In The Devil's Horn, Michael Segell traces the 160-year history of the saxophone—a horn that created a sound never before heard in nature, and that from the moment it debuted has aroused both positive and negative passions among all who hear it. The saxophone has insinuated itself into virtually every musical idiom that has come along since its birth as well as into music with traditions thousands of years old. But it has also been controversial, viewed as a symbol of decadence, immorality and lasciviousness: it was banned in Japan, saxophonists have been sent to Siberian lockdown by Communist officials, and a pope even indicted it.
Segell outlines the saxophone's fascinating history while he highlights many of its legendary players, including Benny Carter, Illinois Jacquet, Sonny Rollins, Lee Konitz, Phil Woods, Branford Marsalis, and Michael Brecker. The Devil's Horn explores the saxophone's intersections with social movement and change, the innovative acoustical science behind the instrument, its struggles in the world of "legit" music, and the mystical properties that seduce all who fall under its influence.