September 19, 2008

It was nice to get some quality time to spend with my CD player over the last few days. In the morning I’m off to London with Julie for a weekend break but I leave you with a new review, my first in ages, over at the new look Bagatellen. My thoughts on Seymour Wright’s great solo disc can be found here. What is it about saxophones lately?

Comments (17)

  • jon abbey

    September 20, 2008 at 4:15 am

    “What is it about saxophones lately?”

    all respect to Seymour, this is one of the top handful of releases this year, but overall, I’ve been thinking lately that improvised music in 2008 would be better off if saxophones simply didn’t exist anymore.

  • Doug Holbrook

    September 20, 2008 at 11:18 am

    Nah, I’d have to disagree Jon…The saxophone’s just a tool after all..Whatever comes out of it depends on the imagination and skill of it’s player…

    Lot’s of imaginative players out there right now…

  • Cornelis

    September 20, 2008 at 1:43 pm


    Doesn’t help, does it……?


  • Jacques Oger

    September 20, 2008 at 3:29 pm

    At last, I understand saxophone music !

    thanks Cor !

  • Massimo Magee

    September 21, 2008 at 1:41 am

    cheers for standing up for the saxophone, Doug!

  • jon abbey

    September 21, 2008 at 2:24 am

    yes, rah rah rah.

    obviously there are a small handful of people who can still find ways to pull interesting material out of this largely played out instrument, a very very small handful. I just think that if every saxophone magically vanished off the face off the earth tomorrow that it’s pretty likely that the overall positives would outweigh the overall negatives IMO. (sax-free festivals! HURRAH!) again, Seymour’s solo disc is great, a very impressive statement, but this is a macro point I’m making.

  • Massimo Magee

    September 21, 2008 at 4:41 am

    well that’s an interesting opinion. Can’t say I agree of course, the saxophone can pretty much do no wrong in my book, but then I guess I used to think music would be largely better off without electric guitars (very definitely past tense, though)

    Agreed about this disc though, fantastic

  • jon abbey

    September 21, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    yeah, I’m not totally sure I’m right, and there’s obviously no way to test it either way, but it is something I’ve been thinking about a bit lately, so Richard’s line prompted me to post my thoughts.

  • Doug Holbrook

    September 21, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    But what is it about the saxophone that makes you dismiss it so easily?

  • jon abbey

    September 22, 2008 at 9:08 am

    honestly I don’t even know how to start answering that.

  • Richard Pinnell

    September 22, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    Yes I think that kind of statement is easy to make but once you try and start explaining how you feel its much harder.

    Whilst I would never just write off any one instrument I too have long struggled with the sound of the sax. Sometimes though, even when the sound of the instrument is nothing new the voice behind it can be so full of passion and creativity that the music can still be great. This is very much how I feel about Jean -Luc Guinnet’s playing on MAP (with Toshi N) and Le Bruit du Toit (with Seiji Murayama). The sounds are nothing new, but their placement in the spaces around and over the other musician’s sounds is excellent. A couple of years ago I wouldn’t have allowed myself to enjoy music in this manner, but as I have matured as a listener this has changed.

    For me personally the biggest surprise of late has been my excitement about a few solo sax releases. I really didn’t think I’d hear one of those to excite me again, but recent discs by Wright, Rives and Küchen have all been on repeated play here.

  • jon abbey

    September 22, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    “This is very much how I feel about Jean -Luc Guinnet’s playing on MAP (with Toshi N) and Le Bruit du Toit (with Seiji Murayama). The sounds are nothing new, but their placement in the spaces around and over the other musician’s sounds is excellent.”

    see, for me Guionnet’s playing on MAP is dreadfully insensitive to Toshi and the overall music to the point where it makes me angry to listen to, but I’ve made my opinions on that reasonably clear elsewhere.

    thinking about this more, I think my problem is more with saxes in collaboration in EAI, as I do also like the solo work of Rives (haven’t heard the new one yet) and the recent Wright release. I know that Keith has a project starting next year in trio with Wright and Kuchen, so maybe that’ll be the breakthrough I have yet to hear.

  • Richard Pinnell

    September 22, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    That sounds a great group. Who knows how that will work? but then I said that about View from the Window.

    There aren’t that many great EAI+sax albums I agree. The Yamauchi/Korber/Weber disc last year I liked a lot, and of course Trio Sowari. There are probably a good few more but I can’t be bothered to tax my brain right now 😉

  • Doug Holbrook

    September 22, 2008 at 10:24 pm

    I guess I just don’t get the saxophone prejudice…

    The trumpet is well received in EAI ( generally ), but like the sax it’s just a long tube with a vibrating object on one end ( Lips or reed what’s the differance..)..Amplify the small sounds and spit soaring through the air and what do you have?

    On the other hand the saxophone has more than a century’s worth of baggage to defend. There is a lot to reject there..

    But what about all those artists who do reject that baggage? I don’t think it’s fair to dismiss them out of hand..

  • Richard Pinnell

    September 22, 2008 at 10:31 pm

    Yes the trumpet question was troubling me earlier this afternoon too Doug. I’m not sure why it should be treated so differently than the sax either, but you’re right it often is.

    As for the baggage… two of the sax players I mention above actually don’t reject the history of the sax within jazz. Wright and Küchen can both be found playing in free jazz groups regularly, and as my review of Seymour’s disc suggests the history of his instrument plays a big part in the music.

    It did occur to me earlier when Jon mentioned the Wright / Küchen / Rowe trio that it could actually be a jazz standards group and Keith could be rejecting his own “baggage” but I doubt it 😉

  • jon abbey

    September 23, 2008 at 12:01 am

    “But what about all those artists who do reject that baggage? I don’t think it’s fair to dismiss them out of hand.”

    virtually none of them are able to actually do that entirely successfully, and even fewer in collaborative contexts. I have issues with trumpet also, but it seems easier to transcend the history of that instrument, possibly because it’s a smaller instrument? dunno, I’m just going by results.

  • Massimo Magee

    September 23, 2008 at 6:12 am

    I have great trouble with this concept of ‘baggage’, how can you tell by listening, if someone is laden with too much of this ‘baggage’ or not? What constitutes ‘baggage’ that should be jettisoned and what can count as an area that is still worth exploring? I’m more inclined to believe that it’s the voice behind it that counts more than the sounds themselves, but this is a big area to discuss. Maybe we could displace the usual “What is IHM” talk in the soulseek room with this topic instead sometime…..

    Great to see the new-look blog by the way Richard!

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