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Ed Calle

 Ed Calle


by Skip Spratt

Ed Calle has virtually flawless technique, outstanding control and a bottomless bag of tricks in the studio. To call Ed Calle "a saxophone player" would be one-dimensional. He is an accomplished composer, arranger, flutist, clarinetist and midi wind player as well. Ed and I spoke one evening when the conversation twisted and turned in countless directions for almost two hours. The topics of discussion included the music business, recording industry, traveling and touring and, of course, the saxophone. His passions include mathematics, the resurgence of Latin music in America and his family. He has a great sense of pride when it comes to his playing, the Miami recording scene and his contribution to it - and for good reason.

Over the past two and a half decades, Ed Calle has played on literally thousands of recordings. He has written, arranged and played on recordings in every conceiveable style and setting within the studios of Miami and South Florida. Latin-American recording artists Christina Aguilera, Marc Anthony, Gloria Estefan, Jon Secada, Julio Iglesias, Arturo Sandoval and Ricky Martin have all showcased Calle's talents on recent CDs - but that's only a start. Ed's playing is rooted in the commercial jazz and pop tradition of Michael Brecker and David Sanborn. However, this Venezuela-born saxophonist displays a mix of influences that span the globe. He is a proud American, but his playing often reflects his Latin heritage. His impressive recording credits include dates for a broad band of artists such as David Byrne, George Clinton, Elton John & Tim Rice, Eddie Money, Frank Sinatra, Vanessa Williams and Placido Domingo.

Any young player would be wise to study the path Ed has taken over the past 25 years or so. Few commercial saxophonists can boast so many feathers in one cap, particularly from a city such as Miami. When one thinks of the recording industry, usually Los Angeles, New York and Nashville come to mind. The truth of the matter is that Miami has recently earned a much deserved spot as the fourth largest recording market in the United States.


On March 13, Ed Calle released his fifth solo project on Concord Records. Yes, it's a smooth jazz CD, but Calle manages to keep his musical integrity intact while "staying within the format."

I first heard Ed play when parachute pants were popular. At the time of this writing, they seem to be back in style again! I became aware of Ed Calle's sound way back in the early 80's in South Florida. I had been touring with a show band, playing clubs and casinos across the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico. The lead singer was doing an album of his own material and had enough time to record while gigging in Hialeah, outside Miami Beach. He hired the best local studio musicians to back this solo project and Ed Calle was the saxophone soloist. It was burning. No, not bebop burnin' but burnin' in a pop/rock sort of way - melodic, lyrical and EXCITING!

Throughout the interview, Ed was candid and always entertaining. Even in conversation, he is the entertainer. His candor in responses was refreshing. Ed has a strong ego, as many successful musicians do. He is proud, assertive and quite frankly, very sure of himself. During the interview he pulled no punches and made no apologies. Ed Calle had no problem telling it how it is. Enjoy the ride! I did.


The first time I ever heard you was on a demo tape back in the early 80's. You probably don't remember the session, as it was probably one of many at that time.

I don't remember anything that I play on. I lost track. I hear things now on the radio and wonder if it was me! If it was memorable, it will come back. Otherwise, you end up reading about it sometimes and it's weird.

Has it ever happened that you hear something, start to dig it and then realize it was you?

Yeah. I talked to Mike Brecker about that and he cracked me up. He said the same thing happens to him. He'll be driving in his car, hear something and really like it for about 10 seconds. When he realizes it's him, he hates it! (laughs)

I think that's what motivates a lot of good players. You're never satisfied. If we were satisfied, we wouldn't play. We wouldn't bother.

I think that's true. It's unfortunate or fortunate I guess, whichever way you want to look at it. This instrument, the saxophone, just has such a...the bar has been set so high by so many people, in so many different ways...I can't imagine that anyone walks around saying "I got it down."

….YOU CAN READ THIS COMPLETE INTERVIEW IN JULY/AUG 2001 ISSUE OF SAXOPHONE JOURNAL. Contact dornpub.com for subscription information.

Used by permission.
© 2001 by Dorn Publications, Inc.
July/Aug 2001, Volume 25, No. 6


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