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This post makes me realize how unfamiliar I am with a lot of contemporary players. Pretty sure I could ID Redman and Branford pretty quick, but the other guys I would just be guessing.

In general, for me, a player’s ideas have to be very strong for me to bother listening, if I don’t much like their tone. But if you’re short on ideas, or just like blowing cliches, I’ll forgive a lot if you sound great. Nobody today sounds like Ben Webster - in his later years sometimes it seems like he would barely play at all but what he delivered was just pure gorgeous tone. An older player with complex phrasing and a beautiful tone that popped into my head was Joe Henderson. A player with a tone some really hate, but who I liked a lot, was Jackie McClean.
 

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I usually listen to KCSM (a Bay Area jazz station) while driving, and I like to try to guess who the players are on whatever cuts they happen to play. And fairly often, I can do it. This is one of the few talents I have that actually impresses my wife, who finds it amazing. But I always tell her, "to me, recognizing Dexter Gordon's sound is liking recognizing a friend's voice on the phone--there's no trick to it."

It's definitely easiest to identify the old school guys: Trane, Sonny, Getz, etc. Not sure if that is because I've listened to them so much more than most younger cats, or because they were more distinctive, or both. But I can usually also recognize guys like Eric Alexander, Josh Redman, Donny McCaslin, and other younger guys I've listened to a lot. And of course it won't be too long before those guys are "old school" and somebody else is considered "modern."
 

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I usually listen to KCSM (a Bay Area jazz station) while driving, and I like to try to guess who the players are on whatever cuts they happen to play. And fairly often, I can do it. This is one of the few talents I have that actually impresses my wife, who finds it amazing. But I always tell her, "to me, recognizing Dexter Gordon's sound is liking recognizing a friend's voice on the phone--there's no trick to it."

It's definitely easiest to identify the old school guys: Trane, Sonny, Getz, etc. Not sure if that is because I've listened to them so much more than most younger cats, or because they were more distinctive, or both. But I can usually also recognize guys like Eric Alexander, Josh Redman, Donny McCaslin, and other younger guys I've listened to a lot. And of course it won't be too long before those guys are "old school" and somebody else is considered "modern."
Josh, Donny, and Eric are all over 50 and not young anymore.
 

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Strange there's no mention of Stan Getz in this discussion......jazz is a 'generation thing'.. i'm in my 7th decade now and quite happy with my 'limited choice' of heroes ...Getz, Ammons, Rollins, Stitt, Bird, Adderley, Dex ,Hodges, Gonsalves etc..........plus the great R+B cats,:confused: sorry to be so boring and backward lookin'!
 

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Discussion Starter · #48 ·
Strange there's no mention of Stan Getz in this discussion......jazz is a 'generation thing'.. i'm in my 7th decade now and quite happy with my 'limited choice' of heroes ...Getz, Ammons, Rollins, Stitt, Bird, Adderley, Dex ,Hodges, Gonsalves etc..........plus the great R+B cats,:confused: sorry to be so boring and backward lookin'!
Hi,
I hope you are well. Getz was the first name I mentioned in my original post.
 

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And I mentioned Getz as well (post #33), while making sure I had my fire suit handy for ensuing flames...probably a good thing it was long-winded, lol.
 

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One other thing that came to mind regarding identifying musicians based on sound & phrasing alone...pianists...for example, you can tell Chick Corea from McCoy Tyner in a few notes...even if they were playing at the same festival on the exact same piano...the power of personal style driven by phrasing, articulation, & ideas.
There is a Youtube clip I saw a couple of year back of Billy Joel playing in different styles, imitating others. He does Elton John and I was like "Holy crap!", he's absolutely right! I looked for it again, but I can't find it.
 

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There was a time, before the advent of YouTube, Spotify, etc. etc. when you could feasibly guess where a player came from by his sound and phrasing. There was the Texas school, Kansas City jazz, West Coast (mostly LA) etc. The only way you could hear jazz was by going out to hear it live, buying one of those old time limited 33 1/3 LP's, or the rare radio broadcasts. You couldn't emulate saxophonists the way it's done now, because you really didn't have same access.
 

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Mark Turner doesn’t sound anything like Brecker to me.

Another one very distintive I think is Donny McCaslin.

I don't hear someone like Mark Turner to be anywhere close to Brecker's concept...Brecker played high baffle metal pieces, & was about as far from a classical dark sound as one can get. As a matter of fact, that younger generation you mention including Cheek, Speed, McCaslin, etc...they all seemed to try to AVOID sounding like Brecker...
Soon there will be a generation of players trying to AVOID sounding like Mark Turner.
 

