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I am hardly a guitar oriented listener but I love listening to Ry Cooder (Mark Knopfler too btw). On this Youtube clip from the title track of Cooder's new album "The Prodigal Son" there is a sax player with a muffled, wired and pedaled alto. I don't know what he is doing. I gather some of the sax geeks here know exactly what is going on and I would much appreciate to know - thanks!
 

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Sounds like he's running his sound through some sort of effects box that's mostly making it sound like a synth pad of some kind. I don't know why you wouldn't just have a keys/synth player do this. I also don't know whether the stocking cap he has on the bell of the horn is there to dampen the sound or an attempt to keep the horn warm. Judging by the fact they are all wearing ski caps I'm guessing the room is pretty cold. We tried to record several years back in a cold studio and it was an intonation disaster for saxophone.

The guy on guitar, I'm assuming that's Ry, has some serious chops. I'm not sure based upon what I see in the video that the sax or bass player have any better idea as to what they are doing than you do.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Sounds like he's running his sound through some sort of effects box that's mostly making it sound like a synth pad of some kind. I don't know why you wouldn't just have a keys/synth player do this. I also don't know whether the stocking cap he has on the bell of the horn is there to dampen the sound or an attempt to keep the horn warm. Judging by the fact they are all wearing ski caps I'm guessing the room is pretty cold. We tried to record several years back in a cold studio and it was an intonation disaster for saxophone.

The guy on guitar, I'm assuming that's Ry, has some serious chops. I'm not sure based upon what I see in the video that the sax or bass player have any better idea as to what they are doing than you do.
Thank you. Yes, that is Ry Cooder on guitar, who doesn't seem to deteriorate one bit with age. I just missed him yesterday in Boston; didn't find out until today.
 

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Big Ry Cooder fan here - all the way back to the original “airstream” album. Saw Ry a couple of times during college in Los Angeles in the late ‘60’s early ‘70’s.

Yeah KeithL, that bass player looks pretty weak.
 

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Sounds like a harmonizer of some sort set to "humanize" the output so as not to sound mechanical. The sock on the bell was probably used to keep the sound of the raw sax from bleeding into the other mics.
 

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That sure looks like Sam Gendel. He can seriously play with or without electronics (Knower) but Ry is not letting him do much. I've seen him play with the muffled bell many times. He must like a really dark sound.
 

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To show he can actually play without electronics, Here’s Sam in a YouTube video with a very exciting solo. And yes, he’s using a sock or some sort of cloth mute over the bell. Solo is 2:40.

https://youtu.be/ly3EJbzRPjc
 

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Big Ry Cooder fan here - all the way back to the original “airstream” album. Saw Ry a couple of times during college in Los Angeles in the late ‘60’s early ‘70’s.

Yeah KeithL, that bass player looks pretty weak.
I don't get it. The bass player is playing a very nice, in the pocket, palm-mute groove that i'm sure is exactly what producer Cooder wants for this track.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I often listen to music where my biased opinion is that the drums make too much of an impact, but that merely reflects my tastes (surely poor to some). Here, I find the drums work perfectly. I can tell that the bass player is there, although I doubt I would miss him if he weren't. He is that anonymous, surely per Cooder's wishes. I have only listened to it through a speaker hooked up my computer at home. However, I would be hard pressed to identify a sound made by the sax. I have no doubt that Soybean (great username btw) is right that Sam Gendel is highly capable. I gather one doesn't play much of anything with Cooder otherwise. I just find it bizarre that he makes less of an impact than a triangle in a symphony orchestra. In a music video, it is rather distracting, albeit non-sax nerds probably won't be bothered similarly.
 

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I don't get it. The bass player is playing a very nice, in the pocket, palm-mute groove that i'm sure is exactly what producer Cooder wants for this track.
They just look confused or almost like they're faking it for the video to me. Likewise, I'd agree with brasscane that they appear to be having very little impact on what's going on musically and I get the impression they know that and aren't quite sure what it is they are supposed to be doing. My comment wasn't so much directed at them as musicians as what it sounds to me they are contributing (or not) to this particular tune.

I guess it's a bit of a pet-peeve of mine when I see bands, often on late night shows, that have lots of players that don't appear to be doing much of anything based upon the sound of whatever they're playing. We've become so visually oriented and dominated that we've largely turned music performance from an aural into a visual art form so there has to be lots of "stuff" going on visually to keep people interested- hence in many cases and especially popular music, extra players, dance routines, big screens, light shows, pyrotechnics, etc.. In this case, for me, these guys aurally have little purpose and visually little interest in this clip. Maybe there's another tune from this session where they are utilized more and their presence makes more sense?
 

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I don't get it. The bass player is playing a very nice, in the pocket, palm-mute groove that i'm sure is exactly what producer Cooder wants for this track.
As has been mentioned, the bass seems nearly irrelevant to me in this piece. Sax as well. Ry is coming to town in August and I’ll be there to get another impression in person.
 

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Sorry, I don't hear it that way at all. It's actually a pretty busy bass line. That palm-mute sound is kind of trending right now, but its roots are very deep. For my taste it works perfectly for this tune. My taste.

As for the alto, I guess that could be done with any instrument, but I'm sure he's giving Cooder what he wants. Ry Cooder is not exactly a newcomer, and knows what he wants, right?
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Sorry, I don't hear it that way at all. It's actually a pretty busy bass line. That palm-mute sound is kind of trending right now, but its roots are very deep. For my taste it works perfectly for this tune. My taste.
Okay, perhaps that is just me. Guess I should listen closer, but I honestly doubt I would be missing it.

As for the alto, I guess that could be done with any instrument, but I'm sure he's giving Cooder what he wants. Ry Cooder is not exactly a newcomer, and knows what he wants, right?
By no means meant to suggest that Cooder doesn't know exactly what he wants. I just have no clue what the sax player is doing here. I have listened to it several time, admittedly mesmerized by Cooder and perhaps somewhat ignorant of the bassist, but not of the sax player.
 
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