November 6th is National Saxophone Day, better known as Antoine-Joseph “Adolphe” Sax’s birthday, the inventor of the saxophone. As a student in a large university marching band myself, what better way to celebrate than asking a saxophonist what their favorite saxophone music includes? Before we get into it, let’s look at a little background on the saxophone and it’s jazz roots.
The saxophone is a woodwind instrument that is very prevalent in jazz ensembles and big band varieties. Since its original patent, there have been many different types of saxophones, the most common being the alto saxophone and tenor saxophone along with the soprano and baritone. It has a wide variety of instrumentation and is considered a very popular instrument to this day.
Now, to the music!
1. Careless Whisper by George Michael
Careless Whisper is a very prominent piece of music among saxophonists. You can hear the first note and immediately know what it is without a doubt. Being in band and music for as long as I have, you’re more than bound to hear it a few times a season.
2. Sir Duke by Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder is known for his jazzy style. He practically built the genre, and is credited as a pioneer of it. Sir Duke is, obviously, a very jazzy song and relies very heavily on the saxophone to carry the song along.
3. Moanin’ by Mingus Big Band
I will admit, I am not a big listener of jazz, but upon listening to it, it is a very interesting piece.
As my friend, who is a saxophonist describes it,
“would be nothing without bari[tone saxophone]”
4. My Love by Matt Block
My Love is the epitome of what you would describe as a big band compilation. It is a beautiful piece that I could listen to forever–and that says a lot. The saxophone solo really helps build the song.
5. Tall and Lanky by Jeff Coffin
Tall and Lanky is the perfect example of what I would consider background music for a movie set in New York. Similar to the previous songs as well, saxophone really carries the piece and makes it jovial and enjoyable.
6. Thrift Shop by Macklemore
At first this one may seem odd, but just as the previous songs, the saxophone really builds this song. The rhythm is continuous throughout the song without changing.
Now, this does rely on personal opinion. But as I am on a bus surrounded by band kids (and music majors specifically) all agree on the idea that these songs are built on the neck of a saxophone.
Happy birthday, Adolphe Sax!
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