alibi online

Free Will AstrologyAlibi's Personals

Flyer on the Web Post yours here
See more flyers here

Phantongram
Phantongram
4.19.2014
Let It Grow
Let It Grow
4.19.2014
OM
OM
4.19.2014
OM
OM
4.19.2014
CUNNINLYNGUIST
CUNNINLYNGUIST
4.20.2014
Mogwai
Mogwai
4.21.2014
 
 
 V.20 No.48 | December 1 - 7, 2011 

Jazzed

SuperSax New Mexico Expands on Charlie Parker

Group revives historic charts from the ’70s and '80s

SuperSax New Mexico, saxing superbly
Victoria Rogers
SuperSax New Mexico, saxing superbly

It’s such a wacky idea: orchestrating Charlie Parker solos. Look, here’s the guy who reinvented the jazz saxophone, playing with unthinkable speed and a sui generis rhythmic sense that’s near impossible to copy. And you want to orchestrate his solos, those soaring flights of ecstatic sound perfectly composed of a half-million notes? Good luck, pal.

Except that Supersax made it work—like gangbusters. Founded by saxophonist Med Flory and bassist Buddy Clark in the early ’70s in Los Angeles, Supersax comprised five saxes, a rhythm section and a soloing trumpet or trombone. According to Albuquerque’s Mark Weber, a jazz historian who was on the L.A. scene back then, the band enjoyed success for more than 20 years, recorded 11 albums (the first won a Grammy) and toured Japan four times.

Last year, local drummer Cal Haines came across the group on YouTube. He’d owned Supersax albums but hadn’t thought about the band for years until he saw the video and thought, “Yeah, I got to do this.”

He did, and on Thursday, SuperSax New Mexico will make its Albuquerque debut at the Outpost. Playing the ravishingly difficult charts from the original Supersax will be Arlen Asher and Dave Anderson (alto saxes), Kanoa Kaluhiwa and Lee Taylor (tenor saxes), Glenn Kostur (baritone sax), Bert Dalton (piano), Michael Glynn (upright bass), Haines (drums), and special guest Bobby Shew (trumpet).

Pulling It Together

The first thing Haines needed was five saxophonists willing to work themselves to the bone. “I knew I could find five saxes,” he says. “The quality of guys around here is fantastic, man. Whether I could convince them to do it or not ...”

Convince them he did, and he started collecting Supersax charts. Some came from the Library of Congress, where Flory had sent 26 charts in 1972. Some of the arrangements were sourced commercially. Asher contributed several that he’d bought in the ’70s. Former Supersax member Gary Foster sent Weber a Supersax chart of “Now’s the Time” arranged by Warne Marsh, who’d also been in the band for a time.

Haines arranged for the parts to be copied and distributed to the players, who began their solitary, time-consuming work of learning the complex lines.

A Harmonious Buzzing

Kostur, described by Haines as “the drill sergeant of the sax section,” had the unenviable job of blending the five together. “The phrase ‘Herculean task’ comes to mind,” says Kostur, who calls this project his “hardest musical work ever.”

The first alto, Asher, and the baritone, Kostur, have the easier parts of the near impossible task: They merely play Parker’s solo line an octave apart. The harmonizing lines of the other three always fall within that octave, and these interior parts are particularly challenging. Played alone, they are not very musical, but they move note for note with the solo line. In an on-air interview with Weber on KUNM in May, Flory described them as sounding like “drunken bees.”

Shew, who was present at many Supersax performances in the ’70s at Donte’s, a club in the San Fernando Valley, has little sympathy for the saxes. “It serves them right for taking up the saxophone. It’s a hell of a lot easier instrument than the trumpet,” he says, laughing.

Comparing the saxophonists’ job to asking Nolan Ryan to pitch with a watermelon, soloist Shew admits he’s got the easier part of the gig. He’s enjoying the challenge of Parker’s music, which he likens to a suicide mission. “At the same time, one of the great things that happens to a musician is to be able to find yourself in a situation that challenges, that taps you into something that you might not push yourself into on your own,” he says.

SuperSax New Mexico is proving itself up to the challenge.

SuperSax New Mexico

Thursday, Dec. 1, 7:30 p.m.
Outpost Performance Space
210 Yale SE, 268-0044

Tickets: $20, $15 members and students
outpostspace.org
 
Join our mailing list for exclusive info, the week's events and free stuff!
 

  • Select sidebar boxes to add below. You can also click and drag to rearrange the boxes; close using the little X icons on each box. To re-add a box you closed, return to this menu.
  • Because you are not logged in, any changes you make to these boxes will vanish as soon as you click to another page. If you log in, the boxes will stick.
  • alibi.com
  • Latest Posts
  • Web Exclusives
  • Recent Rocksquawk Discussions
  • Recent Classifieds
  • Latest User Posts
  • Most Active Users
  • Most Active Stories
  • Calendar Comments
  • Upcoming Alibi Picks
  • Albuquerque
  • Duke City Fix
  • Albuquerque Beer Scene
  • What's Wrong With This Picture?
  • Reddit Albuquerque
  • ABQ Journal Metro
  • ABQrising
  • ABQ Journal Latest News
  • Del.icio.us Albuquerque
  • NM and the West
  • New Mexico FBIHOP
  • Democracy for New Mexico
  • Only in New Mexico
  • Mario Burgos
  • Democracy for New Mexico
  • High Country News
  • El Grito
  • NM Politics with Joe Monahan
  • Stephen W. Terrell's Web Log
  • The Net Is Vast and Infinite
  • Slashdot
  • Freedom to Tinker
  • Is there a feed that should be on this list? Tell us about it.
    The Lymbs
    The Lymbs4.25.2014