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Jazz Ronnie Ross on alto

rhysonsax

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3,804
Ronnie is my very favourite baritone player and an excellent musician. He would make a great model on alto as well as baritone. And he played bass sax too on many of the tunes recorded for the three TV series of "The Beiderbecke Affair" etc.

I only saw Ronnie Ross once and he was playing alto throughout. Some time in the mid 1980s at the Bull's Head, Barnes when he put the fear of god into a visiting American saxophone star - I think it may have been Johnny Griffin.

I was in the front row at the gig, facing Ronnie and remember being hit by flying spit at one point when Ronnie was in full flow !

Look at that saxophone section closely and you can see Peter King playing tenor. What a line-up in that band.

Rhys
 

David Roach

Senior Member
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I worked with Ronnie in the early 90s in Sinatra's band. Was an absolute gent, a lovely man and a supreme bari player.
That's a Berg Larsen alto mouthpiece he's playing I think.
 

rhysonsax

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3,804
I worked with Ronnie in the early 90s in Sinatra's band. Was an absolute gent, a lovely man and a supreme bari player.
That's a Berg Larsen alto mouthpiece he's playing I think.
Ronnie did play a modified Berg Larsen on his baritone but the shank on this alto piece looks nothing like a Berg to me. The shank has a distinctive bulge when viewed from the side but I'm not sure it's a Selmer Soloist.

Rhys
 

rhysonsax

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3,804
Are you sure about that? Not a big fan of Griffin's playing, but I certainly wouldn't want to be anywhere near him when the solos are being dished out.
I'm not sure about anything in the 80s. My other guesses would be Charlie Rouse or Frank Foster.

It was a huge name, US tenor player and he was having to play at his best to keep up as Ronnie was at the top of his game. It wasn't a cutting contest at all and Ronnie was playing very lyrically.

I think I was at that gig with my best man so I can try checking with him but it's a long shot. I think it was part of a tour with a UK rhythm section.

Rhys
 

rhysonsax

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3,804
Sounds great! Didn't he teach David Bowie to play alto?
He did indeed, when Bowie was plain Davey Jones. I think Bowie played a Grafton alto back then.

And it was Bowie who called Ronnie Ross into the recording session for Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side".


Rhys
 

David Roach

Senior Member
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619
Ronnie did play a modified Berg Larsen on his baritone but the shank on this alto piece looks nothing like a Berg to me. The shank has a distinctive bulge when viewed from the side but I'm not sure it's a Selmer Soloist.

Rhys
Yes, pardon me, you are right.
 

rhysonsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,804
I worked with Ronnie in the early 90s in Sinatra's band. Was an absolute gent, a lovely man and a supreme bari player.
It must have been wonderful sitting that close to him in a section and presumably playing some great arrangements done for Sinatra. Was he just playing bari in that band and who else was in it ?

I guess I first became aware of him from his wonderful playing with Matt Bianco in the 1980s. He didn't quite fit with the youthful image but his sound and his Latin-tinged solos were great.


Rhys
 

David Roach

Senior Member
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619
It must have been wonderful sitting that close to him in a section and presumably playing some great arrangements done for Sinatra. Was he just playing bari in that band and who else was in it ?
The sax section with Sinatra in the UK in 1989 was Dougie Robinson lead +flt & clt, Ronnie Chamberlain (?) 2nd alto + flt & clt, Vic Ash 1st tenor + clt, myself 2nd tenor + oboe, flt & clt, Ronnie Ross bari & bass clt.
The next tour which was a general European tour in 1990 was Mike Smith lead alto, Dougie Robinson 2nd alto, Vic Ash 1st tenor, myself 2nd tenor, Ronnie Chamberlain bari.
3rd and last was Mike Smith, Dougie Robinson, Vic Ash, myself and Jamie Talbot on bari & bass clt.

And yes, it was a total wonderful experience. Although we had no direct contact with Sinatra apart from the very first gig I did when he came to the sound-check and stalked around the front of the Band giving us all the eye. I nearly s*** myself, but it went well. Frank Jnr conducted and was a very good MD. I learned a heck of a lot from Mike Smith who was playing a King Super 20 when I first met him.
 

Ivan

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And yes, it was a total wonderful experience. Although we had no direct contact with Sinatra apart from the very first gig I did when he came to the sound-check and stalked around the front of the Band giving us all the eye. I nearly s*** myself, but it went well. Frank Jnr conducted and was a very good MD. I learned a heck of a lot from Mike Smith who was playing a King Super 20 when I first met him.
I've just been looking up the names of your bandmates because I remembered an entertaining Radio 4 piece about a Greenock born saxophonist who also played with Frank Sinatra and was eyeballed too... but after a bit of ferreting I find his name was Duncan Lamont
 
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David Roach

Senior Member
Messages
619
I've just been looking up the names of your bandmates because I remembered an entertaining Radio 4 piece about a Greenock born saxophonist who also played with Frank Sinatra and was eyeballed too... but after a bit of ferreting I find his name was Duncan Lamont
I worked for Duncan Lamont on a recording session, playing oboe, some years ago; he was a lovely gentleman and a very good musician. His son (also named Duncan) is a fine sax player and multi-doubler and was on that session playing flute and clarinet.

I haven't listened to that interview, but I remembered that on the first round of gigs with Sinatra, there was no 2nd alto, so Ronnie Chamberlain was not on those gigs. The management were trying to save money and went down to 4 saxes, so the 2nd alto was the one that went.
 

David Roach

Senior Member
Messages
619
I've just been looking up the names of your bandmates because I remembered an entertaining Radio 4 piece about a Greenock born saxophonist who also played with Frank Sinatra and was eyeballed too... but after a bit of ferreting I find his name was Duncan Lamont
OK, I listened to that interview, and it's not surprising Lamont was sacked. He was making a statement and showing his disapproval of the financial situation by dressing inappropriately. But Sinatra himself probably knew nothing about the lowered fees, so all he would have seen was a sax player wearing a suit that stood out. Petty? Maybe. But only to be expected.

I sort of have a problem with the way that whole program was presented, over dramatised IMO. Lamont wasn't 'unwanted', he was sacked for disrespect, but the interview was massaged for effect.
It doesn't change the fact that Lamont was a genuinely lovely honest man and a really good musician, but I am really wary of the media for the reason that too often the truth is misrepresented for effect.
 
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