Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Harry Carney’s baritone

From WBUR, a nice feature on Harry Carney and the whereabouts of his baritone saxophone. Carney (1910–1974), a multi-instrumentalist (alto, baritone, clarinet, bass clarinet) was the anchor of the Duke Ellington band, joining in 1927 and staying on for life. Here is Whitney Balliett describing Carney’s baritone sound, a sound “that no other baritone saxophonist has matched”:

It could have housed an army. It was Wagnerian and Churchillian. And it was one of the most beautiful musical sounds ever devised.
It was.

Here’s what I think of as Carney’s greatest moment: a 1969 performance of “La Plus Belle Africaine.” In a post about the recording, I wrote that Carney’s massive sound “suggests canyons, or cathedrals.” I must have had Balliett’s sentences in the back of my head.

Related reading
All OCA Ellington posts (Pinboard)

[Balliett passage from New York Notes: A Journal of Jazz in the Seventies (1976).]

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