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Billy Joel - New York State Of Mind

Halfers

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Despite growing up with his Music, I've not really spent much time attempting to learn any of the numerous Sax Solos on Billy's work. 'Just The Way You Are' is a bit beyond me at the moment, however the iconic Sax phrases from New York State Of Mind are pretty much etched in my memory, mainly from the many times I'd heard the song on the classic 'Greatest Hits Vol I & II' that no doubt made Billy (or perhaps it was his Brother in Law?) a huge fortune..

Etched in my memory it was, however I thought I was having a senior moment when queuing up a streamed version from the above named Greatest Hits, I found that the Sax lines were completely different! Nothing like the organic, tasteful lines that complimented the version that was floating around in my head. I thought I'd check a copy of 'Turnstiles' but no, the same 'different' version with some frenetic squealings!

In the age of digital streaming and with no means of playing any physical musical media in the Home I wasn't able to check my CD of Turnstiles. Thanks to Youtube I was able to track down the version I was expecting to hear.

Does anyone know the story about this? I assume the original was recorded by Richie Cannata? Anyone know who recorded the other version? (Mark Rivera?) I've added links to the original (and best) first, then the frenetic second best (IMHO).

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F5LkGKJDc3Q


View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ol0dPJdzm1M
 

GJ77

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There are some great sax parts in his songs. I had to play Scenes From An Italian Restaurant on a gig recently and it was a pleasure to learn.
 

John Laughter

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“John
My name is Richie Cannata and I am Billy Joel’s sax player. I was very happy and pleased to see your hard work in putting together this prestige list of sax players. If you don’t mind I would like to correct some of my credits;

Only The Good Die Young: Tenor (1977) #24
You May be Right: Alto (1979) #7
Still Rock ‘n Roll To Me: Tenor (1980) #1
And in 1976 I played Tenor on New York State of Mind on the Turnstiles record...big song for Billy and me”.

Thanks,
Richie Cannata 2/13/13
 

randulo

playing 2 years
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@Halfers as you're interested in the saxophone role in this song, you may be interested to listen to Eric Marienthal's many versions on YouTube. I think he still performs it on all his gigs. I realize that wasn't your intention in this post, but if you're planning to learn it, it may also shed some light on the harmonies.
 

Pete Effamy

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Google doesn't seem to know. It isn't Mark Rivera, he doesn't't have the jazz language/phrasing and it isn't Phil Woods because the vibrato isn't there, and Google tells us that it isn't Woods. Best guess would be a series of sessions a la Steely Dan with multiple solos recorded. It's likely that only a few people were around for this and Cannata might not have known at the time. Ramone is no longer with us.

Cannata is a great pop/rock n roll soloist but doesn't have the harmonic language to "cut the changes" in a song that moves around a lot in pop music terms. I like his melancholic bluesy ideas in the solo but staying on the 1 chord when the harmony is moving away makes me feel uncomfortable and Joel possibly felt this too.

It doesn't sound like any of the obvious session players of the time - Tom Scott, Pete Christlieb, Wayne Shorter, and Sanborn wouldn't have played tenor anyway.

Andy Snitzer has been Joel's sax player on recent tours and has played some fantastic stuff over this song. Unfortunately, all the Youtube videos I've seen have been terrible quality but I did transcribe one of these solos if anyone is interested.
 

randulo

playing 2 years
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I have a decent guess! John Klemmer?
Upon refelection, that's a good guess. I'm listening to something from Waterfalls (1972).

(edit) by the way, did you know that John Klemmer can't read music very well because of an eye problem? I don't know if that ever got corrected by modern medicine.
 
OP
Halfers

Halfers

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“John
My name is Richie Cannata and I am Billy Joel’s sax player. I was very happy and pleased to see your hard work in putting together this prestige list of sax players. If you don’t mind I would like to correct some of my credits;

Only The Good Die Young: Tenor (1977) #24
You May be Right: Alto (1979) #7
Still Rock ‘n Roll To Me: Tenor (1980) #1
And in 1976 I played Tenor on New York State of Mind on the Turnstiles record...big song for Billy and me”.

Thanks,
Richie Cannata 2/13/13
That's great, John. Personal email! Very cool.
 
