“Contributions to the world of saxophone” conjures up many recent memories. Two years ago, with all the promise and hope of springtime, Michael Brecker and I conversed by email. We spoke briefly of his illness and the hope of an interview when he was feeling better. As we now know, Mike managed to squeeze out his final and perhaps most special recording in the summer of 2006. Remission or recovery was not meant to be and neither was the intended interview for Saxophone Journal. Oddly enough, I had a gig to play in Hastings On Hudson last month. The exclusive community just north of the Bronx and only minutes from New York City was home to Michael Brecker and his family until his passing. Following the recent gig, I set out to discover and witness the house Michael and his family called home. Part of me felt as though I was trespassing. Another part of me felt I was paying homage to an inspiration.
The home overlooking the Hudson made no suggestion of who had lived there. It was simply a nice home in a nice area outside NYC. No one could know the genius that lived behind its stonewall for so many years. I knew. Being close to his home made me feel close to Mike once again. Many who knew Mike well comment on how he made them feel special and how he valued their opinion and influence. During the brief encounters I had with Mike, he made me feel special as well. You can read this outstanding NPR article on Michael Brecker’s final recording, Pilgrimage here: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=10459940
Recently I have interviewed both Theo Wanne and Jody Espina for a two-part series on modern mouthpiece manufacturing. The interviews will be published in Saxophone Journal one after the other and focus on each individual as well as each manufacturer. Theo’s spirituality guides him in life and in mouthpiece design. Jody’s passion and energy keep him focused on building his company and enjoying his success. Theo is a bit of a nomad and has lived in Philadelphia, California, New Hampshire and again his hometown of Bellingham, Washington over the past few years. Jody on the other hand has been a longtime resident of New York City and is just now moving out of Tribeca to the more peaceful surroundings of Savannah, Georgia. Both talented mouthpiece manufacturers talk about their own unique perceptions of mouthpieces, players and manufacturing in the upcoming interviews for Saxophone Journal.
As mentioned earlier, there are many new transcription samples added to SaxShed.com this month. As usual, the samples share part of the completed transcriptions I’ve worked on lately. A couple new complete transcriptions have been added as well. Look for Phil Wood’s solo on Just the Way You Are and David Sanborn’s solo on Ooh Baby Baby. They are classic pop saxophone solos from the 70s I’ve intended to add for a long, long time.
Back to the present…As a frequent participant on the world wide web, I have learned that the measure of success can – or cannot – be the outcome of a Google search of our name. Google the name of someone you know may reveal a wealth of information or a futile search for relevant information. Recently, I used a search engine to seek out hits on my own name. (Come on now, we’ve all done it.) The expected hits came up with saxshed.com and Saxophone Journal. There were also a few unexpected ones but THIS next comment was my favorite. Sax on the Web Forum has long been a great place to share ideas and opinions on the world of saxophone. One post shared this humbling and enlightening comment: “Skip Spratt (whoever the hell that is) had the best tone of all the clips.” I’m flattered that someone likes my sound – even if they don’t know “who the hell” I am! J
For those who have asked when I am releasing my own music cd – there is some progress. I recently took the myspace plunge and now have a presence there. You can listen to or download some of my mp3s. It’s one step closer to having a full-length cd available. Please stop by and drop me a note at http://www.myspace.com/skipspratt
In life, we can’t take ourselves too seriously. Thank goodness for the internet. It keeps us informed and in my case – it keeps me humbled.