200 Years of Sax – Anniversary Poll

Today is the 200th anniversary of the birth of famous Belgian Adolphe Sax, inventor of the saxophone. To mark this occasion I thought I’d undertake a bit of audience participation and get you out there in internet land to vote on the greatest proponent of said instrument. I’ve populated the list with people I consider to be likely contenders, but feel free to add your own if your favourite is missing!


14 Responses to “200 Years of Sax – Anniversary Poll”

  1. telescoper Says:

    If only I knew who “Other” was….

  2. Trane got my vote, but I’d have put Adderley and Turrentine above some on that list.

  3. You need to add a few more names, not necessarily because they are real contenders, but so that you can see who voted for them. 🙂 Kenny G., Junior Walker, Candy Dulfer, Ian Anderson, Dick Parry, Mel Collins, Jack Lancaster, Albie Donnelly, Dick Heckstall-Smith, Barbara Thompson, Johnny Almond.

  4. Apparently the greatest saxophonist of all time is by definition someone from the 1950s?? I voted for Elton Dean, but nearly voted for Wayne Shorter, and would back up Phillip on Barbara Thomson and Dick Heckstall Smith. But I guess I am a 70s kinda guy.. Oh and maybe Lol Coxhill.

  5. I was honestly surprised when I learned — through playing the grand strategy game Victoria, which simulates the 19th century and awards points for the cultural development of the saxophone — that the saxophone was invented by Adolphe Sax. I mean, his name sounds like what you might make up if you were an unprepared student bluffing his way through a history test. It’s not quite as good as “the Ferris wheel was invented by George Washington Ferris”, but it’s up there, anyway.

  6. A saxophonist who has the uncanny ability to cultivate hirsuteness with class and style is a clear winner.

    • Hence my nomination of Ian Anderson. He is, of course, much better known for playing the flute, though he did play some soprano sax in the early 1970s, most prominently on A Passion Play, which many consider to be the best rock album ever, or even the best album ever. It was panned by the critics and even Ian Anderson himself hasn’t revisited it much since it appeared in 1973. Definitely worth checking out.

      • I haven’t heard A Passion Play for years – must remedy that! But when it comes to hirsuteness, Gerry Mulligan was years ahead of his time.

      • A Passion Play is indeed very good. In an interview when asked what would it be if he could take only one album to a desert island, without missing a beat (pun, as always, intended), Geddy Lee (perhaps the greatest rock bassist of all time) said “Jethro Tull, A Passion Play“. The album has all the great Tull characteristics: wonderful vocals from Ian, singing in his prime (unfortunately, his voice has not aged well; some singers sound just as good today as 40 years ago), great acoustic guitar (with Anderson’s distinctive style; most rock music with acoustic guitar uses it as a different tonal but played like an electric guitar, or does fingerpicking; Anderson has a distinctive style), of course loads of classic Tull flute, some soprano sax, John Evan playing synthesizers in addition to his usual piano and organ (which he did only on this album and the next one), concept-album lyrics, some great electric guitar from Martin Barre (Les Paul through Hiwatt amp and speakers with no effects), bass lines which are much more than mere accompaniment (although Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond always said that he wasn’t really a bass player). It is certainly up there with Tull’s top albums, although I am also partial to Thick as a Brick and Songs from the Wood (no album is really bad, though). Essentially one piece of music, split because back then there were two sides.

        Hirsuteness, but in this case another flute player: a jazz man, so maybe Peter has heard of him. Do you really want to know what that bonus track is? Or how long it is? 🙂

      • I am usually not interested in remixed, expanded re-releases of albums, especially if I have already bought it twice (vinyl then on remastered CD; I have luckily bought few CDs which later benefitted from remastering). However, the 40th-anniversary A Passion Play apparently contains some additional verses.

      • Interesting how Ian Anderson has evolved over the years and matured like fine wine; a brilliant visionary.
        My fav. is Sonny Rollins. Someone described his playing as, “Swings so sweetly soft, like butter on a heated frying pan. Yummy.” 🙂

      • Ian Anderson has indeed matured, and is still writing good music. jethro Tull are no more. His lineup changes have always been lacking in good explanation, and this is no different. He now appears under his own name, without Martin Barre, though with “Jethro Tull” of course mentioned. Martin is also on the road playing mainly Tull music, and has recorded some modified versions of classic Tull tunes. The last Tull studio album was Dot Com in 1999 (apart from the Christmas Album, which for various reasons was not a typical studio album, in 2004). A couple of years ago Thick as a Brick 2 came out, and this year Homo Erraticus. Both are much better than anyone had a right to expect. The style is a mixture of early 1970s Tull and Roots to Branches. Worth checking out.

        Unfortunately, Ian’s voice has deteriorated since about 1984. This is not inevitable; there are many rock singers who sound just as good today as 40 years ago; Klaus Meine comes to mind.

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