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Distinguished SOTW Member/Sax Historian
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7,111 Posts
Broadly speaking I like to apply Duke Ellington's criterion about music in general. "If it sounds good, it is good." So if a saxophonist can sound good in a reasonable variety of contexts (ensembles, styles...) they are a good saxophonist.

The key to that IMO - beyond a decent set of chops and a decent ear - is taste. Any kind of music can be played tastefully. But it's as important to know what not to do as what to do. Be part of what's going on, not a sore thumb.

I'll leave the "who" question to others - I'm always more interested in whys than whos, anyway...
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member
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3,202 Posts
Besides having all the obvious technical and professional skills, I think a great player brings something unique to the table in terms of sound, feel, phrasing and musical ideas. You can usually identify them by listening to their playing.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
As Lester Young once said: "Originality is the thing. You can have tone and technique and a lot of other things but without originality you ain’t really nowhere. Gotta be original." :)
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2007-
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5,528 Posts
A good saxophonist must have posted at least 1000 posts on the forum :bluewink:
That there would just be a novice. ;D
 

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Forum Contributor 2011, SOTW's pedantic pet rodent
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8,322 Posts
A good saxophonist must have posted at least 1000 posts on the forum :bluewink:
Yes. And the consensus is that you need to be in the 7000s or above to be considered truly great.

On topic: The phrase "play your notes and don't walk into the furniture" springs to mind ..
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2016
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4,881 Posts
Intent, Execution and Taste -- If one can play (execute) what one intends and do it with good taste...
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member/Sax Historian
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7,111 Posts
Often, other people.
Yeah. And to an extent that's as it should be. I can go all around saying "I'm good, dammit," and even if true, it will tend to make people think I am not that good. OTOH, you could play well in a style that is not fashionable or accepted. Was Ornette good in 1959? A lot of people would have said no.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Technician
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3,408 Posts
As Lester Young once said: "Originality is the thing. You can have tone and technique and a lot of other things but without originality you ain’t really nowhere. Gotta be original." :)
Being original seems alien to modern thought, especially in music education circles. The world seems full of people wanting to be something or someone else.
Popular music --and that covers a very broad spectrum--is in a parlous state of mind numbing conformity.
 

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SOTW Administrator
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26,212 Posts
You know you're good when you're asked for by your name. The joke goes like this

1st tier

I need a saxophonist

2nd tier

I need <name of saxophonist>

3rd tier

I need someone that sounds like <name of saxophonist>

After 20 years:

Who?
 

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201 Posts
A good saxophonist can convey breadth and depth.... A great saxophonist does so just by walking in the room.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Being original seems alien to modern thought, especially in music education circles. The world seems full of people wanting to be something or someone else.
Popular music --and that covers a very broad spectrum--is in a parlous state of mind numbing conformity.
I totally agree with you! Very wise thought :)
 
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