THE TIPTONS: A SAXOPHONE CIRCUS

The Tiptons :: 11.10.04 :: GoodFoot Lounge :: Portland, OR


The Tiptons by Bradly Bifulco
Words are not a good medium to describe The Tiptons' music. The saxophone is an emotional instrument; it doesn't speak directly to the mind. It translates the world on waves of the intangible. Though much of The Tiptons' music was composed, it wasn't rational. Experimental squeaks, bellows, jazz rifts and coarse horn gossip escaped and flew unhinged through the GoodFoot Lounge without seeking a mirror. They organized and placed these chaotic explorations into a symphony of fun, high-energy creations, infusing precision into this saxophone circus.

Sounds spiked and leapt from the core rhythm of four saxophones tethered on percussion momentum from Elizabeth Pupo-Walker's array of hand, standard and electronic drums and toys. They played like acrobats tossing one another up onto the others' shoulders, clapping and dancing all the while. There was magic in the music. I became frog-like, and wanted to unroll my sticky tongue to taste the air born from women's breath, filtered upon the earth through brass. The horns took turns bursting from the flow into intense solos as the women delved into their own styles.


Jessica Lurie by Daniel Zeslj
Music rolled through Jessica Lurie's shoulders, arms and body in waves. Her right side twisted over to her uplifted knee, like a pitcher winding up to toss the heat of her golden orb into the audience, moving on the music. Sounds I'd yet to imagine streamed from her tenor and alto saxophones, full-bodied and without inhibition. Sue Orfield was a pillar of intricacies on the tenor saxophone. Toby Stone laid the low end with her large baritone sax: the dancing elephant in this carnival. She balanced the wails and squeaks of her counterparts flossing with horns. Amy Denio played her alto saxophone skillfully though her voice was her most interesting instrument.

Amy let loose high screams, like a song bird throwing temper tantrums, in a very interesting song of Sue Orfield's called, "Sleepy Town." Jessica wove low soulful chants with Denio's angel calls. The voices dared not speak words their brass lords might not have understood. They screamed and chanted sounds that rolled from their mouths like gumballs stored for winter, streaming out in nonsensical poetry. Communicating in a clear, honest, full, charismatic language without words, they tapped into something pure. It was the essential language we use standardized words to express when we become too lazy or far removed to remember it. Short repetitive carnival squeaks from Lurie's sax lulled the song to its end until it just sunk away. Kazoos, played by Toby and Amy, continued the universal gossip (paired with their animated expressions, gestures and intonations the kazoos spoke very clearly-—if only we could require standard kazoo use for politicians and car salesmen).

It was a musical puzzle, intricate, jagged and composed almost entirely of laughter. On-lookers coated the perimeter of the GoodFoot, seated and smiling, holding tickets they'll bring to show-and-tell, and save until the words fade and a weathered slip of paper will be all that remains of the night the saxophones hosted a circus.

Reanna Feinberg
JamBase | Oregon
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[Published on: 11/30/04]

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