Unheard of Instruments in the Saxophone Family


Dr Paul Cohen is not only a virtuoso saxophonist who masters composers ranging from Debussy to John Williams. In fact, he also boasts an impressive collection of instruments in the saxophone family that show the evolution of this beloved jazz horn. When the United States Army Field Band visited him, he was happy to give the officials the lay of the land, which were kindly shared in a video.

Needless to say, there are artifacts we would like to see featured more extensively. Here they are.

The Slide Saxophone is a product from the 1920s that resembles a trumpet.

The Conn-o-Sax, from 1928, is in the key of F, and has a strange hecklephone-like form and ranges to low A to high G. For those reasons, it did not enjoy much popularity back in the day. That’s a pity: it sounds like an English Horn.

The Two Backs is a contrabass saxophone in a lower baritone range and it is surprisingly easy to master. Despite its unwieldy appearance, it’s a recent invention stemming from Germany.

The Grandaddy of saxophone measures 6’6”, is tuned in E flat and comes with a lower baritone range. It was used in the military as a marching band instrument. Needless to say, it was quite impractical. Its sound? floor-rattling.

Dr Cohen’s personal favorite in his sancta sanctorum? A curbed king soprano, which can produce a “terrific sound.”