What to do with my Baritone Sax – Part Four

It survived!

My good friend Gustav gave me a hand to pack it.  The secret, he said, was to make sure it was completely immobile inside the case.  So, naturally, we stuffed it full of clothes and put a paperback book between the bell and the case.  Next came the bubble wrap inside the case.  As I said in a previous blog I used suitcase straps to hold it closed due to the busted zip. Then the case got covered completely in bubble wrap and about as much packaging tape.

It does sound like overkill now that I write it out but the upside is that the bari has arrived unharmed.

So, there you go.  My tip of the week of you have to travel with an instrument is to immobilized it inside the case.  It seemed to do the trick.

 

Prelude to ‘An Evening with Snake Davis.’

I can stress enough how happy I am to be back in England.  Barely five minutes in the country and one of my favourite sax players is hosting a ridiculously cheap master-class.  It’s on Wednesday 30th March at The Spice of Life, Cambridge Circus, London.

 

Here are some of the subjects he will be covering:

  • How to form an individual sound.

 

  • How to achieve more expression, better sound, more control, more dynamics, better intonation.

 

  • An in-depth look at vibrato.

 

  • Adopting a less jazz and more pop/rock approach to the short solo.

 

But best of all is the open Q&A, so you’ll literally have the chance to ask him anything you want!

 

What more could you ask for for £5?

Here’s the link

http://www.sax.co.uk/snakemasterclass.html

What to do with my Baritone Sax? – Part Three

Who thinks this is a good idea?

I need to bring a music stand with me and I have one of those collapsable flimsy things.  I was thinking that if I wrap it in bubble wrap, and maybe a towel, and put it in the bell of the bari it could travel that way.  It can count as part of the weight limit for the sax rather than my suitcase.

On the other hand I might be risking killing the sax altogether, what with its pathetic case.

An Evening of Jazz to Say Goodbye

I don’t think there can be a better way to say thank you and goodbye to South Africa than the concert I was in today. The Stellenbosch University Jazz department put on their first informal concert today and I was there filling in on tenor 2. (That’s thanks to a call at midnight two days previously from Felicia who had just been abandoned by her other tenor players.)  Even better, it was a fund raiser to try and get the band back to the Graham’s Town Jazz Festival, something I fully support.

The evening was glorious, if a little breezy. We had a small and regrettably underused outdoor amphitheatre with the various ensembles of the Jazz department taking turns centre stage. It was a chance for the new ensembles to play for a real, paying audience and for the new jazz band singers to strut their stuff.

But for me it was more than that. It was a chance to say goodbye to a lot of very good people, whom I like to count as friends, and it was a chance to have one last go through some scores I genuinely love. It also made me realise something. As we were playing though our last piece, a number with an Afrikaans title I haven’t a hope in hell of remembering (If you read this Felicia please tell me what it is!) I realised that although I am inherently British my time in South Africa had shown me something very important. I have a feel that I didn’t have before for rhythm and groove and it’s a feel that you can only get by coming here and playing this music with the people who are born with it in their veins. I’ll be the first to admit that when I first attempted to solo over it I stuck out like a sore thumb. You might as well have put a sticker on my forehead that said ‘European.’ But that got better with time and that feel something that I will take with me, when I return to England on Monday.

So thank you South Africa, Felicia and everyone in the Stellenbosch University Jazz band and every other ensemble I have played in since I came here. You have all given me something very special and I will never forget it. And if there is one thing that the Jazz Band has taught me, it’s that avocado’s make your hair curly!

What to do with my Baritone Sax – Part 2

The saga of the baritone sax gets worse.  Yesterday was my last day teaching Michael and I can honestly say that there are very few kids who are as much fun to teach as this boy.  So, naturally, I wanted to do something special for his last lesson.

I decided to bring my soprano, alto, tenor and bari to his lesson so he could have a go on each of them and generally have fun.  Unfortunately, when I opened the bari sax case the bloody zip broke in my hand! So now it has a broken handle and won’t close at all.  At least the wheels still work.

So what now? It still has to fly to England in that useless thing.  I don’t have time, or funds to get it repaired or to buy it a new one.  And lets face it I’m in South Africa, the music shops here don’t tend to stock baritone saxophone flight cases anyway. (If they did there would probably be a 100% mark up on it like there are on the high end alto saxes in some places.)

All I can think now is to bind the thing with luggage straps, take out all the extras (mouthpiece etc) put it in boxes and put in as much packing as possible. Then pray.

What to do with my Baritone Sax?

I’m taking the advice of a friend and have decided to put this blog to good use by chronicling my exploits as I move my entire life – and musical career – back to England.  However, I will still be writing about anything interesting that musicians need to know about.

 

As we stand at the moment there is a week to go.  I have packed about 90% of my things and now I’m trying to work out the best way of getting my baritone sax to survive the 11 hour flight.  The problem is that it’s case is shoddy.  It couldn’t even survive a week in Graham’s Town without the one of the zips breaking and a handle falling off. Unfortunately I haven’t a hope of buying it a flight case in the nest few years never mind before I go.

 

On my last trip back to England I wrapped my tenor sax case in foam and found that to work very well.  Of course that was a Hiscox case, which is something my Bari doesn’t have.  I was thinking of creating a box for the case out of sturdy cardboard and filling that with packing material.  Perhaps that, along with the word FRAGILE in BIG letters might be enough to keep it safe.  On the other hand is it really worth the risk?

Where in the world do you go if you are a musician?

I’ve come to the conclusion recently that the adage ‘the grass is always greener’ is totally inescapable.  No matter where you go or what you do there is always something better just over the horizon.  There is always someone better than you as a player and always a better venue you could have picked.

So where is the best place in the world to live if you are a musician?  I suppose it depend on what kind of musician you are.  If you are a didgeridoo player then you might not find a lot of work in New Orleans. Or if you are a serious classical musician then Lincolnshire is probably not the county for you to live in.

But what if you don’t know?  Is there a way to pick when you can’t honestly say what kind of a musician you are?  My current theory is that if you don’t know take to a Big City where you can have a go at everything until you’re sure. (Or if you’re a student go to uni.)  The only problem with that is that it will take you longer to build a reputation.  Actually, thinking about it, maybe its better that a lot of people know you a little bit rather than having a few people know you well.  Take my cousin’s death metal band, in the death metal circles they are very well known and in Switzerland there are adored, but elsewhere in the world they’re completely unknown.

Is there a perfect town, city or area to live in if you are a musician? I’d seriously like to know.  Just what is it that you as a musician are looking for in a city? And what are the things you hate to see?

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