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Here is a story about how music and sound has shaped my life. It is about how I got into playing the sax at the age of 27.
The moment it happened was on a Friday night like many others.
I was at a blues bar in San Francisco with my best friend, Farid. We were there to take in a blues band.
In this band was an old black man who played a beautiful black lacquered tenor saxophone.
When he started playing, he got my attention right away. His notes were soft and throaty at the same time. Like listening to an old man who has lived a full life tell you a story, and you hang on every word.
Suddenly it hit me. I was struck with a clear idea. Not just an idea, but a decision came to me out of the blue.
I leaned over to Farid and whispered ‘I am going to play the sax.’
Farid, being skeptical sort, smiled and said: ‘Yea, right’ with that sarcastic tone of voice he did so well.
I simply smiled I answered knowingly, ‘I’m going to get one tomorrow, and you are going come with me.’
When the show was over, I walked up to the sax man. I didn’t tell him how much I enjoyed the show. I didn’t even say hello. I just looked him straight in the eye and said ‘OK, you got me. I am ready to play the sax.’
Without missing a beat, as if he had been expecting me, he paused, looked me up and down from head to toe and back again and then finally said ‘You look like an alto man to me.’
I said ‘OK, alto it is. Where do should get one?’ He grabbed a piece of scrap paper and pencil, jotted down an address in Oakland and said: ‘Go to this shop and say Bud sent you.’
And that is just what we did, Farid and I. That very next day, I tried out a single sax and was able to get a good strong note out of it on the first try. This impressed the clerk. I bought that sax without looking at any other.
We went back to San Francisco and I spent the rest of the day exploring this strange new sound continent, this horn.
I have never looked back.
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