Are saxophones the most joked about instrument in modern music?
When I was ten, I started learning how to play the alto saxophone. It was a relatively easy instrument to pick up, and I played it right through to my Higher School Certificate. I soon discovered, however, that outside of jazz and concert ensembles, the saxophone is a bit of a joke. People think of soppy music from Kenny G, or big raspy motifs from such 70s and 80s tunes like Smooth Operator and Baker Street. These days, saxophones show up as annoying hooks like on Thrift Shop and Jason Derulo's Talk Dirty. The exception: M83's epic Midnight City.
So, what shall we do about saxophones? Before COVID-19 shutdown kicked in, I paid a visit to the ABC to chat with fellow saxophone player and broadcaster James Valentine. We talked about the history of the saxophone, the art of improvisation, how music has changed, and as a treat he even brought his tenor saxophone along to the conversation.
James Valentine hosts Afternoons on ABC Radio Sydney (and across NSW) from 12:30-3:30pm weekdays. He is on Twitter @Valentine702.
The article referenced in this podcast is Where did all the saxophones go? by Kelsey McKinney at theoutline.com.
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What Shall We Do About...? is hosted and produced by Sam Robinson, who is on Twitter @samsquareeyes.