Disney World Sax Quartet
Posted by bitguru on April 1, 2007
When I’m at the Magic Kingdom I usually try to catch the saxophone quartet. It’s not necessarily easy, because their schedule isn’t published. If you ask Guest Relations they will usually tell you some times, but
- If you ask when the saxophone quartet plays, they probably won’t be able to tell you. You need the ensemble name, which seems to be Fantasyland Woodwind Society but has also been Toontown Tuners or Cinderella’s Royal Saxophonists. Even so, they probably won’t tell you about the joint performances with the barbershop quartet.
- The schedule must be subject to change, as sometimes they don’t show at a quoted time. (Various online schedules are often even less accurate.)
- They traipse around the park, so even if you have the correct time they can be hard to find.
What’s unusual about this quartet is that instead of the usual soprano/alto/tenor/baritone they employ soprano/alto/tenor/bass. The bass saxophone can descend a half-octave lower than the baritone, which I suppose is handy for the bass lines of the short arrangements of Disney tunes they tend to play, but it may be that they were going for the eccentric visual appearance.
There’s also a bass saxophone on display in the balcony overlooking the lobby of the Grand Floridian hotel. (See photo, right.) You can almost get close enough to touch it. Note that the band that sets up around it probably won’t play it unless you make a request.
I’m a fan of the bass saxophone, but I’ve always thought it was a shame that the Disney World saxophone quartet didn’t have a baritone as well. The baritone saxophone can be quite a lyrical instrument, but in a typical quartet it’s usually tied to the bass line. A bass sax in the ensemble would free the baritone from the bass line. Plus the bari sax could occasionally take the bass line so the bass sax could be featured.
Well, as it turns out, when I saw them last week the quartet had been augmented to a quintet with baritone. I was only able to hear them for a few minutes during which the baritone’s part wasn’t really any different from the tenor’s, so I can’t say if they are using the baritone as I had envisioned. I don’t even know if the baritone is a permanent member of the ensemble. But next time I’m in Orlando I’ll look into it.
By the way, they were using a different bass saxophone from the last time I saw them. I don’t remember which brand of bass they were using in 2005, but I believe it was a medium-recent model that had been artificially aged to look more like the other three (which may have been vintage). I don’t know what happened to that horn, but this time it was a shiny Selmer with a high F♯ key. If I had an extra $17,000 or so lying around, I might have to pick up one of those.
the quartet in 2003: (Note the straight soprano.)
curved soprano in 2005:
quintet with baritone in 2007: