Mulo Francel wanted to celebrate his instrument’s birthday and he succeeded beautifully.

GLM Records

Mulo Francel – Saxophone; Chris Gall – Fender Rhodes; Phillip Schiepek – Guitar; Didi Lowka – bass; Sebastian Wolfgruber – drums; Andreas Hinterseher – bandoneon & trumpet

I’d heard of the C-Melody sax before. I knew Frankie Trumbauer played one. I didn’t know any of the instrument’s history. Listening to Mulo Francel’s THE MELODY SAX gave me reason to want to delve into it.

The C-Melody sax was great for beginners because they could use the same sheet music as the piano, flute, or the guitar used. With an alto or a tenor you’d have to transpose to a different key.

The only reason the C-Melody sax went away is financial. During the great depression people couldn’t afford luxury items. To stay in busines sax makers had to stick with the instruments that sold best; altos and tenors. THE MELODY SAX is a tribute to Francel’s 100 year old C-Melody saxophone.

Andreas Hinterseher’s bandoneon gives ‘Close Your Eyes ’a slow, sexy, bump and grind tango feel. Bass and drums keep things moving and Mulo Francel’s C Melody sax sounds awfully pretty.

Francel takes on the Coleman Hawkins classic ‘Body and Soul ’and does a beautiful job. Phillip Schiepek’s guitar work is very tasty. His tone is gorgeous. He likes single note runs usually toward the bottom of his fretboard. He’ll bend a note or two; making them ring out.

Mulo Francel said he’d like to capture the “smile”of the music from the 20s but give it a modern twist. The Original Dixieland Jass Band first did ’Singin ’the Blues ’in 1920. THE MELODY SAX’s version has electric guitar, fender rhodes, and a jaunty C-Melody sax that would have been right at home in those roaring 20’s.

I’m not crazy about the Fender Rhodes. I’ve listened to, and loved, a lot of Chris Gall’s piano playing. Francel wanted to make music from the 20s sound modern and, I’m guessing here, that’s why he chose the electric keyboard. I’m still curious what this album would have sounded like with a regular piano.

My only other quibble about this terrific album is some of the drumming. Sebastian Wolfgruber does too many rimshots. The drums are way up in the mix. If that was toned down a bit it wouldn’t be so jarring.

I wouldn’t be surprised if someone started making the C-Melody saxes again. Why not? They’re great for beginners. The C-melody mouthpiece muffles the sound a little bit so they’re

quieter than a regular saxophone. The neighbors would appreciate that when junior’s practicing.

Mulo Francel wanted to celebrate his instrument’s birthday and he succeeded beautifully. I learned a lot about the C-Melody saxophone. Thank you Mulo!

Reviewed by Tim Larsen