Saturday, November 5, 2011

Sunday, Nov. 6, is Sax day!

Celebrate the birthday of Adolphe Saxe, the Belgian innovator who not only invented the sax but many other instruments in his attempt to make a full range of many instruments.  He also made up the herald trumpet for Aida (and many mid 20th century Biblical movies).

For 18 years I played a Selmer Mark VI.  It was a good one, but I tired of the sound that I got with it and who wants more than five grand in their sax? Then in 2008 Steve Goodson, the Saxgourmet and New Orleans doctor strange of saxes (partly cause he recommends dipping them in liquid nitrogen) designed a new sax, called the Orpheo.  He said “You don’t want to drive a 50 year old car every day. A new sax, better designed and well-made is just a better horn.”

When I became interested he fell out with his partners on the deal, I was able to pick up a new tenor cheap. Dennis Bamber of MusicFactoryDirect, bought them out.  I liked the tenor so much that the next year I made a low offer and won the last alto in stock. So I have a matched pair of rare instruments, in “swirl” finish. I especially love the tenor now with my new Otto Link New York 9 metal mouthpiece. The alto plays well with a Vandoren and with an old jazz Bamber.

The rumor was that these Orpheo saxes were made in a “secret” factory in Viet Nam. I had noticed that the end plug had a sticker reading “Viet Nam,” so I looked into it. Arguments online led to a Taiwan manufacturer, Tenon, maker of Chateau. (And I suspect that they make Vespro, Vento, and L.A. Saxes, too.) I found their wholesale website, and sure enough, they had factories on mainland China and in Viet Nam. So here is the factory, inside and out, about 20 miles northwest of Hanoi.

By the way, I always pictured men making saxes, but notice the women in that factory.  And notice the women at the Buescher factory in Elkhart IN in the '30's.

Celebrate Sax Day by listening to a great sax player.  I suggest Paul Desmond and/or Gerry Mulligan.

I used to listen a lot to Stan Getz but am listening a lot now to Coleman Hawkins (and Lester Young and Harry Allen and Scott Hamilton). 

Sonny Rollins gives us all hope as we age. Ain't he cool? I still like Nino Tempo.

We sax players are all clowns. Note the caption. 

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