The saxophone is the most important musical invention of the last 170 years. Lauded for its adventurous sound, its sensuality and seemingly never-ending versatility, the brass woodwind horn has become one of the most popular instruments in the world. Today, it's at home in classical music as it is in pop with hundreds of famous composers writing significant pieces for its shapely curves. Neither of these musical homes compare to its place in jazz, where its presence is so influential it's hard to think of another instrument more associated with the genre.
But for some the sax produces a devilish sound, whether that's down to taste or decency. It's been shunned by polite society, banished from orchestras and even denounced by governments. Much worse, in recent times it has been accused of blandness and crowned the king of elevator music.
British jazz musician Soweto Kinch examines the saxophone's place in history in Radio 4's Archive on 4. An alto player himself, Kinch investigates the instrument's captivating and somewhat turbulent journey through musical and spoken archive. Aiding Soweto with expert analysis are his friend and fellow sax player Courtney Pine, leading classical saxophonist Amy Dickson, historian Dr Paul Cohen, director of the 2012 World Saxophone Congress Richard Ingham and comedian David Quantick.
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