Friday, August 21, 2009

Horn Envy

While I'm talking music I will share that I am going through a bout of sax withdrawal. Your scribe once was a good heavy rock guitarist, the kind that could pick up a guitar at a keg party and stop the room with a few chops. Then I got into free jazz on the recommendation of Soundgarden's Kim Thayil and Living Colour's Vernon Reid, and from there explored the entire back catalogue of jazz while my bemused friends stuck to their metal/grunge (a neat schizm in my friends that has largely held to this day).

Sticking on Ornette Coleman between Slayer tracks raises eyebrows, I can tell you.

When I like something, I want to play it. The sensible thing would have been to delve deeper into jazz guitar, building on what I'd already learned to become a great guitarist. But the solo horns are the soul of jazz, and I ended up taking up tenor sax for a while. Coupled with me starting law, this crippled my development as a guitarist as I didn't have time to practise both.

Then I got into singers and songwriting and the sax languished. Again, I liked it, I wanted to play it. And I've vastly improved my vocal in the decade or so since. But vocals are an instrument where if you are born with a $50 Kmart job, you will never upgrade it to a Gibson or Selmer.

I still play the guitar, but after trading my tenor for a soprano sax, for ease of transport, I lost the latter along the way (it was stolen out of a car that I had shipped up to Darwin, to be precise). I have not picked up a sax for several years. I miss the blend of simplicity and infinite complexity that comes from improvising on a single note instrument, and I miss the warm, rich nuance I used to draw from my old Yamaha Tenor with its gold-plated Otto Link mouthpiece.

Perhaps, one day soon? I leave you with the very essence of noir...



4 comments:

The Accidental Housewife said...

Ahh, see, I played brass - remarkably flexible between genres. The only downside is it is not really a solo instrument, it needs backing. I haven't touched it in 8 years, and I miss it.

lucy tartan said...

At the community arts centre Dorian manages they have a course for musicians who've gradually stopped playing and want to start doing it again. It's a jazz band led by a Melbourne jazz legend. Could be just what you need.

Armagnac Daddy said...

Wow, that sounds pretty cool actually. I don't think I quite got to jazz level, so I might need to hire one and do a bit of practice first, but what a cool idea.

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