Lester Leaps In

I pressed down and played. A swirl of squeaks and hollers came screaming from the end of my horn, yet I knew better than to think they were any good. They were too thin, too shallow, so I plunged back in. Shooting up the scale, I went as high as I could, and still I didn’t like what I heard. My sound was off, way off. I set my soprano down and stared out the window. Naturally all I saw were the clubs I had played at over the years. Crazy places in downtown Reno like the Elbow Room and the Pekinese Club, gigs that were wide open and ready to go, but then something would always happen that brought us down, like an owner going on a drunk, or a joint closing because of unpaid bills, and then the job would be gone—poof, lost to the vapors forever. Finally I fell in with the house band high atop the Phoenix Hotel, the baddest daddy of them all. For now, the entire twenty-first floor was down for construction. The last I heard, the bigwigs said we would come roaring back just in time for the holidays, banging out tunes for the likes of Wayne Newton or Debbie Reynolds in a big flashy showroom, complete with tall ceilings and a full array of spotlights, capable of hitting the stage from all angles with ever-widening bands of white light.

I picked my horn back up and stared at it. I couldn’t believe anything so small could be so mean. But that was the case with this one. Since diving into it a few weeks ago, this new and different kind of saxophone has taken me up, down, and all around. The day I had spent tracking it down in an L.A. music store, I played horn after horn until I found this one, a King, one of the top brands. I liked how it felt in my hands, straight and narrow, just right for taking me to the promised land.

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