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Dismuke's Message Board _ Early 20th Century Popular Music _ LONG-FORGOTTEN 'SLAP TONGUE' - A LOOK BACK

Posted by: Tony Feb 15 2013, 08:21 AM

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...

Posted by: gregoryagogo Feb 15 2013, 02:44 PM

Hmmmmm, bet he was popular with the flappers!

Posted by: gregoryagogo Feb 15 2013, 02:44 PM

Hmmmmm, bet he was popular with the flappers!

Posted by: 2nd Sax Bb Tenor Mar 5 2013, 06:45 PM

About the time slap tongue finally dropped off the pop music scene, a young German concert artist named Sigurd Rascher - a pioneer of classical saxophone - began incorporating it in his sound, refining it into an almost noteless percussive device.

With a 4 octave range and pure mellow tone in addition to the slap technique, Rascher encouraged modernist composers to write music no one else could play then. Among the first, in 1934, was Lars Erik Larsson's Concerto for alto sax and string orchestra. Rascher never recorded this for public play, but it's played by one of his school of disciples, Harry White.

Posted by: 2nd Sax Bb Tenor Apr 2 2013, 05:01 PM

A little more about Raymond Baird

Brunswick recorded Ray as a "test" in New York in 1931, when he was 15. They didn't make a master, just a note in the ledger, so it's probably gone. He played a theme from Liszt's 2nd Hungarian Rhapsody, and judging from the 78, he could have blown the doors off it. His articulation is so rapid it can only be called freak.

Listening to the YT cuts, he strikes me as very much a vaudevillian in style. His ballad soprano sax playing puts me in mind of clarinet novelteers like Ted Lewis, with plenty of shmeers and playing to the balcony. smile.gif

Ray supposedly did much studio work in Hollywood orchestras, but when he died, he was in New York. He married and was father to one son.
is a web page about him, with a fun picture from the Buescher instrument company.
Here's another Buescher ad, from Boys' Life, October, 1927. Ray would have been age 10-11 and is playing a C melody sax.

Finally...if anyone can locate a 1936 British movie revue called Stars on Parade, Ray is in there playing the, but credited as a cornetist!

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