Sunday, November 6, 2011

Tim Price Bloggin' For Rico- Anchor Man-Charlie Fowlkes

~ Not enough credit, or attention is being paid to the saxophone section. That being said eg-playing in a section as a member of a team. In my opinion, there is a real loss these days of " sax section playing" and blending as a unit.

In some current blogs, I will try to bring your attention to the section, and a few _GREAT_recorded examples and players so you have a reference. Of course everyone would say Duke Ellington! Hodges, Harry and the boys. Of course! I'll get to that but- this week I want to pass some attention and love to THE ANCHOR MAN. A baritone saxophonist that anchored one of the greatest Basie saxophone sections. Mr. Charlie Fowlkes! Here is a sound man! A full vibrant baritone section sound, great intonation,shading,dynamics, phrasing and consistency.

In his Basie years, I always caught him on a Conn low Bb bari with a metal Berg Larsen. As time passed, it was a low Bb Conn 12M (Mexi-conn ;Nogales) and a Meyer NYUSA 7 mouthpiece.I believe that horn Danny Bank had after Charlie passed. He had such a correct baritone sound to blend in that Basie band. If your looking to hear a "classic" jazz saxophone baritone saxophone sound, this is your man. Younger players I urge you to listen to him- study the Basie recordings and google him, go to and look for the recordings. This is a saxophone lesson in front of you.

Charlie Fowlkes' relationship with Count Basie sets records for sideman stints, lasting more than 25 years.He could be in the Guinness Book Of Records if anyone counted! Fowlkes also showed a sense of loyalty, he also played in Lionel Hampton reed section for four years and spent six years in a combo led by Tiny Bradshaw, also was a member of Arnett Cobb's bands.

Fowlkes also studied alto and tenor saxophone, clarinet and violin before settling on the baritone sax. Influenced by the Duke Ellington baritone sax Harry Carney.He was still with Basie when he died in 1980. He was born in 1916. ( February 16, 1916 - February 9, 1980 )

The period with Lionel Hampton the sax section was loaded with giants. You can find a lot of these re-issues on Metronome classics CD's. Check out the saxophone section with Herbie Fields on clarinet, you can spot a young Johnny Griffin on tenor, Ben Kynard alto, Arnett Cobb, Bobby Plater and Charlie Fowlkes. ( My source here was my man in Blogs Marc Meyers.
The picture was from # from one of Marcs readers, Betty.Thank you Jazz Wax- Also check out Marc's great writing and love of all things jazz. He's very cool- and a must read! )

~ I urge you younger players to study, absorb and check out this kind of saxophone section playing. Especially Charlie. His playing on " Ebentide" on the Basie Roulette records is amazing, melody, solo and the art of being a member of a team.If you can ever find a copy of Frank Wess recording of " I Hear Ya Talking" - get it. It has some of the greatest music on it and was released on Savoy Jazz Records as SJL 1136 in 1984, recorded in 1959. The players are- Frank Wess (flute/tenor sax/alto sax), Thad Jones (trumpet), Curtis Fuller (trombone), Charlie Fowlkes (baritone sax), Hank Jones (piano), Eddie Jones (bass) and Gus Johnson (drums). If you search you can get-
Count Basie & His Orchestra - Complete Roulette Studio Recordings. That is a must as well on all counts saxophone wise.

Also here is a fun link to some insights on Charlie and Mr. Frank Foster and friends relaxing, talking about music.

SO-This is a birds eye view of Charlie Fowlkes! Go listen, and hit
All the answers are on the recordings dear reader. Thanks to my friend Jeffery Powell
for the decades of great information on Charlie. Jeff, is a French Horn player who knows and loves Mr. Fowlkes as much as I do.

Till next week- listen to this man as much as possible.

~ Tim Price


No comments:

Post a Comment