Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Fuzz Bucket Sax Experiment 7.17.2013

This was a historic Jam. I took a crazy chance and decided to play alto saxophone, technically an instrument I had never played.  And the planets aligned and after decades of playing musical instruments I may have found my favorite.  Might as well tell you how it started (long-winded story to follow) or you can just scroll down to the track notes...

Back in the summer of 1991 I decided to learn to play tenor sax so my parents bought me a student sax from Sam Ash and I spent a couple months learning to play the first couple bars of Harlem Nocturne. At the end of the summer I probably traded in the sax and bought a 4-track recorder or some guitar amp or accessories...  Apparently I wasn't ready to play sax back then.  But I guess I remembered a couple things which definitely helped me later on.

So last Saturday, about 22 years later, I decided to buy an alto sax. How I chose my sax was very suddenly and unexpectedly. I had just about decided to get the best student sax I could find. But I was concerned that I wouldn't get a sax that sounded good to my ears.  The thought began to form in my mind that I would know it when I heard it.  But I wasn't sure how I was going to hear a proper demonstration of each instrument.  Then it happened... I was googling in my area and stumbled upon a shop called KB Saxophone Services a couple miles away.  They had video demos of all of the saxophones they have for sale. The first alto I heard sounded amazing and I thought I had to have it.  I compared it to the other demos of the more expensive models but they didn't have the same charm.  The price was way higher than I planned to spend but I pretty much had my mind set on that instrument.  I imagined walking into the shop and having them laugh in my face.  Maybe in some alternate reality that's exactly what happened and they kicked me out on the street. Also, definitely in an alternate time-line I was in my car and turned around because I wasn't feeling well... which actually happened but then I changed my mind again and headed south to Long Island City changing this time-line for the better.  What did happen was when I walked through the door at KB Saxophone Services I met two of the nicest people I have ever met. Kim and his wife Angie spent hours helping me play my first notes in 20 years and even taught me the beginning of the chromatic scale before finalizing the sale. And that's how this thing got started.

  I practiced every evening for 4 nights. I'm in an apartment so I had to play in hushed tones after 9pm. I'm learning that it's more difficult to play quietly than it is to play at full volume. On tuesday night I practiced some of the chromatic scale hoping that I could use it to get my bearings during the next fuzzbucket jam session.  I even downloaded some iPad and iPhone apps to help me learn the correct fingerings.  My brain and mouth muscles couldn't handle learning the whole scale so half would have to do.  What's amazing is how good I feel during and after playing.  I've had fun playing guitar and drums over the years but when you play sax you put more of your self into the sound that comes out of the instrument.  You're literally breathing life into it.  It's breath-taking really... haha! No... really!

  And then on Wednesday night this jam happened... And it didn't suck!  (but it did blow) (another joke!) 

So here are some notes:

1)Dark Passenger is Jamie's jam on the Novax. I was playing drums and Eric on guitar/theremin. Somewhere in the middle I decided to drop out on the drums and play sax one-handed while playing the ride cymbal with my right hand and attempting to use the hihat and kick with my feet.. I found 3 or 4 notes and stuck with them for a while. Anyway, that's a neat trick that I have to remember for when I get better at this. Too bad I was playing flat most of the time.

2)KickIt - stupid name (sorry) ... a more traditional jam... nothing special but it has a pretty solid ending.  Well, maybe not... It's not that bad.

3)troublemaker - more sax! I had lots of fun playing this. I really started getting the hang of things and took more chances trying to hit overtones and bending notes. Jamie played some sweet drums and eric went nuts with the theremin.

4)cutItOut - we may have found another viable configuration of our band having me on sax, eric on novax and jamie on drums. This jam sounds like us in our element playing no holds barred improvised mayhem. Okay so next time I'll try to play in tune but it was pretty sweet!  I try to emulate eric's feedback with the sax. Too bad I kept losing my breath!

Thanks for checking out our jams!