By Bruce Vermazen
This present day, the saxophone is a logo of "cool" and the device so much heavily linked to jazz. but now not in the past it was once derided because the "Siren of Satan," and it was once principally overlooked within the usa for good over part a century after its invention. while it was once first broadly heard, it used to be frequently considered as a novelty noisemaker, now not a true musical software. in just a number of brief years, despite the fact that, saxophones seemed in track retailers throughout the USA and have become essentially the most vital instrumental voices. How did the saxophone get from comedian to cool?
Bandleader Tom Brown claimed that it was once his saxophone sextet, the Six Brown Brothers, who inaugurated the fad. whereas this boast used to be maybe extra fable than truth, the gang used to be definitely some of the most well-known musical acts on level within the early 20th century. beginning in touring circuses, small-time vaudeville, and minstrel exhibits, the gang trekked around the usa and Europe, bringing this new sound to the yank public. via their reside performances and groundbreaking recordings--the first discs of a saxophone ensemble in most cases circulation--the Six Brown Brothers performed a vital position in making this new tool known to and enjoyed via a large audience.
In That Moaning Saxophone, writer and cornet participant Bruce Vermazen sifts truth from legend during this craze and tells the awesome tale of those six musical brothers--William, Tom, Alec, Percy, Vern, and Fred. Vermazen lines the brothers' course via minstrelsy, the circus, burlesque, vaudeville, and Broadway musical comedy. Cleverly weaving jointly biographical information and the context of the burgeoning leisure company, the writer attracts attention-grabbing pix of the pre-jazz international of yank renowned tune, the theatrical weather of the interval, and the lengthy, gradual demise of vaudeville.
Delving into the profession of 1 of the major popularizers of the saxophone, That Moaning Saxophone not just illuminates the heritage of this novel tool, but in addition deals a witty and brilliant portrayal of those forgotten musical worlds.
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Additional info for That Moaning Saxophone: The Six Brown Brothers and the Dawning of a Musical Craze
At the September opening of the 1897–98 season, the ﬁrst part, entitled “The Huntsmen,” was a grand sight; everyone dressed in scarlet coats and white tights, top boots and huntsmen caps. The eight end men were dressed in different colored silk jockey suits, and the new cut wood scene and green baze [sic] carpet made a 29 That Moaning Saxophone pretty picture. The olio consisted of all new acts. S. 19 No matter which year or years of the waning century Tom caught the show, it must have been an electrifying and hypnotic spectacle for a smalltown Canadian boy, a spectacle full of suggestion both about how he might break away from Lindsay’s limited opportunities and about the many paths into that glamorous world: music, comedy, dance, even barrel-rolling.
There Allan organized and directed the Lindsay Citizens’ Band, with three or four of his older sons among those under his baton. According to much later accounts, the boys also aggregated into an autonomous boys’ band, entertaining at social functions such as picnics and fairs. Lindsay, sited on the Scugog River where there had been “almost impenetrable forest and swamp” in the 1830s,9 was relatively new, having been incorporated about the time Allan was born. 10 The town, not very different from the others the Browns had passed through, had a population of 6081 in the 1891 census, about half of Irish descent.
Then came the second episode, called the “olio,” where the artists presented their specialty acts. This could include almost anything: leaping acrobats, tightrope walkers, comic playlets, tableaux vivants, elaborate singing and dancing production numbers, cornet solos, banjo or mandolin ensembles, musicians who played several instruments serially or simultaneously, pantomime, female impersonators, animal acts, and more of the same sort of comic songs, sentimental ballads, and dances that were heard and seen in the ﬁrst part.