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What Made Me Start Playing the Saxophone at Age 54? by Alfred Philip


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#1 Ken Ng

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Posted 06 February 2014 - 01:12 PM

Here's a short story by Alfred Philip - (What Made Me Start Playing the Saxophone at Age 54), one of our saxophone community member. It's never too late to learn and pick up saxophone. I hope his story will motivate all sax players as well.

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My mantra has always been: I will start playing the Sax when I retire from work, but when I met this young and talented saxophone player during the afterparty of last year's Curacao North Sea Jazz Festival, he changed my mind. I talked to him after his gig and before I knew he sold me an Antigua saxophone of Chinese make for only $400.

 

Long before this, however, I was raised in a musical environment: My dad played records of Nat King Cole and he mastered the harmonica, the guitar and keyboard, my brother played the sax (Martin) but stopped and continued with percussion and singing in a band, my elder sister played the flute when she was in secondary school, my youngest sister sings in a salsa band and is a salsa instructor and yet another sister is a good samba and salsa dancer. I was in fact the only sibling of 5 that  didn't actively dance or play an instrument, but this didn't mean I didn't like music. I loved it, especially soul, rhythm and blues and jazz music.

 

The other tunes and beats of music I can remember from an early age, were the ones I heard from my elder brother's record player and Akai tape recorder. He used to throw these great parties during the late sixties and I always loved listening to the horn sections in the likes of James Brown, Atetha Franklin, Otis Redding (sitting on the dock of the bay)Wilson Picket, Sam & Dave, that reached me all the way up in the attic where I was supposed to sleep.

 

When I was about 13 years old I went to the flea market at the Waterlooplein (Waterloo square) in Amsterdam and after I had strolled around for a few minutes I heard the sound of a saxophone! I sharpened my ears to be able to hear where the sound was coming from and in a while I found this artist that sold wooden saxophones. I was in awe: never had I seen such a beautiful sax made from bamboo wood.

 

He had not one but several of these extraordinary saxophones that were for sale. I informed after the price and it was quite a lot of money: 200 Dutch florins (In those days the currency was still guilders which would now be the equivalent of a $100). I didn't know what I know now: I should have bought the saxophone so I would have had a very exclusive saxophone and be an advanced player instead of a middle aged man struggling with titlesongs of movies like the Titanic “I will go on”.

 

Since that time I have never seen a saxophone made out of wood again and that's why I regret not having bought one even though I had to borrow the money to buy one at the time. Maybe I should Google one on the internet to see what it looked like, because I have no idea whether I will recognize one when I see one. What I do remember is the sound: everybody was listening when this saxophone builder played his self-built saxophones.

 

Next time I will tell about listening to Spyro Gyra at full blast on an eight track recorder in my very first car: a small Datsun Cherry heading for Narbonne in the south of France.

 

PS: This is one of the pics I found: sax-tenor-sib.jpg

 

None of them looks like the ones I saw back then.

 

 


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#2 gdeleon

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 07:45 PM

I also learned to play the saxophone at later age like you and I still consider myself as a beginner. I'm self taught although I am considering gettting formal lessons if I can find the right teacher. For me playing the saxophone is a kind of therapy which relaxes and relieves me of stress somehow. Also started with a chinese alto saxophone but quickly outgrew it.



#3 Akira

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Posted 30 June 2015 - 05:55 PM

i begin with 32 almost 33

;)



#4 thomasjojo

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Posted 06 July 2015 - 09:00 AM

hi, and thanks for the inspiring words. my self started to play after 40, in fact 2 years ago. I have always loved jazz and one day some years ago, I was on my way to the local supermarked for food, I found a ticket to a concert the same night, a Marcus Miller concert in Oslo.

I went there, and I was in awe after that, bought plenty of records and decided to start to play bass. but before I acuired one, I found my self more and more interested in the sound of sax. and the next year after Millers performance, I was called and asked if I could shoot photos (portraits) of Joshua Redman, as I was to cover hes performance same night. I did, as I allready had listened alot to him and was looking foreward to his performance at oslo jazzfestival. I did. met him, had a chat, took some good portraits and concert shots, and after that I just had an urge to play. I bought shortly after an alto (B&S 2001 iv) because I read somewhere that newbees should start on alto. its ok. I love it. cant play much at home, but as often I can I practise. now Im working on learning 'Cry me a river'
ps. I met Redman the following year in another jazzfestival and he still inspires me. great guy.

#5 Igor

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Posted 22 August 2015 - 12:13 AM

i begin with 43 :) 



#6 Igor

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Posted 22 August 2015 - 12:14 AM

Thanks for the story. It motivates



#7 SaxLife

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Posted 24 August 2015 - 04:58 PM

I started at 39, 3 and a half years ago.  I stumbled onto a video on youtube of a guy by the name of artinsound and he played 2 songs: careless whisper and nothings gonna change my love for you  and from then on i was hooked.  I've been playing everyday for the last 3 and a half years.  






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