Sadao Watanabe: Turning Pages of Wind
Stan Getz : Desafinado
Sonny Rollins : God Bless the Child
John Coltrane : Giant Steps
Such a hard choice this time around, deciding what to leave out…I had to go with four, 'cuz three wasn't going to be nearly enough. But even though I go to more live performances of jazz guitarists, I myself played jazz sax back in the day, so I've got a ton of favorites to pick from.
First off is a song I used to play by Japanese saxophone giant, Sadao Watanabe. He's a bit of a hybrid, in a way, since he grew popular during the rise of smooth jazz (which in some circles is a sort of curse word). And yes, some of his stuff is pretty, well, smooth. On the other hand, he's no Kenny G: for example, he came out with a great album of Charlie Parker tunes in the 80's that's well worth buying. The song I'm sharing's got two other great talents as well in keyboardist Dave Grusin and guitarist Lee Ritenour (I knew I could sneak them in). It's from 1978's California Shower.
Next is another from my (very limited) repertoire. It's Stan Getz with a cover of Antonio Carlos Jobim's Desafinado, released in 1962, and it helped propagate the bossa nova enthusiasm in America. It features Charlie Byrd on guitar.
Sonny Rollins and guitarist Jim Hall together create an expressive cover of Billie Holiday's God Bless the Child from his best album, The Bridge, also released in 1962.
Finally, and probably best, is the sax legend unto himself: the great John Coltrane. Picking just one song was hardest of all. I nearly went with Naima, which is probably my favorite song, but I thought his 1960 classic, Giant Steps, might demonstrate what made his style unique.
I mourn that I can't share other favorite sax players like Cannonball Adderley, Gato Barbieri, Paul Desmond, Dexter Gordon, Eddie Harris, Charles Lloyd, Charlie Parker, Art Pepper, Houston Person, Dewey Redman and his son Joshua Redman, David Sanborn, Wayne Shorter, Zoot Sims, Grover Washington, Jr., or Sonny Stitt.