By Tim Turner

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In the words of my old saxophone teacher  – “the saxophone is easy to play, but difficult to master.”  

As you can see from the title of this blog, I love the saxophone and everything to do with it. I am, what some may refer to as, a bit of a saxophone nerd. But when it comes to an instrument that is so elegant in design (just look at any of the Rampone Saxophones such as: http://www.ramponecazzani.com/eng/2008j_tw.html), so musically diverse and expressive it can make you feel 101 different emotions at the same time. It is so easy to pick up and play but takes a lifetime of dedication, discipline and work to master and, well, it’s just plain cool, I ask you what is there not to love?  

Rewind just over half a lifetime ago, back to where my love affair the saxophone first began…  

It was a warm Summer evening and I was listening to some old records my dad was playing, when a piece of music came on that grabbed me. Why it grabbed me I couldn’t tell you, but it sparked something. The piece of music was Stardust’, played by Cannonball Adderley on the album Money in the Pocket. Follow the link and have a listen, it is probably one of the most magical pieces of music I have ever listened to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-w_O_7ycFE  I asked my dad “what is that instrument and can I play one?”  

Well, the rest, as the saying goes, is history.  

For the better part of my life I have been engaged in this obsession with this instrument, investing time to learn about the different saxophones, mouthpiece, reeds and ligatures available, what was being played and who was playing it. You name it, if its to do with the saxophone, I want to know about it.  

I joined a band, Hot House (EMYJO as it was formerly known) and was surrounded by incredible musicians who not only fed my desire to know everything sax but encouraged my passion and pushed me to get better both technically and with my knowledge of the instrument. I was introduced to many great saxophonists, such as Michael Brecker and Alan Barnes, I highly recommend you check out Michael Brecker, his knowledge and skill was outstanding https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=abz6YTLIkB8 listen to his overtones and multiphonics – these are things that #makemesmile 

I must confess, I am a bit of a gear‘o’holic. The mouthpieces, the ligatures, the reeds, all of it is just as important to me as the saxophone itself. The artistry and craftsmanship of a good mouthpiece and paired with the right ligature should not be overlooked and is a worthy subject of its own blog. Suffice to say the upgrading possibilities on a saxophone are endless and you’ll always remember where and when you got your first upgraded mouthpiece.  Mine was in New York in a shop called Sam Ash Music. It was around 2011 and I was on a sensational band tour with the Screaming Kicks Big Band (#SKBB). One day we went into the shop and I saw it, a Theo Wanne Gaia 3 gold mouthpiece with a 7* tip opening. It was perfect and I had to get one, I still use it today and it has been one of the best mouthpieces I’ve ever owned and there have been a few.  

Speaking of mouthpieces has anyone seen the new Jodie Jazz DV Platinum 25th anniversary mouthpiece for tenor and alto? I’m thinking of treating myself, maybe this is the one? 

 https://www.sax.co.uk/jodyjazz-dv-platinum-20th-anniversary-tenor-sax-mouthpiece.ir   

The thing I love the most about the saxophone is the variety of music that can be played on it. Stan Getz said  “If you like an instrument that sings, play the saxophone. At its best, it’s like the human voice.” How true this is and just as the human voice is capable of singing an endless assortment of styles and genres, so too can the saxophone.  

Which brings me neatly to my favourite part of this blog, the recommended listening. As a teacher, it seems I am always giving my students some recommended listening but having the opportunity to share with others the music I love is just too irresistible to me. So here it is, if you are a young and eager saxophonist or just a keen music lover, give these a try… 

If you like your jazz, you’re almost spoilt for choice, but here are a few of my favourite selections…   

For those of you who like your music on the classical side you might want to consider checking out Nobuya Sugawa and his rendition of Histoire du Tango. All of it is amazing but I especially love the Night Club 1960 movement  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1PtwGfv8Qh0

Did you like what you heard? What would be your recommended listening?  

Well, that’s it for now, thanks for reading. From me and all my saxophones have a fantastic week and get playing some sax!  

 

  

 

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