The Norman Salant Group: Golden ArmGolden Arm
This is the only known studio recording by the original Norman Salant Group, which began in San Francisco in December 1981 shortly after the release of Salant's first solo album, Saxaphone Demonstrations. The band caused an immediate sensation as an experimental all-instrumental new wave band fronted by two electronic saxophones, rapidly becoming a headliner in San Francisco's post-punk scene. It disbanded in late 1982. This recording was discovered on a cassette in early 2022, and was digitized and mastered by Mark Dann in Woodstock, New York in September. To quote the infamous Jack Hardy, "can you believe this shit?"
Sax/On: Live Saxophone Recordings NYC 1991-93
The crown jewel of the saxophone archives, Sax/On contains some of the best saxophone work of Norman Salant's career, recorded in New York in the early 1990s. It features the only recordings of the landmark Moving Planet Orchestra, a groundbreaking ensemble combining middle-eastern sound, style, and instrumentation with modal post-bop western instruments and extremely high-energy improvisational saxophone. Also included are two installments of Saxophone Stories, a series of meditative, totally improvised solo soprano saxophone performances.
Late Night In The Loft: Trio Live in SF 1983
Late Night In The Loft was a 1983 experimental midnight concert series at the Oberlin Dance Collective’s New Performance Gallery, in their building on 17th Street in San Francisco’s Mission District. The trio was created not long after the Norman Salant Group had disbanded. In hindsight, it was a forerunner to the 1991 Moving Planet Orchestra - improvisational with middle eastern underpinnings, but here extremely minimal. Signature & Postscript was based on the Sax Talk album finale, Signature. It began with a long, shifting synthesiser drone by Gregory Jones, a master electronic musician and fine composer in his own right. It was the only time the pair played live together after working in the studio on Sax Talk with Roy Sablosky, as well as on numerous other projects. The third member, Dave Scheff, played drums with Translator, one of San Francisco’s leading bands. A crew from german television (WDR) was there to film, but as the performance took place in near total darkness they requested an abridged repeat performance with full lighting, and that shorter version they took back to Germany. The version offered here was taken from the original longer set.
Sax/Off: Dance Scores 1991-92
The pieces on Sax/Off were dance commissions. All were heavily weighted toward sampling and sequencing with some collage and live saxophone thrown in. TV Dances was written for William Douglas for his T.V. Dance #1, which premiered at the Merce Cunningham Studio in 1991; Dina Emerson was the vocalist and Bill Haley contributed the one and the two. Totem was created for Mary Abrams Dance for a season at Dancespace Project at St Marks Church in 1992. Duet and Boardgame were two of four sections of the ambitious evening-length piece From Here To There by Jody Oberfelder and her Overfoot Dance Co; it premiered at Dancespace Project in early 1991. The Saxophone Duo's Mazes, originally a 40-minute piece on its own, was abbreviated and included as Part One of From Here To There.
Saxaphone Demonstrations II: Bad Loops - Love Letter (1991)
The Bad Loops recording was always intended to bookend the first album, Saxaphone Demonstrations. All of the sounds heard on Bad Loops, with the exception of the percussion, were derived from a five-second excerpt recorded on a lo-fi cassette that happened during a particular musician's drudgery and hell known as daily saxophone practice. This is the little riff that closes the first and last sections, Getting The Ghosts Out and The Warrior Loop. It was loaded into a Roland S-50 sampler and transfigured into all of the sounds used for all of the parts, and in that way was it spun into something that in the end came to closely resemble total saxophone ecstasy. For any phonofiles out there, yes, that is indeed a cribbed sample of the warrior drums of Burundi, which were featured on Joni Mitchell's mid-70s Hissing of Summer Lawns album on the song The Jungle Line.
The 40-Saxophone Orchestra: Leap Of Faith (1989)
"when i first began playing i used to fantasize what it might be like to have 40 saxophones in a room playing at once. i imagined all those horns as a mansion of resonances and harmonics criss-crossing and bouncing off the walls, triggering all sorts of glorious sonic accidents. in spring 1989 i had a call from yale evelev. i knew yale from the new music distribution service; now he was with the lower manhattan cultural council. he asked if i'd like to do something for the fete de la musique, a citywide daylong arts event being coordinated with the french ministry to celebrate their bicentennial on the upcoming bastille day. glenn branca had been having a lot of success with his electric guitar ensembles, and i suggested a 40-saxophone orchestra which yale said might be appropriate given adolphe sax and all. i think i had a month to prepare. i remember calling more than 200 saxophonists to find the 40; fortunately my duo partner benjamin bossi agreed to participate which was really the key. i think there was one rehearsal of the full group, in the big high-ceilinged community hall at cuando, an hispanic cultural center on lower second avenue that is no longer, but like el bohio/c.h.a.r.a.s on east 9th street it was emblematic of the east village cultural melting pot at that time...
"the recording of that rehearsal is what appears on this disc. it was made on a boombox sitting off to the side; i'm glad i remembered to turn it on. somewhere in part 4 there is a sound of a door slamming -- two members making a premature exit and reportedly commenting 'he makes phillip glass look like a genius;' i hope mr glass thanks me for that someday. the piece was given the title 'leap of faith' and was performed just once, on that bastille day in a noon outdoor free concert at chase manhattan plaza at pine and william streets in the financial district in lower manhattan, beneath that glorious dubuffet sculpture. the sculpture is still there. i think it rained in the morning and the whole situation was in doubt for a while, but i'm not sure. the goal was to keep it simple and just focus on what all those saxes could sound like in various musical settings, more like a series of demonstrations than a straightforward composition. it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with a very spirited group of people, to whom i will always be grateful. to keep it loose we employed the 'improvising conductor' technique using numbered cue cards and a lot of hand pointing to signal the changes and who was to play what and when. i even got to blow a little on part 2. despite a good deal of wrangling in an attempt to bring the performance to france, in the end it didn't happen; the july 14 fete de la musique concert turned out to be the entire lifespan of the group. all that remains is this rehearsal tape."
Saxophone Duo: Norman Salant & Benjamin Bossi 1986-1989
Mazes was a commission by Overfoot Dance Co recorded May 6 and 7 1989 in NYC.
Saxaphone Demonstrations (1982)
Sax Talk (1984)
Sax Talk/No Night Dance Mixes (1984)
(the following is under construction)
After Ours (unreleased)
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