My favourite genre of fiction is crime fiction, I love murder mysteries and how the detectives solve the case. This afternoon I was watching the classic TV series Murder, She Wrote and came across an episode titled, “Murder to a Jazz Beat”. The episode was set in New Orleans, a perfect place to set a Jazz orientated mystery, however I wasn’t very satisfied with the way J.B Fletcher came to her conclusions about the killer [SPOILER ALERT]. The jazz musician was allegedly killed via a poisoned clarinet reed. Jessica came to this conclusion as upon seeing the reed after the death and it was spotless. She claimed that as the musician had drunk black coffee immediately before playing the reed should have been stained ergo the killer switched the poisoned reed with a clean one. This solution presented some trouble for me.
First of all it would be fairly easy to taint a reed but I wonder how much poison could actually be administered from something as tiny as a clarinet reed? Not much unless the poison was so strong it could kill on brief contact. It would be more plausible for example if the player had sucked on the reed first to moisten it but the clarinet, reed already attached, was handed to the player (who usually played tenor sax) whom then sipped some coffee instead. It would be smarter to taint one of his tenor sax reeds, which are much bigger and therefore need more moisture, or to poison the actual mouthpiece.
Secondly being a reed player myself I know that wind players try to avoid foods and drinks that could get into the instrument, creating sticky pads or ruining good reeds, for example. Most people just drink water before hand. However even he had drunk coffee beforehand I doubt if it would have dramatically stained the reed, not unless he actually still had liquid in his mouth, something an experience musician would not do.
Sorry Jessica but I don’t agree with you on this one.
When you see a Jazz musician playing, you’re looking at a pioneer, you’re looking at an explorer, you’re looking at an experimenter, you’re looking at a scientist, you’re looking at all those things because it’s the creative process incarnate.
Jazz washes away the dust of everyday life.
Another one of my favourite saxophone players is Paul Desmond, I really love his smooth tone and the style he often plays in. Desmond is most well known for his work in the Dave Brubeck Quartet. It’s less well known that Brubeck once worked for Desmond, who replaced him from the band. Later when Brubeck has started a trio Desmond went to his house to ask for a job. Brubeck’s wife Lola had been instructed never to let the saxophonist in, she did however. In the end Brubeck did agree to hire Desmond once he had offered to babysit his children and the trio became a quartet. The two friends became very close and when Desmond died he left his saxophone to Dave Brubeck’s son Michael.
In an interview Dave Brubeck revealed the meaning behind his nickname the Stork, “Some people called him the stork — ‘Cause he would stand on one leg and leaned on the piano. But that…that was when he was playing great. What used to scare me is I’d look at him and it would just be whites in his eyes, wouldn’t be any eyeballs.”
One of his most well known compositions is Take Five, a personal favourite of mine. In piece employs the unusual time signature of 5/4 giving the piece a distinctive rhythmic feel. It is also really fun to play 😛 In his will Paul Desmond specified that all proceeds of this song be donated to the Red Cross which generates them approximately $100,00 a year.
This is also my favourite live performance of him performing the song because he clearly gets so into the solo that he forgets there are people there, at around 3:11 he finish’s and stops to adjust his mouthpiece, looking up in surprise at the audience when they clap.
Music is your own experience, your thoughts, your wisdom. If you don’t live it, it won’t come out of your horn.
Yes I know Charlie Parker is known more as performer than a composer but he did right a lot of his own songs. One of the most legendary jazz saxophone players in history Parker is known as on of the forefathers of the Jazz style Bebop. At the age of 14 he dropped out of school to pursue his study of the alto saxophone. One of my favourite things about him is that when he first started to get out and play he wasn’t the best, a drummer even threw a cymbal at him so he would get off the stage! But he didn’t give up he kept practicing and developed a sound no one had ever heard before. He earned the nickname Yardbird, often shortened to Bird, because of his love of fried chicken. To me these things make him more real. He was an ordinary guy who loved his sax.
Here is his song Yardbird Suite, in which he improvises a solo (first to take a solo) at a ridiculous speed over a continuously changing chord progression, highlighting his depth of knowledge of chords and musical structure.
Remember if you like the song buy it and support the music industry!!