Tenor Sarrusophone

The tenor sarrusophone is pitched in Bb, and has the same range as a Bb tenor saxophone.  The only recordings of tenor sarrusophone I've found so far are two CDs on which Lenny Pickett plays it:
  • Jim Beard "Song of the Sun" (1991 CTI Records 847926-2).  This CD is mainly light jazz by keyboardist Jim Beard, but includes Lenny Pickett on tenor sarrusophone on the first two tracks.  Unfortunately, it is not easy to pick out the tenor sarrusophone, as the first track also includes tenor sax (Michael Brecker), soprano saxophone (Bob Mintzer) and bass clarinet (also Bob Mintzer), while the second track includes soprano sax (Wayne Shorter) and bass clarinet (Bob Mintzer), and the saxophones have all the solos.  Perhaps I just need to crank it up louder...
  • Peter Ecklund "Strings Attached" (1996 Arbors Jazz ARCD 19149).  This CD is mainly light jazz by cornetist Peter Ecklund, but includes one track ("Excessively Happy Tune") that features Lenny Pickett on tenor sarrusophone.  It is easy to recognize here: there are no other wind instruments (aside from cornet) on that track.

Baritone Sarrusophone

Bass Sarrusophone

  • Michael Jolivet, Lecture/Demonstration at the 2002 International Doublereed Society convention in Banff, Canada (CDs available from the Banff Centre).  Michael has a set of six sarrusophones, including a beautifully restored Bb bass.  Here, he plays only the bass, accompanied by piano (except for a brief demonstration of the Eb contrabass). The works performed include Balay / Petite Piece Concertante; Paradis / Sicilienne; Hartley / Romance for Bass Saxophone; Shakarian / Sarruso Rex (written specifically for MJ); Fauconier / Reverie; Brahms / On the Lake; Davis / Variations on a Theme of Robert Schumann; and Hartley / Sonatina Giaccosa (3rd mvmt), with background information regarding the instruments in between.  An exceptional performance!
  • San Jose Wind Symphony, performance April 9, 1999 at the Association of Concert Bands convention in Salinas, CA.  Our program included March Op. 99, by Sergei Prokofiev, on which I played sarrusophone (the remaining pieces were played on Eb contralto or Bb contrabass clarinets).  The performance was recorded and videotaped by Moran Recording Services , and might still be available.
  • San Jose Wind Symphony, "From Russia With Love" (concert May 16, 1999 at the Mountain View Center for Performing Arts).  In addition to March Op. 99, I played "Russian Sailor's Dance" (Gliere) and "Symphony No. 5" (Shostakovich) on the bass sarrusophone.  I play contrabass or contralto clarinet on most tracks, but play bass sarrusophone on several works that called for bass saxophone:  "Russian Sailor's Dance", "March Op. 99" by Prokofiev, and "Symphony No. 5 Finale" by Shostakovich.  The Prokofiev part is not very prominent, but the bass sarrusophone is audible in the Russian Sailor, and is audible if you know what to listen for in the Shostakovich. CDs can be obtained (unless we've run out) directly from the SJWS , or at our concerts.

Contrabass Sarrusophones

The contrabass sarrusophone was made in Eb, C, and Bb pitches. The Eb contra is sometimes also called an Eb (or EEb) bass. The Eb contra appears to be the most common variety of contrabass sarrusophone, so I've listed recordings under the Eb where only "contrabass sarrusophone" was specified in information on the recording.

EEb Contrabass:

