Duane McGuire Blog

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Tenor Sax!

Category: Random Thoughts
Date: 2004-03-02

I play the clarinet. Well -- at least that was true from age 10 to age 18. In the several years (decades) that have passed hence, my skills have deteriorated. From a lack of practice, I would guess. It seems that my total practice time in the intervening years has been about 3 hours. But nonetheless, I play the clarinet. This fact was verified Saturday night when I slipped it together and laid my fingers on its familiar keys. Instantly, a jazz melody emerged from decades ago. "A Swingin' Safari" was filling the house. Where did that come from? I'd say it came from the recesses of the mind that cannot be erased. That elusive connection between finger reflex and melody was made, and I was swingin' with the pep band classic of the 60's.

No that's not me.  But Harry Goldson catches the spirit of what I am saying.  For some great swing tunes go to www.harrygoldson.com.  By the way, Harry plays a great jazz clarinet too!
I was not always been entirely pleased with the position of clarinetist. I was indeed envious of the sax section. Those guys really had the big band sound that my ear has always sought. But to covet is a sin, and for the most part I accepted my position in life and in the band. But still questions remain! Why, oh why, did I finish my high school music experience playing the E-flat soprano clarinet? For those not familiar with this squeaker, it is the highest pitched reed in the orchestra, playing a fifth higher than the standard B-flat soprano clarinet. I guess I succumbed to the band director's con. "Well you know Duane, any one can play the sax, but only a great reed player can play the E-flat soprano clarinet." Hogwash. I still wanted to play the sax.

Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! The tenor sax is coming! It might be forty years late, but it is coming. For years I've looked at the saxaphones in the classifieds, the thrift shops, and the pawn shops. Once in a while, I'll find an alto sax for less than $300, but never a tenor. The tenor saxes seem to be minimally priced at $450. So for a guy who plays on average about 5 minutes per year, owning the tenor sax is a little hard to justify. My fortune changed Saturday in the Sportsman Pawnshop. There in a beat-up case was a not-too-beat-up student tenor sax. The prettiest part of it was the $200 price tag. It lacked a mouthpiece, and though I was tempted, I left without the sax. Later I checked ebay, and saw a beautiful, vintage sax made by Revere, which looked like it was about to go for $450. It did. It went for $455 -- five bucks more than my outrageous and impetuous bid. The the ebay gods had spoken. The Sportsman pawn sax was to be mine.

Sax plus tax
Since I was not going to be near the Sportsman Pawnshop for a week, I asked Terri to pick it up for me, and gave her $220 (sax plus tax) for the purchase. Once again it is affirmed. I married the right woman. I should never buy in a pawnshop without her aid. Her sweet voice on the phone last night said, "Guess what I did? You'll be impressed!" Yes, I am impressed. Just try to wipe the smile from my face. She bought that sax for $150. And so it goes. A minor ambition of the ages is coming to pass. I'm a sax player ... almost.

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