I had many moments of doubt in my first year of being a baritone saxophonist. I was really concerned with keeping work, booking new gigs, what people thought of my switch, and most importantly, how I sounded.
It took me about a year to get comfortable on jazz gigs (which were the majority of my gigs at the time). I was worried about having tunes called that were in my normal repertoire and not knowing them. Every tune felt different than it had before, and some nights that was great, but I wasn’t confident in my approach. I would even bring my tenor to gigs, set it up and not play it all night as a safety blanket.
It finally got to the point where I felt like I had to do something drastic.
I sold all of my other saxophones. I was committed to the big horn.
This move kept me from being distracted in my practicing, and it forced me to think about the baritone saxophone sound that I wanted.
As I had spent my professional life as a tenor saxophonist, I was primarily influenced by tenor players. I don’t believe that this is a bad thing, but my baritone listening wasn’t that deep. I had scratched the surface of Gerry Mulligan’s playing, but that sound wasn’t always appropriate for the settings that I had started to play in.
Then I found Ronnie…
This is a video with ERU-ERA from 2016. I had recently dug into Ronnie Cuber’s playing and his influence is starting to show.
I’ll explain why and how Ronnie Cuber’s playing has been so important to my development in the near future!