Most people never even knew they existed. I frequently have had people tell me that they don't really exist.
But I know better... I know the truth. I play one almost every day, and it is larger than I am!
It's the biggest woodwind instrument there is. It plays a full octave below the baritone saxophone or bass clarinet; it's lowest note is the C at the bottom of the piano keyboard.
What do I play on it? Well the obviously easy thing is to improvise, which I do. But I also have helped encourage the creation of composed original pieces for the monster, as well as many arrangements of other music. It is surprisingly flexible and effective as a solo instrument. There are nearly forty quality pieces for solo and ensemble already, and more are being written as you read this.
the contrabass saxophone is quite at home in a saxophone ensemble.
A saxophone choir creates a truly amazing sound,and when a contrabass
is added to the group, it magnifies the effect immeasurably! (Listen
to the SDSO mp3s at the bottom of this page.)As for saxophone quartets,
while the baritone saxophone is a supremely flexible instrument, the
contrabass adds a true low end to the group, and a creates an entirely
new range of timbral possibilities. In a wind ensemble, the contrabass
sax can be used to give the woodwinds equal footing with the low brass
by transposing from contrabassoon, contrabass clarinet, or string
Here are a few shots of Jay with the Orsi contrabass sax:
There is a persistant rumor that Conn made contrabass saxophones in the 1920's. This is not true, but they did keep an imported one around for promotional activities, as can be seen in the catalog above, and they also made contrabass sarrusophones.
on first sight the contrabass sax looks rather ridiculous, it is capable
of both silly and serious. Here is a bevy of sound samples ranging
from fun to frightening- These are the sounds of
Contrabass saxophone (made by Benedikt Eppelsheim)
Saxophone Quartet- soprano, alto, tenor, contrabass:
with Wind Band-
grandmother's favorite hymn, overdubbed on a quartet of tenor, baritone,
bass, and conrtabass saxophones:
saxophone with new music ensemble:
saxophone with sax ensemble:
All material © Jay Easton unless otherwise noted