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bassoon jazz


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I have just been reading the thread on the bass clarinet again - it led to all sorts of interesting things. But I can't imagine that there are nearly so many, if any, examples of improvised jazz solos on the bassoon. I've always thought the sound attractive so why is the instrument so little in evidence? Stan Getz was I believe an accomplished Bassoon player - did he record any jazz solos on it?

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I don't know about Getz on bassoon, but a couple other players come to mind. On his album, "The Blues, That's Me," Illinois Jacquet plays bassoon on a nice version of "'Round Midnight."

Currently, there's a guy named Michael Rabinowitz who is a terrific bassoon player. He's done several albums in recent years. "Bassoon in Orbit" is a quartet date with Joe Fonda on bass, Grisha Alexiev on drums, and Diana Herold on vibes. Another disc, "Gabrielle's Balloon," has got him with John Hicks, Ira Coleman, and Steve Johns. Great playing on both, though I prefer the lighter sound of the ensemble on the Orbit album.

Edited by Hank
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The instrument is a bitch to play. It's also very expensive and delicate and it's not easy to hear in a typical jazz setup. That's probably why you don't find more.

Ray Pizzi

Mike Rabinowitz

Garvin Bushell

Illinois Jacquet

Frank Tiberi

Flip Phillips

Makanda Ken McIntyre

Yusef Lateef

Karen Borca

James Jacson from the Sun Ra band

Daniel Smith

Paul Hanson

Hanson runs this site: http://www.jazzbassoon.com/

A search for bassoon jazz on groups.google.com will give you much to go on.

Mike

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The instrument is a bitch to play. It's also very expensive and delicate and it's not easy to hear in a typical jazz setup. That's probably why you don't find more.

..

James Jacson from the Sun Ra band

I don't have John Szwed's book handy, but I seem to recall a hilarious passage where Jacson describes playing a bassoon in front of a French audience and freaking out because the French invented the bassoon. Anybody want to transcribe it for our reading pleasure? :D

Guy

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The first bassoon-led jazz LP has to be Stuart McKay's 1955 RCA release, 'Reap the Wild Winds'. It's one of those very early RCA gatefold jazz albums with a nice laminated slick on the front (LJM-1021) and recorded in New York's Nola studios. The four woodwinds are joined by a French horn, piano, guitar, bass, drums and occasional voice(s).

The entire music program is beyond classification. Recorded July 22, 23 and August 3, 1954, it preceeds Gunther Schuller's 'Third Stream' theory and most other 'chamber jazz' efforts. RCA launched its 'Jazz Workshop' series two years later in '56, featuring McKusick, Byers, Carisi, Russell, etc.

Think of four NYC classical longhairs getting loose on their reeds during a break from their orchestra gigs. This was a one-shot that shouldn't exist. And the way the band sings 'Take Me Out to the Ballgame' in constantly shifting meters is the very essence of 'oddball'.

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:tup Karen Borca

The number of full-time bassoonists who've played free jazz at the highest level can be counted on the fingers of one hand -- maybe one finger. Outside of Karen Borca, it's difficult to name another (Makanda Ken McIntyre played bassoon occasionally, but it was not his best instrument). The dearth of jazz bassoonists is hardly surprising, given the difficulty of the horn; it may seem like an elongated oboe, but the bassoon is actually an instrument with a sometimes puzzling technique all its own. Borca is best known for her work as a member of the Cecil Taylor Unit. Her husband, the late alto saxophonist Jimmy Lyons, happened to be Taylor's most enduring musical partner, but the excellence of Borca's playing made questions of nepotism irrelevant. Borca has an impressive facility; she plays with the litheness and imagination of a first-rate free jazz saxophonist. Besides her work with Taylor, Borca also played in Lyons' bands until his death in 1986. In subsequent years she became a fixture on New York's Lower East Side free jazz scene, playing in bands with bassist William Parker, saxophonist Marco Eneidi, and drummer Jackson Krall (all, it should be noted, Taylor sidemen at one point or another). Borca has also led her own band, most notably at a Lyons tribute concert during the 1998 Vision Festival in New York City. ~ Chris Kelsey, All Music Guide
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Leslie Ross is a bassoonist who's mostly played "free-improv" -- if you know New York, you know Roulette is the venue for her. Plus the occasional Eugene Chadbourne recording. Given the need to make a living ;), in the last decade she has pretty much devoted herself to building/repairing bassoons (Ross Bassoons, workshop photos).

Edited by maren
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A magnificent tally of excellent leads here - thank you all! - and loads of intriguing detail too. And to think I expected no more than one or two - I should have known. If only I could now snap my fingers an all the appropriate albums would instantly appear.

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There's also Hosea Taylor, featured on Bassoon on 'True Colors', a bonus track on the CD issue of Freddie Hubbard's Blue Note session 'Blue Spirits'. Very much a mixed bag and something of an experimental track.

I've only got the LP of [blue Spirits] so no bonus tracks unfortunately. Was there another bonus track The Melting Pot on the CD too? But maybe no jazz solo from Hosea?

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I agree with you, Jazzman, about Erroll Buddle. I lived in Australia for awhile, and regularly saw him on TV in a band led by Don Burrows. I used to have a Buddle LP where he played a version of "Love Is A Simple Thing" on the bassoon. He sure is a master of that awkward instrument. His main horn, of course, is the tenor, but he also plays the oboe very well.

Aric, an LP on which Lateef plays the bassoon is the Impulse album "Jazz Around The World", not on CD unless the Japanese have briefly put one out. He is pictured with his various horns on the cover. I don't recall ever seeing any other album on which he plays the bassoon. The oboe, yes, but not the bassoon.

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There's also Hosea Taylor, featured on Bassoon on 'True Colors', a bonus track on the CD issue of Freddie Hubbard's Blue Note session  'Blue Spirits'. Very much a mixed bag and something of an experimental track.

I've only got the LP of [blue Spirits] so no bonus tracks unfortunately. Was there another bonus track The Melting Pot on the CD too? But maybe no jazz solo from Hosea?

Tooter - yes, 'The Melting Pot' is the second track on the CD. Hosea plays alto lead only on this one but has no solo (also no bassoon solo on the other track). As you say, neither of these are on the original NY USA LP. One of my favourite of the BN Hubbards !

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Tooter - yes, 'The Melting Pot' is the second track on the CD. Hosea plays alto lead only on this one but has no solo (also no bassoon solo on the other track). As you say, neither of these are on the original NY USA LP. One of my favourite of the BN Hubbards !

Mine too. Along with [Here to Stay]

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Frankie Trumbauer occasionally played some bassoon:

-with Ray Miller´s Orchestra: "Nobody Knows What A Red Head Mama Can Do" (Brunswick 2778) where he takes the first solo on bassoon

-" 'Tain't So, Honey, 'Tain't So", "High water" and "Chloe" (1928) Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra. Trumbauer plays bassoon, though I must check it to see if he soloed.

-"Running Ragged (Bamboozlin´ the basson)" Joe Venuti's Blue Four (1929, Okeh). Trumbauer plays bassoon and C-melody sax.

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Karen Borca's playing is simply awesome on the dates included in the Jimmy Lyons boxed set. That's my only acquaintance with her, but I'm looking forward to more. In that context and with her technique, the bassoon has an arresting sound.

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