Whilst visiting Blowout Sax one day I noticed Mark Archers book on Adolphe Sax located under the alto saxophones on the bookshelf.
It was a fascinating read with some great illustrations, a great story about a man who invented- in my opinion- one of the most beautiful musical instruments ever. It details his struggles in life and his achievements on what was a long and winding road. Definitely worth a read.
On another trip to the Palace of Pleasure otherwise known as Blowout Sax Mark drew my attention to a newspaper clipping about an exhibition in Brussels celebrating 200 years of Adolphe Sax. It must have been a good read because I kept struggling to read it even having forgotten my glasses.
What a great exhibition I thought such a shame it is in Belgium. When would I ever go to Belgium? Then another leaflet appeared about Dinant in Belgium birthplace of Adolphe Sax.
Now I’m a farmer and farmers don’t get many holidays but this seemed like a good excuse to get away with the family including Will my son who also plays sax.
So we were off on our Saxo pilgrimage. With a quick stop off at Bruges on route to get into the mood and get the feel of Belgium, reached Brussels in no time, home of the Musical Instrument Museum.
After a night in Hotel Bloom we headed off to the museum full of anticipation and excitement.
The museum did not disappoint the whole fourth floor is taken up by the exhibition Sax 200. Just to be in the presence of some of the great man’s musical inventions was incredible.
There was an air of calm in the museum giving you time to take in the instruments on display and to feel the genius of Adolphe Sax.
The instruments are displayed in huge glass cabinets.
I love playing vintage horns I love the sound of them and some of the unknown history behind them so it was very frustrating to have to stand -looking like a kid outside a toy shop- staring through a glass panel. What would they be like to play, to touch, to listen to? You can only imagine.
We left the museum and I was on this wonderful saxophone cloud and we went down to the Grand Market Square where we bumped into singer Imelda May.
A lady who-to pinch Meat Loaf’s lyrics-has a voice like a horny angel. We play some of Imelda’s songs in our band and I have also been to see her live, she also used to sing in the great swing band Blue Harlem. By this time I was an emotional wreck having been in the presence of Adolphe Sax and Imelda May in one day. Time for a lie down!
The next day our musical pilgrimage continued to Dinant birthplace of Adolphe. Just over an hours drive through the beautiful countryside of Belgium.
As far as the saxophone goes Dinant has more of a novelty feel to it, more of a celebration than an exhibition. Giant saxophones on the bridge over the River Muese painted by different nations, a crystal sax, a bench outside the house Adolphe was born in and an even bigger saxophone by a water fall. There was also an interesting piece of art showing women giving birth to saxophones.
There was also a sad side to Dinant with the outbreak of world War one 100 years ago it was the scene of huge destruction and death. It was during the war when the Afro Americans came over to fight taking horns back with them to the areas like New Orleans to use in their music that would become jazz.
It was in Dinant where we managed to catch up with Thierry Spierkel- designer and maker of the giant chocolate saxophone that Mark Archer played around in Olympia. He gave us a great insight into the history of Adolphe Sax and Dinant.
We continued our journey to Paris and then back home.
If you are a saxophone fan I would highly recommend a trip to both the Musical Instrument Museum and Dinant just to get a feel for the birth of the instrument.
The saddest thing of all is the man that designed the world’s most iconic beautiful sounding instruments died a sad and poor man never aware of the impact his invention would have on the world.
Thank you Adolphe Sax for a wonderful instrument.
