Introduction to a Sax Player
Hello yes, my name is Brady. I play the saxophone in Bes, as well as any other instruments I need to play that I can play. I’ve been known to play clarinet, bass clarinet, flute, trombone, trumpet, and drums. This post is an introduction to a sax player.
I have an oboe right now but there is no reed, so I haven’t learned it yet. I’ll get a reed soon.
Writing music is bonkers to me. Guitar was my very first instrument, but I was 8 when I tried to learn it and I had a terrible time. 17 years have past and I have patiently upheld my tradition of being inept at playing chord instruments. This has been a major force preventing me from composing music, because when you only play single-note instruments like most wind instruments, you can’t effectively realize a chord.
However, I have also been learning and playing jazz music for about 15 years. The beginning of this journey coincided with my switch from clarinet to saxophone, around the time I began taking private lessons. Jazz is a language within a language, its own sort of exclusive dialect inside of music as a whole. A central goal to most jazz musicians is musical liberation, which means in order to be able to improvise fluently and express yourself to your fullest potential, you need to master not only your instrument but the music theory you seek to interpret using that instrument.
I like to think of my journey as a jazz musician as a sort of lifelong big bang taking place in my brain for this reason– I rationalize things more creatively and methodically than I probably would have without if jazz hadn’t started this mental demolition/rebuilding process 15 years ago. In this way, jazz has been a boon to my ability to compose.
Now when I go to write music, whether it be a song, a part in a song, or helping someone else construct their part in a song, I usually come at it from an erratic, creative angle. I often use the expression “throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks” because it reflects my artistic process with disturbing accuracy.
This presents some challenges in progressive music, a genre often characterized by willful sidestepping of what’s expected or intuitive. Working out a part is a tedious process because I tend to try things out before taking the time to think about them, in spite of the focus and thought the music demands. My approach as a writer in Bes is evolving towards greater patience and intentionality, because taking months to assemble a part for one song gets very exhausting.
As a saxophonist in a prog rock band, I fill an odd role. As many saxophonists have in the past 40 or so years, I often find myself assuming the responsibilities of a lead guitarist. Bronson writes parts that are intricate in both harmony and rhythm, only occasionally leaving himself room to incorporate melodies into his playing. Since his parts are the backbone of most of our songs, I try to complement them and create melodic bridges between words and sections. Many rock saxophonists whose playing I’ve enjoyed and found effective seem to do this.
That’s the essence of what I do in Bes. Our music is eclectic, so I struggle to be precise when describing the band and my role in it. If what I wrote seems vague or contrived, that might be why. Thanks for reading it and I hope the world makes a little more sense to you now. This has been an introduction to a sax player in a prog rock band.