Bringing Saxy Back – The Grid (11.2.11)

A socioeconomic-aesthetic analysis of why 2011 was the Year of the Saxophone.

It was something straight out of 1993: Saxophonist Kenny G on Saturday Night Live, unleashing a flurry of smooth-jazz notes from his soprano horn. The scene took place last month, but it could have been a ’90s-era parody: Remember the famous Sinatra duets sketch, in which Phil Hartman (as Ol’ Blue Eyes) castigates Jay Mohr (as Kenny G) for his terrible “screeching”? Except this Kenny G-on-SNL moment was the real deal—he joined musical guests Foster the People onstage for a live indie-pop performance on the show.

It’s understandable why the dudes in Foster the People wanted to partner with the curly-haired hornman—saxophones are everywhere this year. “The sax is back,” proclaimed one post on The Guardian’s website in June; later in the summer, Paste magazine declared 2011 the year of the saxophone. I wholeheartedly agree. From Feist and Bon Iver to Lady Gaga and Katy Perry, artists across the musical spectrum are using sax on their latest albums. Montreal-based Colin Stetson even scored a Polaris Prize shortlist nomination with his solo bass-saxophone album.

Read the full story in The Grid.

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