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Rolling Stone India’s Jazz Playlist

Hear beautiful saxophone ballads

Sunil Sampat Aug 30, 2019

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I’d like to think of this playlist as a listening session with good friends, possibly in my living room. The sheer artistic beauty of these 10 pieces deserves at least the right atmosphere – a reflective, introspective mood, the appropriate beverage and the time to savor this delicious fare. Rush through it at your own peril.

Sit back and enjoy these masters at work as they perform just for you. These musicians form the ‘who’s who’ of jazz saxophone greats. Doesn’t get much better! And the tunes need no introduction either.

Coleman Hawkins – “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes”

Hawkins was the first major jazz saxophonist and one of the greatest in its history. His beautiful playing on this popular song almost has the lyrics emerging from the horn.

Charlie Parker – “Everything Happens To Me”

Perhaps the greatest sax player in jazz history, Charlie Parker recorded a couple of albums with strings. Here is a delicious rendition of a tune from the American song book.

Sonny Stitt – “I’m In The Mood For Love”

This Chicago-based saxophonist is heard weaving some magic with his embellishment of this well-known tune.

Ben Webster – “My Romance”

Another saxophone giant, Webster excelled in his ballad playing. Pour yourself another one as you get into this Ben Webster classic.

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Stan Getz – “Skylark”

Jazz always seemed to ooze politely out of Stan Getz’ tenor saxophone. Here he is in fine company with Herbie Hancock on piano, Gary Burton on vibes and Bob Brookmeyer on valve trombone, working gently and almost politely through this jazz standard.

Lester Young – “Stardust”

Known as “Pres” or president, Lester Young was certainly that in the hierarchy of tenor saxophonists. His playing seems to gently persuade notes out of his horn. This “Stardust” is special.

Charlie Parker –“I Can’t Get Started”

Charlie Parker known as Bird died at just 34 but, fortunately for us listeners has left a fair amount of recordings for us to savor. Here is a tune that was once made famous by Bunny Berrigan.

Paul Desmond – “Autumn Leaves”

Paul Desmond was the man who wrote: “Take Five” and played it in the Dave Brubeck Quartet — it has become perhaps the most recognised and popular jazz tune of all time. Here, in the company of the eloquent Chet Baker on trumpet, Desmond does justice to this jazz standard.

George Adams – “Send In The Clowns”

Perhaps the least known of all the saxophonists on this playlist, George Adams played in the band of Charles Mingus. His treatment of this relatively modern popular tune is most interesting. He combines the ballad with almost gymnastic embellishments to create a memorable recording.

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John Coltrane – “Naima”

If Coleman Hawkins was an early sax giant, John Coltrane was perhaps one of the latest in this jazz legacy. Coltrane composed “Naima” for his wife. This is a sensitive, pretty ballad from the horn of a man known for his pyrotechnics on the saxophone!

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