Rock'n Roll Saxophone
GOTTAHOLD ON TO THIS FEELING:
| Rock & Roll Sheet Music|
|An Introduction To A Revolution|
ByNeil Sharpe and John Lull
Arevolution triggered by a saxophone solo!
Ithad never happened before. It may never happen again.
Untilthe late 1930's, writes jazz historian WhitneyBalliett, "It wasn't easy to be an aspiring saxophonist…There had beenfew choices…about which way to go." The sound of influential early"pre-jazz" players like "Rudy"Wiedoeft, who had helped to popularize the saxophone using a C-Melody, by the 1930's hadfallen out of popularfavor.
Then,ColemanHawkins, LesterYoung, and Charlie Parker appeared.
Hawkins"championed an enormous cordovan tone, improvising on chords, a foursquarerhythmic approach." Lester Young sailed in another direction, as he"championed nothing", his tone light with "causal long-held notes" andmelodic improvisation that matched the "new coolness of Billie Holiday and Teddy Wilson." Charlie Parker simply "exploded", passionately rippingthrough arpeggios with "avalanches of eighth notes."
In his wonderful book, "CollectedWorks- A Journal of Jazz", Whitney Balliett's fondest praise isreserved for Ben Webster (who was firsttaught by Lester Young's father) and his "enormous lyrical sound…an easy, embracingquality that touched you in a way that Hawkins and Young, for all their genius,rarely did."
Eachof these players would influence an upcoming generation of saxophonists who, in the1940's and 50's, forever changed the world of music. ColemanHawkins' approach helped to shape the tones of Lee Allen and Red Prysock,King Curtis and Illinois Jacquet pointed to the rhythmic sense of Lester Young,Joe Houston called Charlie Parker his main man, while Jimmy Forrestwas a great admirer of Ben Webster.
The bluesran through it all.
"Theblues didn't start in the North…but it started in the South and came out ofconditions of oppression and suffering, and it was due to the strength ofcharacter of the people that performed it and played it that it is what it istoday." -JoeLouisWalker
Manyjazz saxophonists were, and are, great blues men, for example: JohnnyHodges, HankCrawford, StanleyTurrentine, GeneAmmons, Al Sears,David "Fathead" Newman, DexterGordon, CharlieParker, EddieCleanhead Vinson, and CannonballAdderley
Specialnote must be made of SidneyBechet, an important pioneer in jazzsaxophone, who was described by Duke Ellington as "the very epitome ofjazz". Bechet's blues drenchedsound, on songs like "Blue Horizon", was aseminal influence on many players including Johnny Hodges.
Bluesstyles have evolved over the years with the standard 12-bar blues extending backto the early 20th century. Asmusicians traveled about after World War II and the 1950's, the blues took on a more regionalcharacter, moving away from the traditional acoustic roots epitomized by playerslike RobertJohnson and SonHouse. Texas bluesbecame largely horn-based. In Chicago, the bluesbecame "urbanized", and dramatically increased its popularity, as artists like MuddyWaters incorporated electric guitars and harmonica.
Destiny,however, had reserved a special place for the revolutionary swingand jump blues (EastCoast) sax styles.
May26, 1942 was the turning point.
Duringa recording session for Decca records, tenor sax player IllinoisJacquet stepped forward and ignited a spark that would fuel a revolution,with his seminal 64 bar, wailingsolo on LionelHampton's Flying Home. While that solo lit the fuse, it wasIllinois Jacquet's "incredible, screaming" performance at the "JazzAt The Philharmonic Concert"http://www.lionelhampton.nl/jatp.html in 1944 -especially "Blues Part II"-[this link to the Lionel Hamptonwebsite includes sound clips from the concert; scroll down about a third of thepage] that creatively set afire abreakthrough generation of saxophonists who helped to invent a surging,gritty, raucous, sax driven music that came to be called"Rock n' Roll."
Swing blues artists like LouisJordan (a critical inspiration for SonnyRollins and many others) swept the charts with songs like "Caledonia" and "Choo ChooCh Boogie". In 1947, WynonieHarris' smash hit "Good Rockin' Tonight" (featuring HalSinger on tenor), triggered the "rocking" sound in blues (featuringhandclapping to give it a "rockin" rhythm, a long time feature of gospelmusic), and is now widely credited as the cornerstone of the birth of Rock n'Roll. Tenor sax man WildBill Moore followed with the hit singles "We're Gonna Rock" and"Rock and Roll", ArnettCobb earned the title the "Wild Man of the Tenor Sax" with singleslike "Dutch Kitchen Bounce", and flamboyant, jump blues saxplayers Big Jay McNeely and "Mighty" Joe Houston, lay on their backs, under blistering strobe lights, and drove rapturous audiences into"frenzy" and "delirium", with explosive, honking, screaming solos.
"To me there is no such thing as black music or white music. If you put the notes onthe paper, what do you get out of a musical note? You get black and you getwhite. So together, black and white musicians make the greatest music that theworld, that the whole world has ever known- and that's the blues. Blues wasborn black, but not now. Blues belongs to the world! Blues music is a part ofeveryone now. It's a part of your soul. When you learn and find out what musicis all about, then it's one of those kind of things that dig deep down withinyou if you've got anything at all. What we call the blues, it's thefoundation of all the rest of the music."-RufusThomas
Rock'n Roll Saxophone - Intro - Part Two