Don Murray On Alto Saxophone?

Andrew Jon Sammut
Andrew Jon Sammut

April 10th, 2015, 11:15 pm #1

Brian Rust lists Don Murray on baritone saxophone and clarinet for the May 25 and June 28, 1928 sessions Joe Venuti and His New Yorkers. Murray’s baritone gets the lead on “’Tain’t So, Honey, ‘Tain’t So” from the first session (and Okeh’s sound shows off his light tone on the big horn). His clarinet might be filling out the lower harmonies under the flutes on “I Must Be Dreaming” from that session, and it’s likely part of the clarinet section behind Charlie Butterfield’s trombone on the first chorus of “Because My Baby Don’t Mean ‘Maybe’ Now” from the second session.

There are no other audible clarinet or baritone sax solos from these two sessions, yet the alto saxophonist playing the first chorus bridge of “Just Like A Melody Out Of The Sky” on the second date might be Murray. The uneven eighth notes, cutting the first part of the beat short and emphasizing the second part of the beat (similar to a sixteenth-dotted eighth note pattern, the reverse of many attempts to notate swung eighth notes) are similar to Murray’s rhythmic approach. The phrasing is also very “busy” and arpeggiated a la Murray, and alternation between slurred phrases and light but definite tonguing also reminded me of Murray. The bright, open, fat tone is very different from his sound on tenor and baritone saxes but is very similar to his clarinet.

Rust lists Arnold Brilhart and Max Farley on alto saxophone and flute for these sessions, along with Herbert Spencer on tenor saxophone for the first session and Fud Livingston replacing him and doubling clarinet for the second one. Yet Rust also listed Murray as clarinetist, alto saxophonist and baritone saxophonist on “Blue River” with Jean Goldkette, despite Murray clearly playing tenor saxophone. Between doubling, transposing and doctoring, it’s worth viewing the reed assignments in Rust’s testament with a critical eye, or at least using ears to back them up.

Rust’s designated alto men, Brilhart and Farley, were mostly section men. Yet according to Ate Van Delden’s liner notes to the Timeless CD, Brilhart did play a few solos with the Varsity Eight a few years earlier and according to a few posters here on the Bixography forum, Brilhart plays lead alto with Roger Wolfe Kahn’s band. Assuming Brilhart got to solo on his own record date, session, we also have an example of him soloing on “Hello Aloha! How Are You?” Here are a few audio examples:


As opposed to the soloist on “Just Like A Melody Out Of The Sky,” Brilhart’s tone is buttery and centered (more likely to cut and tie together other voices than swell under or over them), his rhythms more evenly delineated.

It’s harder to find examples of Max Farley’s tone for comparison, since he doubled a variety of different instruments other than alto sax and doesn’t seem to have played lead or soloed on any recordings. Yet whoever it is playing alto on the transition immediately following the first chorus, it is clearly a different player than the one on the bridge, presumably the same lead alto in the ensemble behind the altoist on the bridge. It might be Farley on the bridge, but there is a strong resemblance to Murray. Ditto for the possibility of Livingston.

Honestly, just a thought.
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Coscannon
Coscannon

April 11th, 2015, 2:13 am #2

I hear what you described. I vote yes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UDaLMug8dBc
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Coscannon
Coscannon

April 11th, 2015, 2:47 am #3

Brian Rust lists Don Murray on baritone saxophone and clarinet for the May 25 and June 28, 1928 sessions Joe Venuti and His New Yorkers. Murray’s baritone gets the lead on “’Tain’t So, Honey, ‘Tain’t So” from the first session (and Okeh’s sound shows off his light tone on the big horn). His clarinet might be filling out the lower harmonies under the flutes on “I Must Be Dreaming” from that session, and it’s likely part of the clarinet section behind Charlie Butterfield’s trombone on the first chorus of “Because My Baby Don’t Mean ‘Maybe’ Now” from the second session.

