The Aardvark Speaks : essence, effervescence, obscurity. Established 2002. A weblog by Horst Prillinger. ISSN 1726-5320

January 26, 2007


I've been wanting to blog about a brief snippet of a conversation that I had with Matt Mullenweg, creator of WordPress on the evening after the BlogTalk conference in Vienna last year. His software business aside, Matt also is (used to be?) a saxophone player, and that evening someone asked him who he thought was the best saxophone player in history.

Matt said something to the effect of, "well, best I don't know, but John Coltrane would probably be the most important one. And I used to like Stan Getz a lot."

I found that statement very interesting, mostly because I agree. Not about Stan Getz, but about John Coltrane probably being the most important one, but hesitating to call him the best one.

For some reason it seems to be hard to call Coltrane your favourite saxophone player, even though it's totally impossible to doubt his greatness even for a second. Even though my favourite jazz album of all times is most certainly and without a doubt Coltrane's The Complete Village Vanguard Recordings and even though I must have listened to Coltrane more intensively than to any other jazz musician, I would still not call him my favourite. And while I think that much of his music bears the stroke of genius, I'm not even sure whether I would call it beautiful.

I have no idea why.

Chet Baker, for example, had a different kind of genius, and he made some of the most beautiful jazz records that I know. But I wouldn't really call him all that important. I'd probably call him my favourite. But his music adresses a totally different section of my brain, and none of his albums would make my Top 3 of favourite jazz records (even though his Live in Tokyo is a close fourth.

Oddly enough, while I could name a favourite drummer, a favourite trumpet player, a favourite bass player, a favourite pianist even, I can't think of a single jazz musician that I would call my favourite saxophone player.

No idea why the brain works that way.

Posted by Horst on January 26, 2007 08:37 PM to creatures great & small | Tell-a-friend
nora said on January 28, 2007 02:30 AM:

michael brecker.

antbadger said on January 31, 2007 12:14 AM:

John Coltrane is my favourite too, his best album as far as I'm concerned is A Love Supreme. Outstanding stuff.

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