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Discussion Starter #1
I know Earl Bostic and Louis Jordan played them (also Bud Freeman?) but that's more pre-bop. What do you think?
 

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It has been my experience in 43 years of playing that virtually any good horn will do any style of music that YOU, the player, can handle. Yes, some have a bit better ergonomics, or a shade more or less of this or that, but ultimately a horn is what YOU make it.

I am reminded of the old auction story of an auctioneer who could not sell an old violin. During the auction, an accomplished fiddler picked it up, tuned it up quickly, and knocked off a rousing reel. The violin then brought several hundred dollars at the auction. Had the instrument changed? Hardly!

The important thing is that you play your chosen horn until you know it "inside out", all of its quirks, strengths, weaknesses, and how to compensate for any imbalances in its abilities. Then, with the horn at your command, any music you want to play will eventually be within your grasp, given a measure of talent and a lot of practice.

Regards,

Sax Magic
 

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Louis Jordan never lacked in technique. He could rip a fast tune.

He just never used the harmonic language developed by Diz, Bird, et.al.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
I thought to ask because I was reading about how a lot of players switched to Selmers in the 60's due to the popularity of bebop and the desire for better ergos.

I understand that it takes time to become familiar with an instrument and make it do what you want, but it also makes sense that any glaring faults in an instruments design can hamper expression too.

I don't think the ergos of my Martin Indiana are bad, or slow, but sometimes they don't feel as solid to my fingers as I was used to with my Buescher Aristocrat and other saxes I played. So when I am practicing in a bebop style and letting my fingers slam the keys a little more when I play faster, it feels a little less secure for me. Then there's the intonation issues which makes it seem like I have to be a bit more careful when sliding between notes. Also it seems a tad more on the resistant side vs. free-blowing.

Perhaps this horn would be better for classical and swing-oriented playing, maybe dixieland, big band? I don't plan to give up on it at all, I am just interested in learning more about the styles of the music that inspired it's capabilities, originally.

I don't really have much bebop on record (which is technically more advanced than older styles,) being played on any Martin horns as far as I know (except some trumpet players!)

btw - I love the very modern sound Charles Lloyd gets on his old "Chu" Berry tenor! (but it's not a Martin :()
 

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I have an Indiana alto in the shop right now getting pads. So I am very interested in this subject.

Horns are very personal. I don't want anyone to buy something or go nuts because of one person's opinion. But I can tell you this. I never could play any bebop until I put my Mk VI in the closet. Phil and Quill could bop on their Selmers, but I couldn't.

Are you talking alto or tenor? I can't speak much for tenor but I can say the following for alto. The bebop horns I like the most in terms of keywork and response (which is what makes a horn bop) are the Conn 6M and the King Voll-True. The King is a sleeper. Crazy tone and certainly at least the quality of the Conn. But rumour has it that the Martin Committee and the Indiana are great jazz horns. So don't sweat it. They will all be great in some ways and will show you things you've never played before.

Have fun!

Crescent
 

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I can be bop on both of my Martins, no problem.

Of course I can still be bop on my king as well, and on all of my friends horns and..

Point is, the only thing that will keep you from be boping is yourself, and not the horn. My students even play be bop on their student Yamahas and other horns
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
I think I may have discovered my "problem" :| - I think the intonation on the C# may be the biggest problem I'm having right now. I'm not sure if the other stuff I mentioned has that much to do with the general lack of security I may feel when playing (the metal isn't that terribly weak and the keywork is actually pretty decent.)

(see my sharp C# thread...)

It seems hard to adjust the pitch as much as is necessary for this note when playing more uptempo. I believe Louis Jordan and Earl Bostic played pro Martin Committees (not Indianas made from older Handcraft tooling,) so I don't know if this was an issue for them, but I don't think so since bruce bailey said a feature was introduced in Martin saxes around 1928 to compensate for this.

On the old King records from the 50's it seems Earl Bostic can play just about anything on his Martin Committee alto, (and he even used tenor reeds!) It isn't exactly a bebop style but the technical facility is there.
 

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Art Pepper sure played a heck of a lot of bebop on his Martin. However, I've only known Bud to be a Conn guy, you may be confusing his 30M for a Martin tenor (the necks can look very similar).
 

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Like other older horns, the only big ergonomic issue/drawback with the older Martins IMHO is the design of the left pinky cluster: the size and placement of the C# key is insuffient for the weight of the actual key, and so moving back and forth between C# and adjacent notes is really difficult. Whether bebop playing requires this more than other jazz styles I don't know, but I would assume that Bebop typically involves speed and dexterity through the entire range of the horn. Although modifications are possible, the low C# key is just very heavy and awkward to use, and the linkage has to be perfect. More experienced players claim to have mastered these pinky keys, and I don't doubt it, but it takes a lot of effort.

