Saturday, September 5, 2009

After Hours - Saturday Extra

Cat Stevens. Tea for the Tillerman

Sorry about "No Post Saturday," but I had this wedding gig today. I was really sweating it. I haven't played saxophone in any serious way in more than a year. To make things worse, I hired a kickass rhythm section, so the pressure was on. I've been practicing faithfully for the last month, wondering whether I still had the chops and the goods. At my peak, I was in four bands, playing about five times a week. I think the most gigs I had during a single week was eight. Those were the days. Funny thing, though, most of the bands I played in sucked and I wasn't that great. Even funnier thing, just when I began getting good, the gigs fell off. That was several years ago. These days, the gigs are few and far between. Many jazz players are doing other things - like playing rock music. That's great for rhythm players - guitarists, pianists, bassists and drummers - but wind players are kind of screwed. Nobody wants us. That's the hard reality of the situation. Believe me, I've tried cajoling, begging and threatening and it hasn't happened. There's nothing I'd like more than to be playing every night with a bunch of high-caliber guys, but those guys need to get paid and there aren't any places around that can pay what they're worth - not Tula's, not Jazz Alley, nobody. So I started writing classical music. Yeah, it hasn't worked out so great.

But today, we had our fun. The young couple got married and we sounded great - at times, absolutely wonderful. That's nice to know. Tomorrow, the pianist goes back to being a rock star, the bass player goes back to being a consummate professional and I go back to looking at Belltown with a jaundiced eye. The saxophones will go back to gathering dust. I sounded really good today, especially for somebody who has been out of the game for a year. That memory will still make me happy tomorrow, but after then, it won't carry much currency.

So why the song? Today was that happy day. Everything fell into place and we made some fine music. It truly was a happy day. I doubt another one will emerge soon.

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