There are no other audible clarinet or baritone sax solos from these two sessions, yet the alto saxophonist playing the first chorus bridge of “Just Like A Melody Out Of The Sky” on the second date might be Murray. The uneven eighth notes, cutting the first part of the beat short and emphasizing the second part of the beat (similar to a sixteenth-dotted eighth note pattern, the reverse of many attempts to notate swung eighth notes) are similar to Murray’s rhythmic approach. The phrasing is also very “busy” and arpeggiated a la Murray, and alternation between slurred phrases and light but definite tonguing also reminded me of Murray. The bright, open, fat tone is very different from his sound on tenor and baritone saxes but is very similar to his clarinet.

Rust lists Arnold Brilhart and Max Farley on alto saxophone and flute for these sessions, along with Herbert Spencer on tenor saxophone for the first session and Fud Livingston replacing him and doubling clarinet for the second one. Yet Rust also listed Murray as clarinetist, alto saxophonist and baritone saxophonist on “Blue River” with Jean Goldkette, despite Murray clearly playing tenor saxophone. Between doubling, transposing and doctoring, it’s worth viewing the reed assignments in Rust’s testament with a critical eye, or at least using ears to back them up.

Rust’s designated alto men, Brilhart and Farley, were mostly section men. Yet according to Ate Van Delden’s liner notes to the Timeless CD, Brilhart did play a few solos with the Varsity Eight a few years earlier and according to a few posters here on the Bixography forum, Brilhart plays lead alto with Roger Wolfe Kahn’s band. Assuming Brilhart got to solo on his own record date, session, we also have an example of him soloing on “Hello Aloha! How Are You?” Here are a few audio examples:


As opposed to the soloist on “Just Like A Melody Out Of The Sky,” Brilhart’s tone is buttery and centered (more likely to cut and tie together other voices than swell under or over them), his rhythms more evenly delineated.

It’s harder to find examples of Max Farley’s tone for comparison, since he doubled a variety of different instruments other than alto sax and doesn’t seem to have played lead or soloed on any recordings. Yet whoever it is playing alto on the transition immediately following the first chorus, it is clearly a different player than the one on the bridge, presumably the same lead alto in the ensemble behind the altoist on the bridge. It might be Farley on the bridge, but there is a strong resemblance to Murray. Ditto for the possibility of Livingston.

Honestly, just a thought.
You give a date of June 28, 1928. Are you sure it isn't June 6th?
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

April 11th, 2015, 2:07 pm #4

There is also the question of the two vocalists. At one time, they were thought to be Scrappy Lambert and Billy Hillpot. The Mosaic set tells us poss. Billy Hillpot and an unknown vocalist. John L, what do you think?

Albert
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

April 11th, 2015, 2:16 pm #5

Brian Rust lists Don Murray on baritone saxophone and clarinet for the May 25 and June 28, 1928 sessions Joe Venuti and His New Yorkers. Murray’s baritone gets the lead on “’Tain’t So, Honey, ‘Tain’t So” from the first session (and Okeh’s sound shows off his light tone on the big horn). His clarinet might be filling out the lower harmonies under the flutes on “I Must Be Dreaming” from that session, and it’s likely part of the clarinet section behind Charlie Butterfield’s trombone on the first chorus of “Because My Baby Don’t Mean ‘Maybe’ Now” from the second session.

There are no other audible clarinet or baritone sax solos from these two sessions, yet the alto saxophonist playing the first chorus bridge of “Just Like A Melody Out Of The Sky” on the second date might be Murray. The uneven eighth notes, cutting the first part of the beat short and emphasizing the second part of the beat (similar to a sixteenth-dotted eighth note pattern, the reverse of many attempts to notate swung eighth notes) are similar to Murray’s rhythmic approach. The phrasing is also very “busy” and arpeggiated a la Murray, and alternation between slurred phrases and light but definite tonguing also reminded me of Murray. The bright, open, fat tone is very different from his sound on tenor and baritone saxes but is very similar to his clarinet.

