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TENOR, soprano, alto, baritone
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Discussion Starter #1
Well, not earth-shaking, but after more than 50 years of playing 'Spooky' by the Classics IV on tenor, I have determined that Mike Sharpe (Shapiro) was playing alto on it, not tenor. I know, who can't tell the difference between alto and tenor, but if you're not familiar with it yourself, take a listen.
Sharpe was an Atlanta alto player who actually wrote 'Spooky' and recorded it as an instrumental five years before the Classics IV had him do the solo on their version. He has only been pictured with an alto, never a tenor, and all his other solos on their records were more obviously alto. Now Sharpe was a heluva player and put out an album on his own called 'The Spooky Sound Of Mike Sharpe' which was pretty much more of the same - but then he disappeared. It seems that he had some emotional problems and never really played again. As far as I know, he still lives in the Atlanta area.
Anyway, what a loss to the sax world because he had an incredible sound and funky style on alto that you just don't expect.
And, on 'Spooky' it sure does sound like a tenor. What do y'all think?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qpo9KZYJ4sA
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2015-
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This reminds me of Coltrane vs Adderley on “Kind of Blue” - Adderley often sounds more like a tenor than Coltrane.

On Spooky, we are likely biased because tenor was a more common instrument for this genre in the era. As a tenor player, I think Mike Sharpe has a great sound - regardless of what horn he is playing. I could understand that an alto player might not feel that it is a great alto sound.

Nice grit - too bad it was such a short solo.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2010
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Its in my Hal Leonard "25 Great Sax Solos" book as a Tenor transcription...
 

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I remember playing this solo in high school on alto, didn’t have a tenor at that point....could it be an alto? Maybe....sure sounds like a tenor....
 

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There seems to be some question as to who played the sax solo on 'Spooky'. It's claimed that the sax was actually Jim Pepper. Don't have a verifiable source, though.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Pepper

I gotta admit, though. It sure sounds more like Jim Pepper than Mike Shapiro to me.
 

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TENOR, soprano, alto, baritone
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Discussion Starter #8
I had considered that they brought in a ringer on tenor who listened to Sharpe's instrumental record and made a solo of it - for the most part the licks are all in the original record. It certainly is very likely that could have happened, in which case I could stop obsessing over it and continue playing it on tenor. :) The group I do it with now has a neat arrangement - its like the Atlanta Rhythm Section version, in E, but after the guitar solo it modulates to F and I do the sax solo with fills to the end.
 

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TENOR, soprano, alto, baritone
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Discussion Starter #9
I listened to some Jim Pepper - man, he was good. It could very well have been him on that record.
Okay, now listen to Sharpe's original instrumental version on alto - he has a very 'throaty' alto sound that is decidedly 'tenorish' - but is it tenorish enough?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRmypa9ioCk
 

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I found this. It sounds like he's a pretty difficult guy to get along with. No answers on the tenor/alto question.

https://www.saxophonepeople.com/doe...nd-of-mike-sharpe-still-live-in...-16441.html

From Songfacts: There's been some controversy over who played the sax solo on this song, as different people have claimed to have played it. According to Classics IV's biographer Joe Glickman, it was Mike Shapiro, who wrote and recorded the original instrumental version of the song, who played the sax. Glickman wrote in the Forgotten Hits newsletter: The reason he didn't play on some of the other records (the ones Ray Jarrel played on) was because Mike was a bit hard to work with in the studio. He had a very good concept of how he wanted the solos, which differed from Buddy Buie's ideas of mainstream pop. There's a bit of a tone-break at the end of the solo that Mike insisted on re-recording, but Buddy wouldn't let him. English White was a sax player that was brought in later during the 'Traces' road tour to fill in for the sax. Mike did not tour at all and the band had been playing for a while with Auburn Burrell filling in the sax solos on lead guitar. That was hurting their reception since the sax had a lot to do with their sound."

Still no answer about whether it was alto or tenor.
 

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TENOR, soprano, alto, baritone
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Discussion Starter #11
Well, if Sharpe did it, it was on alto.

'The reason he didn't play on some of the other records (the ones Ray Jarrel played on)'

That explains why the other solos on alto sounded like alto.

If Sharpe did not do the Spooky solo, that in itself would be my 'stunning revelation'. I really hate it the way things are so mixed up as to who did what on the great records of the '50s and '60s vis-à-vis the sax solos, and you simply cannot believe any source on it for the most part. The labels lied, the record jackets lied and the musicians who were in the studio lied. They had their reasons, the greatest one being simply publicity - they wanted the public to believe band members did everything on the record. This is why the great majority of groups never really played their hit songs in concert exactly like the record - because it was impossible. This was the beginning of 'lip-sync'.
Whatever, I must say I never knew this was happening with the Classics IV but of course I did notice that the sax solos on the records after Spooky never sounded like the same player. I say again, Sharpe (Shapiro) was a very special alto player.
 

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Most of the groups from that time period only came in and laid down the vocals. The majority of the studio music was done by session musicians. The solo on the Classic IV cut was definitely on tenor. Even Sharpe could of done it on tenor, cause you know, doubling and all that...
 

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The Jim Pepper idea has been discredited. For one, I talked with Pepper's bandmate in the Free Spirits who said there was zero truth to it.
 

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This reminds me of Coltrane vs Adderley on “Kind of Blue” - Adderley often sounds more like a tenor than Coltrane.

On Spooky, we are likely biased because tenor was a more common instrument for this genre in the era. As a tenor player, I think Mike Sharpe has a great sound - regardless of what horn he is playing. I could understand that an alto player might not feel that it is a great alto sound.

Nice grit - too bad it was such a short solo.
I've always thought that Adderley and Kenny Garret were tenor players who happened to be holding altos.
 

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I always thought that was an alto. I’ve met Buddy Buie, RIP, a few times and and actually asked him once who played that solo. He didn’t know, or didn’t remember.
 

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Where's John L. when you need him? He has done all this research already
 

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