bitguru blog

a guru of bits, or just a bit player?

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.)
  3. They traipse around the park, so even if you have the correct time they can be hard to find.

bass saxophoneWhat’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.)
2003 Disney World sax quartet

curved soprano in 2005:
2005 Disney World sax quartet

quintet with baritone in 2007:
2007 Disney World sax quintet

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5 Responses to “Disney World Sax Quartet”

  1. Alan Cole said

    Do you suppose the bass saxophonist uses official bass saxophone mouthpiece & bass saxophone reeds? Or has he follwed Vince Giordano in using baritone sax mouthpiece & reeed on the bass sax?

  2. April 10th, 2007 · The other day I wrote that the baritone saxophone could be a lyrical instrument, and no one proffered more evidence for […]

  3. Greg Motes said

    After seeing these videos I have decided to pick up the bari sax after 20 years. I played a school owned horn in high school now I am searching for a used Selmer Paris or Cannonball,any suggestions?

  4. William said

    Does anyone know where one would find out information to audition into this ensemble? Im a college saxophone performance major and this has always been my dream!

  5. Tenorsaxoman said

    Do you know how to contact them? I am a tenor saxophonist part of the Parkland High School Marching Band that will perform in Disney World in April of 2012. I was wondering if I can contact them to send us some saxophone music so we can play a few bars with them during our visit.

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