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Building a Dream Big Band Part III: The Sax Section

26 Oct

As I mentioned in the previous “Building a Dream Big Band” posts, I am piecing together, section by section, my ideal big band. The band will be 21 pieces, with 5 trumpets, 4 trombones, 5 saxes, guitar, bass, drums, piano, a male and female singer, and a bandleader. So far, I’ve listed my trumpet section, while I employed former KPLU Grooveyard host Troy Oppie to construct the trombone section. Both blogs are complete with videos of each musician performing live. So far, here is how the band looks:

Trumpets:

Lead: Arturo Sandoval

2nd Chair: Wynton Marsalis

Third Chair: Freddie Hubbard

Fourth Chair: Miles Davis

Fifth Chair: Thad Jones

Trombones:

Lead: Bob Burgess

Second Chair: Frank Rosilino

Third Chair: Al Grey

Bass Trombone: Bill Hughes

Now its time to turn to the saxophones. You might find a few surprises in this section, and probably some horn players you would expect to see. I encourage your thoughts on how you might see your dream sax section differently, and let me know what you think of the video on each musician!

The Sax Section:

First Alto: Charlie Parker

Is an explanation necessary? There has yet to be an alto player in my mind that has even come close to touching Bird on any level. His solos and sound would be and are entertaining in any era. His death might be the greatest tragedy in jazz.

Watch Charlie Parker play Hot House:

Second Alto: Cannonball Adderley

I was this close to picking Coleman Hawkins for this chair, but Cannonball just edged him out. Besides being incredibly diverse, Cannonball’s specialty in this band is bringing what he might best be known for: a happy sound.

Watch Cannonball Adderley play Brother John:

First Tenor: Michael Brecker

How dare I seat Brecker above Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, and Branford Marsalis? Because this is my band, and because I cannot remember a time where I heard Brecker solo and didn’t have my mind completely blown. You might find that James Brown, James Taylor, John Lennon, Aerosmith, Carly Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, Elton John and about 200 other musicians from all genres who contracted Brecker will agree with me.

Watch Michael Brecker play Some Skunk Funk:

Second Tenor: John Coltrane

Brecker has Coltrane to thank for so much. Most importantly, his imagination, and his ability to make improvisation exciting. The two tenors in this band provide an ultimate wall of sound.

Watch John Coltrane play Impressions:

Baritone Sax: Cecil Payne

Maybe the least famous musician of the group, but that’s the life of a baritone sax player. Cecil was always entertaining, and maybe the best baritone player of the late 40’s to the early 60’s.

Watch Cecil Payne play at Dizzy Gillespie’s 70th Birthday:

Again, let me know what you think of the band so far. All of the horns are in place, with the rhythm section, singers, and bandleader to go. The rhythm section is next!

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