A while back I wrote a post marking the 11th year that I have been in charge of this site. I refer to it as curating because a lot of the content on the site comes from and features other places on the internet. I also encourage fellow baritone saxophonists to submit and provide content as much as possible. Quite a bit of the biographical information on this site pre-dates my time at the helm.
According the venerable Way Back Machine, also known as the internet archive, the earliest incarnation of this site was captured on January 29th, 1999 – Exactly 20 years ago today! So happy birthday JazzBariSax.com!
For fun you can check out what the site looked like when it started:
And here is what it looked like 11 years ago after I took it over and established it at the current domain, jazzbarisax.com:
The earliest I can remember visiting this website is sometime when I was in High School. I had great teachers, but I did not have access to a teacher that was a dedicated baritone saxophonist so this site really let me explore the world of the baritone, and I was thrilled to be able to take over and continue its work.
The site still receives hundreds of visits daily, and transcriptions from the repository have been downloaded over 200,000 times! I have been very gratified to learn and be told that many young baritone saxophonists enjoyed this site and learned about some of the greatest baritonists for the first time here. I don’t update daily or even weekly but I hope to keep this site alive, and available for all baritone saxophonists around the world to learn about the King of All Instruments.
Here’s to another 20 years,
I have covered Larry Dickson’s first, second, and third, installments in his 4 album project that mirrors the seasons. Today I am happy to say I’ve had a chance to enjoy the latest one from his quartet titled, “Winter Horizons”.
Similar to all of the other albums this album is very well done. The playing on the album is great, but what always stands out to me is Larry’s choice of songs and arrangements. There is an especially nice arrangement on Well, You Needn’t. On this disc there is a balanced and enjoyable mix of originals, standards, Thelonious Monk songs, and even a less-known but very enjoyable Billy Taylor original.
The format is again a chordless quartet. Being familiar with the baritone saxophone one might immediately think of the Mulligan/Chet Baker quartet. But this album uses alto saxophone instead of trumpet. This instrumentation might lead you to remember the “Two of a Mind” album that Mulligan did with Paul Desmond, but that’s not really the feeling here either. Rick Van Matre has a more modern slightly edged alto sax sound that contrasts nicely with Larry’s more mellow rich sound.
Bravo to Larry Dickson for another tasteful and enjoyable album.
For those looking to get a copy please contact Larry directly.
When I inherited and became curator of JazzBariSax.com over 10 years ago I kept the “style” delineations for all of the great baritone saxophonists in the roster. I don’t like pigeon-holing musicians since it over-simplifies their music in a distasteful way. Also, a lot of them play more than one style and span many eras. However, since this site serves a lot of new-comers to the baritone saxophone I have left them intact to make the journey a bit simpler and easier.
There is one style that was left out and I am ashamed to say I have been remiss in addingt until now. There is now a “Latin Jazz” category for this site. Currently there are only a few players there so far (the late Mario Rivera, and the excellent and still thriving Pete Miranda), but I hope to add more soon.
PS – I also added a page for jazz baritonist George Barrow. An unknown, but often heard baritone saxophonist with an incredible discography – perhaps most notably splitting baritone duties with Danny Bank on the famous Oliver Nelson Album, Blues and the Abstract Truth.
I was very pleased to see two articles about Hamiet Bluiett in this month’s DownBeat magazine. They discuss his life, his work, his music, and his extreme dedication to the baritone saxophone and belief that it is an under-utilized instrument with lots of potential.
The latest transcription added to the repository is another from the great Pepper Adams. This time from a Freddie Hubbard album titled, Groovy! The song is Number Five.
You can download the newest transcription over on the transcription page.
A big thank you to Noah Pettibon for sending this one in.
We are saddened to report that two elder statesmen of the baritone saxophone have passed on.
Hamiet Bluiett was an incredibly unique and innovative baritone saxophonist. With a long career he influenced many younger saxophonists especially with his trail blazing exploration of the upper registers of the baritone saxophone and his un-matched, often times aggressive sound.
Hamiet was a powerful advocate for the baritone saxophone. He also is credited for introducing many musicians to the avante garde side of Jazz. He led many of his own bands and recordings on top of his very impressive list of sideman accomplishments.
I would highly recommend everyone make sure they have sampled at least some of his music.
For a detailed bio, you can see our page for Mr. Bluiett.
McDonald “Don” Payne was perhaps a bit lesser known, but a fine baritone saxophonist having played in several military ensembles and very much present in the New York scene and Broadway pits. He was also a very active educator.
Everyone who met Don remembers him as a very soft spoken kind person.
Thanks again to Jasna Kolar, we have another new Gerry Mulligan Transcription in the repository.
This one is a solo on Mulligan’s own composition, “Line for Lyons” from the album, Butterfly with hiccups (1964).
This interview was conducted and provided by Tim Hecker. Noah Pettibon is a student at Central Washington University and young aspiring baritone saxophonist. Big thanks to Tim for conducting the interview and writing it up for us at JazzBariSax.com!
Up and coming artist and undergrad Noah Pettibon was kind enough to give an interview with jazzbarisax.com after the recent release of his new straight-ahead and cool jazz influenced trio EP entitled Plus Two. For clarity, my questions are bolded and the artist’s answers are standard text. – Tim Hecker
First of all, what is your background in music? Who have been your mentors, teachers and inspirations?
