Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sax appeal

Over my little four-day NYC vacation, I managed to see two great saxophonists in concert, Chris Potter and the legendary Gato Barbieri.

This brings up a larger point. I am now far more influenced by sax players than by fellow guitarists. Sax is a much more expressive lead instrument, if obviously not as versatile as guitar. It's gotten to the point where I've even purchased a Yamaha electronic wind instrument.

Seeing Potter in concert made it clear how far I have to go to be a wind player, even on the relatively easy-to-play EWI. Potter is possibly the most all-around gifted player I've seen. He can scream at you like Coltrane, but also pull out very subtle and beautiful shadings you might not expect--not to say that Trane was incapable of subtlety.

Gato, by contrast, is a comparatively unsophisticated player, but he has the most distinctive tenor tone on Earth. You might almost say he's the Carlos Santana of saxophone, except he's way better than that.

Me? I'm just trying to hit the right combination of keys semi-regularly and build enough lip stamina to play for more than 30 minutes straight. I did play clarinet as a kid, but that was during Reagan's first term, so not much technique remains.

Despite that, I'm already taking to the EWI, and it will appear on "Hidden Element." Not that I will fool anyone into thinking I hired Chris Potter for the session.

The key word for now is "atmospheric"...


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