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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

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Famous saxophonist to present a piece of jazz culture Thursday

Saxophone
Saxophone

He may not be known by name, but he’s known by ear.
Known for songs such as “Long Tall Sally” and “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” legendary blues and jazz tenor saxophonist Grady Gaines, along with the Texas Upsetters, will share his passion for music with a concert Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in Rudder Theatre. Following this, he will sign his newly released autobiography “I’ve Been Out There.” 
Gaines said his love for music came from his harmonica-playing father but was encouraged by other prominent musicians at the time, like Arnold P. Wallace.
“He had a nice talk with me and was practicing all the time,” Gaines said. “[Wallace] was the first one to make me ever want to pick up the saxophone.” 
From the age of 10, he never put it down. 
Out of all the instruments, he chose the Tenor Saxophone because it was the “popular” instrument of the day and because he fell in love with the way it sounded. Gaines said he compares the saxophone to our generation’s guitar. 
As a native of Houston, Gaines said he was always surrounded by the blues and jazz scene. 
“[Houston] was always a rhythm and blues town, but jazz also played a part in it,” Gaines said. “It became known when the record company, Peacock, came to Houston and put blues all around the world in the 50s.”  
Gaines, who toured for 35 years, said Houston was just as influential as the more well known music hubs.
“I would say it was up there with the other cities like St. Louis and New York City,” Gaines said. “Blues started in Houston and grew in the South.” 
Kim Kattari, assistant professor in the Department of Performance Studies, said Gaines was one of the first musicians to shape the transition from r&b to rock ‘n’ roll aside prominent figures such as Little Richard.
“I would emphasize that even if people don’t know his name off the top of their head, this man was involved in some of the groundbreaking and game changing rock and roll scene because he has collaborated with some of the best artists and played some of the most influential songs that really changed rock music,” Kattari said.
Gaines tried to match the melody of whoever he collaborated with, but of all the moments that defined his career, Gaines said the proudest time was when he was invited by Little Richard — one of the argued fathers of rock ‘n’ roll — to lead his band. 
“Well, [Little Richard] had a number one record at the time,‘Tutti Fruttie,’ and the  number one hit — it was the beginning of rock,” Gaines said. “He was the one that started rock ‘n’ roll.”
With his multiple collaborations with prominent musical figures, Kattari said Gaines is engrained in the history of modern music. 
“I think it is interesting that he is from Texas, because it serves as a reminder of all the music that did come out of this state that is not part of the national awareness,” Kattari said. “For instance, a lot of blues comes from Texas as well as r&b and rock ‘n’ roll. He is a living part of that tradition.”
Kattari said despite the age gap between Gaines’ and today’s youth, music is a part of our daily lives.
“Whether we listen to it or are musicians ourselves, for the most of us, music plays some part of our lives, and it’s kind of rare to find a person that doesn’t listen to music,” Kattari said.

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