[Dixielandjazz] Sqaxophones and Steve Jensen

Charlie Hooks charliehooks@earthlink.net
Sat, 22 Jun 2002 10:46:07 -0500

. "If a friend of yours wants to learn to play in a Dixieland jazz band, and
has never played ANY instrument,and asks you which one would get him there
fastest, what would you tell him/her?"

QUESTION!  How, pray tell, gentlemen, does this request translate into the
question, "What instrument is hardest?"

Please! I'm serious.  "Which one would get him there fastest"  is now "which
one is the hardest"?   Curiouser and curiouser, as Alice once said.

    I submit this true anecdote:

Some 30 years ago Ragtime Charlie Rasch, of stride piano fame in Michigan,
sent me a Xerox of a wonderful page from a 1911 "Etude" magazine, old
format, an 11" X 14" (or larger?).  I still have a Xerox of that Xerox
somewhere, if any of you doubt this.  A full page ad.

    Title in large type overhead:

                    ANYONE CAN PLAY SAXOPHONE !!!

Underneath is a photogravure engraving of a kid wearing a billed cap, belted
knee breetches, sitting at a music stand with his buddy looking over his
shoulder.  It continues:

    "If you have tried other instruments and failed, do not be discouraged!"

    Etc, etc.  The most insulting (to Saxophone players!) ad possible.

I immediately Xeroxed it, many copies, to send to players like Eric
Schneider (whom I admire greatly!) who needed taking down a peg.  To his
credit, he loved it!

Must say, ad was essentially correct.  To play sax well: a lifetime.  To
merely play sax: about half an hour.  I remember Steve Jensen, trumpeter
extraordinaire, now deceased:  "I tried saxophone at the University and
thought, "Holy s..t!  That's all there is to it...?"

Well, o.k.: I'll admit: the half hour is only if you already play clarinet!

clarinet player who misses Steve Jensen