Yesterday afternoon I drove over to play some tenor sax in a newly-formed band. It was a 50 minute journey to the rehearsal, but I’d decided it was worthwhile because the keyboard player is a guy I grew up with and we’ve not met up for – we reckoned – 45 years. We went our separate ways across the wide world, and now find we’ve providentially ended up in the same neck of the woods in the west country.
It was more than just a reunion though (but what better reunion than to turn up after that time and start working on music?). Because for about twenty years before we last met, his father used to play alto sax in the dance band in which my father played tenor. And indeed, Dad used the very same tenor sax I still play and took to the practice. It seems somehow very fitting to keep a 65-year musical association going.
After I tuned up, my friend said the sound reminded him of Saturday afternoons when he was a kid, as his father practised the stuff for the gig that evening – exactly the same last-minute preparation that happened across town in our house. The shared experience even extended to memories of our respective parents sticking the instrument under the kitchen tap to seal worn pads – on the semi-pro scene then there was neither the money, nor maybe even readily-available knowledge, for proper mmaintenance and repairs. My tenor still has marks from the rubber bands formerly used as a substitute for broken springs.
At the time sharing Saturday afternoons in a small house with a noisy saxophone seemed normal. Only afterwards did we find out that other kids’ dads went to football matches or out fishing. Both our fathers died some years ago. In retrospect I’m glad still to be playing my Dad’s tenor sax to people than wearing his football scarf.