I don't think you can get around the fact that this is a real problem: as much as I love my vintage tenors, I often think I'd be better off with a modern one. Although playing in the key of C# itself isn't too bad, I find that I tend to start with the tonic rather than adjacent tones. Playing in Bb minor on my Dick Stabile is, however, no fun at all and I usually leave the flat 3rd out of my blues/minor patterns when I'm soloing--I'm just not confident moving between Bb, B, and C#. Ironically, the problem is less severe on my supposedly crappy old King because the C# and the G# are not connected, and so the action is not so heavy.

This is not news, but I suppose the "superiority" of the 'modern" Selmer keywork is mostly about the configuration of the left pinky keys? If I were a professional player--bebop or otherwise--I'd almost certainly want the advantage of modern keywork.

Rory

I didn't find learning to slide my pinky up from the C# to the G# key hard to master at all--in fact I still do it on my Martin. I would consider altering the horn, but only with much fear and trepidation.
 

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It's certainly a greater issue on tenor. The alto's are a little easier to navigat. Also, experimenting with different arm positions (keeping the elbows raised and playing with the body of the horn turned slightly left or right) may alleviate some of the difficulty.
 

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Swampcabbage said:
It's certainly a greater issue on tenor. The alto's are a little easier to navigat. Also, experimenting with different arm positions (keeping the elbows raised and playing with the body of the horn turned slightly left or right) may alleviate some of the difficulty.
That's definitely true: with my King I actually found that playing sitting down seemed to bring the left pinky into a better position. What I've been experimenting with--although without much success--is a whole different way of using the pinky that seems to be demanded by the design. I learned to play on a Selmer, and on that horn I play that key with the tip of my finger--a sort of lift and press motion. These keys, by contrast, seem to want me to use the flat part of the finger nearer to the knuckle--basically the idea is that a heavy key needs more meat/bone to move it. So, to go from Bflat to C# the idea is not to lift and press with the tip but a more lever-like action in which I lift the tip of the pinky off the Bb key but push the C# down with the flat part of my finger between the knuckle and the first joint.

Like I said--this kind of change is suggested to me by the design, but I haven't really managed to get it working. The problem is that I often leave the Bb open a bit and the note is completely comprimised.

Rory

ps. I've never actually played a tenor with modern keywork, just an alto, so my sense of the difference might be exagerrated: does the low C# key cause problems for beginner/intermediate players like me on modern tenors too?
 

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I have a Martin Tenor (and alto and bari) and the larger the horn, the more pronounced the difference in this design. I also have a Mark VI tenor. After playing the martin tenor for awhile (specifically in parades) I'll pick up my VI and fly around that left pinky structure for what seems to be at least 20 minutes just for the sheer fun and relief of it.
 

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When you say that the action on your horn is not as you would like it to be, then the only thing I can propose is that you should go to your tech (or maybe a better tech) and ask him if your sax needs regulation/springs/something else.. if it feels loose then this is probably your case..
 

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Swampcabbage said:
I have a Martin Tenor (and alto and bari) and the larger the horn, the more pronounced the difference in this design. I also have a Mark VI tenor. After playing the martin tenor for awhile (specifically in parades) I'll pick up my VI and fly around that left pinky structure for what seems to be at least 20 minutes just for the sheer fun and relief of it.
That pretty much says it all (even if that's not a Bebop parade you're talking about:) )
 

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crescent said:
The King is a sleeper. Crazy tone and certainly at least the quality of the Conn.
Crescent

Hey Crescent:

Just noticed this: any pics and/or sound clips of you on that Voll-True? I'd love to hear them (and I bet I'm not alone:) ).
 

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rleitch said:
I didn't find learning to slide my pinky up from the C# to the G# key hard to master at all--in fact I still do it on my Martin. I would consider altering the horn, but only with much fear and trepidation.
On selmer horns (I can't speak about martins--I've only played a martin curvy, and that was a LONG time ago), I don't ever really need to go from the C# to the G# key. You can play g# using the C# key. It really makes certain passages easier (I'm thinking of the Cadenza at the beginning of the Dubois Concerto, but I'm sure there are others).
 

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hakukani said:
On selmer horns (I can't speak about martins--I've only played a martin curvy, and that was a LONG time ago), I don't ever really need to go from the C# to the G# key. You can play g# using the C# key. It really makes certain passages easier (I'm thinking of the Cadenza at the beginning of the Dubois Concerto, but I'm sure there are others).
Yup, that's right. On my King, however, the C# and the G# are not connected (or articulated) so that if you don't slide your pinky up to the G# key as you go up you'll get a G natural. The reason for disconnecting the G# key is that it makes the C# key a lot lighter. Some horns apparently have a lever that gives you the option--I wish my Martin had that!

Rory
 

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Finally, a REAL advantage to owning a Selmer!:D
 

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Like I said earlier, I've never played a modern tenor, but I think the difference is really really substantial. I don't mind too much myself, because I never play anything too technically demanding and because I don't play for a living. If I was putting in 10hrs a day like the pros do/did, there'd be no question about it--I'd go modern all the way. And then there's intonation...:)

R.
 
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