Using just the saxophone, violin, and their voices--and with no looping--saxophonist Colin Stetson and violinist Sarah Neufeld create incredibly layered and engrossing aural landscapes on their 2015 album Never were the way she was. Their video for "The rest of us", directed by Dan Huiting, is cinematic in its own right, but it's the driving gallop of the music that will stick with you. [more inside]
Colin Stetson has released "Sorrow - a reimagining of Górecki's 3rd Symphony". Pitchfork writes that the avant-garde saxophonist's reimagining of the famous symphony by the Polish composer comes close to something by Explosions in the Sky or Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Stetson himself is hoping that "the sound world and the genre implications are really irrelevant, that they’re second to the musical content and to the overall theme and feeling of the piece." You can listen and decide for yourself here (YT).
Legendary saxophone player Bobby Keys has passed away at the age of 70. Best known for his work with the Rolling Stones, with whom he played and toured for over 45 years, his resume is a who's who of classic rock royalty. Keys has appeared on albums by George Harrison, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, BB King, Eric Clapton, Dr. John, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Marvin Gaye, Warren Zevon, and many many more. [more inside]
NPR's Bob Boilen (host of All Songs Considered): "People ask me all the time to name my favorite Tiny Desk Concert. It's my desk and I've seen almost all of the nearly 400 concerts up close. So you'd think this would be easy. Moon Hooch have made it a lot easier." (video) [more inside]
The Saxophone Sisters, Lavanya and Subbalakshmi's musical repertoire includes Carnatic music, Hindustani, Western classical, Hindi, Tamil movie songs and jazz. [more inside]
Let's celebrate the 80th birthday of Afrofunk pioneer Manu DiBango with a few of his groovy tunes, shall we? He made a splash way back in 1972 with a catchy (and rather influential) little number called Soul Makossa. A few years later, in 1982, another DiBango tune, also catchy as hell, might've made it onto a turntable or a dance floor near you: it was called Echos Beti. Aside from these two tunes, there's been lots, lots more from this very prolific Cameroon-born saxophonist, vocalist and bandleader, so I've included... [more inside]
Coin Coin Chapter Two: Mississippi Moonchile (full album stream) is the second instalment in Matana Roberts's projected 12 part Coin Coin series of albums, "using the language of acoustic jazz to look at ideas of race, class and gender politics in American society". Coin Coin was the nickname of a totemic figure from African-American history, Marie Thérèse Metoyer – a freed slave who founded a community along the Cane River in Louisiana in the late 18th century where people of colour enjoyed greater freedoms and opportunities than they could in most other places in the South. [more inside]
Also no conductor and no sheet music: the Eastman Saxophone Project performs The Rite of Spring [more inside]
The World According to John Coltrane is a one-hour documentary, featuring lots of music footage and interviews with prominent jazz musicians such as Wayne Shorter, Tommy Flanagan and many others. It's an excellent primer on the enormously influential saxophonist's life and music.
Sax battle on the NYC subway [slyt].
Eric Dolphy [auto-music] was a true original with his own distinctive styles on alto, flute, and bass clarinet. His music fell into the "avant-garde" category yet he did not discard chordal improvisation altogether (although the relationship of his notes to the chords was often pretty abstract). While most of the other "free jazz" players sounded very serious in their playing, Dolphy's solos often came across as ecstatic and exuberant. His improvisations utilized very wide intervals, a variety of nonmusical speechlike sounds, and its own logic. Although the alto was his main axe, Dolphy was the first flutist to move beyond bop (influencing James Newton) and he largely introduced the bass clarinet to jazz as a solo instrument. He was also one of the first (after Coleman Hawkins) to record unaccompanied horn solos, preceding Anthony Braxton by five years. - AllMusic (previously: 1, 2)
On Saturday, March 1, 1947, at the Hi-De-Ho nightclub in Los Angeles, in a booth near the bandstand, Dean Benedetti switched on a Wells-Gardner disc cutter - starting what would become the most legendary jazz recordings in history. (400 KB PDF) [more inside]
Saxophonist Colin Stetson performs a stunning live version of his song "Judges", then shows us how it's done.
"Ornette in '59" - a BBC documentary segment about Ornette Coleman's The Shape of Jazz to Come. [more inside]
Is the epic saxophone solo returning to pop music? With recent good time summer radio hits by ubiquitous hit makers Katy Perry and Lady Gaga featuring an unexpected saxophone solo, is this a hint towards a return of the woodwind as a staple in rock/pop music or just ironic posturing from vapid "tastemakers"?
