An Incredible Solo On A Digital Saxophone

There are times when you think you're pretty okay at music, and then you go and watch something like this video of saxophonist Michael Brecker playing "Song for Barry" on the Akai EWI (Electronic Wind Instrument). And you think, holy pants, this is another whole thing entirely.

It was a circuitous route that ended up with me re-watching this. First, a friend sent me this article about a guy who had modified a saxophone to contain multiple tone-holes with what he calls a "Broctave Key," which will allow the instrument to be more balanced. (That's not a bro-joke, I don't think; the inventor's name is Michael Brockman.)

Brockman’s altered key consists of a piston-operated valve in a key installed atop an existing octave key. Depression of the valve on top of the key already in place can allow further modulation and control of a given note, increasing a player’s ability to play in tune and with flexible artistry.

“It sounds perfectly natural,” Brockman said. “It takes a note that usually sounds stuffy and sharp and makes it sound resonant and full-bodied.”


I of course read it with a level of reactionary bile growing: I learned to play the saxophone without the aid of some newfangled octave key, thank you very much! But hey, whatever, this is one of those cool curios like Francois Luis' Aulochrome; and Francois came up with The Ultimate Ligature, which is easily the best ligature you can buy for a saxophone and... wait… um… okay, getting off in the weeds here, even for the off-topic post.

Anyway, check out that video of Brecker. And, if you don't know his work, check out some of his albums. He was one of the great masters of the tenor saxophone during the back quarter of the 20th century, and I'd say that to this day, he's the most influential post-Coltrane tenor player. (He died far too soon, of leukemia, in 2007.) I like Tales from the Hudson and Time is of the Essence, but all of his albums are outstanding. I was lucky enough to catch him live a few times before he died, and as you can see from the video up top, dude could play.

I hope your weeks are all going well. We're already to the halfway point. And it's already May! Time keeps on tickin, as they say. Feel free to talk about games, wind instruments, or anything else, here or over at TAY.

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The man destroys, but best since Coltrane?? I do not think so sir, not at all.