Rock'n Roll Saxophone
GOTTAHOLD ON TO THIS FEELING:
| Rock & Roll Sheet Music|
|An Introduction To A Revolution, part 2|
ByNeil Sharpe and John Lull
SpiderMurphy played the tenor saxophone,
Little Joe was blowin' on the slide trombone.
The drummer boy from Illinois went crash, boom, bang,
the whole rhythm section was the Purple Gang.
Let's rock, everybody, let's rock.
Everybody in the whole cell block
was dancin' to the Jailhouse Rock.
JailhouseRock- Elvis Presley (Lyrics by Jerry Lieber, Mike Stoller)
Thingsbroke wide open in the 1950's, as sax driven rockn' roll and rhythm and blues hits swept thecharts, not only acting as a sound board for teenage problems and experiences, but also helping to trigger social change. As BillyBoy Arnold wrote, "I was on tour with Fats Domino and Johnny'Guitar' Watson. The white people wanted to see Fats Domino, and theyweren't going to stand for that segregation...See, in the 50's...people stoppedJim Crow at theaters and things. The audience did that on their own. They wouldcome down and break down the barriers...They started integrating. The music didthat. [Little Richard talks about some of the difficulties he faced. Click here and go to Part Two of the interview "The Hound and Little Richard]
Prominent saxophonists in the 1950's included Lee Allen, RedPrysock, KingCurtis, Sam"The Man" Taylor, CliffordScott, Gene Barge, SilAustin, Earl Bostic,Plas Johnson, JimmyForrest, Grady Gaines, DonWilkerson, GilBernal, Joey D'Ambrosia,RudyPompilli, HerbHardesty, JessePowell, JustinGordon, Rusty Bryant,Freddie Mitchell, NobleWatts, MaxwellDavis, Alvin"Red" Tyler, HenryHayes, Lionel Torrence (Louisianablues), Bull Moose Jackson, Sam Butera (with the highly influential LouisPrima), HaywoodHenry, Willis "Gatortail" Jackson, Johnny Pennino (known as 'The Tenor Sax King of New Orleans'), Jimmy Cavallo (who, with Joe Marillo, played the title track of Alan Freed's movie, 'Rock, Rock, Rock'), Nat Perrilliat and blues greats JT Brown, Eddie Chamblee,BobbyForte, A.C. Reed,and Eddie Shaw, to name just a very few.
They were followed in the 1960's by many great players, including Junior Walker, Boots Randolph, MaceoParker, Jim Horn, Steve Douglas, Artie Kaplan, David "Fathead" Newman, BobbyForte, Ace Cannon, the critically influential "Ska" soundfrom Jamaica popularized by the Skatalites with Tommy McCook and RolandAlphonso on tenors, Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson, Brad Bauder, Dennis Payton, MikeTerry, Charles Axton (of TheMar-keys), Red Holloway, Andrew Love and FloydNewman (Memphis Horns), and in the 1970's by ClarenceClemons, Johnny Colla, FredLipsius, Bobby Keys, Jerry Lacroix, Dick Parry, Oliver Sain, Tom Scott,Lee Jay Thompson, and Edgar Winter.
Today'sgreat players continue this heritage, including Michael "Tunes" Antunes, "Sax" Gordon Beadle, SteveBerlin, Ed Calle,Pat Carey, Hank HurricaneCarter, Darryl Dixonand Dave Watson aka Chops Horns, Crispin Cioe, AndrewClark, Mel Collins, SonnyDel-Rio, Candy Dulfer, Ben Ellman, Cash Farrar, Johnny Ferreira, John Firmin, Doug James, Roger Lewis, John Laughter, John Lull, Lou "Blue Lou" Marini, LeRoi Moore, Jerry Peterson, Gregg Piccolo, Christopher Plock, Baron Raymonde, Mark Russo, Bill Runge, ScottyShetler, Jon Smith, Joey "The Saint" St. John-Ryan, Joe Sublett("Texacali Horns"), Pete Thomas, Detroit Gary Wiggins, DonWise, and David Woodward, Elliott Chavers and Joe Stanley (to name just a few: please see infra "The Last Ten Years:Who's Interesting?: Sax on the Web- Discussion Thread)
Although the term "rock n' rollsaxophone" is commonly used to describe the sax styles of many of the charts hits during the 1940's, 1950's, and 1960's, as John Laughter laterdescribes in the article, "Styles: The Billboard Top 40 hits of the 50s/60s", many distinct styles actually were applied by saxophonists.
The 1940's rhythm and blues and jump blues based sax styles -exemplified by Big Jay McNeely's Deacon's Hop, Joe Houston's hits Earthquake and All Night Long, and Jimmy Forrest's Night Train (later redone in the 1960's with a great cover by James Brown, featuring J.C.Davis on tenor)- by the 1950's had evolved into distinct new styles including Red Prysock's blistering, note swarming, Handclapping,Rudy Pompilli's hard driving tenor on Rudy's Rock byBill Haley and The Comets, Herb Hardesty's tight knit, beautifully constructed, solo on Fats Domino's I'm Walking,Sam the Man Taylor's ripping solo on Nappy Brown's Don't Be Angry (compare to his evocative, haunting solo on Ivory Joe Hunter'sSince I Met You Baby), King Curtis' landmark solos with The Coasters on Yakety Yak and Charlie Brown, PlasJohnson on Bony Moronie by Larry Williams, and the seminal playing of Lee Allen and baritone sax man Alvin "Red" Tyler on LittleRichard's explosive album Here'sLittle Richard on hits like Tutti Frutti, Slippin' and Slidin', and The Girl Can't Help It with Grady Gaines's great tenor sax featured on Keep a Knockin'.
