Wednesday 8 August 2018

The amazing Charlie Ventura ( here on tenor sax )

When I was still at school, in Cornwall, I used to learn to improvise (on clarinet) by playing along to a Charlie Ventura LP - he was on a variety of saxophones - often playing the 33rpm record at 16rpm (half speed) to at least give me a chance to keep up.   

Lovely raspy solo here, dapper moustache n'all, from 1:25, playing on Gene Krupa's "Leave us Leap" - great audio quality, suspect the film clip has been 'tweaked'.  And again at 2:15, natty braces Chas !

It was obvious even then that, sooner or later, I'd leg it to the nearest Secondhand Shop and swap the clarinet for a saxophone !  But there weren't many Secondhand Shops, let alone with old saxophones for sale, in Cornwall in the late 50's / early 60's.

But that was a few years later, in Bath, just behind the Bus Station, where I swapped my school clarinet for a knackered old 'York' silver plated (well, mostly...) alto sax - and then, shortly afterwards, I joined my first Soul Band - Heart 'n Soul.   Wiltshire Soul rocked !!!

How can I remember all that from the 60's, but yesterday is a pretty much a blur...?  Sigh...


Thursday 2 August 2018

Keilwerth New King tenor saxophone, 50's vintage - the one that got away...

Although I'm quite happy with my current tenor sax, a German built B&S 'Blue Label' (pics here - more about it later), I couldn't resist the chance to try this 50's Keilwerth New King when it came up on eBay.  The seller was offering 'Returns', so minimal risk, and there was no other interest. Looked recently repadded with brown (plastic) reflector pads.

Played as you'd expect, thick smokey sound, especially low down, powerful sound, and plenty of cut in reserve with my favourite Couf J10*S mouthpiece, BUT (extremely sad part...) most of the low harmonics either weren't quite in the same place as my other horns, or (even worse...) were not to be found - even after several days of trying, even with several different mouthpieces !  Naturally I checked a few things, like pad heights - especially that the front-F opened 'just a crack'.

I'm so used to using the low harmonics (G-C) as a natural extension of the normal range that it was quite a frustrating experience.  Switching back to the B&S, where they just 'popped out', just confirmed the inevitable.  I had a very nice Keilwerth Tone King 'Exclusiv' back in the day, I don't remember any similar problems with it.  

So, it has to go back, thanks to the seller for allowing returns, obviously all shipping at my expense.   I'll always look at the pictures - click here - and wish that it'd been a bit more forthcoming.  Sigh...  Onwards and upwards !