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Is the sax shunned by prog bands?

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Mascodagama View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mascodagama Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 11 2018 at 15:57
Originally posted by Tapfret Tapfret wrote:

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The answer is clearly 'No, sax is far from shunned by prog'.
Indeed - and this is before we get to recording artists and bandleaders in the prog sphere who are saxophonists - Didier Malherbe, Guillaume Perret, Bennie Maupin, Klaus Doldinger, Yochk'o Seffer, Kjetil Moster and a certain John Zorn among them.

Edited by Mascodagama - June 11 2018 at 16:03
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Squonk19 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 11 2018 at 16:03
Just been listening to Camel's Song Within a Song (A Live Record) - a lovely sax solo in that one!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Universeal12 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 11 2018 at 16:05
Magma’s song ‘Kobaia’ has a sax solo on it. But a (as so described) ‘prog-light’ band may not want to break out that doozy.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mascodagama Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 11 2018 at 16:05
Now here is a little ditty that is crying out for a cover version:

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote The Dark Elf Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 11 2018 at 16:53
Originally posted by Kingsnake Kingsnake wrote:

^I mentioned Pink Floyd, I even gave them credit for the whole sax-thing in the neoprog movement.

Other bands with sax:
- Gentle Giant (2 saxophonists even!)
- The Flower Kings (Ulf Wallander as guest)
- Unitopia
- United Progressive Fraternity
- Damanek
- The Tangent
- Caravan (Jimmy Hastings as guest)
- Soft Machine
- Hawkwind (who could forget Hawkwind)
- Tangerine Dream (couple albums with Steve Jolliffe)
- Jethro Tull (Ian Anderson having a go with the saxophone on Warchild)


Plenty of bands (even famous ones) having sax in their music. Even in every different style, so no need to worry.

The entire A Passion Play albums is also filled with sax-playing.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dellinger Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 11 2018 at 20:21
Or else, you can just play any song you might want to play and add sax to it. Camel did it when they got Mel Collins in the band. King Crimson has done it too. First, with Starless, which was originally played live with violin, but for the album they did it without the violin, which was replaced by guitar, and sax added on different parts. And on the recent tours they have done with Mel Collins back in the band they have added sax (and/or flute) to songs that didn't originally have them, like on Red and Level 5.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SteveG Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 12 2018 at 04:00
The beauty of not having sax run wild in prog is that it's not overplayed. There's actually more bands with sax than I imagined but still not enough to oversaturate the genre.

Edited by SteveG - June 12 2018 at 04:00
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AFlowerKingCrimson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 12 2018 at 05:22
I can't believe no one has mentioned Happy the Man yet. Confused

Also, the early prog bands Family, Audience and Gnidrolog. Van der Graaf Generator is the most obvious example but were already mentioned. 

As for more recent stuff I can't think of much. I think it's pretty absent from neo prog and for the most part symphonic prog as well. However, I do remember seeing Anna Holmgren playing some sax when I last saw Anglagard and there's some listed on their last studio album as well. These days the sax shows up from time to time it seems but admittedly most bands seem to forget about it. There's some in Steven Wilson's music though played by Theo Travis.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Davesax1965 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 12 2018 at 06:03
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Actually, as a sax player, the reason for saxes being mainly absent from prog rock bands is that there are not many improvising sax players out there. Most saxophonists start off being classically taught, but they're not taught improvisation. Most stick to "reading the tadpoles" so few actually bother to learn improvisation. Improvisation takes years to master, as it involves listening to back catalogue music for .... ages. By the time you're ready to improvise in a certain genre, life has caught up with you and you have a wife, kids, mortgage and not much time to be in a band.

It used to be different insofaras people devoted all their time to learning to play an instrument to a high standard, but there are lots of distractions now and people have simply got less time. There are also very few sax teachers out there and all charge a lot of money. It takes a long term to master sax, it's easy enough to learn the basics, but you'll learn bass or guitar fundamentals quicker than you will learn sax fundamentals. 

Instrument cost is also a factor. There are some cheap saxes coming out of China, but a professional sax, like a modern Yamaha or Yanigisawa is not a cheap investment. More so than most Gibsons, really. 

