Tag Archives: Saxophone

All Plastic Saxophone

There seems to be a resurgence in this idea. Enter the Vibrotosax.

To create more saxophonist in the world is our prime concern. Our designer team need to accomplish 3 objectives….Design a saxophone that everyone can afford, provide a standard fingering configuration and producce a solid saxophone sound. The solution: to replace brass with polymer. By doing so we not only change the material but also the process of saxophone manufacturing which has remained unchanged since 1843.

Besides the strange English (they are a Thailand company and refer to the King of Thailand in their about page), aren’t we experiencing a strange sense of Deja Vu? I mean……haven’t we been there, done that?

Frank Morgan Dies

I’m a little late on this, probably due to not having internet during this time, but Frank Morgan passed away on December 14th.

Frank Morgan, 73, a jazz saxophonist of impeccable ability, whose claim to the mantle of the celebrated Charlie Parker was clouded by his heroin addiction, died Dec. 14 at his home in Minneapolis. He had colon cancer and kidney failure.

I have a few Frank Morgan albums, and he plays his ass off.

Keyless Saxophones

When I was in college, I heard the story of Siguard Rascher having a keyless saxophone. Basically, a conical tube in the shape of a sax. Mr. Rascher was reported to be able to play anything on it.

Well, looks like you can actually get one and try to be a virtuoso like Siguard Rascher. Hollywood Winds sells an alto and a tenor version for $495 and $695 respectively.

I wonder if it would be cheaper to get an old C-Melody off of Ebay and just plug the holes….

Making Reeds

Ok, are you sitting. Yes? Ok. I play oboe.

Take a deep breath

It’s not as bad as everyone says. In fact, it is a beautiful instrument, and great classical works composed for it. The only issue I have with playing Oboe is reeds.

Right now, I’m using reeds made by the Alan Double Reed company. I really like the Medium Hard Concert reeds they make. But, to truly know the instrument, I decided this summer to learn how to make an oboe reed. I purchased a reed making kit that included some gouged and shaped cane. I also was armed with a copy of “The Art Of Oboe Playing” which has a great guide to reed making guide.

Long story short, I still don’t know how to make an oboe reed. I have yet to make it past the binding the reed to the staple part. Erg. If/When I get past that, then we come into the whole scraping/shaping thing. Maybe I need a good video of the whole process….

Single reed players have it good, but, are there any people out there that actually make their own saxophone reeds? I know that I have, in the past, shaved and trimmed some reeds to make them play better. But to construct a playable reed from a blank? Is it worth it?

Michael Brecker dies at age 57

Sadly, this time around it is true. I had seen a couple of emails in various lists I subscribe to this morning, but someone finally gave me a link to the a news site that has the details.

"Michael Brecker, a versatile and highly influential tenor saxophonist who won 11 Grammys over a career that spanned more than three decades, died Saturday at age 57.

Brecker died in a hospital in New York City of leukemia, according to his longtime friend and manager, Darryl Pitt. "

Truly, a great loss for jazz and the saxophone. Michael was a genius.

I remember first seeing him in the late 80s at the Shoreline Jazz festival. I had gone to see the group Spyro Gyra cause I thought they were great (hey, I was a high school noob). I was totally wrong. The Michael Brecker band, of which I knew nothing, was playing during the day, and I was amazed. He did his thing with the EWI where he would walk on stage, and play around with it for 15 minutes. Amazing stuff. I don’t remember staying for more than 3 Spryo Grya songs after hearing Brecker.

Soon after I heard him on Michael Frank’s song Dr. Sax. Wow! I was hooked. I got to meet him when he was the guest artist at my College. We talked about tech gadgets (Something about Palm Pilots and Maps as I remember). He was funny. During rehearsals, he was messing up (jet lag), and he’d make this face when he did it. I was laughing to whole time.

It’s a sad day.

Update: 01/14 19:28 GMT by E :The New York Times has a nice article about him today.

Update: 01/15 00:48 GMT by E :The Michael Brecker site now has word of his passing. 🙁

Update: 01/15 07:18 GMT by E :Someone posted a video on Youtube as a tribute. Nice montage. And of course, my favorite Steps Ahead song, Self Portrait

Oodles Of Saxophones

I just received the latest Woodwind/Brasswind catalog. Have you seen the number of companies that make saxophones. Here is the list (in no particular order):

  • BandNow
  • Barrington (advertised heavily in the catalog)
  • Yamaha
  • Amati
  • C.F. Conn
  • Keilwerth
  • Blessing
  • Allora
  • Selmer
  • LA Sax
  • Jupiter
  • Chicago Jazz Series (LA Sax?)
  • Woodwind Brand
  • Yanagisawa
  • Unison (not in the catalog though)
  • Buescher (not in the catalog)
  • Selmer USA (not in the catalog)

Whew. And then there are different models from these guys. Selmer has at least 9 different alto saxophone models. Wow. Is there really a market for all these brands? Are any of them to be avoided? Did I forget any?

Evening with Don Menza

I got to spend some time with the great Don Menza tonight. It was very good. For those of you who don’t know of Don Menza, you need to sell your saxophone. Now!

01/24/2001 Updated a little more

Don Menza is a very gifted woodwind player who is probably most known for his stint with the Buddy Rich big band. But, Don Menza is deeper than that. Don is a very active in the music and teaching scene, and he is playing all over the world currently. In fact, he says he keeps a horn in the various locations he goes to rather than carrying a horn around….but that is another story.

Anyways, Don Menza had a stories about everything. I didn’t get to hear any of the famous Buddy Rich stories (or horror stories) because I got there a little late (maybe Rory could fill us in?). He retold a great story of seeing Charlie Parker playing live, with Strings. He said Charlie Parker’s sound was big, kinda like a tenor, and would fill the room. He said Charlie Parker’s play looked like he wasn’t play because his fingers were soo close to the keys. He also had a story of how Charlie Paker’s playing changed after playing 2nd Tenor in the Billy Eckstine band. He was playing second the Gene Ammons. Don insists that you can hear a trading of ideas between Gene and Charlie after that time.

Don Menza is insistant that the best saxophones ever made are Selmer Mark VI’s. He says that once Selmer stopped making them, they lost the art. Current saxophones being made have aspects of the Selmer Mark VI, but he says that nothing captures it.

Don is also insistant on mouthpieces. He doesn’t buy that “this mouthpiece will make me better” arguement. I remember seeing him in 1995 or 1994 at the IAJE in LA, and he did this demo of sounding the same on 3 different mouthpieces. The $500 special, the $100 middle of the roader, and the $5 special. It didn’t matter, he made them all the same. I think he now likes old Otto Links that he strips the rubber off of. We didn’t get into details about that.

Don’s also very passionate about his teaching. He’s very proud of a couple of student, especially this girl (and I can’t remember her name!). She was always something he’d talk about. He’s very proud of her.

I’ll probably remember something more later………