Sax Appeal to Play at Ottawa International Jazz Festival

June 20, 2013 Updated: June 20, 2013

My first taste of the sophisticated musicianship of this outstanding and unique saxophone group was at Knox Church on Elgin Street in downtown Ottawa.

I vowed then and there to attend Sax Appeal’s next public performance, which takes place at the Rideau Centre on June 21 at a free concert as part of the 2013 TD Ottawa International Jazz Festival.

Apart from playing at many private events and special occasions, the four local saxophone players making up Sax Appeal have wowed audiences at the NAC and the Museum of Civilization—playing amongst the totem poles in the Grand Hall and wowing the crowds at the annual Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival.
As band leader Jarrod Goldsmith says of the four-sax band, it is “a unique ensemble, as the general public has never heard of such a thing. Even in the world, it’s not a very common ensemble.”

My father played the alto sax and clarinet until he was his late eighties. My son, who played the same clarinet my dad used in dance bands on the Prairies and in Montreal, still has the two instruments. They are related musical instruments because the two are wind instruments and both use a single reed mouthpiece.

The saxophone was invented in the 1840s by Antoine Joseph Sax, a Belgian-French musician later known as Adolphe Sax. He presented his new musical instrument to the world at the 1841 Brussels Exhibition, and patented it in 1846.

The saxophone combines the reed mouthpiece of a clarinet with a bent conical tube of metal, usually brass, equipped with finger keys. Made in several sizes, the saxophone is usually thought of in conjunction with military bands or in dance orchestras, rather than in a jazz ensemble or classical music concert.

The saxophone bridges the centuries, bringing to mind the days of royal parades, military bands, and, of course, Frank Sinatra. The smooth sound of Sax Appeal can be heard in and around Ottawa in music as disparate as Ravel’s Bolero, military marches, Sinatra’s “Fly Me To The Moon” and classical and contemporary jazz.

Taking part in the noon concert at the Rideau Centre will be Christine Davies on soprano sax, Dave Renaud on alto sax, Mike Mullins on tenor sax and leader Jarrod Goldsmith on baritone sax.

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Susan Hallett is an award-winning writer and editor who has written for The Beaver, The Globe & Mail, Wine Tidings and Doctor’s Review among many others. Email: