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Discussion Starter #1
Hi,

I'm doing a little research project on the Selmer Dorsey Model saxophone. I am fortunate enough to have access to a Dorsey Model tenor (I am borrowing it from a friend). The project I am doing compares four horns. A friends 19,XXX Radio Improved, my own 24,XXX Radio Improved (with modified key work, BA serial number & engraving, and BA neck), a friends 28,XXX Dorsey Model, and another friends 28,XXX Balanced Action. I have always been fasinated by the Dorsey Model, and the other transitional horns from this period, and have finally been able to get four of these horns next to each other for close examination.

I will be taking loads of pictures of the horns very soon. I will document all of my findings and hopefully produce a report that will clarify many of the question I have (and I'm sure many of you have) had. In addition I will include pictures of different RIs, Dorsey's, and BAs that I have been gathering from various websites and internet image searches. I have collected every image, description/theory, and chat room/forum discussion on the Dorsey Model that I could find, to include in my report. In addition, I know of another musician (in my own town believe it or not), who has a Dorsey tenor (I played in a big band with him on one occasion), who I will try to contact to compare the two Dorsey's. I will also do some limited measurments to the necks, body tube (bore) , bell, and tone whole placements.

One thing I know for sure is this- nobody seems to know EXACTLY what a Dorsey Model is (every theory I have found online has been partially false so far). Though it appears Selmer did so many strange things during this period, I hope to provide a fairly reliable set of facts about this era. One of the first and most surprising things I have discovered so far is, the Dorsey Model seems to be a closer relative of the RI horns than the BA. (I will elaborate further later).

If any of you have your own thoughts, theories, pictures, experiences, or recommendations, or if you own one of these horns, please feel free to interject here. Hopefully this forum will provide addition useful information for the report. Thanks for your time, and I look forward to discussing the Dorsey Model with you.


note: for any skeptics out there, this is indeed a TRUE Dorsey Model tenor, complete with BA key guards (with "wish bone" wire brace attached to the low B and Bb BA key guards), on the players left hand side.
 

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bring it on! I've thought for many years that there was NOT a substantial difference between the Dorsey horns and either the RI or BA horns, at least in the tenors. I used to own a 22,1xx RI horn(tenor), still own a 22,1xx BA tenor, and from what little I recall about playing on the RI, thought it was substantially the same as a BA(other than keywork, of course).

The 1935 BA Selmer catalog has some verbiage in it stating that although Selmer changed the design of the alto, they kept the tenor sound/tuning unchanged from the RI, as players evidently really liked the RI tenor. Based on this, and my own foggy rememberances, I'd guess that the body tube is basically the same between the two, with modifications to move the keys to the other side of the bell, etc.

I know someone who recently picked up a 23,xxx RI horn, but he claims it's actually a Dorsey model, and that Selmer made two different runs of Dorseys; the first around 22-23k, and the second around 27k. I don't subscribe to this, as my above posts indicated. In addition, pics of this 23k horn clearly show 'Radio Improved' stamped in the usual place above the Selmer logo. So, my thoughts are that the Dorsey run is -only- around the 27k mark. And, being later in the production run, they probably used BA key guards on the low B/Bb, as this is what was in the parts bin.

Will be interesting to see what you come up with...
 

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AMASAX said:
....Selmer made two different runs of Dorseys; the first around 22-23k, and the second around 27k.....
don't know much about this myself, but Saxquest has pics and info about two Dorsey model selmer altos on their website in the sax museum section. One of them is a "Dorsey model Series I balanced action" and the other a "Dorsey model Series II balanced action." Maybe this is indicative of the two runs of the model.
 

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I've always heard that they were essentially BA horns with different engraving and some extra keys (similar to the Leblanc Rationale System horns.) I've never seen a tenor though, only the alto. I always wanted one of these, but the only ones that I could ever find were $7000+. Jimmy Dorsey was one of the most amazing alto players ever, BTW. I remember seeing a video of him where he was playing at lightspeed and everything was just so smooth, like he was playing scales or something. Absolutely unbelievable...
 

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J.Max, entirely different subject, but your "playing and light speed and impossibly smooth, like he was playing scales or something" made me think of the only cat I've ever seen do that. Check out some of David Glasser's work (Clark Terry quintet) I was fortunate enough to attend the Clark Terry Insitute of Jazz for two summers in LeMars, IA. We were treated to 5 nights of the Terry Quintet playing 1 1/2 - 2 hour concerts, Glasser is simply THE BEST alto player I've ever seen play live, and that comment you made defines what I remember about his playing, not to mention a GREAT sound. If you haven't checked him out yet, I strongly suggest doing so.
selmerfan
PS And on a nasty key lay-out Naked Lady Conn!
 

