CultureMusic"You have to be a bit selfish", says Saxophone...

“You have to be a bit selfish”, says Saxophone Syncopators


Saxophone Syncopators is a unique saxophone quartet that specializes in performing the authentic musical style of ragtime in arrangements for four saxophones. The arrangements of this music come from the years  1910 – 1920 when saxophone music was expanding in the music scene and becoming a great inspiration for performers and composers. Saxophone Syncopators play the oldest ragtime and hot jazz from the years 1912 – 1920 in the original arrangements for four saxophones following the footsteps of the saxophone ensembles from this period such as Six Brown Brothers, Columbia Saxophone Sextette, The Missouri Entertainers, Joe Thomas Saxotette, Hollis Saxophone Quintet, etc. To achieve the most authentic and accurate sound ,Saxophone Syncopators use original period instruments from the twenties of the last century. Besides their focus on ragtime, they also perform so called classical music that was composed for saxophone quartet in the period of the early 20th century.

We had an exclusive conversation with the members of the group, especially with the pianist & band leader ‘Ladislav Fanzowitz’  during their India tour. Here’s what they shared with us – While choosing numbers to play live, what are the factors you take into consideration?

Saxophone Syncopators: At first it’s their technical abilities. Therefore I chose more from classical-educated musicians then from jazz-educated musicians. It’s also the question of phrasing – even we play ragtime, what it one of the beginning jazz sub-genders, most of the jazz musicians use to phrase very modern what really doesn’t fit to this old jazz style. Classical musicians are more close to ragtime phrasing I have to say. And we have in our repertoire also classical pieces, so that was second factor why I chose “classics”.

Second is that we have to be all “tuned on same frequency”. We have to have same (or similar) preferences, same keen on music we play and same priorities. We work very hard on sound, which is very important for us. We play old vintage saxophones, which have different sound and they have their technical disabilities, so it’s harder to play and to be in tune in quartet on these rare instruments. Do you believe that to become true musicians, one first needs to be a true human with true feelings? Or does, practise alone wins the game?

Saxophone Syncopators: Well, to be honest, to be successful musician, you have to be a bit selfish if you really want to do it for 100%. Only you know how much you have to practice, do thousand little things about your work, playing late nights concerts and wake up very early to make radio broadcast, transcribe notes from old recordings to sheets, rehearsal with 7 different bands and 7 different styles from classic to jazz… . There are millions average musicians which makes quite good job, but there are only few really top and only they know what did they have to sacrifice for music. Most of the people don’t understand what art means for artists. It fulfills them same like another people fulfills family or kids. But I found impossible to explain it to people who are not artists. It’s not only a work. It’s kind of entire being.

But of course, you HAVE TO cooperate with other people, if you want to make some result of the band or ensemble, not just your own name… .And then you need natural felling of empathy. I love to play with people with whom I feel the music same way. We don’t have to speak about interpretation a much. We start to play and our mutual way of playing and energy grow together and at the end we play like one person on more instruments. These moments are the most fantastic in the music.

In my case, music is coming from my heart, all my life experiences, all relationships, all what I red about the piece and author and something more from my soul… . I can’t explain it by words, only by playing 😀 If we talk about healing the world with classical music, how would you do that?

Saxophone Syncopators: I’m not sure, if our world is healable by music in general. I think nowadays’ world needs for healing more understanding and education about cultural differences and elimination of hating other people based on different religion or color of skin. We all have same human body, nobody has 3 heads or 6 legs to be more then other. Non-educated people, blinded by some authority who teaches hate – these people are not healable by classical music I guess…

But what is really true, that for example old Chinese medicine uses music for healing. There are special vibrations made by special chords which are resonating body organs and can heal them. So music should be used for medicine purpose definitely. What’s the future of your band?

Saxophone Syncopators: We will continue with tour around Slovakia and Czech Republic and we will play in October in Jazzclub Tonne in Dresden, Germany and in November in Radenberg, Schloss Klippenstei, Germany.

In next year we plan to bring more classical contemporary music into our repertoire. It is very obvious that not all audience have got the ears to understand the music you produce. With a majority of such audience in a concert, how would you manage to glue them to their seats, and enjoy the show?

Saxophone Syncopators: Music and taste for it is very personal thing. I can’t glue anyone. The only thing I/we can do is just to make our best and we just hope this energy flowing from us will find the answer at the audience. We are very thankful that also in these times, full of any kind of ‘music’ from every corner, we still have bigger and bigger audience, which likes our performances. And that’s our one and only goal – to give to the people kind of stop time and bring them little bit of happiness in very high professional level of interpretation in these very fast and stressy times.

Members of Saxophone Syncopators are –

Pavol Hoďa – soprano/alto saxophone, clarinet
Ján Gašpárek – alto saxophone
Ladislav Fanzowitz – tenor saxophone, arrangements
Frederika Babuliaková – baritone saxophone


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