Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The Joy of Sax

Saxophones rule. They are at once responsible for both the happiest and the saddest sounds in music. But popular music these days, (outside of The Dap Kings/Amy Winehouse) seems to have forgotten about horns altogether. And that, in my humble opinion, is part of the reason contemporary music—what passes for both rock'n'roll and R&B—sucks.

Saxophones are scary. There is no avoiding them—they are confrontational and they are in your face. They express deep emotion, and let's face it, most of us would rather not do that most of the time.

But sometimes you just need that release. That's where the sax comes in. So much great rock'n'roll features the saxophone that it's hard to imagine the music without it. can take away the piano, you can take away the organ. But please don't take away my sax.

Joey Stann and Ed Manion (Asbury Jukes)
Clarence Clemons (E Street Band)
Maceo Parker (James Brown)
Arno Hecht, Crispin Cloe (Uptown Horns)
Junior Walker
Andrew Love, Lewis Collins, Ed, Logan, James Mitchell (The Memphis Horns)
Bobby Keys (Rolling Stones)
Lee Allen (Little Richard, Fats Domino, Clarence "Frogman" Henry)
Steve Douglas, Jay Migliori, Jim Horn, Plas Johnson (The Wrecking Crew)
Hank Crosby, Andrew "Mike" Toney, Norris Patterson, Thomas "Beans" Bowles, Teddy Buckner, Ronnie Wakefield, Lefty Edwards, Eli Fontaine, Ernie Rodgers (The Funk Brothers)
Louis Jordan
Gene Barge (Church Street Five)
Gene Upshaw ("Come Go With Me")
Herb Hardesty (Fats Domino)
King Curtis. Duh.

There are more, and that list is biased. That's the point. And feel free to advise me of major omissions (though I may not listen).

PS—even Mr. Westerberg has saxophones on "Can't Hardly Wait" (courtesy Jim Dickinson and the Memphis Horns). Need more proof than that?


NOTE: I am currently reading Pattie Boyd's memoir, Wonderful Tonight. Yes, I know Eric Clapton is a major league tool and responsible for what is perhaps the most annoying, offensive song in the annals of rock history (unfortunately, also the title of her book). But it turns out that Pattie's a) a pretty good writer and b) far more interesting than Clapton will ever be. Plus there's lots of good Beatles gossip, and for those of us who can't get enough, that's more than enough reason to read.

We need more intelligent rock chicks like her (both onstage and off), but that's the subject of another blog for another day.


  1. nice post, you play saxophone I suspect. Maceo Parker's coming to the Monterey Jazz Festival this year, I'm looking forward to that

  2. The argument against the sax in six letters: K E N N Y G