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  1. #1

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    I love playing guitar, all sorts of guitars, including bass guitar, but when it comes to jazz I can't help but feel that the saxophone is the ultimate jazz instrument. My father played tenor when I was a kid, though he soon went awol. But the seed was sown. No, I will never play sax, but when it comes to listening to jazz, it's Da Boss.

    From Prez and the Hawk, to Charlie, to Coltrane, to Cannonball, to Albert Ayler, to Wayne Shorter, to Dexter, to Ornette, to Stan Getz, to Sonny Rollins, to Joe Lovano, and a thousand others in between.

    You've got to admit, a great sax performance is hard to beat.

    My favourite solo in jazz is simple and absolutely perfect in every way. In terms of feel, timing, soulfulness, - well, just look at the singer's reaction :-) It starts at 1'57"



  2.  

    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    Oh, man:


  4. #3

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    Rob
    That clip has a bunch of the best sax players of all time, including my hero as a boy , Gerry Mulligan .
    I went to Selmers in Charing X Road , in my youth to buy a Baritone Sax , naively unaware of the cost. A good jazz guitarist in the Shop convinced me that was the way to go, thinking I’d
    be blowing in a couple of weeks Ha Ha , LOL . It took quite a few years to find a tutor , but like you I’ll never play saxophone
    c’est la vie, I’m happy enough with the Guitars.
    SF

  5. #4

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    I tend to agree with you Rob, the sax has such vocal qualities. The track that got me into jazz was Goodbye Porkpie Hat, I heard the Mingus version with that sax melody and I was hooked.

    Inspired by Coltrane, Dexter, Rollins etc. I spent a few years in my 20s trying to play the tenor sax but gave up and went back to the guitar. I used to have ear problems (glue ear) and blowing the sax wasn’t a great idea! I like to think it did at least teach me something about phrasing.

    I could never have got very far anyway, once I started a family there was no way I could practise the sax every night! At least the guitar can be played quietly.

  6. #5

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    Alan - the baritone played by Mulligan is a Great Thing, so I'm not surprised you were influenced by him. As you mention, all the individuals in that Billie Holliday video was a Great. I love watching her reactions. It annoys me when singers don't listen to the soloists

    Graham - Mingus was amazing, and Goodbye Porkpie Hat is one of the great compositions. But I love Nostalgia in Times Square as well. The baritone into to the Mingus video above is another great moment in jazz for me. It never fails to grab me.

  7. #6

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    yet hot jazz as we know it, began with louie A...trumpet/coronet..and clarinet...banjo for compin

    but yeah i can see sax being the sentimental favorite...was raised on getz and trane..love bird..i played alto a bit, did help the way i phrased on guitar..or vice versa!! haha

    but then again hard to top a good standup!! slam stewart, mingus,haden, holland, nhop. etc etc etc

    can't choose...it's all good...it's really the soul of the player that speaks to me more than the particular instrument...

    even a well played tuba is a beautiful thing!

    cheers

    ps- interesting that you brought this up rob, considering how many different string instruments you play!! hard to pick a fave i'd bet!! everchanging i'd imagine...like choosing a favorite guitar! hah

  8. #7

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    one of mingus' great secret weapon sax men...before dolphy!...was the unheralded but great- shafi hadi


    here's pics of hadi...with film director john cassavetes..workin on cassavetes first film-shadows...he "conducted" hadi's playing while screening the film

    The Ultimate Jazz Instrument-shadowsrecordingsession-gifThe Ultimate Jazz Instrument-dwgn1oux4aeq0bh-jpg

    cheers
    Last edited by neatomic; 01-13-2020 at 06:08 PM.

  9. #8

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    Yeah, it's all good. There's just something about instruments that require the breath...

    Talking of sax and bass, this has to be one of the oddest, most wonderful bass solos ever, from Jimmy Garrison:


  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob MacKillop
    Yeah, it's all good. There's just something about instruments that require the breath...
    even drummers breathe!! well some anyways..haha

    cheers

    ps- tranes impressions is one of my alltime faves!

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by neatomic
    one of mingus' great secret weapon sax men...before dolphy!...was the unheralded but great- shafi hadi


    here's a pic of hadi...with film director john cassavetes..workin on cassavetes first film-shadows...he "conducted" hadi's playing while screening the film
    Great photos. Both of them were crazy. I must find that film.

  12. #11

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    Yeah, I think ALL jazz guitarists are really wannabe sax players. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    When I was a kid I took one look at that tube with ALL THOSE KEYS (and the piano with 88 of ‘em), and thought NO WAY. Then I saw a guitar with six strings, and thought I might be able to handle that...

