The Eb Contrabass Saxophone page




Jay Easton with a contrabass saxophone made by Benedikt Eppelsheim

Contrabass saxophone!?!?

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.

Naturally, 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 bass parts.

 

 

Here are a few shots of Jay with the Orsi contrabass sax:



Putting the fun into "de Profundis!"

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.

 

Although 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
"The Giant Double E-flat Contra Bass Saxophone, King of all Bass Instruments":

 

SOUND CLIPS :
(be sure your subwoofer is plugged in!)

Contrabass saxophone (made by Benedikt Eppelsheim)

with Northstar Saxophone Quartet- soprano, alto, tenor, contrabass:
Ukranian Carol 1.0 MB
That's a-Plenty 1.6 MB

THREE contrabass saxes!?! Yes, a madrigal by Aagesen, with all three parts multitrack recorded on the same instrument:
Aagesen madrigal 1.5 MB


Jay's previous Contrabass saxophone (made by Orsi)

with Wind Band-
Barton Cummings "3 Episodes" for contrabass saxophone and band:
mp3 Cummings mvt.II 1.5 MB
mp3 Cummings mvt.III
2.4 MB


mp3 You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch (arr. Ward Baxter)
2.2MB

Jay's grandmother's favorite hymn, overdubbed on a quartet of tenor, baritone, bass, and conrtabass saxophones:
Eventide 0.7 MB


Orsi Contrabass saxophone with piano:
mp3 Contra Piece (Hartley) 2.5 MB

Contrabass saxophone with new music ensemble:
mp3 Spectrum w/Nathan Hubbard (improvisation) 4.7MB

Contrabass saxophone with sax ensemble:
mp3 SDSO with contrabass (Sweet Georgia Brown)
2.0MB


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All material Jay Easton unless otherwise noted