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I saw Dave with Clark. I was playing the same horn as he was at the time, an old gold-plated Chu alto.

Great sound, great lines. I'd almost forgotten about him; never seen any recordings with him on.
 

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I wasn't as into the horn scene as I am now, it was a gold plated, fully engraved, and I mean every engravable surface factory engraved Conn. I'm not sure if hearing a recording would be the same as watching it from 10 feet away, he played blistering lines and you could barely tell his fingers were moving! He is one of the most inspirational players I've ever seen live, and a very, very nice guy. This was an all ages camp, and he treated JH students with just as much attention and respect as the seasoned HS directors that were there.
selmerfan
 

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Discussion Starter #8
UPDATE!!!

I have gone over every square inch of these horns, and taken almost 100 photos. I'm working on cropping and organizing them now.

I would like to dispell a few myths surrounding the dorsey model:

Technically, there is no such thing as a "Dorsey Model Series I". What some people have started calling a Dorsey Model Series I is a modified RI. Niether Selmer nor Jimmy Dorsey documented this horn as a "Dorsey Model" saxophone. This is simply the nickname this horn adopted after the fact. If you call Selmer and ask them how many Dorsey Models they made, they'll have no idea what you're talking about. Pictures of Jimmy Dorsey clearly show he is playing a TRUE Dorsey Model (not a "series I").

HOWEVER... considering the "Jimmy Dorsey Model" was technically a nickname, is it really a stretch for us to now call these late, modified RIs "series II" Dorsey Model's. I personally don't think so. Perhaps Jimmy Dorsey did play this late modified RI. One thing is for sure, the late RI is a horn of it's own (without a nickname). It should be recognized as such.


So... is this "series I Dorsey Model" rare? Yes! (Now here's the kicker...) Is there much difference between the modified RI ("series I") and the Dorsey Model ("series II")? No! Not much! Is there much difference between the Dorsey Model and the early BA? Yes! Quite a bit, actually.

The Dorsey Model is actually very similar to the late RI: the Dorsey has the same exact modified RI keywork, except for the octave mechanism, one or two post feet, the low Eb key, and of course the key guards, which are BA. This of course could vary with each Dorsey Model (except for the key guards), as they were such frankenstein horns.

The late RI has a few keywork modifications from the normal RI, and most importantly, it has a BA length neck, just like the Dorsey Model. After comparing the late RI neck to three other normal RI necks and as many BA necks, it was clear that the late RI has a BA length neck which is quite a bit longer that the normal RI neck. Hence the intonation is a LOT better on the late RI than the early one.

There are some other small differences that I will save for later. Basically it appears the difference between the late RI and the Dorsey Model are cosmetic only. When I play them back to back, they are almost identical. While the differences between these two horns and the two models that came before after them are more significant.

One very curious thing I am currently investigating is; the late RI and Dorsey Model necks fit on each other fine. But, the BA neck won't fit in the Dorsey or the late RI, not even close. It is too big. This may be the case with only this particular BA. I have to get my hands on some other BA necks. Perhaps there are differences in the bore? Maybe Selmer only had BA necks when making the late RI and Dorsey Model, and had to modify/shrink the neck to fit the small bore horns? If anyone has any insights into this, please let me know.

I'm hoping to put up a website in the coming weeks to showcase all this info. I'll be back with more soon I hope. Please feel free to ask questions, make comments, etc.. (sorry to go on for so long)
 

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Ted Nash in NYC has a Dorsey tenor. 27 or 28,xxx. The horn belonged to his uncle (Ted Nash) who played with Billy May, Henry Mancini, Merv Griffin Show and countless film, TV and record dates.

There was an alto player on Long Island named "Skippy" Galuccio (misspelled I'm sure). Skippy was shot by his neighbour some years back and who knows what became of the horn.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Jason, beautiful work here. I'm a fan of your work. What's the story with this horn? Did you re-engrave the existing pattern, or embellish it, or both? It looks amazing.
 

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selmerfan said:
J.Max, entirely different subject, but your "playing and light speed and impossibly smooth, like he was playing scales or something" made me think of the only cat I've ever seen do that. Check out some of David Glasser's work (Clark Terry quintet) I was fortunate enough to attend the Clark Terry Insitute of Jazz for two summers in LeMars, IA. We were treated to 5 nights of the Terry Quintet playing 1 1/2 - 2 hour concerts, Glasser is simply THE BEST alto player I've ever seen play live, and that comment you made defines what I remember about his playing, not to mention a GREAT sound. If you haven't checked him out yet, I strongly suggest doing so.
selmerfan
PS And on a nasty key lay-out Naked Lady Conn!
Nothing nasty about a Naked Lady Conn alto. Easy and fun to play. Dave Glasser, however, plays a Conn "New Wonder" portrait model, much older than a Naked Lady. He also has a MK6 and a BA. Iworked with him last Wednesday and he brought out the Conn which he hadn't played in a while. The thing is stunning! Pearls on ALL of the key touches, side keys, spatula etc... and gold plated to boot.

