When talking, the other day, about appropriate mouthpieces for the C Mel, Alan referred to a couple of very skilful saxophonists who use alto mouthpieces. In my view, if you wish to play sweet music, there are many instruments out there which will do it better…made for the job.
The saxophone, especially in the larger sizes, has a unique voice. Of course, because of it’s flexible nature, it can be manipulated to play sweetly…but really it wants to get down and boogie. Even it’s only real pal, the electric guitar, needs an FX rack to compete. There are those who talk of many roles for the sax, forcing it into corners where it does not belong:-
Classical sax…. another oxymoron. Only for the odd piece for which a sax is requires, will you ever see one in a Symphony Orchestra…if you want to hear a sax go to a jazz/blues/R&R joint. The sax does not belong here; it’s like changing the rules of Cricket.
The sax, because of it’s sound, it’s history (and, to a degree, the players associated with it in the mind of the public) place the saxophone firmly in the bad boy jeans & leather jacket category. SOTW talks of “sacred sax”….really just an attempt to make belief in the supernatural “with it”.
The raucous, gritty, sound of the sax should be celebrated, not castrated.
The bigger the horn the more pronounced these features become…the baritone being the grittiest. However, the bari is relatively quiet and not as agile or penetrating as the tenor; so it falls to that instrument, with all it’s gorgeous nuances, colours, and voices, to represent the family. Much the same sound can be achieved with a C Mel, using the Bb tenor mouthpiece so why not celebrate the fact that it is a unique instrument instead of putting it in the role of clarinet, oboe or whatever.
We can go to the Opera another night….we are off now to the Juke Joint.