Al McLean - Sophisticated Lady: 1953 Grafton Saxophone


Striving to play the changes in a melodic way.
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"In this episode of Jazz, Period., we hear Al McLean play the Ellington ballad Sophisticated Lady. McLean is heard on a rare Grafton plastic saxophone that he meticulously restored. The musician's restoration is notable, as there are few technicians willing to work on the Grafton due to its complex design, which the artist compares to a Rube Goldberg device. Already rare, most surviving Graftons remain unrestored, or in a state of failed reassembly.

McLean makes great work of the striking ballad, taking advantage of the Grafton's naturally dark tone. The British Grafton was made of molded acrylic, using the same technology as the Spitfire aircraft canopy. Two notable players associated with this distinctive instrument are Charlie Parker, who played a Grafton on stage after his own brass instrument had been pawned, and Free Jazz pioneer Ornette Coleman." ~ Randy Cole

More pics than you need.

a. I'm a little surprised that Randy's not selling one, ATM (intofoc.usmontreal on ebay).
2. I've heard a bunch of folks play Graftons -- hey, you search for pics and sometimes get videos -- and I've always thought the Grafton was a bit "buzzy" sounding. Mr. McLean did a very nice job eliminating that.
iii. I'll disagree with Randy and say that I think that the Grafton, even in the above performance, is kinda bright sounding. I'd love to hear a comparison of a Grafton vs. a Yamaha 23. (The Grafton wasn't intended to be a high-end horn.)
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