Sax on the Web Forum banner

1 - 15 of 15 Posts

·
Discombobulated SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 201
Joined
·
9,785 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I hope some of you who are better versed in R&B saxophone will share your thoughts on this.

I've got a couple of sets of R&B playing that pop up tunes on my shuffle playlist from time to time. It's not a style I've pursued in any depth, so a couple of things have surprised me.

First, a lot of the playing is really fabulous, with great melodic sensibility and amazing command of the instrument, just great playing by any standards. That hasn't been my impression from stuff I've heard off the radio or wherever over the years, but maybe I was being dismissive or maybe the style varies a lot in quality.

Second, and this is the one I'm most interested in hearing discussion about: I keep thinking, to my great surprise, that I hear a lot of Lester Young's influence in a lot of this playing. Of course the sound and intensity is different, but I think I hear a lot of Lester's turns of phrase, dramatic devices, and so on. Am I hearing things? Lester wouldn't be the first guy to come to mind as an influencer because of his decidedly cool approach. But perhaps his relatively straightforward rhythmic approach (as opposed to Hawkins or the beboppers) and swing feel lent themselves to the music when appropriately ramped up in intensity.

Or do I need to listen more carefully? :whistle: :)
 

·
Administrator Emeritus
Joined
·
17,843 Posts
I don't really see Lester as a big primary influence for R&B saxophone. But a big influence on many of the early R&B players was Illinois Jacquet and he also has some Lester in his playing, so that might be what you hear. Arnett Cobb was another early influence, his style came more from the Coleman Hawkins school (through Jimmy Lunceford tenor star Joe Thomas).

Do you have some soundclip examples that made you come to this thought?
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Technician
Joined
·
3,409 Posts
Yes so do I... it's subtle of course--it's to do with the way Prez used to 'bounce' some of his repetitive notes and alternative fingerings. The last chorus of Lester Leaps In is very 'rock&roll' in my opinion and i've thought so for many years. After the Basie years and into the '50's his playing became more introspective much of that exuberance and energy had gone
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,914 Posts
Do you have some soundclip examples that made you come to this thought?
I can definitely understand what OP is saying. Listen to Lester's solo here (starts around 3:16 - he takes the final solo after Hawkins and Parker). All of the rhythmic repeated note phrases and some low register honking suggests a precursor to the Rock & Roll players.

https://youtu.be/8bNqLVuk-g0
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
TENOR, soprano, alto, baritone
Joined
·
7,780 Posts
They all listened to each other and picked up things. At the same time they rarely came out sounding like each other as so many do today. Yes, R&B sax was a branch of the tree and the closer you get to the trunk, the more you find guys like this.
 

·
Discombobulated SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 201
Joined
·
9,785 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
I don't really see Lester as a big primary influence for R&B saxophone. But a big influence on many of the early R&B players was Illinois Jacquet and he also has some Lester in his playing, so that might be what you hear. Arnett Cobb was another early influence, his style came more from the Coleman Hawkins school (through Jimmy Lunceford tenor star Joe Thomas).

Do you have some soundclip examples that made you come to this thought?
That's a good question - I'll have to pay more attention to what I'm listening to! I typically don't even pay attention to who/what it is.
 

·
Administrator Emeritus
Joined
·
17,843 Posts
Indeed the honking and single note variations (false fingering) Lester (and also Herschel Evens) played a lot (especially in his more energetic Basie period in the 30's) can indeed been seen as an influence on R&B players, but sound wise he is way to clean. That's where Jacquet and Cobb and Willis Jackson came into the picture, who of course also used the honking stuff of both Lester and Herschel.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,945 Posts
Yep, this is all well known.

You've got to go back to Prez's earlier days, when he was known as the go-to-guy in KC for hourlong improvisations on the blues and rhythm changes without ever repeating himself.

His work in the 50s playing ballads is what's most avaiable nowadays but people like Bird, Trane, and the R&B guys were formed by listening to and internalizing Prez back in the 30s.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,945 Posts
They all listened to each other and picked up things. At the same time they rarely came out sounding like each other as so many do today.
You weren't SUPPOSED to sound like anyone else! If you copied someone else too closely they'd make fun of you.

So different than the academic world where duplicating your teacher (or your teacher's teacher) is the fast route to high grades.

I'm glad that I learned improvisation on the last few remaining bandstands rather than in the classroom, so I had to develop something of my own.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,146 Posts
Since every tenor player after Leste Young came from Lester Young, yes.
It’s all about playing the Blues and he definitely did that. These big band players would get the crowd moving. Jazz wasn’t introspective ballads played in 7/4 back then.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,912 Posts
It wasn't until I started trying to play and understand "rhythm changes" that I realized that very early Rock, Sock Hop and Doo *** were really just a branch of Jazz as it already existed.
 

·
Administrator Emeritus
Joined
·
17,843 Posts
Since every tenor player after Lester Young came from Lester Young, yes.
That's a bit simplistic whaler. Many tenor players (especially in the R&B scene) came (at least sound wise) from the Coleman Hawkins school.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,735 Posts
That's a bit simplistic whaler. Many tenor players (especially in the R&B scene) came (at least sound wise) from the Coleman Hawkins school.
I have to agree with this and also add that Coleman Hawkins is closer to the huskier R&B sound concept than Lester Young; if anything his smoother sound concept is the antithesis of it.
 

·
SOTW Columnist, Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
23,225 Posts
It's no surprise that the best R&B and blues sax players were influenced by many jazz sax players. The fact is, all the great jazz players had a strong foundation in the blues and it came out in their playing. So what goes around, comes around, or something like that.
 
1 - 15 of 15 Posts
Top