Saxophone Cartel | Caught In The Act

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Jazz: Free Jazz Jazz: Experimental Big Band Moods: Featuring Saxophone
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Caught In The Act

by Saxophone Cartel

The Saxophone Cartel is a fresh voice in saxophone groups and chamber music: an adventurous, experimental, and soulful woodwind collective whose sound is rooted in jazz but spans classical, noise, funk, "world", blues, free improv, and more.
Genre: Jazz: Free Jazz
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. David Miller Presents...
0:23 $0.99
2. Don't Look Back
4:09 $0.99
3. Crook
5:22 $0.99
4. Minstrels
4:09 $0.99
5. Passacaglia
10:04 $0.99
6. Ring Shout
8:14 $0.99
7. If I Knew
3:36 $0.99
8. The Old Man
4:19 $0.99
9. Mr. Smith
5:26 $0.99
10. Newton's Nightmare
7:17 $0.99
11. La Cosa Latina
5:32 $0.99
12. Key of J.B.
5:59 $0.99
13. Creation
8:40 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Online Media:


The Weekly Special

Pandora Music Genome Project

A Brief History:

April 2003 - The Sax Cartel is founded at the Jacobs School of Music in Bloomington, Indiana
January 2004 - The Sax Cartel chosen to appear on the Live From Bloomington 2004 CD
February 2004 - Concert opening for the ROVA Saxophone Quartet
April 2004 - Concert at the Biennial Conference of the North American Saxophone Alliance.
July 2004 - Jazz in July, Indiana University Art Museum
April 2005 - The Sax Cartel accepted to perform at the North Sea Jazz Festival, but is unable to attend
June 2005 - Production of the Sax Cartel's debut CD “Caught in the Act”
September 2005 - Performance at Fourth Street Festival of the Arts & Crafts, Bloomington, Indiana
June 2006 - Live recording of the Sax Cartel's next CD release, date TBA, with special guest Steve Baczkowski
2003-2006 - Live appearances at festivals and local radio stations WFHB and WFIU
July 2006 - Appearance on "The Weekly Special", WTIU Bloomington
September 2006 - Debut of punk/free jazz saxes plus rhythm section version of the Sax Cartel, "Carteloid"!
May 2007 - Mastering of next CD
June 2008 - Performance in Williamsburg, Brooklyn with special guest Ned Rothenberg
November 2008 - Performance at An die Musik, Baltimore, MD
2009-2011 Performances in NYC at Rose Live Music, Spike Hill, Bowery Poetry Club, Goodbye Blue Mondays, Tutuma Social Club, Solo Kitchen Bar
2011 Tour, with appearances in Philadelphia (Chris' Jazz Cafe), Chicago, and Indiana (Bear's Place)


"Wonderful group. Original stuff and well played." -- David Liebman, internationally renowned master saxophonist, improviser, composer, and educator

"All-saxophone groups tend to be quartets, but the Saxophone Cartel bumps the standard format up to a sextet, adding detail rather than mere weight to the ensemble sound. They keep at a slant to Jazz orthodoxy: there are nods to classical polyphonic tradition (the gradually swelling procession of “Passacaglia”) and the punchy horn charts of James Brown’s band (“Key of J.B.”), and even the more Jazz-centric pieces feature scrimshaw-intricate arrangements rather than the usual head/solos/head structure...There are several free improvisations, which place the emphasis on spontaneous convergence, as riffs and melodies emerge and are quickly seized on: despite abrasive moments such as the squiggly opening to “Newton’s Nightmare,” the mood is playful rather than confrontational or austere...The imaginative arrangements (mostly Benjamin Himpel’s handiwork) offer a more individual voice than any of the players’ actual solo work, perhaps, but Caught in the Act is still well worth hearing, offering a few new wrinkles on the familiar sax-ensemble format." © Cadence Magazine 2006 ph: 315-287-2852

"Saxophone Cartel, a diaphanous sextet brings about classic reed forms of sounds as well as an array of modern jazz stylizations and improvising passages. Caught In The Act expresses a motley and capacious inventive mastery of reed-instruments. Euphonies grade from European jazz shapes to twisted, airy and fancy soundscapes.

The free nuances, attacks and jazz accent skills of these six young artists are top rate, whiffing and huffing with a natural simplicity and zealous receptivity. Reed impulses lead and drift with every member’s breath. From “David Miller presents” to “Creation” the tracks hook you into its fashion without swamping you. The reticulation can be tonal plus assuasive in a deck of atonal twinkles.

Soprano saxophonist Ariel Alexander rips through a rather laborious mishmash of free-figures and improvised licks encouraged by frenzied Cashdollar, Eaton, Goldberg, Himpel and Renick’s soaring rhythms. Saxophone Cartel’s appeal is cored within its cooperative blend to inter-cross heterogeneous genres into a peculiar musical aura that bears a manifold amazement.

