Sax Sax Sax: Legendary Saxophone Performances (2019)

ARLEN, Hamilton, Gershwin, Tizol, Adderley, Bechet, Silver, Coslow, Carmichael, Brown, Rodgers, Hart, Rogers, Hodges, Ellington

Various Artists

Sax Sax Sax, is a brilliant collection of 15 performances by legendary Jazz Saxophone players from 10 albums from the 2xHD Analog Master Tape to DSD 256 remaster series. This is a great way to enjoy some of the finest moments from these albums.  All 10 albums are also available in DSD at NativeDSD Music.

The great saxophone players include the Cannonball Adderley Quintet, Sydney Bechet, Stan Getz, Johnny Hodges featuring Ben Webster, Johnny Hodges & Charlie Shavers, Lee Konitz Quintet, Zoot Sims Quartet, Buddy Tate & Harry Edison, and Ben Webster. It's a true Saxophone and Jazz extravaganza.

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Ben Webster

Like Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young, Benjamin Francis Webster, the third member of the classic tenor triumvirate, spent part of his musical apprenticeship in the ranks of the Fletcher Henderson band. A product of Kansas City, where he was born of February 27th, 1909, Webster came to New York in 1932 with the Bennie Moten band. He followed his stint with Henderson by spells with Willie Bryant, Cab Calloway and Stuff Smith, and then in 1935, began an association with Duke Ellington which continued, on and off, for more than ten years. Webster, the pre-eminent disciple of Coleman Hawkins, has that hallmark that distinguishes the great jazz performers from the simply good – an instantly recognizable style. While adopting the searing blowtorch approach of Hawkins on up-tempo numbers, Webster plays ballads in a highly distinctive way, attenuating the note values and following the sustained notes with a tremolo “wake” of exhalation. It’s a patented websterian flourish. Just as Lester Young made his principal mark with Basie, Webster established his reputation in the Duke Ellington orchestra, earning particular acclaim for his solos on the 1940 recordings of “Cottontail” and “All Too Soon”. Webster had an uninterrupted spell with Ellington between 1939 and 1943 and returned for a few months in 948. In between he freelanced around Kansas City in the fifties, toured with JATP and recorded prolifically for Verve with Coleman Hawkins, Oscar Peterson, Johnny Hodges and Art Farmer, among others. After a period of relative inactivity in the early sixties, he moved to Europe in 1965, settling first in Holland, then in Denmark. He worked in clubs and played concerts around Europe and in 1968 made a memorable date with Don Byas for the MPS label. He died in Amsterdam on September 20, 1973. Described by Barry Ulanov as one of “the warmest and most sensitive of performers”. He will be best remembered as a genuine romantic and a most outstanding interpreter of ballads.

Photo: from album cover Come Sunday

Buddy Tate

George Holmes “Buddy” Tate was born in Sherman, Texas on February 22, 1914.  He was a much travelled and highly respected Jazz Saxophone and Clarinet player.  His very presence in a club was a guarantee of capacity crowds and a feeling of well-being.

When long-service medals are distributed for work with big bands then Buddy must be considered for he was with Count Basie for six months in 1934 then, from the spring of 1939, he was in the Basie saxophone section for more than ten years. 

He took Herschal Evans’ place and sat alongside a succession of tenor playing colleagues including Lester Young, Paul Bascombe, Don Byas, Lucky Thompson, Illinois Jacquet and Paul Gonsalves.  With such grounding it is hardly surprising that Buddy was every inch a professional or that his solo playing is strongly affected by the blues.  He had an acute understanding of what an audience wants, which probably accounts for the fact that he took a seven-piece band into Harlem’s “Celebrity Club” in 1952 and was still pleasing the crowd there nearly 20 years later.

In 1959 he made his first trip to Europe, as a member of Buck Clayton’s band, and he went back almost every year.  In 1970 he brought the complete “Celebrity Club” band over for a European tour but most often Buddy worked on this side of the Atlantic as a soloist with local musicians.  

photo from cover Buddy Tate: "Body and Soul"

Johnny Hodges

Johnny Hodges (1907 – 1970) was best known for his solo work with Duke Ellington’s Orchestra where he played lead alto in the saxophone section for many years and his playing became one of the identifying voices of the Ellington orchestra. He is considered one of the definitive alto saxophone players of the big band era (alongside Benny Carter). His unchanging style always managed to sound fresh. 

Ben Webster (1909 – 1973) was, in fact, a great admirer of Hodges and it was Ben’s view that no one in jazz played with more feeling. The warmth and passion that Hodges invested in his playing were in stark contrast to the demeanour of unremitting impassivity that he presented in the Duke Ellington saxophone section. Webster, also an emotional and intensely lyrical player managed a similar look of stolid inscrutability when he played. They are a well matched pair and their musical compatibility is vividly displayed on the first Hodges session here.

Zoot Sims Quartet

John Haley "Zoot" Sims was an American jazz saxophonist, playing mainly tenor but also alto (and, later, soprano) saxophone. He first gained attention in the "Four Brothers" sax section of Woody Herman's big band, afterward enjoying a long solo career, often in partnership with fellow sax players Gerry Mulligan and Al Cohn, and the trombonist Bob Brookmeyer.

Sims was born in 1925 in Inglewood, California to vaudeville performers Kate Haley and John Sims. His father was a vaudeville hoofer, and Sims prided himself on remembering many of the steps his father taught him. Growing up in a performing family, he learned to play drums and clarinet at an early age. His brother was the trombonist Ray Sims.

