Douglas Yates- Careening, yet in control

I've know Doug since elementary school. He was a year ahead of me and was always the best alto saxophonist in the state of California during high school. We played in Herb's big band and also in Rob Schep's 'True Colors' big bang while we were in Boston. He's been in NYC for some time now. Doug is, like me, a true 'Fringe-head'. He always works as a sideman for some reason, although his gig are quite respectable to say the least- George Garzone, The Mingus big band, Either Orchestra, Donny McCaslin, Your Neighborhood Saxophone Quartet. He is my favorite younger alto saxophonist, with great facility playing in or outside. He has probably gotten more recognition for his bass clarinet work than for his sax playing. His sound is VERY dark, something you rarely hear among modern altoists. He actually had a dark sound even before studying with Joe Viola and Garzone. I think he is highly underrated, he will probably need to put out a recording under his own name before he gets known outside of NYC.

Once when we were talking about an upcoming James Spaulding show at the Knitting Factory, Douglas told me that he'd rather listen to a 'careening out of control' saxophonist rather than someone who is perfectly in control any day of the week. I would heartily agree with that. Douglas has that careening thing happening but he really has incredible control of the horn, top to bottom, and I do mean ALL the way up and down. He has perfect pitch, which definately helps his mastery of the altisimo range of the horn. He also has an element of, for lack of a better word, 'zaniness'. Well OK, I guess he is wacky! You'd think he was a stock-broker or lawyer just by looking at him, but under that carefully constructed disgiuse- he is totally bizarre!! This makes for a high degree of unpredictability in his playing. Let's hope someone forces him do record as a leader someday, it's been long overdue.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm a good friend of one of Doug's friends from Berklee. I am throwing a suprise 40th birthday party for him, and I am trying to track down Doug. Do you have a way to reach him? My name is Cristi, and you can send information to me at this address; marksparty@beladie.com I appreciate your help! Thanks!