The Jazz Saxophone

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The Jazz Saxophone
Satyajit Roychaudhury
The saxophone is a musical instrument invented in the 1840s in Belgium by Adolphe Sax. Although it uses the single reed of the clarinet family, it has a conical tube and is made of metal. By 1846 there was a double family of 14 saxophones, seven in F and C for orchestral use and seven in E flat and B flat for bands. The latter are by far most common today, the alto, tenor, and baritone being used most frequently. The saxophone has a powerful tone, between woodwind and brass in quality and blending well with both. Valuable to bands and occasionally used in the orchestra, it is now best known for its extensive use in dance and jazz music. It has a small serious solo literature. All saxophones except those in C are transposing instruments.
Adolphe Sax (1814-1894) – inventor of the saxophone

The Saxophone Timeline (1814 – 2002)
1814 - Antoine-Joseph (Adolphe) Sax born 6 November, Dinant, Belgium, studies instrument-making with his father, Charles-Joseph. 1834 - Adolphe Sax perfects bass-clarinet design; *improves keywork and construction 1842 - Sax arrives in Paris 1842 - 12 June--Sax's close friend Hector Berlioz writes article in Paris magazine Journal des Debats describing Sax's newest invention--the saxophone 1844 - 3 February--Berlioz conducts concert which features an arrangement of his choral work Chant Sacre which includes saxophone 1844 - December--Saxophone makes its orchestral debut in Georges Kastner's opera Last King of Juda; Paris Conservatory 1846 - Sax granted patent for saxophone 1894 - Sax dies 1911 - Tom Brown and the Brown Brothers saxophone sextet popularize saxophone with American public with recordings of such songs as: Bullfrog Blues, Chicken Walk, 1922 - Saxophone used in Mussorgsky/Ravel Pictures at an Exhibition 1923 - Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin (2 altos, tenor) 1927 - Ravel uses saxophone in his Bolero (sopranissimo, soprano, tenor) 1928 - An American in Paris by George Gershwin (alto, tenor, bari) 1928 - Symphony No. 1 Aaron Copland (alto) 1949 - Jazz saxophonists Gerry Mulligan and Lee Konitz feature, along with other artists, on Miles Davis' album Birth of the Cool 1954 - The Selmer Mark VI Saxophone begins to be produced 1955 - Charlie "Bird" Parker dies in New York City on March 12 1957 - Saxophone Colossus released by jazz tenor man Sonny Rollins 1958 - John Coltrane is jazz tenor saxophonist and quartet leader on the album, Giant Steps 1959 - Jazz tenor legend Lester Young dies in New York on March 15 1963 - The Art of Saxophone Playing is published by Larry Teal 1964 - John Coltrane's A Love Supreme issued 1967 - Coltrane dies, July 17 1969 - May 19, Coleman Hawkins dies 1969 - December - 1st World Saxophone Congress Meeting, Chicago; organized by 1970 - 2nd World Saxophone Congress Meeting, Chicago 1971 - 3rd WSC Meeting in Toronto 1973 - Fourth WSC Meeting in Bordeaux, France 1975 - Cannonball Adderly dies 1976 - Mark VII introduced with standard high F# key 1976 - Selmer's square-chamber mouthpieces marketed 1977 - 30 May, Desmond dies 1981 - Selmer S80 introduced 1982 - 7th WSC in Nuremburg, Germany 1986 - Selmer S80 Series II introduced 1991 - Stan Getz dies 1T9h9e6 S- aGxeorrpyhMounleligManasdtieesrs 1997 - 11th World Saxophone Congress in Italy 1997 - Chris Potter wins Jazz Par Prize 1997 - Joshua Redman wins Thelonious Monk Competition 1998 - William Albright dies 1999 - Branford Marsalis releases Requiem 2000 - 12th World Saxophone Congress in Montreal, Ontario, CANADA 2001 - Joe Henderson dies 2002 - Nick Brignola dies 2002 - America's Tribute to Adolphe Sax, Vols. 1-7 is released in box set. (AUR)

The Saxophone Family
Seattle musician Jay C. Easton with 10 members of the saxophone family (from largest to smallest: contrabass, bass, baritone, tenor, C tenor, alto, F mezzo-soprano, soprano, C soprano, sopranino). Photo by Adrienne Easton. Reproduced from the Jay C. Easton official website with the kind permission of Jay Easton (
Alto Saxophone in Eb and it’s range
Tenor Saxophone in Bb and it’s range The alto and the tenor saxophones are the two most popular saxophones used in jazz.

