Jazz in the Time of Pandemic, or, Sax in the City by Alan Bland

Image by Christoph Schutz from Pixabay

Felicity had asked if I would play my Sax for a Word On The Hills Christmas Show, a virtual event that Chris Cameron was putting together with other Spirit members. Wow! “Sure,” I said, “I just have to work on my “chops,” as I hadn’t played much during the shut-down. I’d felt guilty every time I walked past my sax sitting lonely and un-played on its stand.

What to play, maybe a Thelonious Monk tune, ‘Round Midnight, a slow blues but maybe that was a bit too bluesy, or Paul Desmond’s classic Take Five, more upbeat. Yeah, that was the one. So, to work. If a horn player doesn’t work those “chops” daily, then he or she loses the muscle control around the mouth. The muscles that control what is known as the “embouchure.” With a weak embouchure you leak air and blow raspberries; not good. Gradually it came back, and after a week or so, playing longer each day, I had found my sound again.

Then reality set in. Brass and Wind instruments cannot play chords and can only harmonize when there’s more than one, or other instruments are in the mix. Brass and Wind instruments play one note at a time, you can play notes in a chord in sequence but not the way a pianist or guitarist can. So, what would it sound like when played back through the speakers on a lap-top? Well, those speakers should be called “squeakers.” That’s when I decided that this wouldn’t be the time for my solo.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. mikecroucher says:

    Enjoyed this, Alan. A very interesting and entertaining piece.


  2. I hope you will play for us another time, Alan! So do keep practising, and perhaps you can find a musical partner too.


  3. What Cynthia said! (I’d offer to accompany you on guitar, but alas, I am not exactly a jazz guitarist…)


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