Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Carmen Leggio - Young Man With A Horn, RIP

Writes Fred Cicetti on Sax on the Web in 1999:

Carmen Leggio's been playing tenor sax for about six decades and it shows. His small frame is stooped over and his head is bent down a bit. The man was made to play music, so it's fitting that his body has conformed to his gift.

Leggio blows tenor the way Willie Mays ran down a flyball. They both let you know from the get-go that you'll never be able to do it their way.

"I have thousands of songs memorized," Leggio explains with childlike joy and not an eighth note of boasting. "I can hear a song once and know how to play it. In my whole life, I've never bought a piece of sheet music. Saved a lot of money."

Leggio (incredibly, it means "music stand" in Italian) taught himself how to play at the age of nine. He began on clarinet, imitating Artie Shaw on the radio. He still performs "Stardust," "Nightmare" and "Begin the Beguine" on an old King metal clarinet. At 14, he switched to tenor sax and began playing in clubs in his hometown of Tarrytown, a suburb just north of New York City.

"I quit high school, because I knew I was meant to be a musician," he said. "But my father was so angry that he didn't speak to me for years. On his deathbed, he admitted I was right to leave school."

That admission came after Leggio had played with Benny Goodman, Maynard Ferguson, Gene Krupa, Woody Herman, Buddy Rich, Dizzy Gillespie and Doc Severinson. There have also been television shows, movies, the Newport Jazz Festival, Birdland and, yes, Carnegie Hall.

On April 17, 2009, Carmen Leggio suffered a heart attack in front of his home in Tarrytown, NY and died later that day at the age of 81.

What a loss to the saxophone community and jazz.

Writes Tim Price in his blog now:
Carmen Leggio bristled with individuality, whether soaring over a legendary big band like Woody Herman or Maynard or cutting a new path through a standard song like " Smile" his ruggedly magisterial horn made a personal statement the jazz world will never forget.

This player, developed a way to express a wide and subtle range of emotions through a unique and highly evolved level of musicianship, that is never cluttered or forced. One of the masters of original melodic improvisation that melted in your heart like an emotional choclate ball. When he played a ballad you might think he's whispering the greatest story of un-requited love ever told,directly down your spinal column.

Back in the70's I bought the record " Tarrytown Tenor". I got in New York City at King Karol records. At the time, I was wondering why a player like this was not touring the world, recording more and playing every jazz club in NYC and Europe. I played that record everyday, playing along with it and studying the art of Mr. Leggio’s saxophone. I saw him at the Vanguard with That and Mel playing some of the best lead alto I ever heard- just amazing phrasing and soul.

He sure will be missed, and a loss to the world.

RIP Carmen, I'm sure Prez, Sal, Romano and Hawk are waiting in that jam session above for you.

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Friday, April 24, 2009

Detroit Torino Jazz Project – Live Video Broadcast

Detroit Torino Jazz Project Live

in co-operation with Sax on the Web site

@ Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe
in Detroit area

Live Broadcast
Friday April 24 & Saturday April 25, 2009
6:00pm (18:00) EST
Featuring leading jazz musicians and photographic artists from Detroit, USA and Torino, Italy (AKA "THE DETROIT OF EUROPE").
Chris Collins (sax, picture right) and Emanuele Cisi (sax, picture left) will be joined by Cliff Monear (piano), Sean Dobbins (drums), and Nick Calandro (bass) in this live recording session.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Blowing your own horn

While browsing through the Sax on the Web Forum recently, I realized that many saxophonist members are also keen brass players. Here they proudly display their latest inventions:

Miraphone Double Belled Sax Shaped Trumpet (1950s?)
Martin Williams and his Double Belled Trumpet
Triple Belled Trombone

Double Belled (in series) with a muffler
I am assuming that the picture posters have rights to these pictures. By posting on the SOTW Forum the rights have been extended to the owner of SOTW.

Late addition: Is this a proper use of brass instruments?

This just in (Jul-18-2009):
Randy Emerick has joined the trombone section. Watch out, Kid Oreo!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Easter Expedition

Between Pyhätunturi and Noitatunturi

Pyhätunturi is a mountain situated in the town of Pelkosenniemi in Finland’s Lapland. As the snow started melting in the Helsinki area, Pyhätunturi is a good place for downhill and cross-country skiing. This year the conditions of Easter week were perfect for Rautiainen family’s traditional Easter expedition. The temperature dropped to -20 degrees centigrade during the night, preserving the snowy conditions. However, the temperature rose above the freezing point during the day with perfect sunshine making it ideal for outdoor activities.

Most of the time, Miia and Ida have been on the slopes, whereas Raila and I have been exploring the cross-county trails. Kiimaselkä (picture) is a popular rest stop for coffee and refreshments. The next day, we skied to Karhunjuomalampi, including a gruelling climb to the foothills of the mountain. Mikko arrived on Tuesday, and he is a snowboard man.

Lapland is one on the remaining wildernesses left in Europe. We saw footprints of a wolverine and tracks of it fighting with a hare. Most probably the hare lost the fight and its life.

Karhunjuomalampi hut

On Thursday we enjoyed sauna and swimming pool at Luosto Spa and on Friday night we will be celebrating Mikko’s birthday at a ski-resort restaurant. There might be some reindeer on the plate.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Frozen Saxophone


Perhaps surprisingly Google’s search engine ranked this SOTW Forum thread as the highest of all Sax on the Web pages. “rs1sensen”, a long time SOTW member writes:

Yesterday I marched in some of the coldest weather I've ever had to deal with on a horn. Some of my pads were frozen shut. Others frozen open. A couple tone holes were almost sealed with ice, and there was some ice on the bottom of my horn. After the game, I carefully de-thawed the horn, dried everything off, and re-oiled my springs.
I tried to keep warm air going through the horn prior to playing, but it actually seemed to make things worse, as more and more ice would just form. I gave up on playing. What I did find interesting, is that about half of our section ran into the same problems, but the other half could play perfectly fine.
I have to give the dance team some credit, they did a performance before us and wore much less clothing than all of us!

Then there is follow-up discussion and helpful hints. Although the post is more than one year old, it seems to become current every winter.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Putin's Dog Steals Treats

Reuters from Moscow on April 1st:
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's pet dog gobbled up snacks prepared for United Russia bosses on Wednesday.
While Putin discussed ways to help the local food industry, his black Labrador Koni snuck into a room at his residence and tucked into the delicacies.
"Koni ate everything," said one of Putin's astounded bodyguards.
April Fools or not, but what they say: Over time dogs and their masters start to resemble each other, perhaps even behave the same way.
The timing for this news item was very appropriate because I just returned from the National Theater in Helsinki. The play was Kari Hotakainen's "Who is who" (in Finnish). In the play appeared (now 184 years old) Dostoevsky and Putin whose role was skillfully played by Jukka Puotila. A hilarious night in theater.