Shelley Carrol and the Texas Tenor Tradition

February 21, 2019

While performing in one of our MusicFest Performances (sponsored by Music Performance Trust Fund) at Klyde Warren Park in Dallas, Shelley Carrol takes a moment to explain about the Texas Tenor tradition in the Count Basie Orchestra.

With the innovations of Dallas area musician Buster Smith and the formation of the Buster Smith–Count Basie Band a new technique of louder jazz came to be. The sound came from Buster, who used a tenor saxophone reed in an alto saxophone to get a louder, fatter sound. Tenor saxophonist Lester Young played in the band with a baritone reed. This big sound was labeled the Texas sax sound. Smith’s great influence in jazz and blues perpetuated the Texas sax sound. He taught Charlie Parker saxophone during the 1930s, and they had a relationship like father and son. He also aided an old friend from Dallas, Charlie Christian, who played in Benny Goodman’s band. For an African-American in the 1930s, Buster Smith received great respect from all musicians.

But Shelley says it better….