OP
Halfers

Halfers

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There are some great sax parts in his songs. I had to play Scenes From An Italian Restaurant on a gig recently and it was a pleasure to learn.
The Scenes From...solo has a similar feel and similar phrases to the (original) NYSoM solo. I think it's probably in the same key as well but not listened to Scenes to check. Certainly some of the key phrases from Scenes came back to me as I was fooling around with NYSoM. The Clarinet solo in that is very cool, also.
 
OP
Halfers

Halfers

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Google doesn't seem to know. It isn't Mark Rivera, he doesn't't have the jazz language/phrasing and it isn't Phil Woods because the vibrato isn't there, and Google tells us that it isn't Woods. Best guess would be a series of sessions a la Steely Dan with multiple solos recorded. It's likely that only a few people were around for this and Cannata might not have known at the time. Ramone is no longer with us.

Cannata is a great pop/rock n roll soloist but doesn't have the harmonic language to "cut the changes" in a song that moves around a lot in pop music terms. I like his melancholic bluesy ideas in the solo but staying on the 1 chord when the harmony is moving away makes me feel uncomfortable and Joel possibly felt this too.

It doesn't sound like any of the obvious session players of the time - Tom Scott, Pete Christlieb, Wayne Shorter, and Sanborn wouldn't have played tenor anyway.

Andy Snitzer has been Joel's sax player on recent tours and has played some fantastic stuff over this song. Unfortunately, all the Youtube videos I've seen have been terrible quality but I did transcribe one of these solos if anyone is interested.
Thanks, Pete. I thought you might have a bit of insight. Your comments on Cannata's solo are interesting. I don't have the ear chops to pick out the part your uncomfortable with. I'll have a further listen.

It's probably got something to do with familiarity with the playing, but I find the 'second' example just jarring against the song. It sounds as though it's played over it, rather than in it, especially when the Sax comes in higher and louder and more frenetic. Doesn't fit for me and the nice little interplay between Billy's vocals and the sax towards the end is missing.
 

Pete Effamy

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1,456
The Scenes From...solo has a similar feel and similar phrases to the (original) NYSoM solo. I think it's probably in the same key as well but not listened to Scenes to check. Certainly some of the key phrases from Scenes came back to me as I was fooling around with NYSoM. The Clarinet solo in that is very cool, also.
Concert Bb and C I think.
 

Pete Effamy

Senior Member
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1,456
Thanks, Pete. I thought you might have a bit of insight. Your comments on Cannata's solo are interesting. I don't have the ear chops to pick out the part your uncomfortable with. I'll have a further listen.

It's probably got something to do with familiarity with the playing, but I find the 'second' example just jarring against the song. It sounds as though it's played over it, rather than in it, especially when the Sax comes in higher and louder and more frenetic. Doesn't fit for me and the nice little interplay between Billy's vocals and the sax towards the end is missing.
Yes, I’m not a big fan of either, in that neither nails NYSOM in the way that Woods does on Just The Way. In fact Scenes is terrific though. A lovely play.
 

Pete Effamy

Senior Member
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1,456
The iii7 as a dominant is enough to throw a fair few pop/rock players even though it’s pretty standard stuff.
 

Pete Effamy

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Mark Rivera is a really nice sax player. He's also a fantastic singer. For a fantastic singer he's a fantastic sax player.. if you you see what I mean.
 

Pete Effamy

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This was the Snitzer live solo (from 2012 or 2014) that I transcribed and played whilst touring Joel's music (NOT with Joel). The bandleader wanted us to stay a good 90%+ true to Joel's recordings or live performances - which was fine for me as I wouldn't have liked to have tried to emulated any of the sax solos on his albums, and thoroughly enjoyed playing (and learning stylistically) from the Richie Canatta and Phil Woods solos, as well as this Snitzer one.

Screen Shot 2020-01-13 at 13.00.05.png
 

Pete Effamy

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1,456
We never played Zanzibar on that tour, but subsequently the show has toured recently with a trumpet player more than capable of playing Freddie Hubbard's solo. Great tune, great solo. Joel has also toured with a trumpet player multi-instrumentalist that has been ripping it up too - I think he has been mentioned on this thread earlier but I don't know his name. Here is the transcription by John Keady:

Screen Shot 2020-01-13 at 13.03.45.png
 
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