Saxie Dowell

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The saxophonist with the nickname all other saxophonists are glad they didn't get stuck with was also extremely active as a songwriter and music publisher during his career. Surely there was an impetus…
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The saxophonist with the nickname all other saxophonists are glad they didn't get stuck with was also extremely active as a songwriter and music publisher during his career. Surely there was an impetus to replace the stuffy sounding Horace K. Dowell he was given at birth in North Carolina near the outset of the 20th century. He became Saxie Dowell by the time he began his first major professional affiliation, also his longest, with orchestra leader Hal Kemp. The nickname most likely developed in college, in this case UNCG, well documented over the years as being a possible breeding ground for sophisticated, ribald wit of this nature.

The job with Kemp actually began in the campus setting as well, Kemp himself a UNCG graduate. By 1924 the band was well into touring and recording nationally and internationally. Covering tenor and alto saxophone and clarinet, Dowell was in the Kemp band for the next 15 years. He then started up his own group, which effortlessly survived the transition into Navy life in the early '40s. In fact, Dowell's U.S. Naval Band became one of the most famous in history for staying on its set list even while the aircraft carrier the band was serving on was in the process of sinking. Managing not to associate bandleading with both war and sinking ships, Dowell kept his group going into the '50s, but eventually got into the publishing end of the business. His own writing credits include "Three Little Fishes." He was in his late sixties, and it was also the late '60s, when doctors sent him out to Arizona for his health.