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solo instrument on "low spark of high heeled boys"?


grockvt

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It's an Ondioline or an Ondes Martenot, or maybe a Clavioline - I've heard stories about all 3, and don't know which to believe, though it sounds an awful lot like the Clavioline that the Beatles used on "Baby You're a Rich Man" to my ears.

 

Scott

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It sounds a bit like a pungi aka snake charmer's instrument but take a look here:

 

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVlbgqmxXNY

 

The solo kicks in at about 7.20 and is Chris Wood on tenor sax but going through some effect or other. You can see him adjusting the setting on his fx box of tricks. He also throws in a bit of wah later on which was a favourite trick of his (Tragic Magic anyone?)

 

One of my favourite Traffic songs, thanks for the reminder.

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I always thought is was a highly distorted Hammond.

Yes, I could agree to the sax, but how does he get the extremely disonent, extended minor 2nd that ends the solo?

 

 

"In the beginning, Adam had the blues, 'cause he was lonesome.

So God helped him and created woman.

 

Now everybody's got the blues."

 

Willie Dixon

 

 

 

 

 

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Good question Mr.N. It had occurred to me too and it's pretty annoying that the YouTube clip cuts out before that point.

 

Maybe it's just an overdub or another effect or even another instrument playing the lower line. The main solo IMHO just has to be sax. It's Chris Wood to the core.

 

Thanks to the original poster I've had a very pleasant couple of hours grooving away to Traffic. Graveyard People is playing even as I write this and I'm in a good place right now.

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Chris Wood used a early sax synth module, it could have been that set up for a rude sound but it really does sound like a B3 run straight with a few tubes missing to my ears also.

 

I think Chris Wood used a early Roland sax synth if I recall with the Roland pastel colored switches, late 60's vintage .

 

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starts with CW on sax but the solo is played by SW on Hammond organ with distortion box. but,I think I'd like to buy a vowel.

"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench; a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. ............ There's also a negative side"

 

 

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I assume we're talking about the original recording. It's obviously sax in the live version (how great to see young Roger Hawkins on drums). On the record, my vote is for Hammond, straight through a distortion pedal of some sort with lots of verb. In fact the verb level seems to rise and fall throughout the solo. Not sure exactly when or where it was cut, but back in the pre-automation days, we had to grab the knob and turn it while mixing with every pass. (unable to find an "Old Man" emoticon)

Don't rush me. I'm playing as slowly as I can!

 

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I have to agree with Steve, after listening to the original. I have quite a few versions of this tune, some live etc., and also fond memories of live shows. I think it is Hammond due to the attack as well as the general scope of the improvisation. Winwood as opposed to Wood used completely different notes, runs scales etc. Wood was really quite jazzy, almost BeBop in some of his improv's. This the is a unusual "modification" of the Hammond sound by Winwood, I think the only example that I can think of where he used "effects" on the Hammond.

 

Regards,

 

Musicale

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I asked the question over at the Yahoo Traffic forum and somebody has replied that they've read an interview with Steve Winwood where he says it's a Hammond played through a fuzzbox.

 

So there you go, I was wrong. What a concept :)

 

For anybody still unconvinced, have a close listen at 8.24 and you'll hear a little keyboard lick with 2 notes at once. The rest of the time,(apart from the end), it's all monophonic which was enough to fool me.

 

Anyway, during my travels in Yahoo-Traffic-land, I was asked what the good people of MusicPlayer thought of Steve Winwood's keyboard skills. Any opinions?

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Steve's a major influence for me. My dad gave me the Last Exit album, and I wore it out. And his newest, Nine Lives, is supurb.

 

"In the beginning, Adam had the blues, 'cause he was lonesome.

So God helped him and created woman.

 

Now everybody's got the blues."

 

Willie Dixon

 

 

 

 

 

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  • 1 month later...

The device Chris Wood is using in the video is a Maestro Sound System for Woodwinds, probably a model W3 with the footswitch unit. It was manufactured in the 60's by Maestro, a subsidiary of Norlin Music (the company that bought out Moog Music in the 70's). It was essentially a glorified octave divider with organ-stop style color tabs that changed the timbre of the octave-related sounds. Tenor sax player Eddie Harris (among others) used the unit on several Atlantic albums in the late 60's.

 

When I listen to the studio version of LSOHHB I hear Wood's sax being played through this device for a short solo and then an extended solo. What I'm still trying to figure out is how he produces that excruciatingly and wonderfully ugly sound at the end of the piece. The only thing I can come up with is sax played through the Maestro unit (with several of the stops activated) and Wood singing another note at the same time to cause nonlinear multiphonic effects.

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...the time I saw Traffic (originals + Voorhman/Kwaku-Bah, etc) in '71(?), Wood used the Maestro/Sax.

 

Winwood played his piano solo on "Low Spark of HHB" on a Wurlitzer. His B-3 was Leslied.

 

However-in '70-I saw them as a trio, Winwood amped his C-3, played bass pedals, and used effects on his C during an extended solo on "Feelin' Good" from "Last Exit".

 

No electric bass guitar was used in that show. But-it still sounded great.

 

Aside from hearing "Gimme Some Lovin'" performed live by Winwood in '71, I preferred the '70 show for seeing each member play hard...

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I saw Traffic as a trio a few times. Amazing what those three guys could do. A friend said it perfectly when he said they were pulling music out of the air. And that is Winwood playing the solo towards the end of Wood's solo then taking over only as he can. It has his signature style all over it.

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  • 5 years later...
I always thought is was a highly distorted Hammond.
Me too, without actually thinking about it.

 

It's simply an oboe. No keyboard could make that sound. It's the real thing.
I bet you're right, based on my mind's ear. One playing through a distorted amp. Now I'll go listen to the original and see if I still think so.
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I assume we're talking about what starts around 5:45 here, and then again around 7:45, and finally at 10:50:

 

[video:youtube]

 

I was dead wrong about the oboe. I'm gonna have to get a new mind's ear. The articulation sounds like a keyboard instrument, not a woodwind, and there's a note cluster at the end, impossible on a woodwind. (Evidently that's what Mr Nighttime meant above.) If I were covering it, I'd just use lots of drive on Hammond on the Electro and it'd work just fine. With long/soft percussion, probably 2nd harmonic. And just a TINY bit of reverb. ;-)

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From an interview in Contemporary Keyboard June 1981:

 

Bob Doerschuk: One of your earliest synthesizer solos was on the title cut of The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys, with that buzzy tone. Or was that a saxophone going through a fuzz-tone?

 

Steve Winwood: Actually, it was an organ through a fuzz-box.

 

BD: Fooled me twice!

 

SW: Yes! but I think that was the idea. We had been looking for something like synths for a long time, I suppose. I wish they had been around ten years ago. I suppose they were, actually.

 

Steve doesn't specify what kind of organ it was. However, he does talk about playing sax with Chris Wood on Rock & Roll Stew (he plays one note and holds it), and using a Roland CR-78 and Yamaha CS-80 on Arc Of A Diver. Great interview, and very informative. Looking back, interviews in those days were so much more in depth. Sigh.

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Winwood used a Hammond M102 with Spencer Davis and on some Traffic records before switching to a B3. He probably played the M102 through some type of guitar amp which would make it a likely candidate for the Fuzz effect.
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