    Anyway, this one is a favorite with the ladies, and pretty much epitomizes a certain sophisticated jazz sound. Although the title and picture say Ellington, the song was written by Earle Hagen for the Ray Noble orchestra (Hagen also wrote the Dick van Dyke theme among many others), and I believe this performance is by the Ted Heath orchestra.


  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob MacKillop

    Talking of sax and bass, this has to be one of the oddest, most wonderful bass solos ever, from Jimmy Garrison:

    really, that's such a classic clip...just rewatched thru..four masters!

    garrisons solo reminded me of soft machine! no doubt the jc 4tet a huge influence on them... the doublestops...great

    tyner and trane were in complete simpatico...and elvin..whew..there's a breathing drummer!! haha

    great stuff all around

    cheers

  14. #13

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    Saxophonist can growl, bend, scoop, etc. and it's all part of the jazz articulations.

    Guitarists can and do that also. But, the traditional jazz guitarist not so much. Strange that.

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by fep
    Saxophonist can growl, bend, scoop, etc. and it's all part of the jazz articulations.

    Guitarists can and do that also. But, the traditional jazz guitarist not so much. Strange that.
    great point!...for traditional guitarists, jimmy raney got close!!! early on... he was a bird disciple! he had the bop phrasing down....

    much like tyner has tranes phrasing down on above clip...

    masters


    cheers

  16. #15

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    ps- holdsworth always said he didnt like guitarists...he was trying to play his guitar like a sax!!

    his whole legato thing was based on that...it was a mindblowing leap at the time!...

    he and the great ollie halsall


    cheers

  17. #16

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    Good comments all round.

    There's something about the weight of the notes from a sax, which you just can't replicate on a guitar. Trumpet too. I can play Miles's So What solo, but it never sounds good on the guitar. We have to fill it in with other stuff. But I don't want to diss the guitar (wrong forum for that!) as we have our moments too.

    Soft Machine! Now we're talking! I see the connection. That was a golden era in British jazz. An American influence, for sure, but a local flavour too.

  18. #17

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    Here's a trailer for Shadows, which I'd never heard of, but I definitely want to see. And I can. The whole film is on youtube.


  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by fep
    Saxophonist can growl, bend, scoop, etc. and it's all part of the jazz articulations.

    Guitarists can and do that also. But, the traditional jazz guitarist not so much. Strange that.
    Great point, Frank. This was why I loved the electric (usu rock) guitar I heard as a kid. It had that vocal quality too. (The harmonica / harp does too, and that's why it is a prefered 'horn' for blues.)

    Stevie Ray Vaughan and Albert King had that vocal quality in their guitar lines. Here they are together. Jeff Beck is another one.




    One of the reasons I didn't care for jazz guitar as a kid is that it sounded so, well, dull. (I don't mean the playing was dull, I mean the SOUND of it was dull.) Later I acquired a taste for thunk.

  20. #19

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    I get the argument for sax but really, I think piano deserves the nod if any single instrument does. The ultimate jazz instrument should be one that can make satisfying music alone as well as with others. There are solo sax records (hello, Sonny Rollins) but solo-piano has it all over them.

  21. #20

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    Hmm, not sure, Mark. Pianos are good for composing and arranging, comping and soloing, but what else can they do?!

  22. #21

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    pianos don't bend!...

    unless you hop on into them...like the free jazzers and the cages

    cheers

  23. #22

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    For trad jazz, it's trumpet (or cornet), trombone, and clarinet. But sometime in the '30s or so, I don't know exactly when, the sax started being used more and more. I still prefer the clarinet to the sax, but it's less common. Perhaps that's because it's harder to play well than the sax. I have a clarinet that I acquired in trade for a case of Coors beer many decades ago, but I never learned to play it well. It's very hard to get decent tone with no squeaks. I never had any desire to play any of the saxophone varieties. The tone just isn't that attractive to me in most cases. There are players I like, but not that many. Trumpet and clarinet do it for me far better than sax. But it's just personal taste, like almost everything.

  24. #23

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    The breathing of a sax player lends itself to the great phrasing sax players get.

    Don't forget, though, that the Boehm system of fingering on a saxophone (or flute or clarinet) is also an important ingredient to jazz phrasing. With the layout of the notes on a sax (the Boehm fingering system) the sax player is poised to rip off a quick eight note ascending or descending cascade of notes. Watch a sax player sometime. Almost without conscious thought, a sax player can snap off a speedy eight-note chromatic run. With the Boehm system it is also super easy to move the chromatic run up or down a half-step. (The same runs on the guitar are much harder to execute with the fluid speed of a sax player.)

    As I see it, bebop almost springs right out of the mechanics of the saxophone, between breathing and Boehm system fingering. We'd be nowhere without the woodwind guys.

