Jazz On The Web:   A Smorgasbord at Jazz-Sax.com

I've had a home computer for a little more than three years now. He's a spritely little number, and he clips along quite well on Windows 98 with a cable connection. Every two or three months, though, Angus, which is the name I use to curse and to praise him, likes to show me who's boss.

A spate of erratic cyber-behavior set in shortly before the new year took root, but it turned out to be my good fortune. As I was cruising the World Wide Web in search of something or other, I uncovered a theretofore unknown bit of sleight-of-hand in Angus' bag of tricks. I mis-stroked a key and a window appeared that offered me a set of links to websites related in theme or name to the page I had on Angus' screen. I happily applied this newly found capability to my favorite jazz websites and came up with so much new territory to explore that the possibilities were ... well, continental.

Last midweek, recovering from the revelries of New Year's Eve, I spent a trigger-happy day with Angus, and tripped over Jazz-Sax.Com at www.jazz-sax.com in a happy accident that occupied the remainder of the day.

A disclaimer: I don't play any kind of saxophone and wouldn't know a No. 2 reed from a kayak paddle. But I believe that the sound of the sax -- a sound I loathed during my high school band days and later came to love -- has, in my lifetime, grown to dominate jazz in a way that makes it essential to the way several generations think of the music.

Jazz-Sax.Com is a delight for the layman and the practitioner and it thumbs its nose at the prissy Internet surfers who like their websites neat and clean and easy to navigate. This a big, sprawling, messy site with lots of nooks and crannies full of the treats that make jazz music its own banquet.
It is this echo of improvisation that defines the design of the site and keeps it nourishing for the likes of me. It also offers an opportunity for topic discussions, and it is wide open for contributions from readers. I've bookmarked it and plan to make it a regular visit.

Consider these features: news, the music industry, music technology, sax mouthpieces and playing sax are the general headings, but there is so much more here. For example, there is a section for fingerings and practice exercises for jazz players, a list of downloadable mp3s, CD and book reviews, transcriptions of famous jazz solos, jazz patterns and player setups. And these are only the nooks I've had time to visit. The crannies promise more, including sister sites devoted to flute and clarinet.

Registration, which is free, makes it easier to gain access to some of the site's features, and a message from one of the webmasters, Eric Dannewitz, posted shortly before Christmas, indicates his desire for more user participation. That would only enhance the charm of this labor of obvious love, because Dannewitz and his collaborator, Rory Snyder, designed the site with ease of participation in mind.
Registration requires creation of a user name. After that, users can post to their hearts' content and contribute articles, questions and book, CD and product reviews. Users also are invited to add links to their favorite sites, a feature that makes this a good place to begin when you feel like throwing out a 'Net net to see what you can reel in.

Don't be put off by the emphasis on the saxophone; the theory behind this site includes all of jazz and there is a lot of fun to be had in its various sprawling precincts.

Give yourself a tasty treat on a rainy day or a snowy evening. Saxophone lovers, unite!