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Old Guy is back in the fold.

garygirdler

New Member
Messages
1
Locality
Albany, Oregon
Hello all,

I originally posted this a number of years ago over on another saxophone forum, but thought that maybe I should move it over here so I could meet some more folks... We have to go back a long time....fall of 1965 in fact, when a young kid (me) fresh out of Junior College in Weed (don't laugh. there really IS such a place) California (and you KNEW it had to be there, didn't you?) arrived in that hotbed of culture and sophistication, Chico, CA, (best known toady as the home of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale) with his brand new Selmer Mk VI alto and only a little straw in his hair.

Chico State College, as it was known then, had a reputation as a pretty good place to get trained as a public school teacher, and ever since meeting Clarence Sawhill (Band Director at UCLA and all around great gentleman) at summer Band Camps while I was in HS, my goal had been to become a music teacher. Not a "Jazz Sax Player."

Chico State didn't know what to do with me, there was no Saxophone teacher in the Music School so I got fobbed off onto the Bassoon guy. One day, while browsing through the local music store I came across two records that caught my eye. One was the Nonesuch Jimmy Abato recording of the Ibert and Glazunov Concerti and the other was titled "Sigurd Rascher Plays the Saxophone." I went back to my apt and played the Abato first. I decided right then that I wanted to BE Jimmy Abato! Then I played the Rascher. The record was a collection of pieces for Alto and Piano and I had never heard anything like it. Classical music on a Saxophone in the most beautiful, almost haunting manner. A tone that was like liquid gold. THAT was the sound I wanted and that was the music I wanted to play.

There was mention in the liner notes about the mouthpiece, so I immediately went back to the store and had them order me one. When it arrived it was a pure revelation. The first obvious thing was, my D Major scale no longer went: doo-doo-doo-doo-daah (when I got to The 'A'
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) and notes above blended in tone quality with the notes below. Open 'C#' actually blended with the notes around it and was in tune! In fact the entire range of the horn had a remarkably more consistent overall timbre. and it was gorgeous!!!!

I did have a little trouble with high 'D' and above until I finally got the concept of "keep your chin down, Dummy, you only have to seal the reed with your lower lip, not chomp on it."

About then the Bassoonist went away and was replaced by a new Band Director who was a flutist. He heard me play a little at our first lesson, liked the sound and immediately put me into a Flute Method (Berbeguier 18 etudes) since there wasn't much in the way of dedicated Sax Methods available back then, at least that either of us knew about. For recitals (participation in 4 student recitals each year was required) we decided to begin with the Rascher recording as models and progress up as far as we could before I graduated. With the (then) new Larry Teal "Art of Saxophone Playing in hand, we sent off to LeDuc in Paris for the music and away we went on our "do it yourself" Saxophone learning journey.

I will never forget the reaction of a couple other professors when the program for the first recital I was going to be in came out..."you're going to play Rameau on a WHAT???? (nobody had ever done this 'Classical' kind of Saxophone playing at Chico before, most people didn't even know it existed) Afterward, the Orchestra Director immediately became my best buddy and programmed L'Arlesienne, and Picures at an Exhibition in the next two seasons for Orchestra.

Well, to make a long story short (I know, TOO LATE)..I spent the rest of my time there at Chico playing through everything on that Rascher recording and a bunch of other stuff (thank you Claude D for Syrinx, even if you meant it for Flute) I found some other recordings by Donald Stina and Paul Brodie, but nobody-alas not even me- ever sounded quite like Rascher. Also-alas-ran out of time in school and had to get that teaching job in a local High School to start supporting the newly arriving family before I got the Glazunov Concerto ready to perform.

The Mk VI is long gone now (I used a Bonade inverted ligature and Vic Oliveiri Tempered #3s for you "What was your setup" guys) but I'll always cherish those days, and finding this forum makes me feel really good to know that even though I was isolated doing what I was doing out there-back then, you guys are here, today and the sound goes on.........

Fast forward to today.....Retired from the teaching career and wanting to take up playing again, I started looking for a horn. Well, MK VIs are still around but, oh my, what kind of prices are these?? (I paid $500 for mine, brand new in l965) I saw some mention of the Buffett A400, read a couple of reviews, and sent off to Saxquest for one. Had it for about 4 years and was very well pleased. I've since moved "up" as it were to one of the Buffet SENZOs (a wonderful horn), and just yesterday scored a real "Barn Find", an absolutely pristine-looks-like-it-has-never-been-played Leblanc "System" 100 alto. (It didn't have the original Vincent Abato mouthpiece that came with it though, so I guess I don't get to be him after all, unless someone out there has one of those they'd be willing to part with) Mostly playing in a couple of community concert bands now, and just for my own enjoyment, giving some lessons on the side, and living the good life out here in Oregon.

Thanks for all the information on this site, and for letting an old guy ramble.

Gary
 

aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
Cafe Moderator
Messages
12,024
Locality
London
Welcome to the caffè, Gary.
Your style will fit nicely, aroud here.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Café Supporter
Messages
21,468
Locality
Just north of Munich
Hi Gary, good to have you here. Some other classical players here as well as teachers... Have fun.
 

Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
Café Supporter
Messages
6,721
Locality
Whitchurch, North Shropshire UK
Hello,welcome
 

Jeanette

Organizress
Cafe Moderator
Messages
26,852
Locality
Cheshire UK
Lovely introduction, welcome to the Café :)

Jx
 

Rob Pealing

sax in a kayak (apprentice sax tamer)
Messages
1,126
Locality
Greenfield, Nova Scotia, Canada
Welcome, I enjoyed reading your introduction, far better than simply saying "Hello, I play saxophone"
 

Justin Chune

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,843
Locality
The Athens of The North
Hello Gary, welcome to the cafe. That liquid gold sound has always eluded me on the alto.
 

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