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by Greentone
    The breathing of a sax player lends itself to the great phrasing sax players get.

    Don't forget, though, that the Boehm system of fingering on a saxophone (or flute or clarinet) is also an important ingredient to jazz phrasing. With the layout of the notes on a sax (the Boehm fingering system) the sax player is poised to rip off a quick eight note ascending or descending cascade of notes. Watch a sax player sometime. Almost without conscious thought, a sax player can snap off a speedy eight-note chromatic run. With the Boehm system it is also super easy to move the chromatic run up or down a half-step. (The same runs on the guitar are much harder to execute with the fluid speed of a sax player.)

    As I see it, bebop almost springs right out of the mechanics of the saxophone, between breathing and Boehm system fingering. We'd be nowhere without the woodwind guys.
    I remember my guitar teacher from the 70's, an old time jazz guy, he said, drop a saxophone down the stairs and it'll play a Bb scale. (must have been a tenor)

  26. #25

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    vocal is the ultimate jazz instrument imo

  27. #26

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    Drop an alto sax down the stairs and it'll play an Eb scale.

  28. #27

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    Drop a band down the stairs and they will charge scale.

    Drop a vocalist down the stairs and he/she will call a lawyer.

  29. #28

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    drop a new guitar down the stairs and you'll have a 500$ customshop relic upcharge!

    hah

    cheers

  30. #29

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    I started out on trumpet, while my sibs and Dad played clarinet; was moved to French Horn by the band director and stayed there through high school, then off to college to become entranced by the guitar; but saxophone has always held a special place in my sonic imagination. I developed a tone a colleague dubbed "the Sax o' Fender" - tube amp, just enough gain to flirt with soft-knee compression, tone rolled off; ride volume to phrase with; et voila! [Inspector Cleauseau voice} The Saxofauxne! Great for ballads & blues.

  31. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob MacKillop
    Yeah, it's all good. There's just something about instruments that require the breath...

    Talking of sax and bass, this has to be one of the oddest, most wonderful bass solos ever, from Jimmy Garrison:

    And people say there is no God...

    Unbelievable. Transcendent.

  32. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doctor Jeff
    When I was a kid I took one look at that tube with ALL THOSE KEYS (and the piano with 88 of ‘em), and thought NO WAY. Then I saw a guitar with six strings, and thought I might be able to handle that...
    So, you ended up with the most difficult of those three instruments to master!


    Personally I can barely tolerate the sound of the saxophone most of the time. There are exceptions to that, of course, but to me it is such a tremendously overused instrument in jazz that I am heartily sick and tired of the sound. And there is a set of jazz saxophone clichés that really get under my skin; oddly enough the guitar clichés don't!

  33. #32

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    Well, I'm glad we don't all like the same thing.

    Drop a piano down an underground lift shaft, and you get a flat miner....

  34. #33

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    The guitar is the best instrument overall, because it can be percussive as well as lyrical, is polyphonic, needs direct contact with/from your body to create its sound, and has enough variables & possibilities to occupy you a lifetime. It's also the best jazz instrument, because Wes Montgomery...

  35. #34

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    A friend of mine once took a gig at a "jazz cafe" that had opened near us...I think he did a duo with a bass player, played standards, etc.

    Afterward, the owner came up to pay them and said "You sounded great, but I thought you were going to play jazz."

    They were confused, considering they had just played two hours of jazz. So my friend says "But we did play jazz?"

    To which the owner responds, "No, JAZZ. Like saxophone."

    She was out of business 3 months later.

  36. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by neatomic
    pianos don't bend!...
    True. Also true that you don't sound a piano by blowing on the keys. But this isn't a problem. It may be one reason the piano is an especially good instrument to sing against (or over or with)

  37. #36

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    I don't know if it's the best jazz instrument, but I like it. I played saxophone in elementary and junior high band, but I quit before it started to get interesting. I wish I had stuck with it. I've thought about getting a cheap one and trying to learn again but I'm hesitant to take away from my guitar practice time.

  38. #37

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    I put the question of the ultimate jazz instrument to my wife, and without hesitation or prompting , she also quoted the saxophone.
    Her preference is for Jazz singers ,Ella, Sarah, Tony Bennett, Gregory Porter, etc.

  39. #38

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    Well, that makes it official!

  40. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by citizenk74
    I started out on trumpet, while my sibs and Dad played clarinet; was moved to French Horn by the band director and stayed there through high school, then off to college to become entranced by the guitar; but saxophone has always held a special place in my sonic imagination. I developed a tone a colleague dubbed "the Sax o' Fender" - tube amp, just enough gain to flirt with soft-knee compression, tone rolled off; ride volume to phrase with; et voila! [Inspector Cleauseau voice} The Saxofauxne! Great for ballads & blues.
    That is the best description of
    Insp Clouseau’ s faux French accent I have heard C74K , and an impressive background of formal tuition on Horns , before taking up Guitar . Which must have served you well.

