Nonfiction | September 29, 2020

I play the tenor sax, and at sixty-five, I’m usually the youngest in this band. We play the oldest of old standards—very little from after the War, plus novelty tunes, blues. The most senior player is a trumpeter who, even if you ask him, won’t give his age. I don’t ask.

The trumpet is a very physical instrument, and Sam confessed to me once that he never practiced. The band leader introduces him as having “that fat New Orleans sound,” which, I think, is likely a result of him being as old as he is, and never practicing on the most unforgiving of horns. It all depends on what you mean by “fat.”

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