BTW Jason, nice work on Ted's horn, re-engraved the original plus added your own thing in the same style. Bravo!
 

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BarrySachs, thanks for the correction, I just ran into that today somewhere else....Anyway, that New Wonder is the horn he had all week at the Institute, unbelievably beautiful work of art, visually and aurally! Where did you work with him and what did you do? I was amazed by his playing then, I have a couple recordings, but it's just not the same as live, I'm very, very jealous.
selmerfan
 

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Not to derail the subject here, but if one wants a truly unique, heirloom quality engraving job, Jason Dumars is THE MAN for the job. Most of the other quality engravers working presently do predominantly "Stock" patterns, that is they replicate the factory applied traditional patterns. Jason has the talent, patience, willingness and ability to make one of a kind creations individually suited to the desires of the customer. Very much in the tradition of the great engravers during the golden age of King and Conn's "artist" horns.
 

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selmerfan said:
BarrySachs, thanks for the correction, I just ran into that today somewhere else....Anyway, that New Wonder is the horn he had all week at the Institute, unbelievably beautiful work of art, visually and aurally! Where did you work with him and what did you do? I was amazed by his playing then, I have a couple recordings, but it's just not the same as live, I'm very, very jealous.
selmerfan
I worked with Glasser at a country club in New Jersey playing in a septet backing up a Sinatra type singer. Dave on alto, me on tenor, tpt, tbn, 3 rhythm. He also subs in my octet for the regular alto player sometimes. He's also good at softball.
 

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Wow, must be a blast to be in that kind of music scene....around that kind of musicians. I'm good, but that's an entirely different level above me (aka, professional vs. someone who gets paid for gigs :) ) His other attribute I remember from being at camp was all of the HS and college girls wanted him badly...:)
selmerfan
 

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Yeah, Glasser's a class act, for sure. We sat next to each other in the Jacquet band for a few years, we both played alto. Back in those years, he spent a lot of time hanging out at the tennis courts next to West Side highway. I showed him how to put a forearm on a dude, I think he was playing a little touch football at the time. Last time we worked together, ironicallly, we were both playing tenor in a local NYC big band. Dave played good tenor.
 

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sideC said:
Yeah, Glasser's a class act, for sure. We sat next to each other in the Jacquet band for a few years, we both played alto. Back in those years, he spent a lot of time hanging out at the tennis courts next to West Side highway. I showed him how to put a forearm on a dude, I think he was playing a little touch football at the time. Last time we worked together, ironicallly, we were both playing tenor in a local NYC big band. Dave played good tenor.
You worked with "The Beast"! I did it once on tenor. Joey Cavescino was playing alto. Do we know each other? Both being tenor players in NYC and all!

I'm gonna see Glasser on Sunday. He's playing with my octet.
 

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BarrySachs said:
You worked with "The Beast"! I did it once on tenor. Joey Cavescino was playing alto. Do we know each other? Both being tenor players in NYC and all!

I'm gonna see Glasser on Sunday. He's playing with my octet.
BarrySachs, we worked together with Jacquet on a gig in Chicago.:D I'm an alto player who ocassionally doubles on tenor. Yeah, Cavesino was back in the band by that time. I just worked with Carol Sherick on a Jacquet memorial concert at Lincoln Center Midsummer Nights Swing, last week, I believe. Ask Glasser about the guy who showed him how to take a guy out with a fierce downfield block, and how to jolt a guy with the forearm, and he'll know who I am. I was giving Dave lessons in football at that time.:D
Yeah, I remember you, you played your butt off.:cool:
 

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sideC said:
BarrySachs, we worked together with Jacquet on a gig in Chicago.:D I'm an alto player who ocassionally doubles on tenor. Yeah, Cavesino was back in the band by that time. I just worked with Carol Sherick on a Jacquet memorial concert at Lincoln Center Midsummer Nights Swing, last week, I believe. Ask Glasser about the guy who showed him how to take a guy out with a fierce downfield block, and how to jolt a guy with the forearm, and he'll know who I am. I was giving Dave lessons in football at that time.:D
Yeah, I remember you, you played your butt off.:cool:
JP I presume? I remember that gig in Chicago. I had to wear my golf spikes because they were the only pair of white shoes I owned. Art Daniels on tenor and Tom Olin on Baritone. We played opposite Jackie McLean. Winston wouldn't shut up!

I remember gigs from years ago, but I can't remember to take out the recycling.
 
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