Saturday, June 25, 2011

My Really Ugly Tenor Sax...

I've received a few comments over the years from well meaning people that try to inform me about the look of my treasured Tenor Sax...

Usually, it's something like..."Uh, you might do a little better or get more gigs if you had a Tenor Sax that looked really nice, you know, like those really shiny colored ones that all the hip sax players play."

As soon as I hear a comment like that from someone in the music "Biz" I know right away that though well meaning, folks that offer a comment like that don't know a lick about Saxophones and are really, just showing their ignorance when it comes to musical instruments.

You see, my Tenor Sax is a vintage King Super 20 with a silver plated neck that probably dates to the late 1950s.
The King Super 20s, particularly the ones with silver plated necks and bells as well as certain mother of pearl pearl keys are highly sought after by collectors and players and command thousands on the vintage sax market.

My "Super 20" as they are affectionately known by horn collectors and players is rather used looking. In fact, most of the lacquer is rubbed off and the glossy plating is 90% gone.
It's one rather ugly looking Tenor Sax.

But here's what people that make uninformed comments to me about the look of my Tenor Sax don't know is that not only are the King Super 20 Sax's from the 1940's and 50's sought after for their known value, they are still some of the best SOUNDING Saxophones ever made.
The 1940s and 50s King Saxophones were played by the greatest saxophone players ever known like Charlie Parker, Cannonball Adderley, and Wilton Felder just to name a few.
In fact, many Modern Sax manufacturers are currently producing new horns with no lacquer on them at all in an attempt to imitate the look and sound of these classic horns.

Several sax manufacturers are putting out horns that look and feel somewhat akin to the vintage saxophones by King, Selmer (Mk IV) and a few others, but the metal work on vintage horns is rather difficult to duplicate. is the sound of these instruments hard to duplicate.

When I listen to comments from folks that don't know anything about saxophones criticize my Tenor I know right away that those comments come from well meaning individuals that are more enamored with the way a horn "looks" rather than the way a sax "sounds".

We live in an age of constant "Image". Since the early 1980s Image, or how things "appear" has replaced real substance or how things really "are". Televisions throw fast paced and beautiful images that are edited and directed to sell a product or someone's agenda with flashy and attractive scenes and beautiful models.
Movies with one hundred million dollar budgets throw up scenes of beautiful actors and actresses at us with ever louder soundtracks and super sharp 3D images meant to thrill us with the spectacle.
Computers and gaming consoles now compete with the big screen and in fact are overtaking sales numbers of movies with incredibly life like video games, some that are so incredibly violent that studies show these games can numb the senses and feelings of people that play them if not moderated.
Pornographic Images proliferate the world wide web with altered images of the human body that are digitally enhanced and modified to make them as attractive as possible to those addicted to pornography, ruining marriages and lives along the way.
While I am a very big movie fan and no prude, I've become increasingly concerned about how many people cannot seem to discern the difference between the "Image" that's projected on T.V., Movie, and computer screens and what's really real.

My Tenor Sax is called the King Super 20 and is one of the ugliest looking Tenors saxes you may come across. It's aged and sort of beat up just like it's player, but when you hear it either live or on a recording you will immediately know that what it looks like has nothing in common with the gorgeous, nuanced, colorful, huge sound it produces. And also how highly prized it is by those educated and discerning enough to know it's real worth.

I'll take real substance over glittery looks every time...and yes, I am the sax player.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Facing Headwinds...

When I was a teenager I used to ride my burgundy Schwinn Continental 10 speed just about every day in the summers after school let out.
I was very proud of that beautiful wine colored bike and would polish it up and maintain it meticulously, taking it apart, lubricating the chain and gears, making sure the tires and tubes were in great shape.
Riding in Colorado is a wonderful experience almost anywhere along the front range as many professional bike racers have found out, and so they come to this area just to train.

In the summers before I went off to College I would ride 10 miles out to the Adams county fairgrounds and then back again in the intense, dry, Colorado summer heat just about every day.

After I began recovering from injuries sustained in a car accident in 2010, I needed to get back in shape so out came the 15 speed pseudo mountain bike (It's a Huffy, don't laugh) and pedal power became once again, my favorite form of exercise.
At first it was grueling pedaling, huffing and puffing my way only about 2-3 miles, but after about three weeks or so I was beginning to get my "riding legs" back to the point where 6-8 miles or so isn't that difficult.

Today was a different story however. The winds were blowing hard from the north as they do in the Great Plains just east of the Rockies. Weather fronts push down from the northwest into Colorado just as they were today, and I found myself riding into stiff headwinds heading towards home.

As my 50 something legs began protesting at the pushing I was asking them to do and a brutal headwind was blowing me around with cars flying by, I offered up a little prayer..."Lord, if you can lessen these headwinds a little I would really appreciate it."
Now, those who may not believe that God hears such small, seemingly trivial prayers like this one might be tempted to ask the question... "What makes you think a mighty God, that you say created the entire universe would answer such a measly, off the cuff prayer from one individual?"

I've asked that very question myself in the past, and I think it's a good one.

As I was pedaling...quickly running out of steam and doing my personal version of "The little engine that could" I put my head down, shifting gears several times battling the stiff headwind and lo and behold, sooner than I thought, I came to the juncture in the road where I had to turn east. Approaching the turn I began thinking to myself..."O.K., I wonder what the wind will be like heading east? if It's coming from the north, east might not be any better and I've got a ways to go."

As I made the turn eastward, to my great surprise, the wind seemed to be at my back, which was strange because riding out earlier, the wind was at my back as I was heading west!
Now that's just weird...the wind was at my back going the opposite direction before, and now it's pushing me eastward?
It was just a seemingly small, meager, but heartfelt prayer...

If you're confronting stiff headwinds...facing things you did not expect at this point in your life.
Perhaps it's a divorce, loss of a parent or child, a serious illness you yourself are dealing with, or someone that you care deeply about, maybe you're experiencing loss of a job. First of all, know that you are not alone, many have faced the "stiff headwinds" life throws at us. Including the person writing this blog.

And also know that God does indeed listen to our simple, meager, but heartfelt prayers said in faith. He hears them and answers those prayers not only of the smallest, seemingly trivial requests, but the big kind as well.

"Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you" Matt. 7:7