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Bass Saxophone

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The other day while driving I heard a recent recording by a multi-instrumentalist who at one point played a bass saxophone. Unfortunately I left my car before I heard who it was. I'd like to find a copy for my friend Josef Skvorecky who wrote a novella called The Bass Saxophone. I once got him a Roscoe Mitchell record where Roscoe played it briefly but I think his taste runs more to Adrian Rollini. The guy I head on the radio was at least mainstream. Anyone any idea on who it might havea been?

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Doesn't James Carter play a bass sax?

Edited by kh1958

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Charlie Ventura. Also believe Braxton has canoodled with one now and again.

Someone should repost those pictures from the odd instruments thread that was up about a year ago. The bass sax is one hefty mutha.

Up over and out.

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Who plays it? Who the hell can pick one up!

3.jpg

Anthony Braxton playing the bass saxophone with a group at The Kitchen in New York City. April 29, 1972

[bob Parent / Archive Photos]

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Rollini had a way with that thing like no one else.

Is he on much of that new Lang/Venuti Mosaic set?

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3.jpg

Anthony Braxton playing the bass saxophone with a group at The Kitchen in New York City. April 29, 1972

[bob Parent / Archive Photos]

i think the sax on the first plan is not a bass saxophone, it's a contrabass ( one octave lower than the baritone sax , in Eb key )

the sax family

sopranino (Eb)

soprano (Bb)

alto (Eb)

tenor (Bb)

bari (Eb)

bass (Bb)

contrabass (Eb)

Selmer Bass Saxophone

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3.jpg

Anthony Braxton playing the bass saxophone with a group at The Kitchen in New York City. April 29, 1972

[bob Parent / Archive Photos]

i think the sax on the first plan is not a bass saxophone, it's a contrabass ( one octave lower than the baritone sax , in Eb key )

the sax family

sopranino (Eb)

soprano (Bb)

alto (Eb)

tenor (Bb)

bari (Eb)

bass (Bb)

contrabass (Eb)

Selmer Bass Saxophone

It must be hell getting those suckas on a NYC subway or taxi B-)

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It must be hell getting those suckas on a NYC subway or taxi B-)

But on the plus side, you'll never forget and leave it behind in your ride on the way to a gig!

:P

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3.jpg

Anthony Braxton playing the bass saxophone with a group at The Kitchen in New York City. April 29, 1972

[bob Parent / Archive Photos]

i think the sax on the first plan is not a bass saxophone, it's a contrabass ( one octave lower than the baritone sax , in Eb key )

the sax family

sopranino (Eb)

soprano (Bb)

alto (Eb)

tenor (Bb)

bari (Eb)

bass (Bb)

contrabass (Eb)

Selmer Bass Saxophone

It must be hell getting those suckas on a NYC subway or taxi B-)

and WHERE is the stritch and the manzello??!!!! :g

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Rollini makes you forget anyone else!

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Andy Kirk!

From American Big Bands Biographies:

...

It is known that in 1928, Andy took over Terrence "T" Holder's first orchestra, called "The Clouds of Joy Orch". Andy played Bass Sax and Mary Lou Williams was the Pianist-arranger-soloist. Later, the band became known as Andy Kirk and his Twelve Clouds of Joy Orchestra. During this period, he had such sidemen as: Howard McGhee, Don Byas and Fats Navarro. (Terrence Holder took over George Corley's Royal Aces Orch. for his 3rd "Clouds of Joy" band.

...

Not sure if he ever recorded on bass sax. I gotta check Lord CD-Rom

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Jan Garbarek also played bass saxophone.

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Spencer Clark

Joe Rushton

Boyd Raeburn

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From Sidney Bechet Discography website:

NOBLE SISSLE AND HIS ORCHESTRA 310224

Demas Dean, Tommy Ladnier (tpts), Billy Burns (tbn), Sidney Bechet (sop -1/clt -2/bar -3), Rudy Jackson, Ralph Duquesne (sop/alt/clt), Ramon Usera (clt/ten), Lloyd Pinckney (?Floyd Plackney?) (pno), Frank Ethridge (bjo), Edward Coles (bs), Jack Carter (dms), Noble Sissle (vcl).

