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Reccommended Sax RecordingsPrinter Friendly Format
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As many of my beginning students have mentioned to me, good saxophone recordings can be hard to find. Here's a brief list of some of my favourites:
"Classical" Must Have Recordings:
American Music For Saxophone (LP)
If you can still find this recording, many of us consider this to be one of the best recordings ever made. (I will admit that I am a little biased, but the quality of playing has never yet been surpassed.) You have to be awfully lucky to find a copy of this recording, however, as it has been out of print for a long time. (The album was recorded in the late 1960's.) Check a local university music library.
James Houlik is widely recognized as one of the best classical tenor players around. I have found that some people like his sound, others don't. Regardless he has a level of playing on the Tenor matched by few others. This recording in particular is of interest due to the inclusion of Russell Peck's> The Upward Stream. This 20 minute concerto is AMAZING! Imagine a blend of pop idioms crossed with a writing style which is a mix of Aaron Copland and Danny Elfman.
The Rascher Saxophone QuartetFounded by Sigurd Rascher, one of the first concert saxophonists of this century, the Rascher quartet now continues under the leadership of Carina Rascher, Sigurd's daughter. This group has an amazing blend and balance, largely because the quartet plays on original designed horns. Modern horns have been altered to give better projection and a more distinctive voice. By playing on original horns, the timbre and blend of the quartet are maximized. The recording of the Glazounov Quartet is stunning - largely due to the smoothness of this blend.
Montreal, Paris, Chicago
Isabelle Lapierre is a Quebecois saxophonist of enormous talent. There is nothing particularily surprising or unique on this recording, other than a consistently high musical and technical standard. Of note are several pieces by Quebec composers Denis Gougeon and Denis Bedard.
The Prism Quartet (Self Titled)
The Prism Quartet is unique in that they specialize in both traditional saxophone quartet literature as well as Electronic Wind Instruments (EWIs). While this recording is all of traditional material (no electronics) there are some great works on here. Russell Peck's Drastic Measures, for instances is superb. The CD combines both Jazz and Classical styles and gives a good feel for what a modern saxophone quartet is able to produce.
Marcel Mule: 'Le Patron' of the Saxophone
Recently a British company by the name of Clarinet Classics has been recovering early recordings on clarinet and now saxophone. This recording, along with the follow up "...Encore!" features a pile of early records and radio recordings, including a 1909 recording of Mule's teacher Francois Combelle. Mule was, along with Rascher, one of the most influential saxophonists of the early half of the 20th century. Other restoration projects on saxophone include recordings of vaudeville saxophonist Rudy Wiedoft.
You may find this name familiar - Branford Marsalis was Jay Leno's first bandleader when he took over the tonight show. Marsalis is probably the best school and most innovative and widely recognized Jazz Saxophonists around. His background is impressive in Jazz, Classical and Pop Music. He's worked with Sting (remember the soprano saxophone in "Englishman in New York"? He's won a classical grammy for his album "Romances for the Saxophone". This is a fine example of the great and intelligent player he is. Reading the liner notes is as facinating as listening to the great playing...!
The definitive Sonny Rollins
If you haven't seen the recent PBS ten part production "Ken Burns Jazz", GO WATCH IT. Then, GO GET THESE RECORDINGS. The show has put together a series of albums representing the work of a variety of some of the great players in the history of Jazz. These three saxophonists are major figures, and these remastered recordings are FANTASIC. Enough said. Go listen. Enjoy.
Hard to Classify
The Terror and The Magnificence
John Harle has recording a ton of saxophone music, and has been probably the most recorded classical saxophone player in recent history. His projects are almost always innovative. This recording is much the same. It ain't classical, it ain't jazz, it ain't Rock and Roll. I'm not quite sure what it is, but I like it-- lots. To give you an idea of how ecclectic this recording is, one track is Harle playing while Elvis Costello sings Shakespeare. And that's not even the wierd stuff...
David Mott is a highly innovative Baritone Sax Jazz player who's truly interesting work is, much like the Harle recording, a fusion of styles. I can't even describe what the music is like - go listen!