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I got to hear the Main Street Sax Quartet a.k.a. Fantasyland Sax Quartet in the Magic Kingdom in Orlando recently. :thumbrig:

The bass, tenor and alto were all playing Selmers (the alto was a VI) and the soprano was a curved Yani. His other horn, a 1920s vintage curved Conn if I remember correctly, was in the shop. Apparently they have subs which occasionally show up with a bari or a straight soprano.

The arrangements, as previously noted elsewhere on these boards, are done by in-house Disney composers or by one of the quartet and are not published (though you could probably track down some of the standards like Pink Panther and Scott Joplin type rags). The tunes are all catchy and appealing, just the thing that a quartet needs to grab an audience of non-jazz and non-classical music aficionados. You can get a pretty good idea of what they do from youtube. I figure, if you had a quartet gig playing in a bandshell in the summer, in a mall or somewhere like that, you could do a lot worse than to imitate their type of music with some kids songs, a few popular standards, and you can always open up the jazz tunes for solos if it you find it too boring otherwise. Using a bass instead of a bari seems to give the low end a lot more authority.

The only thing that didn't satisfy about this quartet is that Mouse management makes them play at somewhat random hours and in random places so it's a bit hard to track them down. If you're in the Magic Kingdom and you want to hear them, ask Guest Relations inside the entrance to look up their super-schedule to find out when and where they're going to pop up. They don't put them on the entertainment schedule that is handed out to guests. They seem to have a large repertoire which they pick and choose from on the spot, so it repays the effort to hear them as many times as possible during the day. The basic setup seems to be, they play on Main Street before noon, usually with singers, and play at random places in Fantasyland in the p.m. usually somewhere in the shade where they entertain people stuck in lines.
 

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The tunes are all catchy and appealing, just the thing that a quartet needs to grab an audience of non-jazz and non-classical music aficionados. You can get a pretty good idea of what they do from youtube. I figure, if you had a quartet gig playing in a bandshell in the summer, in a mall or somewhere like that, you could do a lot worse than to imitate their type of music with some kids songs, a few popular standards, and you can always open up the jazz tunes for solos if it you find it too boring otherwise.
But almost no one is doing this. Your professional quartets are few in number and mostly dedicated to classical music. There must be a good reason most communities don't have a sax quartet of their own - it's certainly not for lack of good players.
 

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I agree that it seems odd that there aren't more sax quartets around. It's really fun to play in them and to write for them. I think part of the problem is that there isn't that much literature out there, especially jazz or pop oriented stuff. I'm trying to fix that by writing some more! I wish more people would start their own sax quartets just for the fun of playing. You're right paulwl, there are certainly plenty of good players out there that would be interested.
 

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I had a great Jazz Sax Quartet going last yeasr, but all the other guys got too busy with other projects to continue. If any one out the needs some charts, let me know I'll see what I got. We did a whole range of tunes.
Finding places to play (for any money) was the hardest part. The freebies were easy to find.
 

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Am trying to track down contact information for the Fantasyland Saxophone Quartet (or as they're sometimes called, The Fantasyland Woodwind Society)....would like to purchase some sax quartet charts from them! Please email me at: [email protected] with any information -thank you!
p.s. specifically looking for "Kiss the girl" at this writing...
 

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Discussion Starter #6
But almost no one is doing this. Your professional quartets are few in number and mostly dedicated to classical music. There must be a good reason most communities don't have a sax quartet of their own - it's certainly not for lack of good players.
Yeah I hear you ... when I said that their tunes are catchy and appealing enough to grab an audience, I didn't mean a PAYING audience ... as much as I like the sax, sax quartets and the repertoire of the Disney quartet, I realize that there's really no money in this type of ensemble. The Disney dudes are a rarity, playing in a really, really hugely packed venue where the customers nevertheless don't have to pay to hear them. When I say that I admire the Disney quartet and want to emulate them, what I have in mind is getting together a fun quartet and do the usual, non-paying or little-paying gigs at malls, festivals, etc. and maybe once in a long while a cocktail party or convention gig for serious scratch. But it's a non-traditional sound and you're not going to find many people out there who think that, hey, what we really need to do is hire us a sax quartet!

It seems that most of the well-known sax quartets (on the legit side at least) are based around a university or college teacher with their best students more or less at their disposal for rehearsals as part of a "for credit" deal. Or, they're put together as a more-or-less one-off event such as at a music camp, or within a music program for "chamber music" credit.

I rate the sax quartet as being somewhere below the brass quintet but above the wind quintet in commercial appeal. The more that an audience leans toward pop music, the more of an edge the sax quartet has over the brass quartet since it's basically a quartet of 4 solid jazz instruments unlike the brass quintet which is has a relatively un-jazzy sounding tuba and a totally un-jazzy french horn. The string quartet is above the brass quintet in appeal, and any kind of clarinet ensemble is below the wind quintet in appeal. That's my pantheon of small chamber ensembles ... but even string quartets have a hard time making money from what I've heard, so I wouldn't count on making any serious dough from this kind of thing no matter how great the players or the repertoire.

I'm sure that Disney will never sell their quartet arrangements. But if you listen closely to them and time them, they're too short for "sit down" concerts anyways, clocking in at around 90 seconds each. They're very clever and very nicely arranged abridgements of the original songs. Compare their "If I Didn't Have You" to the original Monsters Inc track for example. It would be more reasonable to have a good listen to their tunes and figure out how to come up with your own "similar" (cough) but expanded arrangements or better yet, teach yourself the tricks of the trade and use the various resources out there like fake books, piano reductions, orchestral scores, SATB choir scores, etc. to come up with your own charts.
 
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