe Regalbuto, Grant Shaud, and Charles Kimnbrough.
  • The Big Bang Theory, with Johnny Galecki and Jim Parsons playing a pair of Cal Tech physics professors who are roommates and live across the hall from an attractive woman (Kaley Cuoco) who works as a waitress while she waits for her big break as an actress.

One type of sitcom that’s popular in the US is the “Britcom,” sitcoms licensed (usually) from the BBC which typically air on affiliates of the Public Broadcasting Service. Shows such as Keeping Up Appearances with Patricia Routledge and Clive Swift, Are You Being Served? with Mollie Sugden, John Inman, and Frank Thornton, and As Time Goes By with Dame Judi Dench and Geoffrey Palmer air every Saturday night on Georgia Public Television, and remain popular even though they’ve been rerun many times over.

SITCOM is also used as a “backronym” (a backward acronym), a word which has become an acronym (instead of the other way around). It stands for “single income, two children, oppressive mortgage.” I hope that doesn’t apply to you…

What are your favorite sitcoms?