I was born in 1998 and I’m from University Place, Washington which is next to Tacoma, a suburb of Seattle. I don’t come from a musical family, but music was always playing on a speaker somewhere. I always wanted to play music. I was given piano lessons from the age of 6 until I started playing alto saxophone in my 5th grade band. I switched to tenor eventually and started getting serious about music, then began pursuing the baritone in 10th grade. I played in a few local college and community bands in high school and the following year. Just before leaving for my first year at Central Washington University, I finally picked up clarinet and actually study it classically in the studio. I am heading into my second year there and will also be studying in the composition studio. Since 9th grade, I’ve been studying privately with alto saxophonist Tracy Knoop, an 80s Berklee graduate and staple of the straight ahead scene in the Pacific Northwest. He’s had a big influence on me and, most importantly, has taught me how to teach myself!Tell me a bit about your setup?
-1950 Conn 12M “Lady Face”
-RPC .95 refaced by Matt Marantz
-BG Leather lig
-D’Addario Jazz Select 4M Unfiled reeds
-Boston Sax Shop Balam strap
What are your interests outside of music?I love the arts in general. I enjoy learning about all kinds of creative mediums and crafts. I can always apply what I learn to music in some way. The internet can be an exceptionally constructive cure for boredom!
Let’s talk about your new EP, Plus Two-Right away I hear a lot of Gerry Mulligan; were you trying to emulate a Mulligan sound and style?
It’s interesting you say that. In my mind I’m actually thinking about Pepper Adams a lot, at least baritone-wise. This is kind of controversial, but I think Mulligan would have been one of my favorite musicians had he played tenor. To me he doesn’t sound at home on the baritone. That said, I do very much admire his writing, his time, his melodic sensibilities, etc. To give some credit to your observation, I was undoubtedly playing at the lighter aspects of my sound a lot of the time here.
Why a trio? Was the lack of piano another cue from Mulligan, was it who was available at the time or were you just experimenting and found something that worked?
Acoustically, the baritone tends to get kind of buried. The sound of the instrument is so rich and complex that it blends in with many different timbres. Sonically the low saxophones hold their own very well which we see being fleshed out a lot lately with solo work by artists like Colin Stetson and the like. That kind of music is not something I’m currently working on, so the best way I could see to display my sound in a straight ahead jazz setting was with this instrumentation. It was primarily an acoustic choice. Also a trio is cheaper!
Tell me about your choosing the straight-ahead style; is this subgenre a personal passion for you, or a homage to things past before you forge ahead into the future? Will you continue to release albums in this style or do you plan to experiment with new blends and mediums for your sound?
Like I said, the straight ahead jazz tradition is what I am focusing my studies on at the moment. It is at the core of the variety of styles of western improvised music today. I don’t think those styles could exist without it. I imagine I’ll always be playing and sharing this style of music, but I have begun putting serious effort towards expanding my palette. My musical interests are pretty diverse, and I set my standards quite high. After all, there are still so many things I’m yet to hear the baritone saxophone do! Ultimately, I want to be making music I would want to hear. No one but you can make music the exact way you would want it done!
A number of the tunes on this album are ones you wrote; what is your process?
Yes, two of the seven tracks are my original compositions. They say Duke Ellington wrote every day. It’s one of those things that you improve at just by doing and self-analyzing. Pepper Adams said “As a composer, I use up erasers faster than lead!” and I can also relate strongly to that. It’s like chipping marble off a massive, cumbersome block until you manage to refine it to something beautiful.
Do you write for baritone specifically?
It depends. Take Malocclusion for example, which is featured on this record. That was my effort to write something that could really only sound any good on baritone, using all the beautiful registers while providing a nice challenge. I don’t usually do that, though. I certainly never write with the saxophone or for it. Always on piano and with little regard for the so-called difficulty level. I would rather rise to meet the sound in my head rather write down to my abilities.
Tell me about some of your influences and favorite composers?
There are so many prolific writers across all of music, especially in this genre! If I had to name a few favorites, they’d be Thad Jones, Billy Strayhorn, Benny Golson, Vernon Duke, etc. When I was very young playing piano initially and thinking critically about music for the first time, I always gravitated towards Beethoven very heavily. Such passion and emotion behind every note! It’s not about the theory (although that aspect is beautiful too) but about how the music is being played!
What’s the story behind Dunning-Kruger Blues?
It’s kind of a convoluted story. It was originally an untitled 4-horn septet tune I was working on with my combo at CWU. One of the local guys, a wonderful flugelhorn player named Dmitri Matheny, came as a guest artist and performed with all the combos in the program. Since I’m rather poor with titles, I asked him for suggestions. He made note of the fact that the music looks rather difficult on the page, yet lays surprisingly well. He connected that observation to something called the Dunning-Kruger Effect, which I just recommend googling. To be honest, the rationale is rather shaky. Really, it’s just something to call the tune!
What do you want people to take from this album? Is there a personal meaning for you that might be different than others’ interpretations?
There’s no special message behind the music. I wasn’t trying to make a killin’ barn-burner record. I’m just excited and proud to be someone who’s barely 20 playing straight ahead as well as I know how. It’s not paying homage and it’s not looking to the future. It’s simply what’s happening right now!