Saxdriven instrumentals found great chart success, most notably Clifford Scott's watershed solo on Bill Doggett's HonkyTonk Parts One and Two, Earl Bostic with Sleep and Flamingo, Sil Austin's Slow Walk, ChuckRio on Tequila by The Champs, Lee Allen's Walking With Mr. Lee, Harlem Nocturne by the Viscounts featuring HarryHaller on tenor, Raunchy by Bill Justis (also covered by Billy Vaughn with Justin Gordon on alto), JohnnyParis of Johnny and the Hurricanes' Red River Rock, and DuaneEddy's Movin n' Groovin with Plas Johnson on tenor and Gil Bernal on Rebel Rouser.
Inthe 1960s, Gene "Daddy G" Barge was featured on Gary "U.S." Bonds' chart hits NewOrleans and the number one chart topper, Quarter to Three, Artie Kaplan played all the sax parts on hits like Keep Your Hands Off My Babyby Little Eva, Ace Cannon hit the charts with the Bill Black Combo as well theinstrumental Tuff, Denis Payton rode in on the mid-60's English music invasion playing tenor on the Dave Clark Five's hit Can't You See That's She'sMine, Mike Brough on tenor was the main attraction on the platinum selling single Charlena by Richie Knight and the Mid-Knights, the Al Casey Combo created a great organ-sax sound including the hit Jivin' Around featuring Brad Bauder on tenor, Mike Terry brought the baritone sax into the spotlight on hits by The Supremes (e.g. Love Is Like An Itching In My Heart),The Four Tops (It's The Same Old Song) and Cliff Nobles and Co. (The Horse), andBoots Randolph's tenor sax was a compelling feature on many records ranging from Brenda Lee'stop ten hits, especially the enduring favorite Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree, his turn on baritone sax for Elvis Presley's Return to Sender, whilecontributing his own, highly influential instrumental, Yakety Sax.
King Curtis embraced the "soul"music sound (e.g. Memphis Soul Stew; Soul Twist; Soul Serenade), Junior Walker had charts hits including Shotgun and What Does It Take (as well as the song, featuring great triplet runs, that contributed the title to this Introduction, Gotta Hold On To This Feelin'),while James Brown, Bootsy Collins and sax player MaceoParker, took the earlier styles of jump blues and rhythm & blues and modified them into a"stop-you-dead-in-your-tracks" sound that eventually became "funk music" (e.g. Cold Sweat, Papa's Got A BrandNew Bag, Doing It To Death, Mother Popcorn).
All of these styles have one thing in common- the "blues feeling".
The blues is much more than any particular chord progression, scale, or series of"blue notes". It's critically important to understand this. Chords and scales are important tools, but they're not the whole story. The real blues is a strong expression of soulful feeling. To play blues and all the blue based styles including swing, jump, rockn' roll, rhythm & blues, rock, funk, and jazz, you need to infuse everything you play with that blues feeling.
Musicologists will tell you the "blues feeling" results from a juxtaposition of blue notes(flatted 3rds, 5ths, and 7ths) with more standard western harmony.Various devices, including the use the blues scale, dominant chords in the 12 bar I-IV-V harmony of traditional blues, call and response, repetition,and (on the sax) special effects like growling, flutter tongue, and alternate fingerings will help to attain the bittersweet feel of the blues.These chords, devices, and effects will be discussed in the following articles.
But to really understand "blues feeling", you need to listen to the blues'greats such as RobertJohnson, Bessie Smith, ElmoreJames, Jimmy Reed, Howling Wolf, KoKoTaylor, Robert Cray, and BBKing, to name just a very few.
Also, check out blues guitarists and blues bands that use a sax player or horn section. Examples include the BuddyJohnson Orchestra (Purvis Henson on tenor), AlbertKing, Buddy Guy, AlbertCollins, Long JohnHunter, Magic Sam, and many more. Recordings by these artists are very useful for picking up standard horn lines and riffs that are part of the blues language.
Yes, it's important to learn the harmony, chords, scales (major, minor, mixolydian,blues, etc.), and other devices. But, it's equally important to listen to how blues musicians use harmony andvarious tools such as the blues scale. You'll soon discover that there is much more to playing the blues than just running the notes of any given scale up anddown.
Ihave studied theory, jazz, classical, etc., but when it gets to blues/swing etc., alot of that stuff just goes out the window. It's more about sitting with a pieceyou like and studying the crap out of it...copying the guys' licks, subtleties intone like growls, breath, etc.~JohnnyFerreira[/QUOTE]
Toplay the blues with any authenticity, you must play it with a certain attitudeand authority. Certain "signature" licks and phrases also lend authority toyour blues playing. All of the earlier sax techniques, licks, riffs, and styles remain in use and still sound great today.
That'swhy these articles have been written- to point you to the practical tools youneed. Listen closely and play along with the saxophonists and sax solos discussed in thesearticles to discover some of the licks and rhythms that can give a real emotional feel to the music.
Ofcourse, in this discussion of artists and significant solos, our intent is not toprovide a comprehensive review but only a general introduction and overview. Acomprehensive review of the many important artists, solos, regional styles, andtechnique developments is beyond the scope of this Introduction. Accordingly, ifa favorite artist or solo has not been mentioned, our apologies. Indeed,it is our hope that this Introduction will serve as a platform to allow readersto provide their opinions and comments in an ongoing discussion about thesestyles of music, and how each played a critical role in the development of thesaxophone. If you would like to offer any comments, suggestions, andcontributions, please contact the Contributing Editor, Neil Sharpe via e-mail.
Ladiesand gentlemen, let's have some good rockin' tonight!