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Detroit Tenors

Detroit Tenors

Detroit Tenors


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“People love hearing two saxophones,” says tenor player Steve Wood. “But it’s more than just the idea of the conflict. I think another thing that people like about it is that both guys are playing the same instrument, but they sound completely different. It’s kind of interesting how two people can take the same instrument and yet sound so totally unlike each other.”

Wood studied music at one of the country’s first jazz programs, under the direction of Marvin “Doc” Holiday at Oakland University. He’s one of the two tenor saxophone players featured in Detroit Tenors. The group’s debut Detroit Music Factory recording, by the same name, is very much about the two-tenor saxophone tradition in jazz.

Detroit Tenors the record, like Detroit Tenors the band, is a shared vision between Wood and fellow tenor saxophone player, Carl Cafagna.

“Carl is a great saxophone player,” says Wood about Cafagna, who studied jazz at Berklee College of Music and created most of the arrangements on Detroit Tenors.

“He’s had some great teachers and it really shows.”

Along with the two tenor saxophone players, Detroit Tenors features Scott Gwinnell on piano, Paul Keller on bass and Sean Dobbins on drums. Both Gwinnell and Dobbins are fellow Detroit Music Factory artists. Keller is an accomplished musician and bandleader in his own right, having played with Diana Krall, Harry Allen and several other notable jazz artists.

The release Detroit Tenors is a recording grounded in traditional jazz. The forms, the repertoire, the makeup of the ensemble, it’s all very traditional, and intentionally so. It’s the music of the ’40s, ’50s, ’60s, but more precisely, it’s a tribute to that particular style of band.

Whether they’re playing in a straight ahead jazz manner or delivering some of the record’s modern repertoire, every one of the musicians of Detroit Tenors contributes to the band’s sound in a way that’s characteristic of the two-tenor bands of the past. Recorded in a single session, the group rarely needed more than a single take to hit their mark. Impressive, considering some the arrangements had never been rehearsed until the musicians were in the studio.

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