Sax Gigs from 15 November 2014
15 November Jan Garbarek Temple Church, London EC4
Conjunto Gringo Canteen, Stokes Croft, Bristol http://canteenbristol.com/livemusic/conjunto-gringo/
Soul Ingredients Harbourside No.1, Canons Road, Bristol http://www.no1harbourside.co.uk/music/
21 November The Beat Komedia, Westgate Street, Bath http://www.thebeatofficial.com/tour/
Nuttyness The Tunnels, Temple Meads, Bristol http://www.thetunnelsbristol.co.uk/events/
Nick Dover The Bear, Hotwells, Bristol http://www.thebebopclub.co.uk/index_files/WhatsOn.htm
Brass Junkies Harbourside No.1, Canons Road, Bristol http://www.no1harbourside.co.uk/music/
22 November James Morton Canteen, Stokes Croft, Bristol http://canteenbristol.com/livemusic/james-morton/
Antelope Harbourside No.1, Canons Road, Bristol http://www.no1harbourside.co.uk/music/
23 November Joe Lovano Barbican Centre, London http://www.joelovano.com/gigs/
26 November Iain Ballamy Old Bath Arms, Frome http://www.ents24.com/frome-events/old-bath-arms/iain-ballamy
27 November Skatelites Venue 229, Great Portland St, London http://www.229thevenue.com/
Paul Dunmall Fringe Jazz, The Mall, Clifton, Bristol http://fringejazz.com/gig-list.html
Sefrial Future Inns, Cabot Circus, Bristol http://www.jazzatfutureinn.co.uk/gig-list
28 November Alan Barnes the Meeting House, Ilminster http://www.themeetinghouse.org.uk/music/1117
King Porter Stomp Canteen, Stokes Croft, Bristol http://canteenbristol.com/livemusic/king-porter-stomp/
Martin Genge The Bear, Hotwells, Bristol http://www.thebebopclub.co.uk/index_files/WhatsOn.htm
SAMS Band Eastfield Inn, Henleaze, Bristol http://www.theeastfieldinn.co.uk/events/
3 December Zen Hussies The Bell, Walcott Street, Bath http://www.zenhussies.com/gigs.htm
4 December Simon Spillett St James Wine Vaults, Bath http://www.stjameswinevaults.co.uk/
Old Hat Future Inns, Cabot Circus, Bristol http://www.jazzatfutureinn.co.uk/gig-list
5 December The Beat Guildhall, Eastgate Street, Gloucester http://www.thebeatofficial.com/tour/
Madness Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff http://www.ents24.com/uk/tour-dates/Madness
Benn Clatworthy The Bear, Hotwells, Bristol http://www.thebebopclub.co.uk/index_files/WhatsOn.htm
Cantina Collective Eastfield Inn, Henleaze, Bristol http://www.theeastfieldinn.co.uk/events/
6 December Emperials The Tunnels, Temple Meads, Bristol http://www.thetunnelsbristol.co.uk/events/
10 December Craig Crofton Old Bath Arms, Frome http://www.ents24.com/frome-events/old-bath-arms/mosi-conde/4079027
11 December Zen Hussies Old Duke, King Street, Bristol http://www.zenhussies.com/gigs.htm
12 December 2Rude The Tunnels, Temple Meads, Bristol http://www.thetunnelsbristol.co.uk/events/
17 December Monkey Chuckle Old Duke, King Street, Bristol http://monkeychuckle.co.uk/
18 December Blockheads Cheese & Grain, Frome http://www.cheeseandgrain.com/music/?_page=2
19 December Ben Waghorn/Kevin Figes The Bear, Hotwells, Bristol
Monkey Chuckle Eastfield Inn, Henleaze, Bristol http://www.theeastfieldinn.co.uk/events/
20 December The Regz Thunderbolt, Bath Road, Bristol http://www.thethunderbolt.net/whatson.ihtml
Moonshot Harbourside No.1, Canons Road, Bristol http://www.no1harbourside.co.uk/music/
21 December Bad Manners The Fleece, Bristol http://www.seetickets.com/event/bad-manners/the-fleece/758973
28 December Pee Wee Ellis/James Morton The Fleece, Bristol http://www.ents24.com/uk/tour-dates/pee-wee-ellis
25 January Andy Sheppard Hen & Chicken, Bedminster, Bristol http://jazzata.com/gignews.html
13 February Conjunto Gringo The Meeting House, Ilminster http://www.themeetinghouse.org.uk/music/859
16 February Chris Potter Ronnie Scott’s, Soho, London
27 February Simon Spillett The Meeting House, Ilminster http://www.themeetinghouse.org.uk/music/1179
1 March Gilad Atzmon Hen & Chicken, Bedminster, Bristol http://jazzata.com/gignews.html
12 April Julian Siegal Hen & Chicken, Bedminster, Bristol http://jazzata.com/gignews.html
14 April UB40 Colston Hall, Bristol http://www.colstonhall.org/shows/ub40-featuring-ali-astro-mickey/
(Ali Campbell’s UB40, a different band from the one playing on 10 May, which is fronted by Ali’s brother, Duncan!)
24 April Snake Davis Chapel Arts Centre, Bath http://www.chapelarts.org/index.php?main_page=monthly_listing&month=April
10 May UB40 Gloucester Leisure Centre, GL1 http://www.ents24.com/gloucester-events/gl1-gloucester-leisure-centre
(Duncan Campbell’s UB40)
17 May Perico Sambeat Hen & Chicken, Bedminster, Bristol http://jazzata.com/gignews.html
Brilliant gig mate, really got me chomping at the bit now
Good vibe again at the gig last night. Thanks for organising – we all appreciate it.
Dr Dave Dymock
On Pick Up The Pieces
The tempo made all the difference. Have to say your vocal is excellent on it too, really adds confidence to the performance. My aims post session with Craig were alternate major with minor blues key, time and agriculture it right to hit the key change, use bis key, hit altissimo note. Great fun.
Great night Mark and thank you for giving me the opportunity to be part of it. Big thanks to a great backing band who guided us through our music. Thanks for all your hard work and making our dreams come true
A huge thank you Sir.
Hi Mark thank you for a great gig last night Celia and I really enjoyed it.