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Various Artists: The Big Horn: The History of Honkin' & Screamin' Saxophone (2003)

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The saxophone style heralded by this handsomely packaged, budget-priced four-disc box exists somewhere between jazz and R&B. Spawned most famously by Illinois Jacquet's "Flying Home," a hit for Lionel Hampton's 1942 big band, this sound emphasizes the raw, gutteral, dramatic, extreme high and low registers of the sax.

Subtle it is not, and has never been, but the "honkin' & screamin'" style propelled many avant-garde saxplayers of the 1960s and beyond. It also fuelled the development of R&B into soul, funk, and rock. This must be the ultimate collection of the jazz and R&B saxophonists who crystallized this high-octane approach. Covering the decade following Jacquet's hit, it collects all the well known figures (Arnett Cobb, Hal Singer, Earl Bostic, Big Jay McNeely) along with a handful of obscurities. Most surprising are recordings by mainstream jazz saxophonists from the Ellington and Basie bands whom you'd not associate with this approach, like Buddy Tate and Al Sears.

Most of the 106 tunes are instrumentals. The vocals are generally throwaways, generally exhorting the saxophonist to "go, man, go!" No need really. There is enough frentic energy generated by one and all that the relatively cool performances by Al Sears seem downright tranquilizing in this context. This is less swinging music than the emphatically stomping kind. Fans of albert Ayler and Pharoah Sanders will love the careening emotionality, the wailing high notes pumped at ear-splitting volume. It's party music for uninhibited extroverts, illuminating a critical piece of American musical history when jazz morphed into rock and roll.


Track Listing: 1. Flying Home, 2. Blues, 3. Rock Boogie, 4. West Coast Lover, 5. Raisin' the Roof, 6. Cobb's Corner, 7. Go, Red, Go, 8. Smooth Sailing, 9. Open House, 10. Down the Lane, 11. Blue Jeans, 12. Bobby's Boogie, 13. Screaming Boogie, 14. We're Gonna Rock, We're Gonna Roll, 15. Bubbles, 16. Balancing with Bill, 17. Hey Spee-Dee-O-Dee, 18. 35-30, 19. Walkin' Around, 20. The Hucklebuck, and more.

Personnel: Illinois Jacquet, Big Jim Wynn, Pazuzza Simon, Arnett Cobb, Morris Lane, Dick Davis, Wild Bill Moore, Paul Williams, Jack McVea, Weasel Parker, Hal Singer, Tom, Archia, John Hardee, Little Willie Jackson, Eddie Chamblee, Red Prysock, Benny Golson, Earl Bostic, Joe Thomas, Harold Land, Big Jay McNeely, Willis Jackson, Jimmy Forrest, Davis Brooks, and more

Record Label: Proper Records

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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