The Masters of Jazz Saxophone Jimmy Dorsey

1904–57, and his brother Tommy Dorsey (Thomas Francis Dorsey, Jr.), 1905– 1956, both b. Shenandoah, Pa., American jazz musicians and bandleaders during the Big Band era. Jimmy Dorsey played the clarinet and alto saxophone, his brother the trombone. Toward the beginning of their careers in the late 1920s both were part of the Paul Whiteman Orchestra, and by the early 1930s both were successful pick-up and studio musicians. The two briefly had two bands together, the swing group of 1933–35 and another from 1953–56. Most of the time, however, each had his own band—Jimmy's a dance-oriented group and Tommy's more of a hot and sweet jazz ensemble that for awhile (1939–42) featured Frank Sinatra. The Dorsey bands were popular during the Big Band era (late 1930s to early 50s). Dorsey bands were featured in several Hollywood movies, and the brothers starred in a fictionalized film biography, The Fabulous Dorseys (1947).

Coleman Hawkins

1904–69, American jazz musician, b. St. Joseph, Mo. He began playing saxophone at the age of 9. He was part of Fletcher Henderson 's band from 1924 until 1934. Hawkins established the tenor saxophone as a major jazz instrument. His enormous tone, vigorous attack, and improvisatory genius both in ballads and up-tempo pieces made his influence pervasive. Because his style constantly evolved, Hawkins was distinguished even in the company of avant-garde jazz musicians from 1945 until 1969.

Lester Young

1909–59, American jazz musician, b. Woodville, Miss. He played the tenor saxophone with various bands (1929–40), including those of Fletcher Henderson and Count Basie, with whom he first recorded in 1936. Young and Coleman Hawkins are considered the major influences on tenor-saxophone playing, and Young's style was important in the development of progressive, or cool, jazz, which arose in the late 1940s. He won several jazz polls and made a number of records, including a series with Billie Holiday, who gave him his nickname, "President," later shortened to "Pres" or "Prez." ―Goodbye Porkpie Hat‖ waswritten by Charlie Mingus in his memory after Lester Young passed away.

Charlie “Bird” Parker

1920–55, American musician and composer, b. Kansas City, Kans. He began playing alto saxophone in 1933, and after shifting from one band to another he met Dizzy Gillespie in New York City. They formed a quintet, which in 1945 made the first bop (or bebop) records and thus became the leaders of the bop movement in jazz. Parker's brilliant improvisations, noted for their power and beauty, soon earned the admiration of innumerable musicians. He composed several instrumental quartets and made many recordings. For many years Parker was addicted to drugs, which hastened his death.

John Coltrane

1926–67, American jazz musician, b. Hamlet, N.C. He began playing tenor saxophone as an adolescent. Coltrane worked with numerous big bands before emerging in the mid-1950s as a major stylist while playing as a sideman with Miles Davis. Originally influenced by Lester Young, Coltrane displayed in his playing a dazzling technical brilliance combined with ardent emotion and eventually a kind of mysticism. His style, which was at once sonorous and spare, was influenced by the rhythms of African and Asian music. Coltrane made a number of influential recordings, among them the modal-jazz classics My Favorite Things (1961) and A Love Supreme (1964), and the later exemplars of free jazz, Ascension and Interstellar Space, his final album. From the late 1950s until his death he was considered the outstanding tenor and soprano saxophonist of the jazz avant-garde, and his music continues to be a strong source of inspiration to contemporary jazz and pop musician.

Stan Getz

1927–91, American jazz tenor saxophonist, b. Philadelphia, Pa., as Stanley Gayetsky. As a mature musician he was especially known for his "cool" jazz style. He began playing as a teenager in Jack Teagarden's band, later appearing with bandleading greats Stan Kenton, Jimmy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, and Woody Herman. His early playing was heavily influenced by Lester Young, and he recorded a number of singles with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie and Gerry Mulligan. During the 1960s Getz experimented with the Brazilian bossa nova sound, which was particularly suited to his breathy style and resulted in such hit records as "Desafinado" and "The Girl from Ipanema." His later work continued to be improvisational, expressive, emotional, and highly melodic, but with a somewhat harder edge.

Ornette Coleman

1930–, African-American saxophonist and composer, b. Fort Worth, Tex. Largely selftaught, he began playing the alto saxophone in rhythm-and-blues bands. He later developed an unorthodox and impassioned style of free jazz characterized by broken rhythms, atonal harmonies, and improvised melody, which made him an enduringly controversial figure in the jazz avant-garde. Coleman made his first real impact in the commercial jazz world in 1959 and has since played in a number of small groups with various musicians. In the mid-1970s he formed the Prime Time band. Coleman has written several modernist concert pieces, notably the orchestral Skies of America (1972).

Sonny Rollins
1930- , American jazz tenor saxophonist, b. September 7, 1930 in New York City. Sonny Rollins has had a long, productive career in jazz, beginning his career at the age of 11 and playing with Thelonious Monk before reaching the age of 20. Rollins is still touring and recording today, having outlived several of his contemporaries such as John Coltrane, Miles Davis. He was first recorded in 1949 began to make a name for himself by recording with Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk. Rollins' most widely acclaimed album ―Saxophone Colossus‖ was recorded in 1956. In 1957 he also pioneered the use of just bass and drums as accompaniment for his saxophone solos, a texture that came to be known as "strolling". He is well-known as a composer; and compositions such as "St. Thomas", "Doxy", "Oleo" and "Airegin" have become standards. By 1959, Rollins took his first sabbatical. Upon his return he named his "comeback" album ―The Bridge‖. Throughout the '60s Rollins remained one of the most adventurous musicians. Each album he recorded differed radically from the previous one. He also provided the soundtrack to the 1966 version of Alfie. Rollins took his second sabbatical to study yoga, meditation, and Eastern philosophies. His bands throughout the '70s and '80s featured electric guitar, electric bass, and funk-oriented drummers. Rollins’ most famous appearance to rock music fans was his appearance on the 1981 Rolling Stones album ―Tattoo You‖ in which he plays saxophone several tracks. Although his recordings in the '70s, '80s, and '90s were not as critically acclaimed as his earlier recordings, he continues to be known for his powerful live performances. On September 11, 2001, Rollins, who lived several blocks away, heard the World Trade Center collapse, and was forced to evacuate his apartment, with only his saxophone in hand. Although he was shaken, he traveled Boston five days later, to play at Berklee College. That concert was released on CD in 2005,'Without a Song: The 9/11 Concert.Rollins was presented with a Grammy Award for lifetime achievement in 2004.After a highly successful Japanese tour in late 2005, Rollins returned to the recording studio for the first time in five years to record, "Sonny, Please." At the same time, he launched his own website, and started his own label, Doxy Records.The city of Minneapolis, MN officially named Tuesday October 31st, 2006 after him in honor of his achievements and contributions to the world of Jazz.

