Where would jazz be without the saxophone? Certainly, there is good, legitimate music without the sax, but when the desired mood calls for a particular depth of feeling, a tonal growl, or a bright, sonorous call, nothing speaks like the saxophone.

Unlike brass instruments associated with “blast” and “blare,” the harmonic intonations of the saxophone are nuanced and harmonic. It’s “words” are sound pictures in vibrant color!

Like the vast range of settings for the sax – marching band, smoky jazz club, under a bridge, big band, rock ensemble, Afro-pop or funk band, ska or punk – the players approach the mouthpiece and valves in unlimited ways, always with an unmistakable result. You always know a sax when you hear it.

At the end of a song, when a saxophone has the last phrase, you can hear the sound of human breath blowing through the instrument’s valves.  It’s as if that final note was the last thing the player has within them – their last breath. Thankfully, jazz musicians always have more to say.

A few good saxophone records recently added to the KUVO playlist include:

Eric Wyatt – “A Song of Hope”

Houston Person – “Live in Paris 2019”

Band of Other Brothers (with reed man Jeff Coffin) – “Look Up”

Will Boyd – “Soulful Noise”


On this November 6, which would have been inventor Adolphe Sax’s 207th birthday, we celebrate the saxophone in all it’s shiny, brilliant glory. Play on!

Picture: Anisha Rush

National Saxophone Day Timeline source: National Today

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