Sax on the Web Forum Archive / Alto Saxophone / ALTO & ROCK&ROLL

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JI
User ID: 0512724
Apr 14th 1:12 PM
I want to know your opinions on alto and Rock & Roll. As far as I have seen there are more tenors in rock and blues bands than altos. Can you give me your point of view?
E.M.
User ID: 9823593
Apr 14th 11:33 PM
Listen to some Earl Bostic. He played mainly riffs, just like a rock guitar player would.
Brian
User ID: 9600383
Apr 15th 6:32 AM
Just like there are fewer female rock and roll lead singers ... but they still exist.
super20dan
User ID: 7705853
Apr 15th 4:49 PM
supertramp used a lot of alto sax,vanmorrison too
JI
User ID: 0512724
Apr 16th 12:57 AM
I agree with you. There are very good Alto saxes on rock & roll, but even Supertramp is a great band and has great music is not the kind of rock & roll I am trying to talk about. The Rolling Stones Live use tenors for the solos. Almost every blues band goes with tenors for the solos and I wonder why. Somebody told me that it is because the tenor has more armonics and, being bigger than the alto, can go higher for the altissimo. I never use a higher note than D altissimo at the alto. Some tenor players go constantly higher than that.
super20dan
User ID: 7705853
Apr 16th 6:01 PM
sanborn broke the kind of ground you are talking about. before him nobody even thought to try playing alto that way.personally i really gt a kick out of suprtramps alto use. jacks hokey alto work with van morrison cracks me up.
Bari Martin
User ID: 9579203
Apr 17th 8:17 AM
"sanborn broke the kind of ground you are talking about. before him nobody even thought to try playing alto that way"
Super20dan; You need to go back a few years to check out the early 'rough' alto players. They used growls, lip trills, flutter-tongue and played in a bluesey swing style, which was the precursor to rock & roll; guys like Jimmy Dorsey ("So Rare"), Earl Bostic ("Sleep"), or later, King Curtis ("Harlem Nocturne"). These are just a few. I love to play (or try to play) alto that way. People aren't used to hearing it. IMO, none of the modern alto players come close to the power and emotion these giants put out on an alto.
steve
User ID: 6570393
Apr 17th 8:19 AM
A lot of blues bands that have horns use the alto...for example, Roomful of Blues. A Chicago band that comes to mind is "The Buzz". You are right, though, the tenor is the prominent sax. Probably not because of altissimo, as that can be done on an alto, but because of the bigger booming sound....altos tend to be "sweet" whereas blues music tends to be rougher, IMHO. I like playing alto with my blues band...with the Berg 110/0 my Naked Lady is anything but sweet....but my tenor is the workhorse.
gary
User ID: 7935363
Apr 17th 5:13 PM
Edgar Winter, anyone?!
super20dan
User ID: 7705853
Apr 17th 5:40 PM
jimmy dorsey had more chops than most people gave him credit for sorry i forgot edger winter. maceo parker too. i still say sanborn broke the ground and created a whole new approche to playing alto. before i heard sanborn i never even dreamed of trying to play alto that way .after all that was what tenor exceled at and was what people expected. just imagine going back to mid 1970s and showing up to play a rock&roll gig with an alto around your neck. people would think you were nuts.
JI
User ID: 0512724
Apr 17th 11:05 PM
Steve,
Is your Berg Larsen metal or ebonite. I use the same tip opening 110/0 in a bronze one. Do you know who else plays 110 on alto? I have heard that not too many players.
super20dan
User ID: 7705853
Apr 18th 6:00 PM
i used a 105/1 metal for a while .with a soft enough reed it wasnt hard to play . sold it after i discoverd how out of site the dukoff on alto was
gary
User ID: 7935363
Apr 19th 7:14 AM
Slightly off-topic, but regarding Jimmy Dorsey, any sax players that aren't familiar with him or just from his big band days, might want to check out his playing with Red Nichols and the Five Pennies recordings from the late 20's.

(Not to mention Miff Mole's incredible playing!)
JI
User ID: 0512724
Apr 21st 7:50 PM
A pro Sax player at the States told me by mail that he thinks tenor goes more popular inside R&R because it has more armonics. Though you can go altissimo with the alto sax he says the tenor goes a little higher, taking into consideration its tone. He asked me how often did I use a higher note than altissimo D on alto, and he is right, not commonly. Some tenor men use even G quite often.

I tried to get some G's from my alto horn but my wife almost asked for divorce and my dogs howled with such an anguish that I have decided to stay at D or maybe E once a year.
K
User ID: 8409173
Apr 21st 9:52 PM
Aaron Neville has a brother that plays Alto on his Use me Up cover tune. Sounds great. I also really like Nelson Rangel and Eric Marienthal (not really rock). Earl Bostic was an amazing player way back when. And I really liked Oliver Nelson's alto sound, kind of dark like a tenor. Alto has alot to offer. K
steve
User ID: 6570393
Apr 22nd 2:01 PM
JI, My 110 Berg is a metal one. I use a #2 V-16 on it.I think that would be roughly the same as a 130 tip on a tenor MP.
gary
User ID: 7935363
Apr 22nd 5:08 PM
Ya gotta check out Hank Crawford...R&B. Sandborn says he was his main influence.
soreliprick
User ID: 0366544
Apr 24th 12:42 AM
"just imagine going back to mid 1970s and showing up to play a rock&roll gig with an alto around your neck. people would think you were nuts. "
What about the sax player who alternated between alto and bari in 'Rock Around The Clock'? Not in the Comets, but one of the other bands.
GregK
User ID: 0603144
Apr 26th 9:11 PM
soreliprick,
That's an interesting comment. I went to college in the late 60's/early 70's and actually quit sax because of that. Didn't pick it up again for years. And even then quickly switched from alto to tenor and stayed with tenor (although I kept my Conn 6M). I've been to see Marienthal and others. Their alto sounded okay, but there's just something about tenor for R&R.
JI
User ID: 0512724
Apr 28th 5:54 PM
GregK,
Don't you think it is because of the more armonics that the tenor sound has?

In the other hand I think that people that picks the alto, like me, are always influenced bay thinking in bebop terms for a while.
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