"Like a massive oil tanker listing into jagged rock": Bass saxophonist Colin Stetson

Apr 25, 2011

They're not calling it Honk Core... yet.

Saxophonist Colin Stetson, originally from Ann Arbor, has worked with Tom Waits, David Byrne, Sinead O'Connor, Arcade Fire, and TV on the Radio.

And sometimes he plays on a really, really, really big saxophone.

Stetson's bass saxophone, pictured above (and featured in the video below) is an impressive instrument.

And the sound, which NPR describes as "a massive oil tanker listing into jagged rock," is remarkable.

From the NPR story:

The sound that begins Colin Stetson's newest album is like a massive oil tanker listing into jagged rock, tearing away at the hull. In fact, it's merely Stetson's chosen instrument, the bass saxophone — and from those earliest notes, you realize the sheer power of the horn in the hands of a master.

"It's a beautiful, strangely fragile instrument — and capable of much, much power," Stetson tells Weekend All Things Considered guest host Noah Adams. Stetson acquired his saxophone about six years ago, but it's more than a century old.

"Back then, especially, they were made of soft metal," he says. "The mechanics of it are stretched out over a huge body, so any little ding, push, pull can set everything awry. It really relies on having perfect equilibrium."

Stetson co-founded Transmission (later, Transmission Trio) while still in college at the University of Michigan, where he earned a music degree.

His most recent album is New History Warfare, Volume Two: Judges.