Mulo Francel C-melody saxophone
Chris Gall fender rhodes piano
Philipp Schiepek guitar
Didi Lowka bass
Sebastian Wolfgruber drums
Andreas Hinterseher bandoneon (on 1) & trumpet (on 13)
Groove and fresh timbres from Jazz Guitar, Fender Rhodes Piano, Bass and Drums.
And in the middle of it all, an almost forgotten instrument: the 100-year-old C-Melody saxophone.!
The Roaring Twenties.
The heyday of art, culture, science and social life. Radio, shows, parties, movies and the first million hits in music history.
Jazz moved up the Mississippi and now conquers the metropolises of America with energetic rhythms and cheerful melodies. In the process, the saxophone is gaining more and more importance as an instrument. Fascinated by the music of that era, saxophonist Mulo Francel, who otherwise plays with the band Quadro Nuevo, took on a challenge: Transferring the smile of the music of that time into a modern context.
With a team of younger musicians, some of whom are still in their 20s themselves. With an instrument that was widely used in the popular music of the 1920s and suddenly disappeared forever. The C-Melody saxophone is characterized by a frivolous sound. Almost circus-like, with a positive timbre. The advantage of this saxophone variant was that many amateurs who played other instruments in C tuning (piano, flute, violin, organ …) could now simply use their old sheet music for the saxophone, which had become fashionable. And sheet music was expensive in those days.
Thousands wanted and could afford this instrument as a small luxury due to the economic boom, and so the C-Melodies soon piled up as a Christmas bestseller under the Christmas trees. Production of C-Melody saxophones reached its peak in 1923 in Elkhart, Indiana. These horns were made with the same know-how of those years as their Bb imd Eb tuned relatives.
However, the players were mainly amateurs, who had unsatisfactory mastery of the blowing technique of the instrument or blew it in a “beer mood”. Later, these saxophones were often repaired unprofessionally and with cheap materials, which did not really improve the sound. This resulted in a bad reputation in the professional world.
With the onset of the Great Depression at the end of the 1920s, the popularity of this saxophone genre ebbed rapidly. Private individuals no longer had the money to afford this “luxury item.” Professional musicians and serious music students had no use for the hobby instruments.
Like a classical choir, the big bands needed a clear fanning out of the sax section into alto / tenor / baritone, which was so important for the typical sound. The middle register of the C-Melody was inappropriate. In the renowned big bands from the 1930s on, this instrument is no longer to be found. Not a single one!
The consequence was that the companies stopped the production of these shopworn instruments for cost saving and survival reasons. The last C-Melodys were produced in 1936. After that, they disappeared into storage, cellars, closets, pawnshops and fell into oblivion.
Mulo Francel is one of the few saxophonists who still plays this instrument masterfully today.
He bought his silver C-Melody, built in 1923 by the American company Conn, for $125 at a New York flea market. It has been on almost every Quadro Nuevo album from the beginning and sang the Luna Rossa on the band’s first recordings as early as 1997.
In the successful jazz production BIX, Mulo Francel took over the role of the former C-Melody hero Frankie Trumbauer (1901-1956), who for years with his saxophone was the ideal complement to the legendary cornetist Bix Beiderbecke (1903-1931).
Francel himself explains his latest album thus:
“With songs from its heyday, I want to set a musical memorial stone to my extravagant instrument for its 100th birthday.
And on a personal note, I also remember my great-grandparents, who emigrated from tranquil Upper Bavaria to New York in 1923.