  • Paul Winter, "Callings" (Living Music, LD0001, CD). The track "Blues' Cathedral" includes a duet for E Flat and C Contrabass Sarrusophones. The solo is at the lower end of both instruments and you really have to turn up the volume to hear them well, but the duet is quite long. The music is 'new age' and meditative.
  • Paul Winter Consort, "Icarus" (Living Music, CD). The sarrusophone is used on at least one track, for pedal tones. This CD is some of the "earlier" PWConsort music, including Ralph Towner on guitar, and Paul McCandles on oboe/cor anglais/bass clarinet.
  • Paul Winter Consort, "The Man Who Planted Trees" (1990 Living Music, LD0030).  The CD is essentially a short story narrated over music by the PWC.  The musicians include Mark Perchanok on heckelphone , and Paul Cohen on Eb contrabass sarrusophone, both clearly recognizable where they appear.
  • Sextuor de Sarrusophones. - Performance tape from IDRS Frankfurt 1992. They play pieces by Gounod and others specially arranged. The sound is good quality live, and the ensemble sounds a bit like a renaissance reed consort. The sarrusophones used are Bb soprano, Eb alto, Bb tenor, Eb baritone, Bb bass and Eb contrabass.
  • Clarence Williams Blue Five 1924. Sidney Bechet plays a (famous or notorious - take your pick) solo for contrabass sarrusophone in E Flat on the track "Mandy Make up your Mind". (various CD reissues of the original 78). Clearly the sound is scratchy and it sounds as though the instrument was a doubling one but it is still an excellent solo and the instrument can be heard clearly above (and below) the ensemble.
  • Roscoe Mitchell and the Sound and Space Ensembles (self titled)(Black Saint, BSR 0070 CD (1984)). This is mainly jazz, with Roscoe Mitchell on saxophones, and Gerald Oshita on F mezzo, tenor, and bari saxes, and contrabass sarrusophone. The sarrusophone appears only on track two ("You Wastin' My Tyme"), along with bass and baritone sax, so you may find it difficult to distinguish the two. The saurrusophone is audible as the pedal note under the chorus.
  • Roscoe Mitchell "Four Compositions" (1987, Lovely Music Ltd., LCD2021).  This CD is mainly avant-garde classical, all composed by Roscoe Mitchell.  It includes one track ("Prelude") which is a quartet for voice, bass saxophone , contrabass sarrusophone, and triple contrabass viol.  The liner notes include a picture of the quartet on stage.
  • Doctor Nerve, "Every Screaming Ear" (1997, Cunieform Records, Rune 88).  The first track on this CD (Nerveware #8) is performed by the NewEar ensemble, and features a very prominent contrabass sarrusophone part.  The rest of the ensemble includes clarinet, bass clarinet, bari sax, violin, piano, percussion, and accordian.  Sarrusophone is not part of the standard Doctor Nerve lineup, and appears only on the one track.
  • Scott Robinson, "Thinking Big" (1997, Arbors Records, ARCD 19179).  Nice jazz, backed by piano, guitar, drums, trombone, and trumpet.  Scott Robinson plays most of the saxophone family on this (including a lot of bass and contrabass sax ), and here does a remake of "Mandy, Make Up Your Mind" (without vocals) on the Eb contrabass sarrusophone.  He has not copied Bechet's solos, except for the tag at the very end of the song.  Recommended!
  • Marty Grosz & Keith Ingham, "Going Hollywood" (1997, Stomp Off Records, CD 1323).  Over an hour's worth of jazz from the 1920's and 30's, including Scott Robinson on bass sax on a number of tracks, and Eb contrabass sarrusophone on one ("I Like To Do Things For You").  The disc is fun to listen to, and Scott's solos (also on clarinet and other saxes) are perfectly in character.  Can't hide bass sax or sarrusophone in a small ensemble ;-)
  • Frank Zappa, "The Grand Wazoo" (concert).  The late great Frank Zappa did a series of concerts called "the Grand Wazoo" and "the Petite Wazoo", including Earle Dumler on oboe, bass oboe, saxophones, and sarrusophone.  I think a commercial CD was released, but haven't yet been able to determine if the sarrusophone appears on the CD.
  • BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Jerzy Maksymiuk, "Symphony in B minor (Polonia)" by Paderewski (1998, Hyperion Records, CDA67056), .  This work calls for (and was recorded with) three sarrusophones.  The liner notes unfortunately don't say which three, but it is scorred for three contrabasses.  There are several passages where the sarrusophones are obvious, in most cases simply playing a low chord.
  • Bruce Boughton "Tombstone" (soundtrack, 1993, Intrada MAF 7038D).  The excellent musical score for this movie includes both contrabass sarrusophone and contrabass trombone .
  • Allen Ginsberg "The Lion For Real" (1989, Mouth Almighty Records, 314 534908-2).  This CD consists of Allen Ginsberg's poetry, read by the author with a musical (mainly jazz) background.  The musicians include Bill Frisell, Lenny Pickett, Steve Swallow, Rob Wasserman, and other well-known players.  One track ("Stanzas: Written at Night in Radio City") has a funky background by Lenny Pickett (alone), which includes contrabass sarrusophone, tenor sax, alto sax, soprano sax, Eb clarinet, Bb clarinet, bass clarinet, contrabass clarinet , flute, piccolo, oboe, sopranino recorder, soprano recorder, alto recorder, tenor recorder, hambone, and drum.
  • Brian Slawson, "Distant Drums" (1988 CBS Records, MK 42666) is primarily light jazz/new age with lots of percussion, but includes one track ("In the Hall of the Mountain King") in which Lenny Pickett plays bass clarinet and Eb contrabass sarrusophone.  Both are clearly recognizable, although not really prominent.
  • William S. Burroughs "Dead City Radio" (1990 Island Records, 422-846264-2).    This CD is primarily some of the writings of WSB, read by the author over musical backgrounds.  Lenny Pickett contributed the backgrounds to several tracks, one of which (#10, "The Sermon on the Mount 2") appears to have contrabass sarrusophone half-burried in the mix.
  • They Might Be Giants "Mink Car" (2001 Restless Records, 73744-2).  This CD includes one track ("Older") that features Scott Robinson on contrabass sarrusophone and Wayne Evan Hankin on rauschpfife.
  • Ned Sublette, Lawrence Weiner & The Persuasions "Ships at Sea, Sailors & Shoes" (1993 Triple Earth, TRECD112).  This CD is worth hearing, just for the vocals.  It includes Lenny Pickett playing contrabass sarrusophone on one track (#4, "Just Over There (Silver)", not track 1 as it says in the liner notes), where it is easily identifiable (competing only with guitar, percussion, and the vocals).  I'm sure that there must be a story behind this CD, but the notes are not very informative.
  • SPACE, "New Music for Woodwinds and Voice" and "An Interesting Breakfast Conversation" (2000, Mutable Music, 17501-2) is a double CD release of two prior 1750 Arch records releases.  Most notable is the first disc, on which the late GO played contrabass sarrusophone for 3 of the 4 tracks (and played Conn-O-Sax on the fourth).  RM played variously Eb clarinet, bass sax and tenor sax, while TB is credited with "extended voice."  GO played sarrusophone on only one track of the second CD ("Live at the Public Theatre, II"), otherwise playing mainly bari sax and straight alto sax, vs. RM's soprano and alto sax (with bass sax on the last track).  The music is interesting, right on the fuzzy boundary between avant garde jazz and experimental classical. 

C Contrabass Sarrusophone:

BBb Contrabass Sarrusophone:

  • (None, as yet)


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    Special thanks to Francis Firth