Some very exciting news in the world of the baritone saxophone has developed. Harry Carney was a longtime member of the Duke Ellington Orchestra, and by longtime I mean from age 17 until his death at 64 (just months after Duke passed). In addition to his work with that band his sound is considered one of the most beautiful and richest of all baritone sounds, and I personally have never encountered a baritonist who didn’t admire Mr. Carney’s playing.
Carney was an artist for Conn saxophones and endorsed and played their horns throughout his entire career. Towards the end of his career Carney actually played a low A Conn – they are somewhat rare but do exist. They have a somewhat different design than most modern low A horns and a much bigger bell. Carney performed on this horn on his last recording, Continuum, which featured him with the Duke Ellington Orchestra led by Mercer Ellington. You can even see Carney holding the horn in the album cover. (See image to the left).
The really interesting bit of baritone related history is that Deval Patrick, the former Governor of Massachusetts is actually the son of Pat Patrick, the famed baritone saxophonist often heard with the Sun Ra Arkestra. Through a series of events Deval has ended up with Carney’s horn and will actually be gifting the horn to the Berklee school of music in Boston. A brand new book about his father is just being published: Pat Patrick: American Musician and Cultural Visionary (African American Cultural Theory and Heritage)
Longtime Berklee faculty member and fantastic baritone saxophonist, Danny Harrington will actually be performing on Harry Carney’s horn in the reception to celebrate the gifting of the horn this week in Boston. Check out this great photo of Danny holding the horn! He has had the opportunity to play the horn and speaks highly of it. Check back soon for a full interview with Danny about the horn, how it plays, its history and where its going.
I’m glad to know that Harry Carney’s final horn will be finding a great permanent home in Boston.