Stephen Saxon's Virtual Audition Page (voice)

Stephen Saxon

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All selections (p)(c)2010 Stephen Saxon, all rights reserved

No Greater Love This is from an unreleased collection, How Can I Keep From Singing. I had planned to record this with voice and bass, but decided to try it out with voice and drums, instead. I was inspired in part by Michael Brecker's early experiences working out with just himself and a friend playing drums. I think it's a good test of a vocalist to sing a song all the way through while maintaining pitch from beginning to end (of course) but also to really lay down the groove and the chord structure, yet being creative and ‘in the moment’ throughout.
Tenor Madness This was the encore tune for the 1987 Spokane Jazz Festival. I was a member of the faculty jazz quintet at Spokane Falls Community College, and was therefore tapped to play trumpet with Michael Brecker for the festival's final concert. Unfortunately, I had undergone oral surgery that same week, so even though I had only played on a few tunes, by the end of the set I was pretty much unable to play anything more than the head of the tune.

When Michael launched into an amazing solo right out of the head, I had to figure out what I was going to do – simply pass on taking a solo, play something appropriate even though I had no physical ability to do so, or come up with something else.

My role at the school was not as a voice teacher or singer, but primarily in the instrumental jazz department (leading combos, the B band, improvisation, music copying, etc.). So when I stepped up to the mic and started scatting, I think it was a surprise to just about everyone in the hall. Fortunately, it was something I knew I could fall back on.

It's a long track, so here's some information to help make more sense of what's going on:

00:00 Count-off

00:30 Tenor solo begins

04:53 Tenor solo ends

05:00 Scat solo begins

06:27 Michael slides in to take over for Mark Ivester on drums

09:22 Scat solo ends

09:40 This track fades out, though the original goes on for another 9 minutes.

Ave Maria (Josquin) This is a track that features me singing all of the parts of this Renaissance vocal piece. I sang it with Chanticleer and came to love it, and when I first set myself up with multi-track recording capability at home, this was one of the pieces I tried out first.
You've Got A Friend This is another track from How Can I Keep From Singing. It features a harmonic deconstruction of the Carole King song and a vocalise second verse that tells an alternate version the story in the original lyric. The vocalise section also features a style of vocal arranging that I have been using since about 2000 in various groups, and which was inspired in part by the arrangements of Supersax in the 70’s and 80’s.
Donna Lee / Back Home Indiana This features an a cappella group I sang with and arranged for from 2002 – 2007. This arrangement features more of the vocalise arranging style I have become somewhat known for, as well as the first set of vocalise lyrics I ever wrote, back when I was in high school.
Sunshine Of Your Love This is an unreleased recording by the same group and features another arrangement and a vocal guitar solo at the end by Stephen Saxon.
Polka Dots and Moonbeams Another track from How Can I Keep From Singing, this one is a guitar and voice duet. The vocal improve features what I think of as a vocal trombone. I don’t use it as an effect, any more than I consider using a muted trumpet an effect. It’s a sound which allows me to improvise in a way that is more instrumental and less overtly vocal, while still using my voice as the instrument.
Yo Hanino, Tu Hanina This is taken from a performance / documentary filmed in 2006 and broadcast on public television. The concert featured the instrumental ensemble Davka, the women’s vocal ensemble Kitka, and Stephen Saxon as guest soloist. One of the interesting things about this concert was that the improvisation was not in a jazz setting, but required a combination of a jazz and a cantorial sensibility.
Dodi Li This excerpt was an improvised solo from a recording I did with KlezX. With that band I have often gone back and forth performing solo sections either on trumpet or as improvised cantorial recitatives. This one is based a collection of texts from Song of Songs.

This recording became sufficiently popular that I transcribed the improvisation and arranged it for a cappella voices as its own piece.

Stephen Saxon, Trumpet

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