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Reggae Saxophone?

altissimo

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A lot of the musicians involved in the development of ska and reggae had a thorough musical education at the Alpha Boys School and someof them were jazz afficinados - fans of Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker and John Coltrane - but opportunities to play jazz were slim except for playing at dances for rich tourists in the ballrooms of posh hotels.
Ska evolved as a Jamaican alternative to the kind of Fats Domino style New Orleans rhythm and blues that had gone out of fashion in the USA and was getting harder to find. So local entrepeneurs decided to fill the gap in the market and recruit some of the musicians from the dance bands to record in a similar style., But the offbeat got emphasised and ska was the result, a fusion of RnB, rastafarian drumming and mento. Eventually the tempo cooled down and rocksteady and reggae evolved.
People think that ska and reggae are easy to play 'cos it's only got 3 chords, but getting the feel right is very difficult - the rhythmic intricacies are too subtle to be transcribable, it's more about body language.

What's truly astonishing is the sheer amount of music that came out of no more than a dozen studios in Kingston in the 60's and 70's and continues to pour out of the island to this day
 
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randulo

randulo

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What I didn't know is how early this music began, although come to think of it, I may have heard some 50 years ago. Police and Clapton brought it out to the more general public as well back then. I agree @altissimo, this stuff, played well is no picnic. Ask any good, educated piano player in a country and western band. Simple, simply isn't.
 

Pete Thomas

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What I didn't know is how early this music began, although come to think of it, I may have heard some 50 years ago. Police and Clapton brought it out to the more general public as well back then.
It was before then, in the sixties ironically it was very popular for skinheads. I say ironically because they were often quite racist [EDIT: this is only my experience and I should not have implied that skinheads were/are racists]. Back in the 80s I did some gigs with Desmond Dekker's band. It was very strange a mostly black band playing reggae and ska to a hall full of bother boys doing nazi salutes and loving the band.

One other reggae band to check out is Toots and the metals - can't remember the exact track but I do remember one with really great funky alto.

But also listen to the music that preceded reggae, ska, rocksteady, Calypso...
 
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Halfers

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It was before then, in the sixties ironically it was very popular for skinheads. I say ironically because they were often quite racist. Back in the 80s I did some gigs with Desmond Dekker's band. It was very strange a mostly black band playing reggae and ska to a hall full of bother boys doing nazi salutes and loving the band.

One other reggae band to check out is Toots and the metals - can't remember the exact track but I do remember one with really great funky alto.

But also listen to the music that preceded reggae, ska, rocksteady, Calypso...
Pressure Drop? EDIT - read over the Alto thing so probably not - great track tho!

I thought the Beatles invented Reggae :rolleyes: ;)
 

Keep Blowing

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Great thread, thanks for inquiring about it, Randulo !

Reggae is not a genre most associated with sax (Ska, more so). So these suggestions are very cool and eye-opening.

Honestly, in all my years of listening, the only thing I could come up with was this very hip Gil Scott Heron original which has some very nice horn/sax work in it:

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9efhvkcz_AM
You probably all know this, but Gil Scott Herons father was the first black player to play for Glasgow Celtic FC
 

altissimo

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I would like to make an official complaint about @altissimo

He is posting stuff quicker than I can listen to it, it will be a few days before I catch up
you should hear all the stuff I didn't post... I'm packing it in now before the neighbours complain about all the bass rumbling through the walls.. I finally found find this clip from the film 'Rockers' of Tommy McCook, Bobby Ellis, Herman Marquis and Dirty Harry practising the horn part to Satta Massagana in a yard in Kingston... the real beauty of jamaican sax playing lies in the horn sections

View: https://youtu.be/QeLYsz9HdwE
 

Keep Blowing

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you should hear all the stuff I didn't post... I'm packing it in now before the neighbours complain about all the bass rumbling through the walls.. I finally found find this clip from the film 'Rockers' of Tommy McCook, Bobby Ellis, Herman Marquis and Dirty Harry practising the horn part to Satta Massagana in a yard in Kingston... the real beauty of jamaican sax playing lies in the horn sections