Following in the footsteps of Lester Young, Sims developed into an innovative tenor saxophonist. Throughout his career, he played with big bands, starting with those of Kenny Baker and Bobby Sherwood after dropping out of high school after one year. He played with Benny Goodman's band in 1943 and replaced his idol Ben Webster in Sid Catlett's Quartet in 1944.

Sims served as a corporal in the United States Army Air Force from 1944 to 1946, then returned to music in the bands of Artie Shaw, Stan Kenton, and Buddy Rich. He was one of Woody Herman's "Four Brothers". He frequently led his own combos and toured with his friend Gerry Mulligan's sextet, and later with Mulligan's Concert Jazz Band. Sims rejoined Goodman in 1962 for a tour of the Soviet Union.

In the 1950s and '60s, Sims had a long, successful partnership as co-leader of a quintet with Al Cohn, which recorded under the name "Al and Zoot". The group was a favorite at New York City's Half Note Club. Always fond of the higher register of the tenor sax, he also played alto and late in his career added soprano saxophone to his performances, while recording a series of albums for the Pablo Records label of the impresario Norman Granz. He also played on some of Jack Kerouac's recordings.

Sims acquired the nickname "Zoot" early in his career while he was in the Kenny Baker band in California. The name was later appropriated for a saxophone-playing Muppet on The Muppet Show.

Sims played a 30-second solo on the song "Poetry Man", written by singer Phoebe Snow on her debut eponymous album in 1975. He also played on Laura Nyro's "Lonely Women," on her album "Eli and the Thirteenth Confession."

photo: from album cover 'Zoot Sims Quartet'

Sidney Bechet

There has never been a more instinctive, natural musician than Sidney Bechet, the great Creole jazzman from New Orleans who was to the soprano saxophone what Louis Armstrong was to the cornet and trumpet and Coleman Hawkins was to the tenor saxophone. Born in New Orleans – probably sometime in 1897 – Bechet was captivated at an early age by the sound of the clarinet which his brother, Leonard, played.  Charles E. Smith relates in his book Jazzmen, published in 1939, that when Bechet came home from school, he would pick up his brother’s clarinet and blow it.  He practiced thus, unknown to his brother, and made so much progress that his mother got Leonard to listen to him one day.  Sidney played one piece – and when he’d finished Leonard told him he could keep the clarinet.

The Bechet brothers played together in a band called Silver Bell and by the time he was 18, Bechet was one of the finest musicians in New Orleans, having played with Jack Carey and the New Orleans Eagle Band.  In 1916 he worked with King Oliver and, like Oliver, migrated to Chicago when the Storyville red light district of New Orleans – where many jazz musicians worked – was closed down. Bechet played with Freddie Keppard, among others in Chicago, and then, in 1919, moved to New York where he joined Will Marion Cook’s Southern Syncopated Orchestra and went with the band on a tour of Europe.  Bechet stayed on after the Cook band broke, spent some time in London and played in the Bennie Peyton band in Paris.  Thereafter he spent much of his time in Europe, finally settling permanently in Paris in 1951.

It was while he was in London that Bechet acquired his first straight soprano saxophone – the instrument on which he was to become a jazz legend.  He made his first recordings in 1923, with the Clarence Williams Blue Five, and subsequently worked with Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Tommy Ladnier (whom he first met in Moscow while on a tour of Europe in 1925) and Noble Sissie, with whom he had a long association.

Perhaps because of spending so much time outside the United States, Bechet never received the recognition there that was due to him during his lifetime.  But in France he triumphed.  He became a national hero, his recordings of Petite Fleur and Les Oignons were tremendous hits and a statue in his honour was erected in Juan-les-Pins.  He died of cancer in Paris on May 14th, 1959.

Bechet was hailed as “an artist of genius” by the Swiss composer and conductore Ernest Ansermet.  He played with matchless passion and commitment and, in the words of Joachim Berendt “a majestic expressiveness”.  He simply overflowed with melodic inspiration and had vast reserves of musical energy. As Jelly Roll Morton once said, “He plays more music than you can put on paper”.

photo: from the album 'Really the Blues'

Stan Getz

Stanley "Stan" Getz (February 2, 1927 – June 6, 1991) was an American jazz saxophonist. Playing primarily the tenor saxophone, Getz was known as "The Sound" because of his warm, lyrical tone, his prime influence being the wispy, mellow timbre of his idol, Lester Young.[1] Coming to prominence in the late 1940s with Woody Herman's big band, Getz is described by critic Scott Yanow as "one of the all-time great tenor saxophonists".[1] Getz went on to perform in bebop and cool jazz, but is perhaps best known for popularizing bossa nova, as in the worldwide hit single "The Girl from Ipanema" (1964) performed with Astrud Gilberto and for his work done under the influence of João Gilberto and Antonio Carlos Jobim.

photo: public domain

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Sax Sax Sax: Legendary Saxophone Performances (2019)

ARLEN, Hamilton, Gershwin, Tizol, Adderley, Bechet, Silver, Coslow, Carmichael, Brown, Rodgers, Hart, Rogers, Hodges, Ellington

Various Artists

2xHD Executive Producer: André Perry
Analog Recording Equipment: Nagra-T Tape Recorder, modified with all tube playback electronics
Cables: Siltech, Shunyata
Compilation: André Perry
Digital Converters: Horus, Merging Technologies with Atomic Clock
Mastering Engineer: René LaFlamme - Analog Tape Transfer to DSD 256
Mastering Room: Nagra HDdac
Recording Software: Pyramix Masscore, Merging Technologies
Recording Type & Bit Rate: Analog

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