New York, February 24 1931

E-36120 Got The Bench, Got The Park (NS vcl) -2, -3

E-36121-AB In A CafŽ On The Road To Calais (NS vcl) -1, -2

E-36122-A Loveless Love -1, -2, -3

Originally recorded for Brunswick. All discographers agree on the date, except M. (24 January). Band is known as The Georgia Syncopators on Melotone label and Missouri Jazz Band on Supertone label (both 78 rpm releases). 36121 remained unreleased until the 1980's when it was released on LP by Fat Cat Jazz. M. and R. go for Pinckney, the French for Plackney. Bechet played a bass (even perhaps a contrabass?) sax in his early days with Sissle, who had arrangements in the 'book' which required it, but the sound here sounds a bit light for that, so I'll go for baritone. At times when the baritone can be heard, 3 other saxes can be heard too, so - although the baritone player achieves no prominence even in the ensemble, and is never heard in solo - I'll go for Bechet on baritone. There is little soprano to be heard except soloing, since Bechet's soprano intonation does not really fit ensemble work with other saxes.

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From www.contrabass.com:

Bass Saxophone

The bass saxophone is pitched in Bb, and ranges down to the Ab (concert pitch) below the bass clef. The largest commonly encountered saxophone, it is situated between the very rare Eb contrabass saxophone, and the more common Eb baritone sax.

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Adrian Rollini "Bouncin' In Rhythm" (). This CD is a collection of Rollini's work on the bass sax, vibraphone, piano, and hot fountain pen. One of the early jazz masters of the instrument

Everything by the Nuclear Whales. With few exceptions, the bass sax always has a prominent role.

Saxemble "Saxemble" (Quest Records, 9 46181-2, 1996). This is all sax and drums, sort of a "Nuclear Whales" meets "World Saxophone Quartet" in style. The musicians are James Carter (alto and bari), Frank Lowe (tenor), Michael Marcus (manzello, bass sax), Cassius Richmond (alto), and Cindy Blackman (drums), with Alex Harding (bari) and Bobby LaVell (tenor). There is lots of bass sax, prominently displayed, on this CD.

Spencer Clark: "Sweet & Hot" (Audiophile AP-131 (LP)) This is the one of only 2 Jazz recordings I know of dedicated to Bass Sax. The performer was a devotee of Adrian Rollini, the famous Dixieland Bass Saxophonist who played with Red Nicholls, Joe Venuti, Fred Elizalde and others. This LP tends towards slower numbers and the Sax sound is mellow (almost like a tenor in some ways) and clear. Quite a nice LP.

Bill Laswell & Peter Brötzman: "Low Life" (Jimco, JICK 89060) or (Celluloid, CELD 5016) (CD). On this Bill Laswell plays electric basses and Peter Brötzmann plays a Conn bass saxophone throughout. The style is free jazz and the sound is very raw, loud, poweful and disturbing. The saxophone may be clearly heard, but it is often overblown, uses growlings, shrieks, split notes so if you want to hear 'straight' bass sax this is not for you. On the whole though it's pretty strong stuff and recommended.

"Anubis" by Gerard Grisey for unaccompanied bass saxophone, played by Claude Delangle on a CD of Music by Gerard Grisey. The CD is on the Accord label number Accord 201952. The piece uses some extended techniques (multiphonics, tongue slaps) but shows off the sound of the instrument well. It lasts about 7 minutes.

Scott Robinson, "Thinking Big" (1997, Arbors Records, ARCD 19179). Nice jazz, backed by piano, guitar, drums, trombone, and trumpet. Scott Robinson plays most of the saxophone family on this, including a lot of bass and contrabass sax (also soprano, alto, C melody, tenor, bari; theremin; Eb contrabass sarrusophone; clarinet, and bass clarinet). He uses contrabass sax on "Ko-Ko" (Duke Ellington) and "Basso Profundo" (Duke Ellington), and bass sax on "Sleepy Time Gal", "Oh! Sister, Ain't That Hot!", "It's Magic", and "Stompin' at the Savoy". In addition to the great old jazz, the CD insert includes a number of pictures of SR with the contrabass sax, one of which also shows the bass sax, and another which shows bass, contrabass, and contrabass sarrusophone together. Recommended!

Marty Grosz & Keith Ingham, "Going Hollywood" (1997, Stomp Off Records, CD 1323). Over an hour's worth of jazz from the 1920's and 30's, including Scott Robinson on bass sax on a number of tracks, and Eb contrabass sarrusophone on one ("I Like To Do Things For You"). The disc is fun to listen to, and Scott's solos (also on clarinet and other saxes) are perfectly in character. Can't hide bass sax or sarrusophone in a small ensemble ;-)

Kientzy, "Pur-Sax" (1996 nova-musica, NMCD5103). This is a very modern/experimental CD, including saxophones from sopranino to contrabass. The CD is 100% saxophone, with lots of overdubbing. Tracks include Musique spectrale (Calin Ioachimescu) [sAB + 4Sn/1S/1A/1T/2B/2Bs/2CB]; Vagues, ondes, contours (Horia Surianu) [A + 5A]; Rimes pour la révelation du temps (Tiberiu Olah) [A + 8A]; La colline bleue (Costin Miereanu) [8T]; Mi-ha-sefer (Aldo Brizzi) [46Sn/36S/37T/34Bs]; and Tempi dell mente (Giuseppe Giuliano) [s + 5S/5A/5Sn].

