Friday, April 29, 2011

Saxy music

When my son was in seventh grade he was required to take Band. As he would learn to play a musical instrument--not provided by the school--he announced with great excitement he had chosen to learn the saxophone.

To the music store we went in anticipation. Ouch. Saxophones = much money. (I distinctly recall playing a triangle in elementary school band. Supplied by the school.)

The store owner wisely advised us not to purchase the saxophone outright, so we opted for the rent-to-buy plan. Yes, he knew that most kids' initial eagerness to learn this beautiful, shiny instrument waned after the first year.

Not so, Son assured us. He would learn to play like a pro. He would practice, practice, practice.

I have a fun memory of him and his buddy sitting in our living room for about an hour with their brand new saxes making all sorts of horrible sounds. I'm sure the neighbors up and down the block also heard the clamor.

Well, he learned to make the proper sounds and string them together in a progressively smoother manner. He practiced, he cleaned and buffed.

Ah, we thought. Could he aspire to the lofty heights attained by Charlie Parker and John Coltrane? Were we listening to a budding Kenny G?

Grandiose delusions aside, here comes the inevitable however . . .

His interest, although less keen, lasted through eighth grade. He reached a plateau, not the apex for which he'd once aimed. Improvements ended, regular practice sessions dwindled. He was no longer "into" playing a sax.

Yes. Puberty.

We returned the instrument to the store. No one said, "I told you so."

Somewhere, we have a picture of him and his gleaming sax. Somewhere, we have a video of his band concert.

Must find them.

Two of my favorites:

Sonny Rollins accompanies Leonard Cohen in Who by Fire

Candy Dulfer plays Lily Was Here from the 1989 movie of the same name. Dave Stewart on guitar.