Colin Stetson is an unusually gifted sax player. He's worked or is working with Tom Waits, Laurie Anderson, Lou Reed, GY!BE, Bon Iver and others. He's opened for Arcade Fire, Tim Hecker, and The National. What's most unusual about Stetson is that he's able to make all the sounds you hear with one horn, utilizing no loops or overdubs. Stream three tracks and download one or watch two videos of him play.
Lester Young (Aug. 27, 1909–March 15, 1959) is given not just a memorial, but extensive musicological criticism and contextual information in this ten-chapter series by jazz pianist and blogger Ethan Iverson of The Bad Plus. Solo transcriptions and analyses, interviews with Lee Konitz, Tootie and Jimmy Heath, Benny Golson, an essay on Young's influence on Miles Davis, a discographic primer and more. (Previously.) [more inside]
A handy rating guide to 1980s saxophone solos -- "I realized about 5 years ago that at some point in the 80s, lots of the popular music started incorporating saxophone solos into their songs. Some of them are fine, but most of them are ridiculous to have in the songs. I have attempted to separate the quality and appropriateness of the solos from what I think of the song as a whole..."
So, there was this little rock band from England, and they got pretty famous and all, so famous that they initiated the era of stadium concerts, back in '65, at a little place in Queens called Shea. But there was an opening act that night, led by a sax-blowin' fellow name of King Curtis, and he kicked total muhfukkin ass, and it wasn't even with his baddest band! You can hear them here. Jump Back! [more inside]
Two flutes at once. Two guitars at once. (Honorable mentions.) Two recorders at once, 100% nose-powered. Two trumpets at once (breakdown at three).Two harps at once. Two saxophones at once. (Bonus: Clarinet/sax unos.) [more inside]
Smooth Jazz, also sometimes referred to as new adult contemporary music or instrumental pop, is generally described as a genre that utilizes instruments and improvisation traditionally associated with jazz and stylistic influences drawn from mostly R&B, but also funk and pop. Since the late 1980s and into the 1990s, it has become successful as a radio format. [source wikipedia] [more inside]
Frank Morgan died yesterday. He was 73. Interview. Some sounds. (another beautiful american saxophone stylist).
Here's a chance to acquaint (or reacquaint) yourself with the music of some of the great saxophonists who've made their mark in American improvised music. The following MySpace Music pages feature audio, video, photos and text aplenty, to get your jazz mojo working. In no particular order: Lester Young, Hank Mobley, Ornette Coleman, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, Don Byas, Pharoah Sanders, Albert Ayler, Charlie Parker, Joe Henderson, Earl Bostic, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Johnny Hodges, Wayne Shorter, Sonny Stitt, Benny Carter, Sidney Bechet and David Murray.
Boots Randolph has died. The Nashville saxophonist's signature was the hit Yakety Sax, better known to some as the Benny Hill Theme Song. Boots was one of the A-Team studio musicians who defined the Nashville Sound. He played with Elvis, recorded hundreds of albums both as backup and headliner, and never retired from performing. Listen to his music.
MusicMoose wants "to provide the world with free, useful music lessons, and a community based site to help back it all up." The site contains hundreds of free video music lessons (often containing notation and/or tablature) with a distinct focus on acoustic and bluegrass music, all taught by some pretty badass pickers (including the astonishingly good mandolin shredder Anthony Hannigan). There are also obligatory but very useful forums. Takeaway: the whole thing is free and you don't have to register to watch the lessons.
Michael Brecker has passed away Arguably, one of the most influential saxophonists of all time, he has lost his fight against myelodysplastic syndrome. Truly a major loss for the jazz and rock worlds.
The Language of Saxophones At 55, L.A. musician and poet Kamau Daáood is finally beginning to acknowledge the possibility of his own place in local letters with his debut book of poetry, The Language of Saxophones, a 30-plus-year retrospective published by City Lights. Though he’s recorded a solo CD and read nationally and internationally, Daáood had never seen fit to collect his material in a book. Until now. “I never liked the idea of poetry sitting on a shelf somewhere, lost in all those book spines”.
Ever notice a little too much sax in 80's music? (Warning: Slow loading page---lots of embedded Quicktime.)
Xaphoon! It's a saxophone! No, it's a clarinet! It's dirt cheap and it fits on your pocket! Apparently these have been around for twenty years, but I've never heard of them before. I've ordered myself one of the plastic ones. Has anyone here played one of these things?