Tag Archives: saxophone

smooth operator

(Post by John Allan from Bridgetown, Western Australia – July 2022.)

Kenny G

OK everyone, welcome to SJAnon. Take a seat. I know it’s hard but would you like to start us off John.

I’m John and I’m a Smooth Jazzaholic. I once bought a Kenny G album.

*AUDIBLE GASPS*

We’re here for you John.

Cast of ‘Taxi.

I blame Taxi. Not the rank of black cabs outside Glasgow Central Station, the TV series that was compulsory weekly family viewing back in the late 70s . The laid back theme hooked me with it’s child like recorder intro and its dulcet electric piano melody. It’s written and performed by Bob James and is originally called Angela. It only became the theme tune after the 3rd episode. It was chosen to introduce a character of the same name but the producers adopted it in favour of the original tune Touchdown, the title track of Bob James‘ 6th album release.

‘Taking Off.’

I should have seen the signs. I bought Taking Off  by Dave Sanborn in 1975 thinking it just a funky sax album.

Then George Benson’s Breezin’ in ’76 because I had a cassette of him and flautist Joe Farrell. I didn’t know he could sing !

‘Breezin’ ‘

Louie De Palma and his group of cabbies came along to seduce us in ’78.

The following year, an instrumental Morning Dance reached number 17 in the UK by a band called Spyro Gyra. A jaunty little number, all steel drums and marimbas with a catchy alto sax melody. Close your eyes with a Malibu pina colada and a sun lamp and you are there dancing with the beautiful people on a Caribbean beach!

Then came the 80s. We were cast adrift from the safe harbour of our wonder years of the 70s, confused, rudderless, floating, all at sea ! ( I’m straying into Yacht music territory now)

And then it happened. I heard the siren soprano sax call of a certain Kenneth Bruce Gorelick playing Songbird. I crashed on to the rocks.

I bought a Kenny G album !

Oh the shame !!

In my defence, I took it home, listened to it a couple of times then promptly hid it at the back of the family LP collection behind the Bernard Cribbins‘ singles. I then mainlined a pharmacy of funk, a transfusion of jazz fusion, a rectal lavage of rhythm and……………………no, that’s taking it too far !

My Kenny G spot would never again be defiled………………………….that’s definitely too far !!

Smooth jazz ? I don’t think so.

Elevator

Kenny G walks into a lift and says – This place really rocks !

tom scott (musician, producer, arranger) – hall of fame induction.

(Post by John Allan, Bridgetown Western Australia – November 2021)

My nominee for the Once Upon a Time in the ’70s Hall of Fame is Tom Scott.

I can hear the collective ‘WHO ?’ like a stoner party of tripping owls. Take it from someone who is well aware of the illicit pharmacy in ornithology. In my quest to introduce recreational drugs to sea birds, I have left no tern un-stoned !

Thomas Wright Scott was born 19th May 1948, the son of film and television composer, Bernard Scott, who wrote and arranged the music for the TV show Lassie so you could say he has good pedigree. A musician of good standing – sitting, fetching and staying as well.

Oor Tam was equally proficient on all of the saxophone and woodwind families as well as much in demand as a composer and arranger. Look hard enough in your 70s collection and I’ll bet his name pops up more than once. His session work is vast.

These are a just a few of my favourites and a mere smidgen of Scott’s output.

“Gotcha” (Starsky & Hutch theme tune) Who hasn’t run down the drive way and tried to slide over the bonnet of your Dad’s Hillman Avenger when this funky theme started up. I think he plays this on the lyricon, one of the earliest electronic wind instruments.

“Listen To What The Man Said” by Wings from 1975. That was our Tommy boy playing some jaunty soprano sax on this Macca track.

The solo alto sax in “I Still Can’t Sleep” in Martin Scorcese’s film Taxi Driver – Tom ‘Are you looking at me ?’ Scott !

Tom was a Blues Brother and played with Jake and Elwood on most of their albums. He didn’t appear in any of the films though.

“Spindrift” is a beautiful tune I use to attempt to play from his time with the LA Express in the mid 70s.

(Album cover for Tom Scott an The L.A. Express eponymous album from 1974.)

Tom solos on tenor and arranges the horns on Steely Dan’sBlack Cow” from the seminal 1978 album “Aja”. And before you go all woke, black cow is a cocktail !

Although encroaching into the 80s, his work on Blondie’s “Rapture” takes this rap tune to new levels.

But my favourite collaboration of his is on Joni Mitchell’sCourt and Spark”. This 1974 release was Mitchell’s first foray away from folk and into rock and jazz. Scott’s subtle playing and sensitive arrangements greatly compliment Joni’s singing and songwriting.

Having his band the LA Express and the Crusaders to hand was none too shabby. Apparently drummer John Guerin and Joni had a wee thing going on. I guess they were courting and presumably sparking until they split up. Joni wrote about him in “Refuge of the Road” (Hejira)

Tom Scott went on to form house bands for two short lived US late talk shows (including Chevy Chase) and continued writing music for TV (Cybill) and film (Conquest of the Planet of The Apes). He remains much in demand as a session player and can now add educator and radio/pod presenter to his CV.

Good boy Scotty. Good boy.

show & tell – John Allan

My show and tell is my silver plated alto saxophone. The Selmer Paris Balanced Action model from 1935-36. I realise that 99.99% of the population don’t know or care about this icon of the woodwind world but to us anorak train spotters of vintage saxes, a little bit of wee just came out at the mere mentioning of it’s name.

I bought it in around 1976 from a friend of a friend of my brothers called ‘Pete Tchaikovsky’ for ₤50. Considering big bro hung around with guys called Bev, Mod, Grimy and Fred Lawnmower, I’m guessing PT was a nickname or nom de plume. He could feasibly be related to Pyotr Ilyich but his accent was more east end Glasgow than central European. The Russian composer was also not known as a family man. I could say he was more Sugar Plum Fairy but that would be crass.

In it’s case, when I bought it, was a torn fragment of a football pools coupon from 1946 which I have unfortunately misplaced.

I’ve had the instrument serviced twice since owning it. Once in 1979 by my McCormacks’ colleague woodwind repairman and tenor sax legend Bobby Thomson who valued it at around ₤400 and more recently by a chap in Perth WA who put a price tag of about $4,000 about 15 years ago.

Sadly, the last time I played it live was about 15 years ago at various venues around the area including the annual Blues at Bridgetown festival

I was in a 6 piece jazz band then but became disheartened by being the acoustic wallpaper for the blue rinse set. Maybe, one day, it will rise again Phoenix like from the mausoleum (former music room).

There you have it. My 85 year old alto saxophone.