  41. #40

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    I'm in a local jazz quartet. I play saxophone and guitar. Both at a reasonably competent (in my head anyway) amateur level by jazz forum standards. And while in some ways I'm a better guitar player, the audience certainly prefers saxophone. There's just something about the warm embrace of a tenor. Seems there's a physical resonance with the human body. That.. and saxophone cuts through just about anything. What in the heck will it ever take for the rhythm section to drop the volume way down for a guitar solo on an archtop?

  42. #41

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    Wintermoon beat me to it but that's what I would say as well. Unfortunately there are very, very few really good jazz vocalists. But when you listen to Lady Day in that early post, oh man, the inflections, the emotion that comes out through her voice cannot be mastered by any instrument.

    And that's coming from a sax player who dabbles poorly on guitar. My early influences were Johnny Hodges and Gerry Mulligan and I still am in awe when I listen to them. So, yes, probably the sax as 'the' jazz instrument for me.

  43. #42

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    A woman once told me that when she was young , her local village hall ( where they would have had local dances ) had a sign on the wall forbidding the playing of saxophones which were thought ( this was around the 1920s , 30s ) to have a deleterious effect on young ladies morals . I played the saxophone semi-professionally for years , can confirm .

  44. #43

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spook410
    I'm in a local jazz quartet. I play saxophone and guitar. Both at a reasonably competent (in my head anyway) amateur level by jazz forum standards. And while in some ways I'm a better guitar player, the audience certainly prefers saxophone. There's just something about the warm embrace of a tenor. Seems there's a physical resonance with the human body. That.. and saxophone cuts through just about anything. What in the heck will it ever take for the rhythm section to drop the volume way down for a guitar solo on an archtop?
    I have no doubt about this. To many people, jazz means a horn. But a horn alone makes thin jazz. Years ago I wished I had taken up sax instead of guitar, but now I'm glad I play guitar. For many reasons: chords, sliding chords, walking bass lines, double stops, and you can sing at the same time as you're playing it.

  45. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zina
    The guitar is the best instrument overall, because it can be percussive as well as lyrical, is polyphonic, needs direct contact with/from your body to create its sound, and has enough variables & possibilities to occupy you a lifetime. It's also the best jazz instrument, because Wes Montgomery...
    Beethoven said "The guitar is a miniature orchestra in itself." Good enough for me!

    Nonetheless, nothing can keep me from making horn-like noises whenever I get a chance.

  46. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by Patlotch
    Anyway, the question of the topic makes no sense, it is only there to make people talk

    Sorry for introducing a topic for discussion on a forum...

  47. #46

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  48. #47

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    I'm totally down with the idea of the supremacy of the sax in the jazz idiom. It's like every single note run I have ever played wants to be a sax line when it grows up.

    But then every once in a while I think, "Oh yeah, then play me a chord, oh ye superior instrument. Play me some octave double-stop runs like Wes..."

    And then I snigger to myself about horns and spit valves and hygiene.

    And then I spin "A Love Supreme" and sigh.

  49. #48

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pycroft
    A woman once told me that when she was young , her local village hall ( where they would have had local dances ) had a sign on the wall forbidding the playing of saxophones which were thought ( this was around the 1920s , 30s ) to have a deleterious effect on young ladies morals . I played the saxophone semi-professionally for years , can confirm .
    That vulgar generalisation may be true in your locality, but not elsewhere.

  50. #49

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    My comment is in relation to Pycroft's concluding remark that he "...can confirm...", which is why I used the present tense. And unless you are a young lady yourself, it is perhaps wisest not to affirm categorically what you cannot feel. Et épargnez-moi tout un discours basé sur des 'on dit' stp; la vérité est simplement qu'une fille normale, càd non influencée par des bêtises, n'en a rien à cirer de ces saxophones à la nouille. A propos, votre "traduction" de 'kill 2 birds with 1 stone' est fausse. Kulturbanause.

  51. #50

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pycroft
    A woman once told me that when she was young , her local village hall ( where they would have had local dances ) had a sign on the wall forbidding the playing of saxophones which were thought ( this was around the 1920s , 30s ) to have a deleterious effect on young ladies morals . I played the saxophone semi-professionally for years , can confirm .
    When I still played the saxophone in bands, I had women talking to me with quite obvious intentions. Now that I only play the guitar, men come and ask me technical questions.

    And this is in Kulturträger country, mind you. Beethoven was born just down the road. True, he didn't play the sax, but had syphilis all the same