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What kind of tenor is Maxwell Davis playing in the photo?

5152 Views 22 Replies 12 Participants Last post by  58tenor
Hey folks,

Dennis Taylor's Blues Tenor Sax book has this great photo of Maxwell Davis, one of my favorite players, from 1944. If it's possible, I'd love to know what kind of sax he's playing.


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Is it okay to post a guess?

Judging from the shallow bell flare, I'd venture either an early Buescher Aristocrat or a Martin Comm I (Searchlight) with a "small bell."

....... I just had a look at an expanded version, feel more certain now that's an early Aristo (New or Big B) with the small bell.
I would say its a series 1 aristocrat (or first big B with small bell)
Thanks guys...I've never actually seen a vintage Buescher close up, but from the picture you can tell that Davis' sax was beautifully engraved.

I listen to Davis from that period a lot--especially on the T-Bone Walker and Amos Milburn sessions. Although his style is very retiring (unlike the image of the "honker" or the stereoptypical modern saxslinger), for me his beautifully mellow tone and his complex accompaniments really epitomize great blues sax playing. And check out the threads!

If anybody has any other info/comments on Davis I'd love to hear 'em.


Googled this:


The tag for the clip lists Maxwell Davis but ??? Doesn't look old enough to be right. Unless he's done the botox thing? :D :D :D

I'd like to know who the tenor player is anyway.

I also googled for images, in the hope of getting a better shot of the horn, but no luck.
It might be an Aristocrat. The engraving is hard to make out. The left pinkly cluster looks to be shaped like the Buescher.
The small bell, angled high-E key arm, neck 8ve arm, and straight front-F keytouch are whispering "early Aristocrat."
That would fit with the engraving. Probably a New Aristrocrat.
Not new aristo as they were split-bell keyed, its a series 1 or first big B
Are we close yet? Dave Dix seems to have nailed it. I thought the Big B had ribbon-style guards; those in the pic seem to be the older wire type, so Series I it must be .....
Hey DP,

Yeah. I find that band comes up all the time because the description names just about everybody who played jump blues/R&B! They're fun, and it's good to hear Chicken Shack with the lyrics every once in a while. Boy do they ever speed as that tune goes on, though, and the horn section gets way on top of the beat.

With respect to Davis' Beuscher: is it at all unusual for him to be using that tenor or was that a popular one amongst the Blues/R&B players? I sort of think of them more as "jazz" horns, but that's probably nonsense:)

Thanks everybody for chiming in: I've been listening to Amos Milburn all afternoon while putting together a gas barbeque I got for Father's day :D

Rory -

Maxwell Davis is one of my absolute favorites! What a sound and concept the man had. Also, he was a consumate musician and in fact was the music director and arranger for many of the sides that you mention. Gordon Beadle is a big fan too. If you listen to "Blue Mood", Duke Robillard's tribute CD to T-bone Walker, the tunes use Davis' original horn arrangements as transcribed by Gordon.

You should also check out the Percy Mayfield compilation "Poet of the Blues". Davis' great playing and arrangements are featured on nearly every tune.

Regarding his choice of axe, Buescher's were actually pretty common among players of this era, including: Lee Allen (T,H&C) and Ike Quebec (Big B), among others.
Cool. Thanks Bob. I've considered that Duke cd, now I'll have to get it for sure. Percy Mayfield!

I am not sure it is a series 1 crat.
I have this book, the picture is a lot bigger and the G#in the photo is oval. Not so on a series 1 crat. Also the neck is different as the octave arm is activated by a ring around the tenon on a series 1, the horn in the photo has the more common (now) ring at the back but sweeping up the neck design (such scientific descriptions). The tenon looks a bit different too and no lyre. Most series 1's are art deco engraving and the horn in the pic is an ealaborate floral design. It sounds a lot different in the photo as well, kind of a more spread...................................

p.s. (I really enjoy the music and pics in this book)
Not a Beuscher??

Wow. Is the game afoot again?

If you go to and select the photo you can enlarge it using the zoom button on your browser.

Could be a comm1 if the keys are nickel but i still vote for buescher but you are correct about the neck ring
It is a Beuscher aristocrat series I tenor, exactly the same look as the one I have here. These are incredible horns to play and own plus amongst the loudest horns on the planet. They are louder than Conns or Martins of the same period and have the best intonation of any tenor on the market. There is also no stuffy middle D on these saxes.
I compared it to my series 1 Aristocrat and it looks identical, except for the engraving (mine is art deco), the lack of a lyre, and the wishbone octave mechanism. I suppose a newer neck (or octave key) might have been added and the engraving could have been custom or something. It sure looks like the series 1 'Crat overall, though.

My ear isn't good enough to detect how it sounds in the pic, though, lol.
rleitch said:
Hey folks,

Dennis Taylor's Blues Tenor Sax book has this great photo of Maxwell Davis, one of my favorite players, from 1944. If it's possible, I'd love to know what kind of sax he's playing.


Is that George Shearing sitting next to him on the right? (or just some random white guy with dark black glasses? :D)

(this is George)
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