Musical musings on a gray day.

Here are some random items, at least vaguely germane to what we write about here, all gleaned from around the web-o-net.

bigsaxFirst, we see that a giant saxophone is getting a new home in Houston. The folk-art piece was created for a now-defunct night spot, and the new property owners want the damn thing out of there—now! It’s—get this—seven stories tall, and will now reside at a local center for outsider art. We’re thinking that this contra-contra-contra-contra-contra bass job is capable of some serious low notes. It’s apparently made of car parts, oil field pipes, a surfboard and an entire VW Beetle. We’re pretty sure those are the same parts Selmer started using when they decided to “improve” the legendary Mark VI, effectively ending its reign as the go-to saxophone for professionals. First South Bend lost Studebaker, and then nearby Elkhart had to put up with shoddy crap from the horn factory. Yahama builds a saxophone now that’s essentially a copy of the Mark VI, and it’s a great horn. When did America forget how to mass produce stuff, anyway? But enough ranting. We’re not sure if this horn will be available for rental, but showing up on a gig with it might be a hoot. We presume reeds for this thing weigh 15 or 20 pounds, so start saving saliva now in 50-gallon drums. How else are you going to get ’em wet?

trane-altoSpeaking of giant saxophones, here’s an item about a saxophone once played by a giant. An alto saxophone played by jazz legend John Coltrane during his tour of Japan in 1966 has just been sold for $115,000.00 on the Record Mecca music collectibles site. Although his first recordings—in a non-soloing role with Dizzy Gillespie’s big band—are of Coltrane playing mostly alto—this horn is an oddity in that Trane is remembered now almost exclusively for his tenor and soprano playing. Apparently, he did play a lot of alto during his Japanese tour, a choice perhaps intended as contrast to fellow tenor player Pharoah Sanders, who was in Coltrane’s band on a semi-official basis by this time. The horn was a prototype by Yamaha, upon which its first line of pro horns was fashioned. Several snippets of Coltrane playing more extensively on alto have surfaced over the years, and while we shouldn’t be, we’re always amazed at what a fat, practiced sound he got on that horn. Most notably, he plays alto all over Gene Ammons’ 1958 Prestige album, Groove Blues. Here’s a link to a snippet of one of his alto solos from the aforementioned record. As for his just-sold Yamaha, we’re not sure Coltrane made a hundred-and-fifteen grand in the entire decade of the 1960’s, but some baby-boomer with a jazz jones and more money than talent just got himself quite the conversation piece. Then again, a guitar burned by Jimi Hendrix sold for three times that back in November. We’re not sure what that says about the state of American society, but it speaks well for the used instrument market. Maybe it’s time for our Mark VI to go up on eBay.

Posted in: Jazz, Odds & Ends

Post a Comment