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saxophone sound and culture

Mack

Senior Member
Messages
518
We all know how expressive and individual the sax is as an instrument, but recently I have been thinking about how some players make you think about the instrument in a completely different way by deliberately playing the sax as if it were an instrument from a different culture - see the two videos of Tommy Smith and Gilad Atzmon attached. I once heard someone (maybe it was Pete Thomas) that if you just hear a sustained note after it has commenced, and so do not hear the opening attack, it is quite difficult to tell what instrument it is - even whether it is a string or wind instrument. Not only does that tell you how important it is to begin your notes well, but also makes you wonder about the potential for you to develop and original sound by thinking about the instrument outside its traditional (American) history. Particularly enjoyed the vocals at 6:35 of Gilad...

Gilad Atzmon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rtIAgMqkVYk

Tommy Smith: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4K_fgQDi0cI
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Very good points. The sax has many, many voices. But I'm not sure on the Atzmon track that he was even playing a sax there.



btw, which vocals did you mean? The track's a little shorter than 6 mins.
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
Does sound like one of his clarinets, to be fair.

Now you know why I like North European and other jazz. The saxophone was only loaned to the States for a brief time and is now back where it belongs.................................:thumb:;}

Tommy Smith and Gilad Atzmon are two of my favourites, and the points you make are spot on!
 

milandro

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,483
Are you sure that Gilad Atzmon plays a sax in the youtube link that you gave?
I think that the intro note is a bass clarinet and the fills of the solo voice (spectacular!) are done by using an Armenian or Kurdish Duduk.

The Tony Smith video , extremely nice thought it is, doesn't suggest to me any other sound than the saxophone sound albeit played with a different emphasis as usual, with a more intense slow bending, which is mostly associated with oriental music (in that sense I see where your comment is coming from).

this is some Duduk playing


I totally agree though that the attack gives us more information about the instrument that one normally realises (In the Gilad Atzmon video the bass(?) clarinet without the attack would sound like a cello or a contrabass played with a bow.
 
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milandro

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,483
on the versatility of the saxophone in a similar ethnic context I would suggest listening to carnatic music with the famous Kadri Gopalnath (probably the most famous traditional indian music saxophone player)


but in this russian-bulgarian video the sax does indeed sound close to a duduk

 
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Mack

Senior Member
Messages
518
I put up the wrong link for Gilad - hopefully this is the right one! I have sen him playing clarinet and he makes it sound like a different instrument - like it was always meant to be a middle eastern instrument. My children heard the Tommy Smith and said it sounded Scottish (- and they didn't know where he's from) .

 
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milandro

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,483
aside from the deep knowledge of both western vocabulary and middle eastern one the incredible control of the intonation of his saxophones allows him to go into a western scale and then go to a non western scale with intervals that are not the same of the ones we are accustomed to.

This approach in not dissimilar from the one of Ibrahim Maalouf, a French-Libanese, player who has integrated both styles in his music.
 
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Riversax

New Member
Messages
29
Gilad Atzmon - Wow - he's fantastic! Really liking his sound on alto. And Maalouf on trumpet...
 
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TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
He's happy enough with playing a Selmer Alto, Tenor & Baritone sax - wise man! He is a lovely chap and well worth seeing live!
 

dubrosa22

Senior Member
Messages
413
Ned Rothenberg has been pushing the sax (also the clarinet and shakuhachi flute) to new realms for quite awhile.


Free full-length docos about Ned and many other musicians including Lenny Pickett available here :)
 
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