The Blog of the Blues caught up with Richie Taz, saxaphone player with The Billy Walton Band, during the band’s current tour of England.  The band are not to be missed.  They are terrific live and their new album “Crank It Up” is current favourite for the Blog of the Blues album of the year.  Though it is April….

Blues Blogger: “What’s it like playing in The Billy Walton Band?”
Richie: “The band and Billy are phenomenal.  When we’re playing we click like there’s no tomorrow. It’s all satisfying and gratifying because we’re making people happy.”
Blues Blogger: “Tell me about the tool of your trade, your saxaphone”
Richie: “My sax is a 1959 Mark 6 Sax, serial number 66000.  All those 6’s are spooky.  I’ve looked all across the Tri-State area and never found another one with that sound and tenor.  Rumour has it that the 1959 sax was made of metal from melted down World War II shell casings, which gave it a heavy sound.”
Blues Blogger: “What’s it like having one of the coolest moves in Rock, being able to lean back and lift your the sax to the sky?”
Richie: “That’s actually technique, as well as showmanship.  You have to arch your back like that sometimes to help hit the highest notes.  That and training your throat to do it properly.”Blues Blogger: “What advice would you give to a saxaphone player starting out?”


Richie: “Do it if you like it, straight away, but take a year to get substantial knowledge of whether you really want to do it.  It’s rare being a sax player and getting rarer.  We’re losing some of the best – Michael Brecker, Grover Washington Jnr, Clarence Clemons, Junior Walker.  There’s too many Playstations, young people learn to play controllers, not instruments like the sax, which takes time to learn and appreciate.  But if you do take the sax up, play with everybody that you can, they’re all different, and if you have talent, don’t destroy it“


Blues Blogger: “What technical advice would you give a young sax player?”

Richie: “I’m a melody player, so my advice is to follow the songs and build leads and riffs around that on any given song.  Jazz training is popular among sax players, but it doesn’t necessarily help lead you into melody lines.  It also takes years to build your diaphragm up.  I’ve been playing professionally for 32 years, blowing my ass off with hard core blowing.  It’s the same as working out in a gym, doing push-ups.”

Read more about this hard-working, great sounding band in other Blogs of the Blues. And, if you make a wise investment and buy their album, you can treat yourself to the track “The night the deal went down” which features a beautiful sequence in which guitar and sax exchange riffs before blending into a melodious blare.