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20 Recordings Every Saxophone Student Should Own-Part 2 of 4

Continuing our discussion of 20 Recordings Every Saxophone Student Should Own leads us to the next five classics on my list:

6. John Coltrane-Giant Steps 1959 Atlantic Records

A truly groundbreaking recording, Giant Steps brought John Coltrane's harmonic inventiveness and sheer virtuosity to the fore. Showcasing his "sheets of sound" period and flights of daring do on Countdown and Giant Steps, these tunes form the basis for a whole Coltrane inspired movement of tenor sax players that followed, placing a great deal of emphasis on the new harmonic movement generated by the chord changes in major thirds, hence "giant steps." The achingly beautiful ballad Naima also appears here, providing an incredible contrast to the up tempo tunes. Truly magnificent in all respects, Giant Steps remains one of the most important sax documents of all time.

Julian "Cannonball" Adderley inherited the alto sax hero mantle from Charlie Parker, and by 1961 had firmly established himself as the finest alto player of this era. This incredible recording with pianist Bill Evans is a masterpiece best known for the Evans' version of his composition Waltz For Debby. This recording still sounds as fresh and relevant as it did the day it was released, and is chock full of information waiting to be parsed by you aspiring alto players. I would suggest transcribing Cannonball's solo on Waltz For Debby and let it seep into all your musical pores. Listen to the incredible beauty of Cannonball and Bill Evans on Waltz For Debby here:

8. Benny Carter-Further Definitions 1962 Impulse Records

Benny Carter was known for his alto saxophone and clarinet expertise and his magnificent writing and arranging skills. What I love about this recording is that it shows off such a variety of styles and contexts, all masterfully arranged by Benny. The soloists are fantastic, the production is terrific, and the performances all are first rate. Again we hear echoes of a bygone era mixed with more modern elements. Well worth the effort to track this gem down, you can hear it here on Youtube:

9. Johnny Hodges-Blue Rabbit 1964 Verve Records

It cannot be emphasized enough what a remarkable alto saxophonist Johnny Hodges was. Some refer to him as the perfect saxophone player. As the lead altoist in the Duke Ellington Orchestra, his playing is featured on too many recordings to count. Originally influenced by Sydney Bechet, his playing represents the early swing style that he infused with his own inflections and soulful vibrato. His sound is immediately recognizable and his intonation is flawless. What I love about this recording is the pairing of Johnny with jazz organist Wild Bill Davis. The sound of the recording is a more updated version of the Hodges style, giving it a sort of grits and gravy soul groove that suits his playing very well indeed. As an introduction to Johnny's recordings as a leader this is an ideal starting point. I am including this short Hodges transcription of the first tune on the record, Blues O'Mighty, a study in simplicity and eloquence playing the familiar blues progression. Notice the tone and inflections, just magnificent. Hear it here:

10. Wayne Shorter-Speak No Evil recorded 1964 Blue Note Records

Wayne recorded a total of 11 albums as a leader for Blue Note and is known not only for his mysterious tenor saxophone style but also for his prowess as a composer. All his Blue Notes showcase his compositional skills and I have selected this, his third as a leader, because it defines his work as a composer so perfectly. Every single track on this record is a classic; to me the tunes Infant Eyes and Speak No Evil define Wayne's genius. While you cannot possibly go wrong with any of Wayne's recordings for Blue Note this one is a great starting point for anyone trying to find a way into his vast recorded catalog.

Please stay tuned for Part Three...

Thanks for stopping by my blog....Markos

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