Portraits and Instruments

April 04, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

Partly as an aid to myself to learn musicians' names, I started organizing pictures of musicians on facebook.

John Mills rests during a Suzi Stern solo at the Elephant Room.John Mills Unfortunately, facebook has had issues recently with pictures disappearing, so I'm moving that project over to my own site. This will give me more control of the pictures, too. The advantage of facebook is that friends can help me identify people I've not been able to identify. I think facebook will remain the best way to do that. Meanwhile, I'll start working on using my site to show the best portraits. It's a work in progress, so bear with me as I work through all the pictures.

I've also added a folder of collections of instrument pictures. This way, I can look someone up by what instrument they play. I'm not quite sure at this point whether this should be a public or a private folder. So you may or may not be able to see it.

Actually, it's not so much pictures of instruments as it is pictures of the musicians sorted by what instrument they play. If they play multiple instruments, they will be listed in several categories.

I'm learning that I need to get better at recognizing instruments. I suspect, for example, that I have some alto and tenor saxophones confused. At a glance, I think most tenor saxes have an inflection point in the neck that is not present in altos, but that's not a universal generalization. And, of course, tenors are bigger than altos.

Also, I'm not sure I know the difference between bongos and congas. I guess congas are taller.

Sometimes there will be specific significance to an instrument, and I may pay special attention to it. An example would be Tony Campise's bass flute, which, last I heard is being kept by Kris Kimura.

I do miss hearing Tony play that flute. The sound he was able to produce with it was hauntingly beautiful, even able to quiet a rowdy crowd. I do have pictures, but they're not on the website yet.

It is still possible to hear bass flute at the Elephant Room by going there when Kris Kimura is playing.Ephraim Owen I was going to go last night, in fact, but it was too difficult for me to stay away. I ended up going to bed instead. Perhaps next month.

Every now and then, I'm fortunate enough to witness the first public playing of a new instrument. The most recent occurrence of this was Ephraim Owens' new flugelhorn. Ephraim explained during the New Year 2012 show, that he bought a flugelhorn that was too difficult to play in tune. It was not in tune with itself, and it was too much work to compensate. He returned it and got this one instead. It's a beautiful instrument. Time will tell whether this instrument passes his quality test. It sounded great to me, other than the issue with the condensation. There's a spit valve, but Ephraim used a baton twirling-like motion to clear the condensation that was apparently more effective than using the spit valve.

Another special instrument was the accordian played by George Oldziey. I had no idea until the song was announced, that there would be a debut performance. I decided to record the performance and ask permission afterward. Fortunately, Suzi Stern approved. You can watch this performance on my vimeo site or on youtube. The song was written by Suzi Stern in memory of her dear friend Tina Marsh.

Again, this is a work in progress. If you see anything filed incorrectly, please don't hesitate to let me know, so I can move things around appropriately.


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