All profit supporting special needs music education and Help Musicians

Where Have All the Saxophones Gone?

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Café Supporter
Messages
8,729
Locality
Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
I found this article an interesting read. I'm not sure I agree with all of what it says, but I thought it might be of some interest to the members here. It seems as if it could be an effective way to start a discussion. It is obvious the writer has never gone to Sax On The Web that has had as many as 85,734 users online at one time. (Granted Cafe Saxophone doesn't get as many participants, but they are certainly a higher class of people. He he he.)

Where Have All the Saxophones Gone
 

GCinCT

Seeker of truth and beauty
Messages
1,795
Locality
Oneonta, NY
Very interesting article. I find much of current pop music bland and sterile, devoid of soul. I think the saxophone is too good for it.

But there certainly are still a lot of us saxophonists out there and we’re not going anywhere. Right, gang?
 

Vetinari

Senior Member
Café Supporter
Messages
1,652
Locality
East Manchester
The stats for the Cafe say 6,594 members. Where are the other thousands of sax players hiding? Why would they not want to be seen in in our exalted company? :stoat:
 

7201

Senior Member
Account Closed
Messages
3,342
Locality
UK
I read the first paragraph and thought: here we go..

No sax solos in the top 40 atm. Are there any solos at all in the top 40 atm? There haven’t been solos in pop music particularly for a couple of decades have there?
 

Caz

Member
Messages
303
Locality
home
It’s just an instrument that divideds people. Either you love or hate it - it’s not like a guitar, bass or drums. Also, the sax has a renomme of being a niche instrument belonging to a speciel genre of music that most people have no connection with.
 

nigeld

I don't need another mouthpiece; but . . .
Café Supporter
Messages
7,284
Locality
Bristol, UK
The stats for the Cafe say 6,594 members. Where are the other thousands of sax players hiding? Why would they not want to be seen in in our exalted company? :stoat:

They realise that they cannot possibly live up to our exacting standards. :fingerwag:
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Café Supporter
Messages
8,729
Locality
Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
I read the first paragraph and thought: here we go..

No sax solos in the top 40 atm. Are there any solos at all in the top 40 atm? There haven’t been solos in pop music particularly for a couple of decades have there?
The last good one was played by Phil Woods in Just The Way You Are released in 1977
 

Admitone

Member
Messages
179
Locality
US
The whole world is marching like lemmings toward the edge of a computer cliff. But for every action, there is a reaction. My old vinyl records and tube amplifiers have become valuable. Perhaps actual, as opposed to virtual instruments might as well.
 

7201

Senior Member
Account Closed
Messages
3,342
Locality
UK
Also some Tom Scott work and also some nice solos by Bob Messenger of the Carpenters, although most of his were '70's, as were many of Tom's. Al Jarreau tunes...
 

Wade Cornell

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,489
Locality
New Zealand and Australia
It’s just an instrument that divideds people. Either you love or hate it - it’s not like a guitar, bass or drums. Also, the sax has a renomme of being a niche instrument belonging to a speciel genre of music that most people have no connection with.

This is a spot on observation. And we have ourselves to blame for not being part of the present tense. I know it won't make a difference to what Sony executives decide is "popular" or the masses, but if we are only playing music from 60 years ago who are we relating to? The music business is about entertainment. Yea, it's more than OK to just have fun and entertain ourselves and play standards in someone's garage or once a week in a bar that knows it can at least sell drinks to the players.

What's important is how are we teaching potential sax players. Is any of this in the present tense? Hopefully things are changing and it's now understood that the "vocabulary" of 60 years ago isn't necessarily relevant to other styles of music. Trying to imitate some long dead player isn't taking us into the future...you're just another copyist or "tribute player". None of that degrades the brilliance of those players, it's just that the arts move on. Guitarists, Bass players, keyboard players, etc. who WORK AS PROFESSIONALS are 99.9% NOT playing in the style of 60 years ago.
Look around this site, what do we see here? It still seems to be mostly about playing "standards". Why? Breaking the cycle of becoming an extinct instrument in current music starts with you, how you teach, or encourage others to play.

I love the clarinet and how expressive that instrument can be, it's tone, and certainly it's amazing natural range. It was a very popular instrument in the days of big bands and before. What happened? It's almost never heard in popular music today. Well I'm afraid it's a very similar story. It got stuck with it's popularity in Trad Jazz and Big Band, and never grew beyond that. If you went to clarinet lessons in the 1950s (as I did) you learned to play Classical or like Benny Goodman. The sax is on the same trajectory, by primairly referring to the style of players only a decade or so later. It's time to wake up and be part of the 21st century.
 

Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
Café Supporter
Messages
6,409
Locality
Whitchurch, North Shropshire UK
The only problem with that argument @Wade Cornell is that by definition classical music (as in the proper sense of music from the neoclassical era of c.1750-1820 as opposed to its more generic use) ought to be completely dead.

