Musicians love their instruments. No wonder, spending huge part of life working with instrument, building its sound and serving its body, they have no other chance as fall in love with. Or they never become artists. But the trouble with love is, everyone express it in its own way. Among many instruments one is associated with love almost automatically. And nobody knows why it is saxophone. There’s no matter which one from the family it is. Soprano, alto, tenor, sometimes baritone are most popular but there are many more in higher or lower and even in other pitch than B-flat and E-flat, for example C soprano or rare C contralto. This were remnants of older saxophone constructions – the concert pitch which was basic for half of versions designed and patented by Adolphe Sax in 1846. There are curved and straight saxophones, some popular like curved tenor saxophone, some unusual like straight baritone, and saxello family.
Haunting sound of this woodwind instrument is unsolved mystery. There are many legends trying to find a clue. One of them tries to explain why Selmer saxophones in the 50s and 60s have become the favorite instruments of the greatest artists. It says during world war bronze bells from churches were taken for producing the cannon shells. Legend is based on the presumption that after the war Selmer factory bought as a scrap used brass shells and this way old church bells are heard in Selmer saxophone tones. It’s not true bronze and brass are different alloys, bronze is made by melting copper with tin and brass is made of copper and zinc. Also many saxophones of prewar era had very rich sound. What made Selmers so popular was its pitch precision and perfect ergonomics giving musicians chance to play faster and clearer phrases and articulating notes beyond possibilities of earlier constructions. Well, nice legend. The truth is church bells never sounded so sexy as the Selmer Mark VI saxophone did.
|David Roach's I Love Sax (1983)|
There are many albums featuring saxophone as solo instrument. It’s really meaningful, how many are successful. One of examples is I Love Sax. In 1983 British label Nouveau Music published record of classical saxophonist David Roach. Young, still in his twenties and perfectly professional in style and in the beautiful tone of soprano, alto and tenor saxophones, artist made great input for establishing position of the saxophone as solo instrument in popular music. Twenty tracks are generally great hits of popular music, as publisher noted “carefully selected” for “late night album for late night Lovers”. And it’s really hard to point the best because there are no weaker ones. The one exceptionally pretty is Paul Simon’s Bridge Over Troubled Waters which in this rendition shows its pure beauty. Roach recorded this songs with perfect accompaniment of guitarist Paul Keogh, keyboardist John Mealing, bassist John G. Perry and drummer Tom Nichol. The record was successful. In April 1984 this album reached 73rd position on UK Albums Chart.
The tunes are surely “for lovers” and sound of saxophone is really “sultry”, so this record after almost 30 years is carrying bunch of emotions you can give with love for every woman. Quite good occasion can be The International Women's Day – maybe even better than St. Valentine’s Day. Love for saxophone is frequently observed phenomenon not only in the group of musicians. We can’t answer why saxophone sound most people associate with love. Maybe we should ask why love is so close to the sound of this instrument.