The Hot Box #026 – Exploring the Baritone Saxophone

The “bari” is by no means the largest of Adolph Sax’s family of instruments but the even larger ones look as though they would fit nicely into an oil refinery. The baritone, which is itself quite a hefty instrument, first became a regular element in jazz music when it became the must-have anchor for the lower register harmonies in the big band era, before which it had been something of a novelty. Baritone players today are a select bunch, far outnumbered by their peers who play tenor or alto, although many musicians today like to collect the set, or a good part of it, and double on a range of saxes.

Hot Box 26 is by no means exhaustive but tries to give a quick summary of the sound of the baritone, from Harry Carney, through to the light-toned but immensely popular Gerry Mulligan, to today’s masters such as Gary Smulyan and Claire Daly. Keen observers will spot the Irish contingent of players, both Mulligan (historically), and Claire Daly today who flaunt their Irish roots.

We are still seeking recordings by Irish pianists, so if you know of any, let us know. The Hot Box is released on every 2 weeks and can be heard on-line around the world. Tell your jazz loving friends, and talk to us direct with comments and suggestions to

Track List for The Hot Box #026 – Exploring the Baritone Saxophone

# Artist Track Title Time
01 Michel Camilo One More Once 0:00
02 Gerry Mulligan Quartet Walkin’ Shoes 02:00
03 Charles Mingus Moanin’ 05:44
04 Three Baritone Saxophone Band Five Brothers 14:35
05 Gary Smulyan It Only Happens Once 21:28
06 Gerry Mulligan Quartet News from Blueport 29:42
07 Pepper Adams Better Git In Your Soul 36:26
08 John Surman Brewster’s Rooster 41:00
09 Claire Daly If Ever I Would Leave You 48:12
10 Joe Temperley Try A Little Tenderness 55:23
11 Paul Brusker Andrea’s Delight 01:01:35
12 Duke Ellington Lotus Blossom 01:07:17
Donald Helme
Author: Donald Helme
Donald presented Jazz Alley, Ireland’s number one jazz show, on RTE Lyric FM from the station’s first week on air until the end of 2015. “I am not a musician, and have never pretended to be anything other than a lifetime fan with loads of experience and hopefully, good ears.”
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