Rust lists Arnold Brilhart and Max Farley on alto saxophone and flute for these sessions, along with Herbert Spencer on tenor saxophone for the first session and Fud Livingston replacing him and doubling clarinet for the second one. Yet Rust also listed Murray as clarinetist, alto saxophonist and baritone saxophonist on “Blue River” with Jean Goldkette, despite Murray clearly playing tenor saxophone. Between doubling, transposing and doctoring, it’s worth viewing the reed assignments in Rust’s testament with a critical eye, or at least using ears to back them up.

Rust’s designated alto men, Brilhart and Farley, were mostly section men. Yet according to Ate Van Delden’s liner notes to the Timeless CD, Brilhart did play a few solos with the Varsity Eight a few years earlier and according to a few posters here on the Bixography forum, Brilhart plays lead alto with Roger Wolfe Kahn’s band. Assuming Brilhart got to solo on his own record date, session, we also have an example of him soloing on “Hello Aloha! How Are You?” Here are a few audio examples:


As opposed to the soloist on “Just Like A Melody Out Of The Sky,” Brilhart’s tone is buttery and centered (more likely to cut and tie together other voices than swell under or over them), his rhythms more evenly delineated.

It’s harder to find examples of Max Farley’s tone for comparison, since he doubled a variety of different instruments other than alto sax and doesn’t seem to have played lead or soloed on any recordings. Yet whoever it is playing alto on the transition immediately following the first chorus, it is clearly a different player than the one on the bridge, presumably the same lead alto in the ensemble behind the altoist on the bridge. It might be Farley on the bridge, but there is a strong resemblance to Murray. Ditto for the possibility of Livingston.

Honestly, just a thought.
Years ago, I speculated as follows:

"According to Rust's dance band discography, there are two sax players in the Ted Lewis recording of "Hello Montreal": Ted Lewis and Don Murray. There are a couple of alto sax breaks, and a short (very nice) alto sax solo. Is that Don Murray? I would think so. What do others say? My brain is in neutral right now, so I can't think of other recordings where Murray plays alto saxophone, but I am pretty sure (maybe not?) there are. Can anyone help?"

Seehttp://www.network54.com/Forum/27140/me ... 150376701/

The rm file link in the redhotjazz site is dead. There is a youtube with the sound file.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAhS2--ZeMk

Albert
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Andrew Jon Sammut
Andrew Jon Sammut

April 11th, 2015, 2:32 pm #6

Hi Albert and Coscannon. Thanks for your comments about my post.

As for "Hello Montreal," I''m not hearing an alto saxophone on this record. Where do you hear it, Albert?

I do hear Murray's saxophone in the ensemble on the first chorus and taking the bridge, followed by his clarinet becoming slightly more prominent behind Lewis's vocal on the bridge and then getting a solo over the band.

As for which saxophone Murray is playing here, I always assumed it was a tenor until Nick Dellow offered some food for thought right here on the Bixography forum:
http://www.network54.com/Forum/27140/me ... %26quot%3B
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

April 11th, 2015, 3:12 pm #7

.... between 0:36 and 0;44 was an alto. Maybe not?

Albert
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

April 11th, 2015, 4:00 pm #8

.... Ted Lewis's session of Mar 22, 1928 gives:

Don Murray, cl, as, ts, bar

Here is a photo of Don surrounded by saxes. Is any of them an alto?



Albert
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Andrew Jon Sammut
Andrew Jon Sammut

April 11th, 2015, 4:24 pm #9

That is the bridge of the tune and to my ears it's either a tenor or a C-melody saxophone, based on the thickness of the timbre and the lowest notes.

As for the photo, it looks like there is an alto to Murray's right (or the left-most part of the photo).
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Jon Pytko
Jon Pytko

April 11th, 2015, 5:18 pm #10

.... Ted Lewis's session of Mar 22, 1928 gives:

Don Murray, cl, as, ts, bar

Here is a photo of Don surrounded by saxes. Is any of them an alto?



Albert
That picture is my favorite for "National Saxophone Day."

JD didn't play a bad baritone sax (or trumpet) either. Not sure about tenor.
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