Roscoe Mitchell "Four Compositions" (1987, Lovely Music Ltd., LCD2021). This CD is mainly avant-garde classical, all composed by Roscoe Mitchell. It includes one track ("Prelude") which is a quartet for voice, bass saxophone, contrabass sarrusophone, and triple contrabass viol. The liner notes include a picture of the quartet on stage.

"circular logic" by Steve Adams and Vinny Golia (9winds, NWCD0203). Steve Adams plays C/alto/bass flutes and sopranino through bari saxophones, while VG plays sopranino/bari/bass saxes, english horn, bassoon, picc/C/alto/bass flutes, and Eb/Bb/A/alto/bass/contralto/contrabass clarinets. The tracks are listed on the back along with a chart of who plays what on which track. A lot of creative interplay, in a free jazz improvisational style.

Adam Gilberti's "Genesis Concert" CD includes bass sax on "Reflections of Honor" and "Violin Concerto". Other instruments featured on the CD (actually a 2 CD set) include contrabass flute, contrabass and contra-alto clarinet, contrabassoon, serpent, contrabass sax, and Bb subcontrabass tubax. See http://www.genesisconcert.com to order the CD.

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Bass sax by ORSI (taken at the factory near Milan, Italy)

bs-sax1.jpg

(from www.contrabass.com)

Edited by EKE BBB

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Bass sax by Triebert ("Selmer style")

Triebert%20bass%20sax.JPG

(from www.contrabass.com)

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And also from www.contrabass.com:

Would you walk from Brussels to Paris?  I know I wouldn't...  Would you walk that distance carrying a bass saxophone?  I know I wouldn't, for sure!  One could say you must be really crazy to embark on such a journey, or one could say that only a man with a mission, a vision would do so: Adolphe Sax walked 186 miles to present the bass saxophone to the world!  For this, we can only thank him.

 

So, the bass saxophone (in C) was the first saxophone ever.  The goal Sax had was to create an instrument that: 1. would have the power and volume of an ophicleide; and 2. would be as agile as the bass clarinet (an instrument that was very much improved by Adolphe Sax as well).  Obviously such an instrument would be of great advantage to the miltary orchestras of that moment.

The first time that a bass saxophone was heard in a concert was on February 3rd, 1844.  Berlioz himself had arranged his work "Chant Sacre", originally for voices, for a couple of instruments from the shop of Sax: "a high trumpet in B-Flat, a 'new kind of horn', a bugle, a clarinet, a bass clarinet, and finally a saxophone".  We know that Adolphe Sax himself pllayed the bass saxophone on this evening.

The first composer to ask for Saxophone en Ut (bass in C) in an original score was Georges Kastner.  The opera 'Le Dernier Roi de Juda' was premiered on December 1st, 1844.  Again, Adolphe Sax played bass sax.  Apart from that, Kastner wrote a "Methode complet et raisonnee de Saxophone" (1844), and a sextuor for two sopranos, two altos, two basses and contrabass.  A remarkable detail is that, except for the bass saxophone, none of these instruments existed at that point!  Sigurd Rascher made an arrangment of the Kastner Sextour for two sopranos, alto, tenor, baritone and bass, which was recorded by the Rascher Saxophone Orchestra

 

The saxophone was patented in 1846.

Today, the bass saxophone is a greatly overlooked instrument.  Surely it has its place in saxophone ensemble works, and sometimes even in symphony orchestras, but the combination of sheer beauty and power almost never comes out.  One can only hope that the bass saxophone's future is more glorious than its past was.  After all, the Bass saxophone is the mother of all horns...

There is not much I can add to that, other than to point out an interesting variation in bass saxophone styles.  Bass saxes seem to come in two versions: one with a tall neck that projects high above the mouthpiece leadpipe ("Conn/Buescher style", also used by Keilwerth) (see the Orsi pictured below), and a second style in which the neck extends more below the leadpipe ("Selmer style") (see the Triebert bass pictured at right).  The bass sax is (almost always) pitched in Bb, with lowest note Ab1 (the Ab below the bass staff).  Keywork for many older basses goes only to high Eb (i.e., omitting the high E and F keys), although higher notes are available through altissimo fingerings.

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British tradder Harry Gold (of 'Pieces of Eight' fame) used to play the bass sax.

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