Category: News

Howard Johnson has passed away.

I am sad to report that Howard Johnson passed away this morning. Below is the message from his partner. If you are not familiar with Howard, I recommend you become familiar. He was a very important baritone saxophonist and musician.

“I am deeply saddened to announce that Howard, my beloved partner of many years, passed away this morning after a long illness. Plans for a memorial service will be announced in the near future.
During his remarkable life, Howard dedicated himself to creating a distinctive jazz legacy, and to advancing the stature and versatility of his signature instrument, the tuba. It is his wish that—in lieu of flowers or other tributes—memorial donations be made to benefit The Howard Johnson Tuba Jazz Program Fund at Penn State, an endowment which will provide a residency program for low brass musicians and baritone sax. Donations to the fund can be received at: raise.psu.edu/CelebratingHowardLJohnson
Thanks for all the love and appreciation you have shown Howard over the many years he has charmed and amazed us. And for your kind support during this difficult time.
Nancy Olewine”

 

Yamaha finally adds Custom baritone!

We wrote earlier this year about Yamaha releasing a new intermediate level baritone. Well, it seems like this is the year for Yamaha and the baritone. They have finally released a baritone on their “Custom” line of instruments, which is their highest professional level instruments. This model will be the YBS-82. One of the most important features of the new model is a choice of hand made neck – more on that in just a bit. In addition to neck choice there are six different finishes –  lacquer and plating options,  and additional key options (can be ordered without high F#). The bell will be one piece construction as opposed to the YBS-62’s two piece. Key buttons will be mother of pearl, as opposed to most Yamaha’s polyester/plastic buttons.

There are some important changes and improvements from the existing horns as well. Ergonomic improvements, and a shorter bell! The shorter bell is a welcome change, both for tuning and size reasons. Not only has Yamaha released two completely new models of baritone but they have also announced the YBS-62II! This will replace the current YBS-62 with many of the same ergonomic improvements. Both the YBS-82 and YBS-62 will come with an integrated, but removable peg to make the horn easier to play while sitting down.

Custom Necks!

Custom necks are all the rage right now, players are finally discovering how much of a difference the neck of a saxophone can make. Both by changing materials, bore, plating etc. So the most exciting news here could be that Yamaha is offering a custom hand made neck with the new YBS-82. But also that they will have these necks for sale a la carte as well, and that these necks will work with any current Yamaha baritone! Pricing starting at $366 – which is actually incredibly cheap compared to current custom neck options. They will offer three different bore/taper sizes (C [small], E [medium], V [large]), and 6 finish options. This could be an amazing way to spruce up or improve your current Yamaha horn. I also wonder if… maybe these custom necks could work on Selmer baritones? I’m hoping someone can try this out sometime and let us know!

How does it play?

I was offered the chance to try a new ‘secret’ baritone from Yamaha at the Navy Sax show in January of this year. I was floored, and which I had gotten to spend more time playing it. The horn felt great under the fingers, but I was most blown away by the neck options and how different the tapers felt. I am so glad that Yamaha has finally entered the truly top end range of saxophones that they had already done with their soprano, alto, and tenor lines! 

Ed Xiques has passed away.

Great human and wonderful saxophonist Ed Xiques has passed away. Although he was rather private and not as well known as you’d think for someone with his musical resume, many musicians knew his importance. Having played saxophone with the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis orchestra and many others, as well as a long time teacher he left a positive impact on the jazz scene.

New Holiday Gift Guide Page

Curator, Andrew Hadro with some of the baritone gift options.

There are a lot of terrible or tacky saxophone things for sale on the internet. So I’ve done some digging and tried to save some time for people looking to get baritone related gifts for friends, family, or other baritone enthusiasts. I’ve already purchased a number of these items as you can see. Since the holidays are approaching I thought it might be a good idea to share the list with everyone. Though we shouldn’t need a holiday to shower the baritonists in our lives with gifts.

The items range from more generic posters/prints/t-shirts to very niche and well done artistic renderings of famous baritone minded musicians. 

So if you’re looking to pick up something (less costly than a new horn) for that special baritone saxophonist in your life, head over to the new Gift Ideas Page.

Andrew Gutauskas releases second album

Intrepid baritonist, Andrew Gutauskas has released his second album titled, “Look Out!“. This comes after his first album “Look Up!” from 2017. Perhaps in the future we’ll see “Look Within!” to finish out the trilogy? [ Feel free to use that Andrew 😉 ]

Gutauskas is a wonderful player and composer and the music on this album is very uplifting and positive, much like the leader himself. The line-up is a baritone, bass, and drums with trombone added on some tracks. A classic no-chord sound harking back to the Gerry Mulligan / Bob Brookmeyer quartets, though the songs and playing here will sound a bit more modern.

Check out the video below for a taste of the album. And of course I’d encourage you to head over to Andrew’s BandCamp page to buy a copy!

New Mulligan Transcription – Stand Still

Thank you to Jon De Lucia! We now have another Gerry Mulligan solo transcription in the repository. The song is titled “Stand Still” and the solo comes from the 1957 album co-led by Mulligan and Paul Desmond called Blues In Time. Its a nice short and playable solo, from a very nice album.

Head on over to the Transcriptions page to grab a copy.

As an added bonus you can hear Jon play the transcription and watch it in real time:

Two New Carney Transcriptions!

Anything related to Harry Carney is always welcome, so we’re very glad to announce that two new Carney transcriptions have been added to our repository. Thank you very much to Ben Huff!

The first is Agra, a classic Carney feature from Duke Ellington’s Far East Suite. And the second is from a somewhat lesser known, but still delightful album where the Ellington band played their own arrangements of music from Disney’s film, ‘Mary Poppins’. The Carney feature is on “Stay Awake”.

Head over to the transcriptions page and download them for yourself.