Wayne Shorter
1933 - ,American jazz composer and saxophonist, b. in Newark, NJ. In 1956 Shorter played briefly with Horace Silver and Maynard Ferguson. In 1959 Shorter joined Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. He stayed with Blakey for five years, and eventually became musical director for the group. In 1964, Miles Davis persuaded Shorter to join the Miles Davis Quintet alongside Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Tony Williams. Davis chse him to replace John Coltrane. Shorter composed extensively for Davis ("Prince of Darkness", "ESP", "Footprints" etc). Herbie Hancock said: "The master writer to me, in that group, was Wayne Shorter. He still is a master.‖ Davis said: "Wayne is a real composer. He writes scores, writes the parts for everybody just as he wants them to sound. He also brought in a kind of curiosity about working with musical rules.‖ While with Miles Davis, Shorter recorded several albums, featuring almost exclusively his own compositions. JuJu and Speak No Evil are two of the most well known recordings. He also recorded occasionally as a sideman with Donald Byrd, McCoy Tyner, Freddie Hubbard, Lee Morgan, and bandmates Hancock and Williams. In 1969 he played the soprano saxophone on the Davis album In a Silent Way and on his own Super Nova. By the early 1970s, however, he chiefly played soprano saxophone. Shorter remained in Davis's band after the breakup of the quintet in 1968, playing on early jazz fusion recordings including In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew (both 1969). His last live dates and studio recordings with Davis were in 1970. In 1970, along with keyboardist Joe Zawinul formed Weather Report. A great variety of excellent musicians that would make up Weather Report alumnus over the years (most notably the revolutionary bassist Jaco Pastorius). Shorter also recorded critically acclaimed albums as leader, notably Native Dancer, which featured Brazilian composer and vocalist Milton Nascimento. Concurrently, in the late 1970s and the early 1980s he toured in the V.S.O.P. quintet. This group was a revival of the 1960s Miles Davis quintet, with Freddie Hubbard playing trumpet. After leaving Weather Report, Shorter continued to record and lead groups in jazz fusion styles. He contniued to work with Herbie Hancock, including a tribute album recorded shortly after Davis's death with Hancock, Carter, Williams and Wallace Roney. In 1995 Shorter released the album High Life, his first solo recording for seven years. It was also Shorter's debut as a leader for Verve Records. Shorter composed all the compositions and co-produced it with the Marcus Miller. High Life received the Grammy Award in 1997. Shorter's wife Ana Maria and their niece Dalila were both killed on TWA Flight 800 in 1996, and he married Carolina Dos Santos, a close friend of Ana Maria, in 1999. Shorter would worked again with Hancock in 1997, on the much acclaimed album 1+1. Both Hancock and Shorter won the Grammy award for this album. Shorter formed his current band in 2000. The other members are pianist Danilo Perez, bassist John Patitucci, and drummer Brian Blade. Two albums of live recordings featuring this quartet have been released (Footprints Live (2001) and Beyond the Sound Barrier (2005)). The quartet has received great acclaim from fans and critics, and the musicians have come to consider themselves family on and off stage. Shorter's 2003 album Alegria received the 2004 Grammy Award; it features the quartet with a host of other musicians. Beyond the Sound Barrier received the 2006 Grammy Award for Best Instrumental
Jazz Styles and some of their Saxophonists
Sidney Bechet
Coleman Hawkins Harry Carney Lester Young Herschel Evans Johnny Hodges Ben Webster Willie Smith Benny Carter Buddy Tate

Illinois Jacquet Chu Berry
Charlie Parker Don Byas Sonny Stitt Dexter Gordon Sonny Rollins Wardell Gray James Moody Sonny Criss
Lee Konitz Gerry Mulligan Warne Marsh Art Pepper Paul Desmond Stan Getz Al Cohn Zoot Sims Jimmy Giuffre
Sonny Rollins John Coltrane Wayne Shorter Hank Mobley Jackie McLean Harold Land Johnny Griffin Benny Golson John Gilmore Junior Cook Tubby Hayes Phil Woods Stanley Turrentine Joe Henderson Cannonball Adderley Lou Donaldson
Ornette Coleman Arthur Blythe

Archie Shepp Albert Ayler John Coltrane Pharoah Sanders Anthony Braxton Sam Rivers Dewey Redman Evan Parker Steve Lacy Eric Dolphy Henry Threadgill Joseph Jarman Roscoe Mitchell Marion Brown Pharaoh Sanders
Branford Marsalis Kenny Garrett Joshua Redman Wayne Escoffery James Carter

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The Jazz Saxophone