Sam Newsome on not doubling

Sam Newsome asks the question, “Can You Double And Still Be A Great Soprano Saxophonist?

As I see it, if you play the soprano using a set-up that’s comparable to a much larger horn, you’re not dealing with the soprano on it’s own terms. It’s being treated as an extension of a much larger horn, and not as a separate entity.

Go check it out.

Review: Rico reed cases

I’ve been trying out the Rico single and double reed cases. These are plastic cases that can optionally accommodate Rico’s “Reed Vitalizer” packets, which, according to Rico, help keep your reeds at your desired humidity level. The single reed case holds eight reeds, baritone saxophone or smaller, and the double reed case holds five double reeds, oboe or bassoon. (I found contrabass clarinet reeds to be just a little too large for the single reed case. The double reed case holds English horn reeds just fine, but doesn’t work for oboe d’amore or contrabassoon.)

Detailed review follows, but here is the quick summary:

Price reasonable initial investment; pricier if you regularly buy additional Vitalizer packs
Looks handsome
Humidity undecided
Design flawed


Current street price on both the single reed case and the double reed case  seems to be about $20. This includes one Reed Vitalizer pack. If you choose to use the Reed Vitalizer packs on an ongoing basis, they go for about $5 apiece, and Rico says you will need a new one every 45-60 days (so, up to around $40/year, not counting tax or shipping). Continue reading “Review: Rico reed cases”

Mormons and musicians

Mormon Tabernacle Choir and organ pipes
Photo, More Good Foundation

Some of you know that I am a “Mormon“—a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I find that sometimes fellow musicians are curious about my faith and how it connects to my career in music, so I’d like to share a few thoughts.

Music in LDS (Latter-day Saint) theology

Mormons embrace the biblical Old and New Testaments and find in them reason to consider music, both vocal and instrumental, integral to worship:

And David and all the house of Israel played before the Lord on all manner of instruments made of fir wood, even on harps, and on psalteries, and on timbrels, and on cornets, and on cymbals. (2nd Samuel 6:5, KJV)

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. (Colossians 3:16, KJV)

Books of scripture unique to the LDS canon also promote music in worship. The Book of Mormon describes gatherings of the faithful in the ancient Americas:

And their meetings were conducted by the church after the manner of the workings of the Spirit, and by the power of the Holy Ghost; for as the power of the Holy Ghost led them whether to preach, or to exhort, or to pray, or to supplicate, or to sing, even so it was done. (Moroni 6:9, emphasis added)

The Doctrine and Covenants, a collection of revelations from the 19th and 20th centuries, includes divine sanction for music in worship:

And it shall be given thee, also, to make a selection of sacred hymns, as it shall be given thee, which is pleasing unto me, to be had in my church.

For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads. (Doctrine and Covenants 25:12)

If thou art merry, praise the Lord with singing, with music, with dancing, and with a prayer of praise and thanksgiving. (Doctrine and Covenants 136:28)

Continue reading “Mormons and musicians”

Historical woodwind recordings on the National Jukebox

Photo, alexruthmann

The United States Library of Congress’s National Jukebox project makes American recordings from the days before microphones available for streaming online. This is a fantastic resource for recordings—classical, jazz, and more—from the turn of the 20th century until the mid-1920’s.

These recordings are not in the public domain, like you might think; Sony, the owner of the recordings, has given the Library of Congress special permission to stream them.

Naturally, I’ve been searching the National Jukebox for woodwind players, and here are a few of my favorite discoveries. Some of the gems include oddities like the Heckelphone and bass saxophone, and there are a few woodwind doublers in there, too. Take note of how woodwind playing, like recording technology, has changed over the past century!

To kick things off, here’s a nice tour of the woodwind section of the Victor Orchestra in 1912:

Continue reading “Historical woodwind recordings on the National Jukebox”