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Donny McCaslin...Ben Wendel...Bob Reynolds...just to mention three who have a similar tone concept (on the surface, they are all distinct, just trying to make a point about "new generation" tenor players)...seems to me that it's driven by the need to be maximally flexible among widely varying musical settings (McCaslin was hired by Bowie, for example)...& they also seem to have a dedicated subservience to the music at hand, in the moment...as if a personal, "trademark" instrumental style would get in the way...all have a masterful command of seamless upper register playing, & I think this too has a big impact on tone concept...just spit-balling here, as I find blanket statements about "younger" players having no identity, core to the sound, etc. to be off the mark, missing the point...this is art after all right?
Here's one produced by another wonderful sax player, altoist David Binney, who has worked w/ Donny a fair amount over the years...
 

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There is a great post up here on SOTW asking people to pick what they consider to be the two "BEST" tenor sounds.
Those posts are always fun because we all like different things.

The problem for me, is that I just went to add to the post and I found it impossible and almost frustrating to choose just 2, because there are so many choices that would work for me.
versio n ifionkoklayingeoirostroiohy

SO...... it got me thinking:

If you took the first short phrase of a standard like "That's All", and had these 5 popular older players play that, I bet you could tell which one was Getz, Ammons, Lockjaw, Ben Webster, and Dexter... probably in seconds.

If you took 5 popular modern players like Potter, Redman, Frahm, Blake, and Branford....... would you be able to tell who they were in an instant, if they played that phrase???

I'm not saying you could or you couldn't. Of course it depends alot on who you listen to.
Not making any judgements on older plays vs todays players....
Just an interesting thought for a discussion.

There were such distinct differences in sound and phrasing from the popular name players of yesteryear. Do you find that to be the case with the popular name players today?

Let the discussion begin.....
Hard to say. I have only heard Redman- 4-5 times and Marsalis once or twice. I have heard more Potter but find him very boring. No fire. I appreciated Redman's earlier playing a lot more than his more recent playing. Meanwhile, there are approximately 50 players minimum from the post-bop or even bop era who have tunes I haven't heard or want to hear a time. Last year my buddy and counted 49 versions of Monkpolayingopeositiroihy and each rendition was unique. Today I was listening to Mingus's, Song Without Orange. I think it was Booker Ervin on Tenor but I didn't check, but very cool solo, not to mention the tune itself. I can listen to Mingus albums over and over. There is no one from the current era that IMO sounds more than mediocre with the exception of Redman. So I don't see how I could recognize any of them except, possibly him. I'd be more apt to recognize Dewey Redman. But how's this for an aside about recognizing sax players. About 35 years ago my wife and I were in Ibiza at this bar in the old city. The bartender was playing jazz tunes and asking her to guess who's playing this or that. She gets every challenge right so the bartender is flipped out by her accuracy and says he's got a tune she'll never be able to guess. He puts on this jazz tune with an alto sax player. She listens to the vamp and chorus and then the solo begins. She listens for about 20 seconds and says, Ray Charles. Did you even know Ray Charles ever played Alto? Well, he did, and this was the one time he did. I'll never forget that moment.
 

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I have heard more Potter but find him very boring. No fire.
👀 .... I mean, sure, music is inherently subjective, buuuut... 😬 😅

You're absolutely right that Ray Charles was a great alto player. Just an absolute beast of a musician overall. I play occasionally with a wonderful drummer in Dallas named Jon Bryant who toured with Ray for a while, and he has some GREAT road stories. Apparently, the rumors of Ray being an extremely demanding bandleader -- but one who could back up every bit of it with his own abilities -- are quite true!
 

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I can usually spot Chris Potter but a lot of new players are sounding like him. Kenny Garret for sure and Liebman - Garbarek. B ut because Garbarek usually has an ECM sound, but even when he was younger, he always had that sound.

How new is new?I think since no o n really copies them David S Ware and John Zorn
 

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Let's just cut to the chase. Chris Potter is extremely technically proficient on the saxophone. He's just a little on the stiff side. He doesn't really swing, like Sonny or Zoot, and along those same lines, I would say he doesn't have that quality of being "hip" that Cannonball once described on a recording: "Either you have it or you don't," he said. It's something you're born with. Other folks might refer to the quality I'm talking about as soul.
 

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Let's just cut to the chase. Chris Potter is extremely technically proficient on the saxophone. He's just a little on the stiff side. He doesn't really swing, like Sonny or Zoot, and along those same lines, I would say he doesn't have that quality of being "hip" that Cannonball once described on a recording: "Either you have it or you don't," he said. It's something you're born with.
Really ?
 

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Let's just cut to the chase. Chris Potter is extremely technically proficient on the saxophone. He's just a little on the stiff side. He doesn't really swing, like Sonny or Zoot, and along those same lines, I would say he doesn't have that quality of being "hip" that Cannonball once described on a recording: "Either you have it or you don't," he said. It's something you're born with.
Another "really?" here...stiff?...getting the call from Steely Dan to do a guest sax solo automatically issues you a "Hip Passport" :)
How 'bout dis here? (assuming you can take 4 min to actually LISTEN to it)...this sound "stiff" to you?
 
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