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post Feb 15 2013, 08:21 AM
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Rudy Weidoeft introduced it -- namely, the slap tongue technique. He also helped popularize the saxophone in the early twenties. So... imagine running into someone from the same era who aced him.

To wit: Raymond Baird. Born 1916. By age seven, child prodigy Raymond was not only playing the saxophone and three other wind instruments professionally, but also composing music and conducting orchestras. He was the youngest member of the National Music Trades Association, as well as the American Federation of Musicians.

In 1936, now 20 and performing in Europe to capacity audiences, Baird made a recording in a Berlin sound studio, which you'll shortly be invited to hear. A year later, he was featured in a Hollywood film, playing two saxophones at once. Baird is known to have cut two other records -- the William Tell Overture and Isn't This A Lovely Day. But neither comes close to Baird's dazzling interpretation of Sax-O-Phun, Weidoeft's signature composition among a handful of other similar novelty tunes.

Sadly, slap tongue is a long forgotten musical art form. The last recording trad jazz artist that paid it any attentiion on the west coast (where I live) was reedman Joe Darensbourgh, and that was nearly 60 years ago. More's the pity, because Raymond Baird was akin to a passing comet, dying at the tender age of 24 in 1940.

Google up: "Raymond Baird/Sax-O-Phun/youtube". His piano companion is Peter Kreuder, also a reedman. Just for fun, try laughing along with young Baird. Betcha can't keep up...

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