Buescher Bass Sax Upper Stack

 … Ever wonder what a Conn-O-Sax sounds like?

The Conn-O-Sax!
rarest of all the great production Conn saxophones…

The Conn-O-Sax story is quite interesting & convoluted. For reasons that have nothing to do with either the quality nor the musical capability of these instruments, they just didn’t catch on when they were introduced back in the late 1920s. This quite innovative Conn design, along with its ‘sister act’ in F, the Mezzo-Soprano, simply got caught up in the pressures of the start of our Great Depression, and a general lack of music written for them in the rather unnatural (save on the orchestral scene) key of F. In today’s culture — where our music is purchased in the form of CDs, web downloads and DVD videos — it is hard for us to imagine what it must have been like when the songwriters were the celebrity artists of the day, and not the performers, themselves. For in the 1920s it was sheet music that drove the hit parade, not recorded versions of songs.

The recording industry was a mere babe at the time. But everyone knew someone that played piano or guitar, so the big social occasions featured the 1920s version of our modern karioke. Some would play and others would sing along with the music they all would read from sheets of the popular songs of the day. Of course we still enjoy our karioke — albeit in a much more modern form — so it should not be such a foreign idea to contemplate how things worked in music before the age of singing stars and our modern recording industry. Songwriters still drive the music we love, but now, it’s more from behind the scenes. The one inescapable truth remains, though: Nothing happens until someone writes a song. Perhaps that’s why the individuals we hold in highest reverence as artists are often accomplished both as performers and as writers — like Nat King Cole, Elton John or Willie Nelson, to name just a couple of the brightest. I’ll be getting back to the Conn-O-Sax story now, but I hope you got the point that that no one will buy a saxophone if there is no music they can play on it. And when these F keyed saxophones were first introduced, the days when a computer could easily transpose your music to any key you wanted were generations away.

We know that more Conn-O-Saxes were made than were sold, and that many of these poor ‘orphaned’ examples were intentionally damaged & repaired over & again as fodder for the Conn repair school students. No one knows for certain how many Conn-O-Saxes actually survived through to today, but the number of these instruments left in existence is rumored by some knowledgeable saxophiles to be as few as thirty. Most of them have found their way into the hands of museums or serious saxophone collectors. It is truly unusual to even see a Conn-O-Sax, much less hear one played.

We have Rob Verdi to thank for this unusual opportunity to hear the Conn-O-Sax played in a modern music setting. Rob is a dedicated saxophile, an accomplished saxophonist, and just happens to be the owner of one of the few surviving, playable Conn-O-Saxes in existence. Back in November 2003, Rob and a group of outstanding studio musicians recorded a selection of jazz standards featuring the Conn-O-Sax. There are 12 selections in all, and Rob has agreed for CS to present to you 4 excerpts that he & Bear believe show off both the sound potential of the Conn-O-Sax, and its playability in a modern music sense. So for your listening pleasure and to satisfy your curiosity once and for all about what a Conn-O-Sax actually sounds like, CS invites you to click on theses links:

Fly Me to
the Moon
The Nearness
of You
This I Dig
of You

Below please find the CD’s jacket material, made available in clickable images so you can read & study the full details of where, who & how this wonderful work came to be. If you would like to own the full production CD you can contact Rob directly through email by clicking here. The full title of the work is “Prose and CONNversations”. Below the album information material we have included Bear’s comments to Rob upon first listening to this CD.

Hi Rob,

I’m sitting here this afternoon hand polishing a set of superb silver plated Conn bass sax keys & enjoying your wonderful collection of Conn-O-Sax stylings. The album is impeccably done – selections, arrangements, musicians, all are superb. At the risk of dating myself, this is the sort of jazz I like best these days. Your sound is so smooth & thick it puts me in mind of the great SBA alto work from Paul Desmond. Remarkable. This COS sound is not so ‘cupped’ as I expected from your reference to the English horn (see jacket notes). It is purely delightful, however we describe it. :)

A question arises: Would you allow me to put up a few sound clips of the COS and reference your album? Of course I would direct CS visitors to contact you for the full CD. What I would like to present is short segments of your solo & a cappella passages, just so folks can say they’ve heard what a COS sounds like in a modern musical setting. I will honor your wishes, whatever you say.

Many thanks for creating this informative & entertaining set of musical performances..

Specialists in restoring fine vintage saxophones…

If you found this page — and have managed to read this far — this noteworthy work belongs in the your music collection.

Special Note
As a result of our recent Conn F-Mezzo Soprano offerings we have been contacted by others interested in acquiring rare collectible saxophones. If you have instruments such as the Conn-O-Sax or F-Mezzo Soprano that you would like to place please email or call Bear (918-625-9773).

Did you miss the One-Hand Conn F-mezzo we recently sold?
see our new feature article on this unusual instrument, including added information on Al ‘Papa’ Miller.

(click on instrument graphics to view original Conn ads)

click here to see a super rare one-hand F Mezzo-Soprano

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CyberSax receives numerous questions every day which we faithfully try to answer for our many friends and fellow saxophiles. As you can imagine, some topics come up repeatedly, and others are quite thought provoking. This is not intended to be a FAQ section where boiler plate information resides that  is intended to keep the number of emails we receive to a minimum. Quite the contrary, we love to talk sax, so we hope the discussion of these topics will provoke thought and stimulate our visitors — and we also hope the collection of topics will become a source of information for all our saxy friends, regardless of your skill level or degree of involvement with saxophelia. One final point:  the subject of vintage and pro saxophones is virtually inexhaustible. We do not claim to be either omnipotent or for that matter, always right. We welcome your thoughts on expanding the comments you find here, or even your dissenting opinions. Just keep in mind that ladies and gentlemen may disagree, but are never disagreeable ….

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