There has always been an argument about having to play / perform / programme the most current/recent music otherwise you will alienate the younger generation.

I think it's more complex than that. I think if you are specifically talking about whatever is currently 'fashionable' then yes, you do need to be keeping up-to-date if that is your primary market. But there is also enduring legacy which retains popularity.

I do think there is an issue around 'approachability'. Sax and especially jazz can be very 'geeky' and very off-putting to those who are new to it (it's not for nothing that there used to be standard stereotypes of the jazz lover in black polo neck top with a beret, goatee beard...). I'll be honest, it put me off for a very long time even though I'd had at least some interest since I was about 20 and by most people's standards I can be classed as a music geek... My knowledge of jazz is extremely thin, especially in comparison to my familiarity with classical music (in its wider sense).

As musicians we need to encourage others to get involved and get people playing and listening to all sorts of music. I used to be very 'precious' about only liking classical music - that was me aged about 13 - 28. As I got older, my interests widened. Obviously, I was the antithesis of my peer group - they tend to do the opposite and only want whatever the cool kids are listening to, their tastes tend to broaden out as mine did as they get older.
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Café Supporter
Messages
8,729
Locality
Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
I am in my 70's and avante garde or progressive jazz doesn't appeal to me. Nor does the atonal 20th century classical music. I enjoy listening to the big band music of the 20's, 30's, 40's, and 50's. I enjoy playing the swing charts that were the popular music of their time. I enjoy listening to what is now called traditional jazz, as well as mainstream jazz. It is not my job to take music into the future. My job is to listen to, play, and support the music that appeals to me, and there is nothing wrong with that.
 

Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
Café Supporter
Messages
6,409
Locality
Whitchurch, North Shropshire UK
Have to agree @jbtsax - the move to atonal music in the middle section of the C20th nearly killed classical music as it thoroughly alienated its audience. I also want music with tunes and harmonies I enjoy, so yes to big band, and no to most Coltrane
 

CliveMA

Member
Messages
870
Locality
Brisbane, QLD, Australia
I am new to socialising with the sax community although I have had a passing interest in saxophone music since my teenage years (I'm 62 now). My immediate reaction to my first encounters with both real-world sax and the online sax communities might be interesting. I've found the online sax community inspiring and the real world sax community profoundly alienating.

I recently attended my first real-world saxophone seminar, hosted by one of Australia's best players. I was shocked at everyone's appearance. All, including the host, looked like loser nerds: skinny as if they've never exercised a day in their life, poor posture, unfashionable clothes, anti-social demeanor, unkempt hair and general appearance. I'm sorry if I'm offending anyone but this was not at all inviting for a newcomer.

In contrast, the online sax community, at, for example, BetterSax on YouTube has in excess of 175,000 subscribers and is growing rapidly. There are numerous Instagram accounts, for example, weare2saxy, that, every day, post fun sax clips. The image is of everyday people having fun.

I'm drawn to be part of the online sax community. I don't want anything to do with what I've seen of the real world sax community.
 

CliveMA

Member
Messages
870
Locality
Brisbane, QLD, Australia
The current music market is fragmented. Music sales data is close to meaningless. Music consumption mainly happens via online streaming. I probably would not be learning the sax now if not for online streaming exposing me to saxophone possibilities! If traditional channels were the only way to find out about saxophones I would not be learning the sax.
 

Wade Cornell

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,489
Locality
New Zealand and Australia
There's no argument about what individuals like to play or listen to. And they should definitely play what they love! The article, which this thread is about, correctly states that sax is becoming rare in recordings and as a popular instrument in the sphere of professional music. That doesn't mean that it's not popular with people who wish to play it for recreational reasons, or even ego reasons.

My rant simply states that if you wish to change this (and I'm sure many of you don't give a fig), then it starts with teaching students to play in a contemporary style and moving forward. This is what has kept those other instruments relevant. Is there anybody who doubts this?

Listen to and play exactly what you want. However if you're waiting for the rest of the world to suddenly want to hear "standards" and and just see performers showing off their chops, then you are way out of touch. The music business is about entertainment and being relevant today. If you're aiming to be a professional, then that's something to be aware of.

We have all sorts of players here. Some are just starting out and may be very talented. If they are given a strict diet of standards and playing in a style of 60 years ago what's their chances of success?

Pete Thomas has several times related how his breaks and success came about by NOT being strictly a jazz player. This has relevance. It's not about those of you who have formed your stylistic opinions and exclude other genres as heresy. It's about giving a break to the new kid and NOT loading them with a failed teaching paradigm that at this point guarantees failure as a professional musician.

Think of someone besides yourself please!
 

Popular Discussions

London
Paris
New York
Los Angeles
Sydney
Moscow
New Delhi
Top Bottom