New logo & Fresh Design

In moving the website to a new CMS and a fresh design I decided I’d hire a few amateur graphic artists to create a new logo for the site.  They were given this website and the MBS Twitter page and little else. Sadly some designers didn’t look at page but their contributions are represented anyways. Please comment and let me know what you think.










Nuclear Whales Saxophone Orchestra

Inspired by a post on another fantastic sax blog I decided to go on the hunt for some Nuclear Whales Saxophone Orchestra information. I knew they were on a permanent hiatus but I wanted to know what has happened since. I have been a fan of theirs for the last 25+ years but hadn’t kept up with the group. I was vaguely remember when group member Ann Stamm Merrell passed away from breast cancer back in 1999 but not much more about the group since then. On a hunch I decided to go internet dumpster diving.

A basic trip to their old website netted me information about the  Fukushima nuclear disaster and unrelated information. Clearly the domain now belonged to another group. At some point the NWSO decided to abandon the website and as it seems public performances. Instead of wallowing in the nostalgia of bygone days I decided to dive deep and follow the bread crumbs.

Listing from archive

After scanning the site and skimming through page after page of the classic website I found some old gig listings. The last gig documented on the site was for a March 13, 2004 gig in Pinedale Wyoming. I could not find a review of the performance sadly. If this was their last gig then a benefit gig is a great way to end a long run.

After hitting a dead end I decided to follow the musicians:

  • Kristen Strom – She’s still gigging with her group (The Kristen Strom Quintet), recording, and teaching.
  • Dale Mills – He runs his teaching studio and performs with a group called “Hot Club Pacific” 
  • Don Stevens – Founder of NWSO (can’t find any links to him)
  • Kelley Hart Jenkins – ???
  • Kevin J. Stewart – Currently with the San Francisco Saxophone Quartet and teaching at Dominican University in San Rafael.
  • Art Springs – Currently working as a Home Inspector
  • Ann Stamm Merrell*Deceased* Until her death was a well regarded quilt artists

In the end I hope a reunion album could be done and fill the contra-bass saxophone hole that fills my heart. *If late 90’s styled websites is too cringe-worthy  you may not want to follow this link.*

Link to

If you have any more information on the members of the group please let me know. I’d like to keep this page updated.

Websites to enjoy:

When if comes to sites that give more than they take stands out. This site gives more information, artist profiles, gig notices, transcriptions, and so much more. It is no wonder that this site and Saxontheweb are my first stops on my internet journey most days.

When ever I need a piece of sheet music to sightread or an interesting article I know I can find both on this site. The transcriptions on the site range from Adams and Cuber to Mulligan and Smulyan. There is enough material to keep you shedding for years.

This site is run by an excellent musician and very dedicated fellow Conn 12m baritonist Andrew Hadro. Between his personal site and I am surprised he has the time for much else. He keeps the JazzBariSax page quite up to date and brimming with enough stuff to keep a casual visitor coming back.

While on JazzBariSax please contribute by sharing a transcription you did or just help him to update the information on a particular artist. As with any resource made public, it only grows when we all help. I encourage you to visit his personal site as well as Perhaps as a group we can convince him to create a solo album so i’ll have something to review.


Websites to Visit –

All too often today it feels like everyone is out to make a dollar any and every way they can. Many expert players have started lesson sites to earn a supplemental income. While I don’t see this as a bad thing, I do see some sites using aggressive marketing techniques to gain subscribers. To this day I still receive emails promising information and techniques only to follow the link to a subscriber’s only page. I won’t mention this great players site because it is indeed full of great insight and a wealth of personal experience but I don’t like being baited into following a link only to discover you can’t’ get any information without subscribing. But I digress, there is a site run by a great player and a studious teacher,

Matt’s videos have quite a following on YouTube and over the course of 63 (at this time) he offers lessons on everything from scales to II-V-I changes and lots of things in between. The real value to me is in not hearing the fluff  or the pleasantries. Matt kicks off the lessons with an example of what he intends to teach you, gives the basics of the lesson then plays the lesson at practice speeds. He doesn’t just play a sample or a single line, no, he plays the entire lesson. Matt’s lessons are brief and contain only what you need for that lesson. On the website you can find pdf’s of each exercise and links to the individual YouTube lesson.

Matt’s lessons work well with direction from a private teacher or if you are a private lesson teacher then his lessons can serve as a great jumping off point. In the end, as with any instruction, you get out of it only what you put into it. The more time you spend in the shed with his lessons the more the material will take a place in your improvisation vocabulary. His lesson #49 Dominant-7sus4 is my current project.

One of the best things about his site is that he offers all of this information for nothing more than continued support and if you feel moved then a donation. Which is a good idea if you would like to see well-crafted additional lessons from Matt?

TAKE AWAY: I would advise everyone add this site to your regular studies list and to please make a donation or buy one of his books.

Websites to Visit –

If you are like me in any capacity then you have spent some quality time transposing solos throughout your musical life. Be it an Adams lick, Miles riff, or a Coltrane snippet, you’ve  knuckled down and set your mind to getting inside of your chosen artists brain and extracting that genius for your own use. Of course some snippets are easier to transcribe than others and at time I have found myself looking for a transcription to compare my own to. On many an ocassion this search has lead me to

Mr. Mcneal is a prolific and talented performer and transcriber and has chosen to share his transcriptions with all of the internet world. This is no small gift when  you examine the over 300 transcriptions on his site and new transcriptions being added often. There is plenty of material to keep any musician busy and learning.  Aside from transcriptions he also has 2 pdf ebooks which have helped me in improving my facility and  resolving V to I chords. The ebooks can be found on his site under ebooks.

If you are unfamiliar with Charles McNeal here is the a touch of his performing history from his website.

Charles has performed, recorded and/or toured with: John Faddis, Wynton Marsalis, Leslie Drayton, McCoy Tyner, Ray Obiedo, Dave Garabaldi, RAD, Brenda Boykin, Claire Dee, Lavay Smith and the Red Hot Skillet Lickers, Barbara Morrison, Barbara Dennerlein, Jr. Mance, Bruce Forman, Mark Elf, Roberta Flack, The Temptations, Ollie Woodson, Norman Conners, Jean Carne, Curtis Olson, Peter Horvath, Jaz Sawyer, Boz Scaggs, Nicolas Bearde…” 

I would encourage visitors to donate to his site as an incentive  to keeping this resource available to all who would like to use it. 

Blogs to follow part 2

I have been a regular visitor to Ben Britton’s “Everything Saxophone (Reviewed)” blog site for a while now and find myself revisiting his advice often throughout the week. I am not only a fan of his playing but a fan of his opinions and advice. In reading his writings it is clear that his opinions are those of a person well practiced and talented.

On his blog site you will find practice tips for intermediate to advance players along with some transcriptions and  reviews of fantastic equipment.

On his personal site you will find musical examples of his playing as well as links to his cd and information on his background.

if you have the time to view one or maybe two site today consider viewing Ben’s site and enjoy.

His blog –

His music site –