the saxophone squad

my friend abe is a wiz.  he seems to know so much about so many types of music and, reserving a special spot in my heart, has a penchant for stuff that hugs the edge.  i joined him today for his radio show, streaming on 99.1 kfmg, and we talked shop.  he proposed the topics of "the best saxophonists of today" "or, just your favorites".  i threw together a cdr of my preferred wielders of this weapon.  this is certainly not an exhaustive list of performers, nor the definitive law of the saxophone land.  these guys fit my criteria of beautiful tone, interesting ideas, and really good music.

my team captain is:

ornette coleman.  yes, his body of work is fascinating and prolific.  yes, he's often slugging his way through some intonation inconsistencies.  but YES, the voice he has developed on the alto saxophone is unparalleled.  he speaks to me, wrenches my heart, fills me with promise.  i chose this track from "sound grammar".

my starting five are:

mark turner.  sweet lord this guy sounds good.  he has mastered the art (and it is an art unto itself) of creating a unified (and gorgeous) sound throughout the instrument.  his vertical approach to playing really opens up the playing field.  i chose this track from "in this world".

charles lloyd.  i'm a bit late to the party with mr. lloyd, but better late than never.  i prefer his alto sound over the other woodwinds he picks up.  his sound is sincere to my ears, and the tunes he does melt my heart.  i chose this track from "the water is wide", with the great billy higgins.

chris potter.  what this guy does is unfair.  i swear to you that, every time i have caught him live, i was ready to leave after the first tune.  i was convinced that he had refilled my soul in just one tune.  he is a master technician and seems to execute even the most complicated ideas with ease.  i was sad to learn that he was ditching the alto and zeroing in on the tenor, but have appreciated the concise focus.  i chose this track from "wistful".

tim berne.  he is probably the only person i have heard whose sound is one i try to imitate.  the tunes are wonderful, his entrepeneurship is admirable, and the way he runs various collections of players with his head on a swivel would turn magic johnson green with envy.  i chose this track from "the shell game" with craig taborn and tom rainey.

tony malaby.  he seems to be on every record that interests me.  the dichotomy between his heartbreaking upper register grasps and his swashbuckling outbursts gives me permagrin.  i chose this track from "overseas II" by eivind opsvik.

the first guy off the bench is:

dave binney.  i buy many of his albums, and bought into his thing with "south".  i like his electronics work, his melodic and feverish lines, and always expect him to be taller.  i chose this track from "balance".

the role players include rudresh mahanthappa, hakon kornstad, donny mccaslin, bill mchenry, and steve lehman.  each of these guys brings a unique thing to the table; rudresh's fiery middle eastern work, hakon's intimately looped lines that leave me smitten, donny's unrelenting energy, bill's proud and quirky angles, and steve's intensity that is sure to please his mentor anthony braxton.

i'm not much of a saxophone nerd.  i'm not even sure that i like it all that much, but making this list sure was fun.

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