The Devil's Horn


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About the Author

Michael Segell is an amateur percussionist and saxophone player and a professional music lover. He is the author of Standup Guy, and his writing has appeared in numerous publications, including The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Sports Illustrated, and Esquire, where he wrote the popular column The Male Mind. He has received two National Magazine Award nominations for his work. He lives with his wife and children in New York City and Long Eddy, New York.


The saxophone has come to be synonymous with 20th-century music, not to mention all things cool: jazz, cocktail lounges, hip cats and the like. Segell (Standup Guy: Manhood After Feminism) traces the instrument back to its eccentric Belgian creator, Adolphe Sax, an acoustical craftsman who survived disease, accidents and even assassination attempts from his instrument-making competitors. Just 10 years after Sax completed the first prototype of the saxophone in 1843, the shining horn had traveled all over the U.S. and throughout Europe. Music would never be the same again. Like its creator, the sax was revolutionary, an instrument whose very soundAwhich has been described as "carnal" and "voluptuous"Acaused it to be banned by Nazis and Communists; religious leadersAincluding the VaticanAdeemed the instrument "profane." As Segell recounts the saxophone's history, he simultaneously illuminates many of its renowned players, namely jazz greats Benny Carter, Sonny Rollins, Lee Konitz and Branford Marsalis. An amateur musician himself, Segell has a personal relationship with the horn, which adds a stirring sense of immediacy to the narrative. Agent, Kris Dahl. (Oct.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

"Would someone please forward Segell the memo that states that books about jazz are supposed to be academic and soporific? . . . [A] freewheeling tribute . . . [with] exuberance that is everywhere to be found." --The New York Times Book Review "[A] historical and deeply personal tribute to the saxophone . . . [The Devil's Horn] will reward and surprise readers who may have thought they knew something about the horn simply because they've spent a lifetime listening." --Baltimore Sun "Segell has produced a minor miracle: a book on jazz that does not rely on largely unrevealing anecdotal tidbits, hip talk, one-upmanship . . . and dazzling (but superfluous) adjectives. . . . It is humorous, enlightening, instructive, and revealing to a degree that it may forever change your attitude toward the sax." --The Roanoke Times "An excellent short course on the saxophone in jazz . . . [A] beguiling story." --Chicago Sun-Times "[Segell is] adept at spreading the contagion of his own curiosities." --The News & Observer

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