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A Jaded View?

old git

Tremendous Bore
What do I know about saxophone champions? Nothing really as my first experience of the saxophone in real life was Bruce Turner who played alto in Humph’s band and used to be met with posters suggesting that Bebop Turner should be killed. Such was the attitude of the mouldy figs towards saxes at that time, forgetting what was in Bechet’s hands most of the time. Rudy of Bill Haley and the Comets and Sam Buttera although not known by his name then, of Louis Prima also impressed. Later found the sax sections of the big bands, the Count’s in particular very interesting. Loved the solos of the two Franks, Wess and Foster, riding out from one of those special triple forte Basie chords. Around this time, began to appreciate Paul Desmond and Gigi Gryce who had a recording band in Paris with Clifford Brown. Was still playing trombone at the time, was mad about Jay and Kai, Jimmy Cleveland and Frank Rosolino. Now don’t ask why I didn’t do the same gun trick as him. Strangely enough two of the British band leaders of the time also played ‘bone, Ted Heath and Don Lusher. Shortly after this found Chuck Berry and Fats through Radio Luxembourg in between the whistles. You FM and digital listeners don’t know you’re born.

Then went into the folk world and luckily missed out on a load of saxophonists, would much prefer to spend time listening to Sandy Denny, Noel Murphy, The Strawberry Hill Boys later to become the Strawbs, Steeleye, Fairport, Roscoe Holcombe and a host of others, known and now unknown than an evening with Trane. Spent a long time with the eight bar form of the blues which went down well in folk clubs, wasn’t good enough to perform the twelve bar talking format, then it just got too busy to spend much time listening to music or trying to perform.

Retirement gave enough time to experiment with new instruments as had moved on from the folk club world. The first effort, whistles and non keyed flutes, just didn’t like the restrictions of the Oirish controlled format so played blues. Realised that the first second and third fingers of the hands were also the basis of the Böhm system of fingering so obtained a silver, well purple really, flute, now owned by jon f and explaining his recent joke. Then got my tenor which is still being self taught in a peculiar method, learned all the notes as individual items rather than scales alongside J. O’N’s book. There are / were advantages and drawbacks. Occasionally hold ‘nosh ‘n’ blows’ for a few guys where I’m also the weakest musician but enjoy it.

Gradually began to realise that my real heroes are the arrangers. Full of admiration for the ‘play it through once and then perform it live’ guys like E.O Pogson, Pete Townshend’s dad, members of the BBC Northern Dance Orchestra and the various pick up bands on radio and television. Symphony orchestras have cut costs by reducing the number of rehearsals but the radio and TV tzars knew this aeons ago. Would Sinatra have been so great without arrangers Riddle and May, the trumpet player who soloed on Glen Miller’s Army Air Force band recording of ‘American Patrol’?

Ellington without his arrangers? Good pianist and composer. Basie, similar. Guys like ‘JJ’ Johnson, Strayhorn, Hefti even George Martin showing that they are the REAL talent. “That nice Mr. Thomas” is a true descendant of this stream of talent only he works most of the time with Logic rather than band leaders. Probably better off as he doesn’t have to deal with a band style merely brand style. Funnily enough, he still has that solo passion, well displayed on Mr. Lucky and his PPT Blues clips.

Saxophone champions? Well there are a few like that M/s Fuchs and that other tenor bird who played with Humph, just can’t remember her name. Cr, no that was how Humph described my playing. Where is my Native American guide when I need him? Ah, near the tip of my tongue, yes definitely getting a K........... er, is it Ka............... umm............yes Ka still not clear............Kar. No........got it, Kathy Stobart.

Having discovered that being competent on any instrument is beyond my extremely limited capacity, nothing but admiration and envy of their talents but more admiration and envy of the arranger, the true musician.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
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Just north of Munich
Thought you were on about Grassi's from the title.

Why refuse to recognise other's talent, just cos you can't master an instrument to your satisfaction. Bet you're better than me...
 

AlanU

Member
Messages
628
Location
Enfield, North London
If I understand, you're applauding arrangers. Bravo!
Most 'hits' would never have had a life without the right treatment. They would still have been good tunes/songs, but the arrangement made them special and popular/memorable.
'Tainted love' without the instantly recognizable motif would have been forgetable.

Just look at the Motown hits. They all had the recognizable sound, but each recording was tailored to the song and artist.
The writers were usually allowed to produce the recordings, as they knew how their songs were meant to sound.

OG, have you heard 'Mahalia' on Ellington's 'Girls's Suite'? The voicing of the saxophones is wonderful. Mr Strayhorn's work, I think.
It has long been ok to sneer at the likes of Glenn Miller, but there are some really good things going on there.

I recently looked at a You-tube video of 'Skyliner' by Charlie Barnett.
If you watch it you'll find two things that standout and made it a hit. The upward brass progression leading to the lush saxophone harmonies.
At that time a sure fire winner.

Anyway, it's time I heard some music that an arranger never 'enhanced'. Robert Johnson.

Nighty night
 
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