The saxophone has had a presence in rock and roll since rock’s inception during the early 1950’s; a vestige--or at least another branch in the tree—of the saxophone’s use in swing, which at that point in time was long in decay. The sax was heavily utilized in those early years of rock and roll. Starting in the late 1960’s, fewer groups were using wind instruments. (Certainly they did not go out of existence in pop music: funk bands, folk bands, and jam bands continued their use through the 1970’s.) During the past 30 years, saxophone work in Rock has waxed and waned.
In the past, most sax parts were a respectable combination of background parts and solos. Recently—as in since the 1980’s—a saxophone in a Rock band delivered a solo, with nothing much else.
Do you have the opportunity to play in a Rock
band? Whether it is a garage band or a
touring county fair playing group, take it!
1. Be comfortable playing all the voices in the saxophone family
2. Make yourself useful when not playing sax. Earn your keep.
3. Have a good command of the blues
4. Be prepared to work out and write your own parts.
5. Be sharp or get flatted.
Not many pop groups today use saxophone. If you have the opportunity to play in a rock band, TAKE IT! Just make sure you are prepared, and can offer the group something that will make them all appear better with you than without. If you work hard, you will create for yourself a great performance opportunity.