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Colin Stetson’s ferocious new compositions redefine the saxophone




Colin Stetson uses a variety of special techniques when performing his bass saxophone compositions.
Colin Stetson uses a variety of special techniques when performing his bass saxophone compositions.
Peter Gannushkin
Colin Stetson uses a variety of special techniques when performing his bass saxophone compositions.
Colin Stetson performing at Festival de la Cité, Lausanne.
Marie Magnin


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Colin Stetson is a frequent collaborator with Arcade Fire and Bon Iver. But in his solo material, he can make his instrument sound like an entire band.

Stetson performs on a massive bass saxophone. Through an elaborate system of recording, he utilizes parts of the instrument that are otherwise inaudible. He makes rhythms from the clacking of the instrument's keys and he’ll often sing through the instrument while playing. Fundamental to his playing is a technique called circular breathing.

 

When The Frame spoke with Stetson recently, he described recording his latest album, "All This I Do For Glory," the physical demands of his instrument, and the unlikely source of inspiration for his saxophone playing.

I was raised almost exclusively on Jimi Hendrix for the first five or six years of my life. He created something that was all his. Nobody had ever done anything quite like the way he did it and it always just felt honest.

 



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