June 1998

Sax Gordon

If the folks at Delmark Records ever plan to do a modern day updating of that great two-volume compilation they put out a few years back, Honkers & Bar Walkers, they should definitely give Sax Gordon a call. This 32-year-old tenor player (a.k.a. Gordon Beadle) is cut from the same cloth as his honkin’ heroes: Al Sears, Ike Quebec, Gene Ammons, Arnett Cobb, Red Prysock, Big Jay McNeely and a long list of other blustery, big-toned tenor shouters.

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Sax Gordon

On Have Horn Will Travel, Beadle’s Bullseye Blues debut as a leader, the sax tones are raw, rippin’ and rockin’. From jumping originals like “For Whom The Horn Honks” (inspired by Sil Austin) to covers of Bill Doggett’s “Squashy,” Gene Ammons’ “The Last Mile” and Jackie Gleason’s “Melancholy Serenade,” this young sax man is steeped in an old tradition.

“I certainly love more modern players like Michael Brecker,” says Beadle, who for the last ten years has worked with Luther Guitar Junior Johnson, Matt Murphy, Roomful Of Blues and Duke Robillard. “I used to go a friend’s house and listen to his records all day but it’s not what I would try to do myself. I’ve always known that saxophone wasn’t necessarily this modern jazz instrument. You could also rock with it. I’m thinking back to the sound of early Little Richard or Fats Domino recordings. There’s always the ripping sax solo in the middle, usually Lee Allen. That’s just the sound of America to me.”

Beadle got his first taste of this muscular stuff at a very young age. “My parents got me this Savoy double record set,” he recalls. “It had Ben Webster, Illinois Jacquet, Coleman Hawkins, Don Byas, Ike Quebec...all of them on the same collection. And to this day, in a lot of ways, that’s it for me. Gene Ammons is also a big favorite of mine. When it comes to bluesy and funk things, King Curtis and Junior Walker. And of course, I never got out of loving all the honkers. I’m still tracking down old 78s whenever I can of Wild Bill Moore, Joe Houston and Sil Austin.”

At last, a tenor player under 40 that honkin’ connoisseur Bob Porter can truly dig.

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