Gary Smulyan has continued his recent streak of releasing albums with interesting and niche concepts. His most recent release “Tadd’s All Folks” contains all Tadd Dameron compositions. Interpreted by vocalist Anais Reno, and supported by Gary’s excellent blowing and a great band (Pete Malinverni – piano, David Wong – bass, and Matt Wilson – drums).
While this album is very straight ahead, Gary has still managed to avoid over saturating the recording world with more common standards. A lot of the songs here are very unfamiliar, continuing his trend of bringing to light lesser known compositions. His last few albums featured a lot of obscure contra-facts over more common chord changes.
The playing and recording quality are very well done here, if you’re a fan of Gary’s playing (who isn’t?) you should have a listen.
Thanks to Aidan Sears we have our first new transcription addition in a while! Aidan sent in a chorus of blues from Leo Parker on the riff blues, “Leo Leaps In”, a short but incredibly joyous solo from a great album, “Back to Back Baritones”. Head over to the transcription repository to get a copy.
I’m sure you all have heard about the passing of the great Ronnie Cuber. Ronnie once told me in a lesson that he couldn’t listen to Leo Parker anymore because he would copy it so much! Incidentally the great baritonists, Jason Marshall and Frank Basile will be playing two nights this weekend to celebrate Ronnie Cuber at Cafe Bohemia in NYC – Friday and Saturday I believe. Both Jason and Frank are huge fans of Leo Parker and Frank has done quite a bit of work documenting all Leo Parker recordings.
In other Leo news, Leo P (not to be confused with the aforementioned Leo Parker) has won the 87th annual DownBeat Magazine Readers’ poll. I’m sure this will grind some people’s gears as Leo P doesn’t play strictly jazz and attracts a young following as much from his outfits, hair , and dancing as he does for his playing. I personally find his music a bit monotonous, but I am thrilled that a lot of young people find interest in acoustic music and instruments through him. Leo P is a fine baritonist and actually should get credit for incorporating some extended techniques into his playing in a very approachable way. Also we can hope that anyone that gets interested in the baritone through him will also branch out to other realms of the baritone and further inspiration found therein. So congratulations to Leo P, anyone hearing him for the first time should also definitely check out his main inspiration, the late great, Ronnie Cuber.
Greatly sorry to report Ronnie Cuber has passed away.
Ronnie Cuber. 1941-2022
Undoubtedly among the greatest baritonists of all time.
Head to LowBlowMusic.com for membership to catch the live stream!
This is the biggest news I’ve been able to write about I think since launching this site 15 years ago.
Some time last year Gary Smulyan called me to propose a crazy idea to promote the baritone saxophone. Though we have planned and scrapped those plans a few times we are finally at the point where we can announce a new organization devoted to the baritone saxophone. Low Blow Music was formed by Gary Smulyan in conjunction with the council of baritonists – Frank Basile, Claire Daly, Andrew Hadro (myself), Brian Landrus and Jason Marshall – with the purpose of promoting the baritone saxophone.
We’re hoping to make this a world-wide phenomenon, and to kick things off we are celebrating Pepper Adams’ birthday on October 8th, 2022 with a BARITONE MARATHON. 12 hours of baritone and a jam session to boot. In addition to performances from groups led by Gary as well as each of the council of baritonists, we have additional performances from Lauren Sevian, Dave Schumacher, Roger Rosenberg and Carl Maraghi! The day will start at 12pm with Gary Smulyan and end at 12:30pm with an open Jam Session! Click here to see the full line up and schedule.
But perhaps the even more exciting news is that we have launched LowBlowMusic.com – this is a site that offers exclusive baritone content for a very affordable yearly membership of $25. Membership will get you all of the following:
-Access to the live stream of the October 8th event!
-Council of baritonists videos – conversation and mini lessons from Gary Smulyan, Claire Daly, Andrew Hadro, Jason Marshall, and Brian Landrus!
-Rare photos from Gary Smulyan’s career and travels
-Free download of the album “Marcescence” from Andrew Hadro
-Custom altissimo fingering chart from Andrew Hadro
-Rare photos from Claire Daly’s career and travels!
-Free download of the album “Mirage” from Brian Landrus
-Access to unreleased live Frank Basile performance in France
And more to come soon.
You can also support this organization by joining as a Gold Member or becoming a Sponsor of one of the live sets!
I hope to see you at the Ornithology Jazz Club in person, and look forward to sharing all of the forthcoming baritone goodness with you.
Brian Landrus is a modern baritonist, amongst all the many other woodwinds he plays – often focusing on the low range. In addition to recently joining the composition faculty at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Brian has released a new album. This album is called Red List, and refers to a list of critically endangered animals – Brian is hoping to raise awareness about this important issue.
The album sounds great, and Brian has assembled an incredible list of musicians to play on it. It has a lot of room for improvisation but is clearly showcasing Brian’s composition skills and also leaning into more of a modern rock/electric sound that is refreshing to hear.
Have a listen below, and head over to Brian’s website to pick up a copy.
The baritone saxophone is not nearly as prevalent as the alto or tenor, so it is inherently somewhat niche. Josh Sinton is a long time practitioner of the baritone and is exploring the edges of what the already somewhat undiscovered baritone saxophone can do. He has two new recordings out and they are worth listening to.
“b.” is a solo baritone saxophone recording. Recording an instrument acoustically while playing solo is incredibly daunting and ambitious. Adding digital effect, pedals, loops etc can really assist the endeavor. But Josh has spent a lot of time developing a repertoire of sounds and approaches to the saxophone such that he can now present an entire album’s length of music and sound with just him and a saxophone in a room. When listening to a solo instrumental recording I like to try to keep in the foreground the physical reality of the music. This is a large brass tube with holes in it, and the variety of sounds that can be produced with it is astonishing and worth listening to.
The other recording, “Adumbrations” is a trio recording with Josh, Jed Wilson, and Tony Falco. While still not striking down the middle of main-stream jazz this recording might be more familiar sounding to some listeners. The interaction between the musicians is really what’s special here. I especially enjoyed hearing Josh play some excellent flute.
I encourage you to expand your palate for baritone and go to Josh’s band camp page and have a listen. You make like it, love it, or just be interested to know what’s possible.
An interesting interview with baritone saxophonist Dana Colley. If you don’t know Morphine and you’re a fan of the baritone saxophone, especially in non straight-ahead jazz settings, this is a must listen band.
Dana and drummer Jerome Deupree made up 2/3 of the band Morphine and took part in a podcast interview recently. Its worth listening to.
There is a new album from a group called Mr. PC out of Dallas, TX featuring some classic swinging music. The group is a sextet (baritone, trumpet, trombone, piano, bass drums) and while the tunes are all originals they have a timeless jazz feel about them. The writing is nice, the playing is tasteful, especially from the young baritonist, Preston Cummins.
The album is called Sessions, and I recommend you have a listen. Check the links below: