Tag Archives: Listening

Dan’s Advent Saxophone Calendar #11 – Lou Donaldson

Lou Donaldson is another of those ‘hidden gems’ that you might not have come across before.

Born in 1926 in Badin, North Carolina, Lou Donaldson grew up playing church music.  His father was a minister and his mother a music teacher and it was whilst serving in the Navy during the Second World War that he was introduced to the Be Bop music of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie.

Donaldson is best known now for his soulful, funky 1960s recordings that feature some of the greatest soul jazz players ever to record. These include guitarists Grant Green, Melvin Sparks, Jimmy Ponder and George Benson, organists John Patton, Billy Gardner, Lonnie Smith, Charles Earland and Leon Spencer, Jr., drummers Ben Dixon (one of the great underrated groovers), and Leo Morris/Idris Muhammad, whose work on the kit defined the funky boogaloo soul jazz sound of the late 1960s. Records like Good Gracious (1963, Blue Note), Musty Rusty (1965, Cadet), Alligator Bogaloo [sic], Mr. Shing-a-ling (1967, Blue Note) and Hot Dog (1970, Blue Note), among others, are quintessential examples of the jukebox, funky, soulful 1960s jazz that came to define “rare grooves” in the soul jazz revival period of the 1990s.

He was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame on October 11, 2012.[9] Also in 2012, he was named a NEA Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts, United States’ highest honor in jazz music.[10]

Dan’s Advent Saxophone Calendar #8 – Johnny Hodges

When Charlie Parker thinks you’re one of the greatest Alto players ever, you were John Coltrane’s hero & the greatest composer in Jazz loved your tone, you know you’re a pretty good player.

Day 8 of our Advent Calendar features Alto Saxophonist Johnny Hodges.  Hodges, or ‘Rabbit’ was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1907, but he grew up in Boston.  His first instruments were the piano and drums, switching to the Soprano Saxophone in his teens and after hearing Sidney Bechet aged 14, knew he wanted to make music is full time career.

He joined Duke Ellington’s Orchestra in 1928 & Ellington’s practice of writing tunes specifically for members of his orchestra resulted in the Hodges specialties, “Confab with Rab”, “Jeep’s Blues”, “Sultry Sunset”, and “Hodge Podge”. Other songs recorded by the Ellington Orchestra which prominently feature Hodges’ smooth alto saxophone sound are “Magenta Haze”, “Prelude to a Kiss“, “Haupe” (from Anatomy of a Murder) – note also the “seductive” and hip-swaying “Flirtibird”, featuring the “irresistibly salacious tremor” by Hodges, “The Star-Crossed Lovers” from Ellington’s Such Sweet Thunder suite, “I Got It Bad (And That Ain’t Good)“, “Blood Count” and “Passion Flower”.


Dan’s Advent Saxophone Calendar #2 – Paul Desmond

Paul Desmond was best known for his work with the Dave Brubeck Quartet, in particular his popular composition, ‘Take Five’.

Desmond was born Paul Emil Breitenfeld in San Francisco on November 25, 1924. His father was a pianist, organist, and composer, who accompanied silent films in movie theaters and arranged for music companies. During childhood he spent years living with relatives in New York City due to problems at home. Desmond began playing violin at an early age, though his father forbade him to play it.

At first Desmond and Brubeck did not get on following an earlier falling out at a gig.  Apparently Brubeck only let Desmond back into the band after he agreed to babysit for Brubeck! Their partnership led to one of the most successful groups in jazz and one of the most recognisable sounds on the Alto Saxophone, the sound, (in Desmond’s own words, ‘of a Dry Martini’)

Dan’s Advent Saxophone Calendar #1 – Mike Brecker

Michael Brecker, in my opinion is the greatest virtuoso on the tenor saxophone.  He took the baton from Coltrane and moved what was technically possible on the instrument to new heights.

In my new series of Vlogs for December 2017 I am opening a new saxophone player each day, (like an Advent Calendar, but not chocolate!) Today, on Friday, 1st December I talk about the phenomenal Michael Brecker, who recorded on over 700 albums!

My Summer Playlists

I realise that getting your practice in during the summer can be tough, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do some useful music related activities if you’re at the beach right now!

I’ve put together some playlists on Apple Music & Spotify to share with you over the holidays. One of them is a playlist of all the transcription projects that you can find on the Cambridge Saxophone website, the other is a mammoth Blue Note playlist with over 3 days worth of albums!

If you have other playlists then this app (Songshift) can help you transfer playlists between different streaming services!

Apple Music Playlists
(click on the link to open in iTunes, you can get 3 months free)





Spotify (you can listen to Spotify for free, but with adverts)

I hope you will enjoy these playlists! Music streaming is an incredible resource for any music student and I urge you to take advantage of these whilst you’re away.