Another problem is that most bands nowadays have little experience of playing with fixed pitch instruments. Playing in E puts me in F# on tenor of C# on alto. Those are not easy keys to play in, saxes are basically designed to play in keys which have as few sharps or flats as possible. 

If you ever turn up at a jam session with an unamplified sax, it's not much fun, either, when the rest of the band play so loud that you are essentially inaudible. 

The old maxim used to be "the world needs more sax players". Still the case. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Davesax1965 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 12 2018 at 06:07
(Early) Roxy Music.

I used to do session work for bands, but whoopsy, with no money coming in for a lot of bands, they can't afford session players. I've done lots of freebies, but you have to draw the line. 

Also, with gigging bands, there aren't enough sax players to go around. Like drummers, you can pick and choose who you gig with, if gigging is yo funky thang. I'm 52, I don't want to play with young bands (and they don't want to play with me) - there are not all that many middle aged musicians around here, to be honest. Combine this with the number of sax players who like prog rock.... most like ska or soul and will naturally gravitate to those bands. Or jazz. 


Edited by Davesax1965 - June 12 2018 at 06:10
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Davesax1965 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 12 2018 at 06:15
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SteveG Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 12 2018 at 07:12
Originally posted by Davesax1965 Davesax1965 wrote:

Instrument cost is also a factor. There are some cheap saxes coming out of China, but a professional sax, like a modern Yamaha or Yanigisawa is not a cheap investment. More so than most Gibsons, really. 

Another problem is that most bands nowadays have little experience of playing with fixed pitch instruments. Playing in E puts me in F# on tenor of C# on alto. Those are not easy keys to play in, saxes are basically designed to play in keys which have as few sharps or flats as possible. 

If you ever turn up at a jam session with an unamplified sax, it's not much fun, either, when the rest of the band play so loud that you are essentially inaudible. 

The old maxim used to be "the world needs more sax players". Still the case. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Quinino Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 12 2018 at 07:13

Mike, give a listen to these Dutch guys from the mid-70's (light and very enjoyable, lots of soprano & tenor)






Edited by Quinino - June 12 2018 at 07:16
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tapfret Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 12 2018 at 12:22
Originally posted by SteveG SteveG wrote:


The beauty of not having sax run wild in prog is that it's not overplayed. There's actually more bands with sax than I imagined but still not enough to oversaturate the genre.


Island is a perfect example. Keys, vocals, sax and drums only. The sax is integral but not dominant like most sax solo work.

It's post-sax.
Using sax for non-sax purposes.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tapfret Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 12 2018 at 12:29
Originally posted by Nogbad_The_Bad Nogbad_The_Bad wrote:

Originally posted by Tapfret Tapfret wrote:


Koenjihyakkei 
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The answer is clearly 'No, sax is far from shunned by prog'.

I like the way you're thinking, I would have mentioned all of those though I somehow don't think they are the first bands that come to mind for a prog "light" cover band (it would be epic though)



Prog light. Low-carb option I suppose.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote The Dark Elf Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 12 2018 at 16:53
Two Traffic albums I consider prog, John Barleycorn Must Die and Low Spark of High Heeled Boys has some nice sax parts, courtesy of Chris Wood.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BaldJean Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 12 2018 at 20:40
the United Jazz & Rock Ensemble, featuring the sadly late Jon Hiseman on drums, featured 2 sax players even, the late Charlie Mariano and Barbara Thompson; both also played flute. in their prime the band consisted of 10 musicians. beside the usual drums, bass, guitar and keyboards (which were provided by Hiseman, Eberhard Weber, Volker Kriegel and Wolfgang Dauner), there were Charlie Mariano and Barbara Thompson on saxes and flute, with Mariano also playing nagaswaram, Ian Carr on trumpet, Ack van Rooyen on trumpet and flugelhorn, Kenny Wheeler on flugelhorn and Albert Mangelsdorff on trombone. the six-piece horn section made the UJRE at times sound like a big band

Edited by BaldJean - June 19 2018 at 08:36


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote progmatic Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 13 2018 at 10:29
Let's not forget Nova either. Magnificent use of sax. Also McDonald & Giles. Audience "House on Haunted Hill". And on and on.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote terramystic Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 14 2018 at 13:14
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Frenetic Zetetic Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 14 2018 at 19:07
Gentle Giant has plenty of sax.
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