Thursday, December 16, 2010

Saxophone Memories

About 7 weeks ago the eleven year-old started sax lessons.  The first 2 weeks he couldn't even get a pure note out, and I was, like, WTH are they teaching him in that class?  At the end of his first week, I had to retrieve him from school because he had been suspended for the day by his music teacher for misbehaving.  That's not like him at all, and I'm thinking that this music class is a bust. Well, 7 weeks later and somehow we have a 180--I don't know what happened; he is actually quite good.  His music teacher says he has improved tremendously--he is in the first seat most of the time.  And he seems motivated--last night he took his sax out and practiced before AND AFTER he did his regular homework.

At this point, I'm actually getting excited.  He's not particularly athletic, and I told him if he kept at it and became really good he could maybe get a scholarship to a good college.  I thought, hey, let's look online for some examples of musicians who make a living at this, and listen to how some of their work sounds.  Among other things, I found a blog from a guy who did a rating of various sax solos from the 80's.  He included some applet that allowed you to play the sax solo from each song he "rated."  Here's the link if you're interested; you might be surprised and pleased at the gems you find:

But the online excursion was good news and bad.  Bad news, I couldn't get the kid interested in the music we found--I'm not sure what his niche will be if he does in fact become a sax aficionado.  On the good side though, it reacquainted me with some great tunes from the 80's that, as it turns out, had at least one thing in common: sax solos.  I never realized how many great songs had a sax interlude.  They ranged from a basic, moody bridge, like in Tear Us Apart by INXS; to the manic, integral instrumentation of one of my favs, Trouble in Paradise by Huey Lewis and the News.

Below is another fav, Icehouse's Electric Blue. The talented lead singer and song writer Iva Davies sports the absolute last word in mullets.  He co-wrote this song with John Oates of Hall and Oates, another mullet pioneer.

Every list of top sax players I found has Charlie Parker, now deceased, as number one.  I plan to find some of his stuff and try it out on Jake.  One guy I've listened to a lot is David Sanborn--he does jazz-fusion stuff and he's pretty amazing.  However, I really must embed Trouble in Paradise.  As an example of popular work, the sax in this is absolutely nuts, and is integral to the song overall.  For one thing, it's too much for one guy--there are two different soloists, and two more players on harmony!  God I love this song--and I love the 80s!

 Ah, it seems nobody does this stuff anymore...

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