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FREEDOM 1535; APRIL 1950

 
 

 

For an ambitious young saxophonist coming along in 1950 there were many viable options spread over a variety of musical genres to pursue depending on if you wanted some measure of fame, peer respect or a lasting career.

Unfortunately those three outcomes were largely exclusive to the style you chose. The lasting career option may have been the easiest to achieve but it required being somewhat inconspicuous as a musician once you had established yourself as reliable and capable at your profession. Those were the guys who could always find studio work behind all sorts of pop and light jazz acts, even being called upon to do a rock session now and then, and perhaps a job cutting soundtracks in Hollywood all of which would supplement performing more or less anonymously in bigger nightclubs with established orchestras.

If you craved respect though the smart bet was to head into jazz if you had the chops for it as this was a field where technical virtuosity was held in the highest regard and there was no shortage of opportunity to carve out your own approach on record and especially on the bandstand where you were expected to display your wares nightly and live off the word of mouth buzz you generated.

Lastly however there was the allure of the bright lights of fame which rock ‘n’ roll was seductively promising you if you threw caution to the wind and decided to cut loose and show off. The last two years had shown that no other style of music for a sax player could match the commercial promise of a hit rock instrumental and the more distinctive and flamboyant you were in this style, the more headlining opportunities would come your way.

Whichever of these options you chose however virtually assured you’d be all but cut off from ever being taken serious for the OTHER options and so the choice you made now might wind up impacting your entire career for the next half century.
 
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