New jazz ensemble Saxophone Legacy honours the instrument’s history

A newly formed jazz ensemble featuring Canadian and international talent has recently released its debut album that serves as a love letter to the saxophone and its history.

Saxophone Legacy features the sax talents of Jack Wilkins (U.S.) and Jeremy Brown (Canada), along with Swedish pianist Per Danielsson.

The concept for Saxophone Legacy was developed by Brown and Wilkins, both music professors, during the latter’s appointment to the University of Calgary in 2017. They formed the band with Danielsson two years later, and the group recorded their eponymous first album at OCL Studios in Chestermere, east of Calgary, backed by a Canadian rhythm section of bassist Kodi Hutchinson and drummer Tyler Hornby.

The recording celebrates the legacy of the saxophone with six original compositions arranged specially for the group. Most of the compositions are based on improvised solos from landmark recordings by sax innovators including John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Hank Mobley and Coleman Hawkins. Saxophone Legacy pays homage to these sax masters and their contributions to jazz while implementing contemporary styles and approaches.

One of the songs is Giant Madness, a Wilkins composition that fuses melodic elements of Coltrane’s iconic Giant Steps and Sonny Rollins’s Tenor Madness. The group also pays tribute to Swedish saxophonists Lars Gullin and Arne Domnérus on Danielsson’s composition Swedes on Reeds, which draws inspiration from their respective solos on the famous Swedish jazz recording Clifford Brown & Art Farmer with the Swedish All Stars.

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Here’s the track listing for Saxophone Legacy:

  1. Embodiment of Soul
  2. Dig Dis
  3. Swedes on Reeds
  4. Giant Madness
  5. Belgium Blues
  6. Lake Louise Reflections