View: https://youtu.be/QeLYsz9HdwE
That was cool, it sounded like Roland Kirk
 
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randulo

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I agree. And I can also see the nice flygelhorn instead of the trumpet. Gives the horn sektion a less piercing and rounder sound.
Musically, I agree too, but I am more interested in the soloing sounds and philosophy. It's also good practice for keeping in tune.
 

thomsax

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People think that ska and reggae are easy to play 'cos it's only got 3 chords, but getting the feel right is very difficult - the rhythmic intricacies are too subtle to be transcribable, it's more about body language.
It's not easy. But that goes for most music. For some years ago a jazz guy told me that it was easy to play Clarence Clemons solos. He played as it was written on the music sheet. :eek: We should be glad that the don't take reggae to the music educations. That will kill the music. Like jazz and blues. Sax Gordon: "I find that many sax players who are into jazz, Funk, Fusion or Pop music end up taking gigs in Blues bands beacause they could use the work and it's considered easy. What most don't know is that there are many saxpophone stylists in Chicago blues that developed unique aproaches to group playing either as a small section or by themselves" wrote Godron about Eddie Shaw. I think the same goes for reggae, ska, calypso.
 

thomsax

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Like most genres reggae changed over the years. Reggae was taken over to USA, Europe and the music changed. "Euro reggae", "party-reggae" .... not so much in common with Marley's early "Tuff Gong" recordings. Good or bad?

Here is Joe Sublett playing "No Woman, No Cry". Tenor. Sublett has a good and clear tone.

View: https://youtu.be/s_-4yTf9cXo


I know a saxplayer who played (recordings and live) with Tom Waitts. Sometimes they called him and asked if he could come and record. "-Why me", he asked? " " - You have already recordings with guys that are much better". "-It's too clean. We need a player that makes the music a little more "dirty""., they answered. I would love to be asked to come and play dirty. Maybe someday?
 

Keep Blowing

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Like most genres reggae changed over the years. Reggae was taken over to USA, Europe and the music changed. "Euro reggae", "party-reggae" .... not so much in common with Marley's early "Tuff Gong" recordings. Good or bad?

Here is Joe Sublett playing "No Woman, No Cry". Tenor. Sublett has a good and clear tone.

View: https://youtu.be/s_-4yTf9cXo


I know a saxplayer who played (recordings and live) with Tom Waitts. Sometimes they called him and asked if he could come and record. "-Why me", he asked? " " - You have already recordings with guys that are much better". "-It's too clean. We need a player that makes the music a little more "dirty""., they answered. I would love to be asked to come and play dirty. Maybe someday?
Who is this guy?
 

JayeNM

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You probably all know this, but Gil Scott Heron's father was the first black player to play for Glasgow Celtic FC
Ha.....no I had no idea, actually....thx !

 

MikeMorrell

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Hi @randulo, I've really enjoyed reading, watching and listening to this thread! Great initiative! I hadn't heard (or thought of) sax playing in connection with Reggae, which I like.

I've haven't yet listened to all the clips but I liked most of those I have. I was impressed by some soloists and by the horn section of 'Burning Spear' (new for me).

Your thread got me thinking about genres other than classical, jazz, blues, rock and pop (and reggae;)) in which sax players play a role. Another genre I'm personally interested in is 'folk music'. I've always assumed that the sax is not a 'traditional folk music instrument'. Though anybody can of course play hornpipes, jigs and reels on it as on any other instrument. Anyway, this led me to a thread from 2011 on Folk/Sax. Following up on this thread, I was surprised to find that there are at least a couple of 'traditional folk bands' that still regularly perform with a sax player (usually doubling on flute, penny whistle, etc.).

One thing I love about Cafe Sax is that threads like this one get me thinking 'out of the box' and lead me to other discoveries!

Thanks for this,

Mike
 
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