Dr. Sax

November 6, 2014 § Leave a comment

Clarinet is my thing, but it is a rare woodwinds fiend who cannot appreciate the bold and brash contributions of Adolphe Sax, especially on his bicentennial.

Antoine-Joseph Sax – image borrowed from History Today

Imagine a world without Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Steve Lacy, Ralph Carney, Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street, Steely Dan’s Deacon Blues (I’ll learn to work the saxophone. I play just what I feel. Drink Scotch whiskey all night long. And die behind the wheel… an Ohrwurm if there ever was).

Just when the saxophonist bumped the trumpeter off the top of the hip heap is up for debate – they both had to endure the reign of the electric guitarist shortly thereafter anyhow.

One thing to note is that the brass player/singer has the advantage of instrument mobility that few other wind instrumentalists share. Hence Louis Armstrong / Louis Prima / Chet Baker. The saxophone hangs around the player’s neck from a strap and relies upon a thin fragile reed to make a big boss sound. One wrong move and it’s back to soaking, please pardon the delay ladies and gentlemen. The saxophonist excels at text-less exhortations.


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