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"Innovative, beautiful, dysfunctional, just like Britain"

Alto saxophonist, bandleader, record producer, source of energy Gilad Atzmon is off for the first time ever to China tomorrow, and I caught him just before he flies off. He was talking to me this morning about his dream of playing his Cadogan Hall with-strings date on November 6th on a Grafton alto saxophone. “I’m so looking forward to this date. Cadogan Hall, it’s my Carnegie Hall.”

We’ll be running a competition next Wednesday for LondonJazz Wednesday headlines subscribers for a pair of tickets for Gilad Atzmon’s gig.

Grafton saxes are made of acrylic. They were produced iBoldn London between 1950 and 1968. Atzmon has been trying one. Charlie Parker played one. John Dankworth played one. Ornette Coleman played one… Atzmon definitely wants one…..

“It’s a speedy and responsive instrument, it looks and feels and sounds like milk. It’s innovative, beautiful, and completely dysfunctional, just like Britain” says Atzmon, who can be relied on for a provocative quote. Every time.

Adrian Woods of sax.co.uk in Denmark Street has one which isn’t for sale. ” We keep it in the window for display, and people can try it. We’re in the business of selling new saxes. We have 160 in Denmark Street and 450 in Crowborough.” Grafton altos are the repairers’ nightmare, according to Adrian Woods. “They crack very easily , especially the key guards, and they have coiled springs. “

If a reader has a Grafton sax in an attic, or a store has one for sale, please let me know. And watch out for the Cadogan Hall competition. There are other UK dates for this project, listed on Gilad Atzmon’s site.

John Fordham’s review of Atzmon’s very listenable with-strings album “In Loving Memory of America” is HERE

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3 replies »

  1. I have a very rare “Grafton” acrylic alto saxophone, Serial Number 13342, which, looking at the serial number section on the saxophone.com website, would mean it was manufactured around 1960 – 1962, complete with what appears to be its original case It has a the neck, mouthpiece and reed plus a sling.
    I have to admit at this point, that I'm NOT a sax player (spent the last 40+ years on the Dark Side, playing bass) so I cannot tell you if it's a player, but, given its age, and the fact that it's spent the last 40 years in its case in my various bedrooms, I suspect that it's not.
    The case looks to have had its handle moved from the end to the top of the case, and the latches have been replaced at sometime.
    There seems to be little or no damage to the instrument; the clear plastic instrument guards are all intact and unbroken.

    The only things I can spot are :
    • A tiny 4mm x 2mm chip on the clear guard on the back of the neck (so small I couldn't get a clear photo)
    • A small (2cm) scratch / surface crack on the bottom (I have tried to photograph this, but you'll have to look very closely )
    I can't tell if the pads / springs are all functional, but it would be safer to assume that it would require some work in this area.
    All in all, it seems that this is a survivor instrument that deserves a new home and an appreciative player / owner
    PLEASE NOTE – The photos I have make the sax look much whiter than it really is – it's more the conventional cream colour that you'd expect.
    The case dimensions are 59cm x 26cm x 15cm (23.75in × 10.25in × 5.75in)
    I have some Hi-Res photos, so please contact me if you would like these.
    Would you be interested in acquiring this instrument ?
    Any questions, please contact me – PEDRO – on +44 773 664 3853. Instrument located in the UK
    Regards

    Pedro (Pete) Clark

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