Ask anyone of a certain age to name a classic saxophone solo in a pop song, and odds are that the one they’ll mention will be the intro to ‘Baker Street’. Written and recorded by Scottish artist Gerry Rafferty in 1978, the song reached number three in the UK single charts and was included on his album City to City, earning Rafferty tens of thousands of dollars a year in royalties.
The ‘Baker Street’ sax solo was played by session musician Raphael Ravenscroft on his alto, and has been the subject of many arguments over who wrote it, whether it was Rafferty, Ravenscroft or derived from other tracks. These arguments aside, this riff almost single handedly raised the popularity of the saxophone in pop. It appears several times in the song after the searing intro as a link between verses plus the fade at the end, making it more memorable than Hugh Burns’s guitar solo.
It’s based upon the pentatonic scale (B for alto, E for tenor), and features a glissando (the Italian musical term for ‘glide’) over a full octave at the beginning. I’ve created a free lesson for alto saxophone on how to play the ‘Baker Street’ riff, and the sheet music can be downloaded via the links below.
Baker Street saxophone is one of the top Google searches for saxophone related tunes, other phrases like ‘who played baker street on saxophone’ and ‘Baker Street sheet music’ come very high in the list.
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