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soprano sax recommendations

86 posts in this topic

I am looking mainly for individual pieces that offer great soprano solos.

Despite the fact that it came into some favor in the early fusion days, the soprano still seems like the most underused of the four major sax types. In terms of players who stick exclusively to soprano, I can only think of Steve Lacy and Jane Ira Bloom. Dave Liebman has certainly played a lot of soprano. Of course, Coltrane and Shorter offer much great work, but they will always be remembered mainly for the tenor.

Anyway, I would love to see some recommendations.

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Zoot Sims and Barney Wilen are two players whose sound and playing on the soprano I really love. Zoot has one album that is all or predominantly soprano. Wilen just here and there.

Of course, BECHET. That's a given right? You're probably wanting more modern recommendations. . . .?


113591707-2.jpgZoot-Sims-Soprano-Sax-509036.jpg

Edited by jazzbo

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Surman's soprano is really hardcore, especially in the early years. There's some particularly blistering playing on the Live at Altena LP (JG Records) but this is just one among many options. Oh, and he also tears things apart on "Glancing Backwards," from the Where Fortune Smiles LP on Dawn.

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Evan Parker - start anywhere - best to hear his tenor as well

At The Vortex, baby

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J.C.....of course.

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shall we change the thread title to "list a soprano sax player" now or in a few more posts time? :)

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It's funny, these threads do sort of evolve in that direction... I tend not to think in terms of "this solo really knocked me out and I can recall every note of it" with the exception of a few records that I heard early in my jazz listening and thus spun excessively. Certainly I can call out an awesome solo but the music isn't totally about that (to me) and I think that if you hear someone you like, you'll want to listen to as much as possible - and not just the solos, but how the players' comrades supported and shaped those landmark statements.

Regarding Trane, "The Inch Worm" is, I think, the first place I really heard his soprano playing.

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I can think of countless fine soprano solos by Trane and Shorter. Other players who "double" (main axe is tenor or alto), not so much.

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Roscoe Mitchell's S II Examples from the recording with The Maze and L-R-G (Nessa). I could not "get" SII Examples on multiple listens then, for whatever reason, I suddenly got it and was amazed.

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Regarding Trane, "The Inch Worm" is, I think, the first place I really heard his soprano playing.

Mine was hearing him play on the Atlantic album, "My Favourite Things"

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My good friend Andrej Prozorov:

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Lucky Thompson

Lucky's was a bit of pioneer when it comes to soprano sax. Unlike some who switch between bigger saxes and the soprano I'm just as heartened by his soprano or tenor playing. Isn't Lucky credited with using it in a modern jazz setting earlier than anyone else. ( earlier than Steve Lacy??). Some one will correct me I'm sure. Lacy is however the best soprano sax player ever IMO. Love them both.

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Not sure of his personal chronology, but Lucky had one of the most unique sounds on the instrument ever, totally devoid of metal and reed both, just pure voice. Nothing but beautiful. Those Groove Merchant sides...lost gems, I think.

His tenor sound was like that too, but the smaller instrument means less room for casual variance, and geez, Lucky Thompson on soprano...no other sound like it.

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I really like Nathan Davis' clean sound on soprano, which almost sounds as much like a slightly darker clarinet as anything.

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Branford Marsalis.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-zrepGheb-I


And...don't forget Sidney Bechet

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I'm not forgetting Bechet.

Of course not, he was mentioned in the second post. :)

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I've heard bits of Evan Parker (not enough to really judge), but so far he hasn't do much for me.

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Wayne Shorter, "Water Babies," SUPERNOVA.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZ6kSXWhJBU

Please do not sleep on Budd Johnson's considerable abilities on soprano saxophone:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VnxY2euFe1Q

Finally, not to everyone's tastes, but Lol Coxhill remains one of the more original players (and thinkers) on this instrument. Lacy-inspired, sure, but with his own sense of waywardness.

Edited by Joe

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