Although the band is rooted under a classical polyphonic heritage, they visit contemporary pieces with unique musical configurations. The improvs are accented with impetuous concourses as riffs and new sounds emanate fluently. Caught In The Act is well worth hearing offering a great spotlight to six talented artists with a high level of musicianship. We certainly will hear more about their craft." -- Dr. Ana Isabel Ordonez,

"Saxophone Cartel - "Caught in the Act"
Die Instrumentierung lässt es bereits erahnen: Hier ist eine Menge Experimentierfreude im Spiel. In der ungewöhnlichen Besetzung eines reinen Saxofon-Sextetts zeigt die amerikanisch-deutsche Formation "The Saxophone Cartel" auf ihrem Debut-Album, wie elegant es klingen kann, wenn das typischste der typischen Jazz-Instrumente einmal aus seinem Genre- und Rollen-Korsett ausbrechen darf.

Saxophone Cartel - "Caught in the Act"

Nein, gepflegt-langweiliger Cocktail-Jazz ist das beileibe nicht, was da aus der Stereoanlage tönt, legt man "Caught In The Act", den Erstling des Cartels, ein: Da kreischt das Alt schon mal, während die beiden Tenorsaxofone einen Staccato-Groove aufbauen, das Bariton brummelnd grundiert und das Sopran mit chromatischen Tonfolgen in höchste Lagen noch einen draufsetzt. War gerade ein flotter Dixie im Anmarsch, geht es urplötzlich in schleppenden Blues-Schritten weiter. Klassischer Polyphonie ("Passacaglia") folgen impulsive Kollektiv-Improvisationen ("Ring Shout").

Frisch und ideenreich lotet die Formation um den 30-jährigen Bonner Tenor- und Baritonspieler Benjamin Himpel in dessen Eigenkompositionen die Schnittmenge von Jazz, Avantgarde und freier Improvisation aus. Ein Tipp nicht nur für Saxofon-Liebhaber."

Johannes Kloth
review from

"The Saxophone Cartel is an exciting new saxophone sextet that explores the boundaries of the saxophone repertoire, from completely composed classical pieces, to imaginatively arranged jazz compositions, to almost completely improvised pieces, that utilize all the members of the saxophone family, including the rarely heard bass saxophone. The group's extraordinary and entertaining music goes well beyond strictly classical or jazz boundaries, and the Sax Cartel performs with both precision and colorful and joyous verve, [reminiscent] of the World Saxophone Quartet and the ROVA Sax Quartet." -- David Miller, Jazz Fables

"The Saxophone Cartel is a joy to experience! Their multidimensional music weaves together sublimely tuneful original compositions, free improvisation, and humor. They even resurrect music by the Six Brown Brothers. This ensemble will make you smile." -- Tom Walsh, Assistant Professor of Saxophone and Jazz Studies, Indiana University

"Very cool, guys (and girl)! The world needs more people who are willing to break new ground in saxophone ensembles. SATB quartets are great, but the saxophone family can do even more when you bring in a few more players and a few different horns. I look forward to seeing what you do and where you go!" -- Jay C. Easton, woodwinds faculty at the University of San Diego, multi-multi-instrumentalist, recording artist

"We all enjoyed your set and yes to next year if you are all here...You guys are great and so tight it is scary." -- Lee VB, co-organizer of Fourth Street Festival of the Arts and Crafts, Bloomington, IN

"You all are one of the best things to happen to Bloomington in 30 years! The concept, execution, and musicianship were all tremendous. I was dazzled." -- Jerry Nees, Bloomington-area listener and musician



to write a review

Jay Easton

Unique CD, excellent playing, and very enoyable compositions.
The Saxophone Cartel CD "Caught in the Act" features six players on soprano through bass saxes on
pieces that are often equal parts classical, jazz, and free improvisation.
They combine excellent musicianship, great chops, and an ability to use extended techniques without being silly.
It reminds me of all the things I like about the Kolner Saxophone Mafia, but
with plenty of originality and with enough other influences that it doesn't end
up sounding derivative. It's really a unique CD that shows great group collaboration, lots of
excellent playing, and very enoyable compositions. I'm glad they managed to
document this group- hopefully the future will see more like it.

This group successfully walks the line between being unique and "out-there" and being accessible without being simplistic or trite.
They have a sense of fun, of exploration, of humor, and a little bit of funk.
Himpel's and Renick's compositions are gems of chamber saxophone writing, using the individual timbers of the
saxes and other woodwinds very effectively to create varied and cohesive musical textures.
There are also some very good group improvisations that hold up quite well to repeated inspection.
Nice use of doubles with clarinet, bass clarinet, flute on several pieces, while others are pure saxophone textures.

This could be an easily overlooked CD because of it's limited distribution, but for fans of the saxophone family,
and good and interesting music in general, I think this is a great disc - check it out.

Jay C. Easton

Sarah Levi

caught in the act
Couldn't believe my ears; the music blew me away. Love the title - most appropiate!