Sax Gordon
Have Horn Will Travel
Bullseye 9589
"Sax" Gordon Beadle's inspirations come from two sources, neither of which has enjoyed much respect from "serious" music fans. On one hand he evokes the spirit of sax rave-up men Junior Walker, King Curtis, Oliver Sain and Louis Jordan, who were too ebullient to get imprimatur from the highbrows, and on the other he evokes jazzers Gene Ammons, Illinois Jacquet and Arnett Cobb, who were too bluesy.

Beadle has a huge, full-blooded tone on his tenor, and great execution to boot. Buffs of either or both sax subgenera will welcome this, his debut CD as a band leader. On the rollicking instrumentals "For Whom the Horn Honks" and "DD Rider" (both of which Beadle penned) the first camp was plainly his source. Likewise the leering "You Said She Wouldn't" (originally by Louis Jordan alumnus Bob Mitchell). Throughout, he's backed ably by no less than the Roomful of Blues horn section, guitarist Duke Robillard (with whom he has toured and recorded) and drummer Marty Richards. It's Richards' boomin' tom-toms that open "Hubcap Pete," a manic honkfest that brings to this correspondent's mind the image of well-dressed pachyderms doing the Twist.

Then comes the steak. Beadle offers excellent reprisals of "Melancholy Serenade," "The Last Mile," "Deep River" and "Heavy Soul." The latter three tunes were cut by (respectively) Gene Ammons, Arnett Cobb and Ike Quebec, all major men of the big-toned tenor mode. The Ammons tune is a smoky blues that has Beadle's dark, rich-sounding sax panning over a night-lit city skyline, spurred by the ROB horners, and is simply excellent. "Heavy Soul" is just as good. Quebec had huge, huge tone and Beadle interprets him superbly on this episodic and moody jazz-blues opus that weighs in at just a tad over eight minutes. Tom West provides lush B-3 back-up, while Richards' drumming punctuates and Marty Ballou offers subtle but strong stand-up bass work.

"Melancholy Serenade" may ring nostalgic bells -- it was the theme to Jackie Gleason's television show -- but Beadle's reprisal draws more from King Curtis' spirited remake than the TV version. One reviewer has indicted Beadle for being derivative, which shows that society is rougher on saxists than it ought to be. Ten billion guitarists are shamelessly derivative, derive from the same two or three guys, and still get critical acclaim.

Beadle, on the other hand, draws inspiration from artists who have been under-appreciated despite their talent and towering coolness, and for this we should appreciate him. Have Horn Will Travel is a must-buy for sax maniacs and a welcome purchase for any fan of solid, well-executed music.

-- Tim Schuller

This page and all contents are © 1998 by Blues Access,
Boulder, CO, USA.