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Pic of the Week: Birth of the Sax Edition

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Portrait of Charlie Parker, Three Deuces, New York, N.Y., ca. Aug. 1947. Photograph by William P. Gottlieb.

On this date in 1846, Belgian-born Antoine-Joseph “Adolphe”  Sax patented the family of instruments that bear his name.  The saxophone was originally developed in two categories,  an orchestral group and a band or military group, of seven instruments each.  Only a handful of these varieties are in common use today, although composer/musician Anthony Braxton, who brought his Ghost Trance Duo for Violin and Piano to the Coolidge Auditorium in 1998, has used some of the rarer instruments like the sopranino, mezzo-soprano and contrabass saxophones. But whether your tastes run from the smoothest pop music to the most challenging avant-garde jazz, the sound of the sax is ubiquitous. From the romantic warble of Sidney Bechet‘s soprano (the soundtrack to many a Woody Allen movie) ; to the classic be-bop of Charlie Parker’s alto; to the rock and roll tenor of Clarence Clemons, who passed away on June 18th; to the deep authority of Gerry Mulligan‘s baritone (Lisa Simpson’s axe of choice as well);  In the Muse doesn’t need to tell you to remember the saxophone today. Its sound is part of the fabric of our every day lives.  See more pictures of Charlie Parker and other saxophone legends in the William P. Gottlieb Collection. Visit the Prints and Photographs Online Catalog for a 1922 photo of  Tomm Brown, posing with what he claims to be the first saxophone made by Adolph Sax. And listen to George Olsen and His Music perform ”Sax-o-phun,” from the National Digital Jukebox :

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