My Old Lady Horn

There was a time, when I desperately sought to sell my horn, not being able to feed myself. 

So I went to my custom sax repair shop to visit my friend Paul, he has been my very trustworthy sax doc, ever since I moved to Berlin. Every musician in a big city like Berlin needs a trustworthy instrument doc. 

I guess I was very lucky, Paul was an incredibly talented guy, he could mend anything. Like my totally squashed horn, that had recently fallen out of my case in the middle of the street, because I had forgotten to properly engage the latches of my case. Happened three times in three decades, is that still too often? Yeah, I guess it is. 

Paul was a kind and helpful guy and a great fan of my music and he specifically loved my tone. 

He was obviously overwhelmed by my decision to sell my horn and refused to take it in commission.   

He told me, that he had mended and played several hundred horns in his career, but never has he come across a horn with such an incredibly fat sound.  

He persuaded me not to give it away, I should rather find a place somewhere outside to play for my most urgent needs.  

He described the fatness in the sound and called it a world wonder. Paul said, I was going to deeply regret having sold it.  

I felt crushed by Paul’s efforts to prevent me from the worst, but besides being totally uninspired and fed up of the DIY fight, I was simply too desperate in need of money, so I left my horn to Paul with a split personality. One side secretly hoping, that he would prevent my horn from being sold and my other side craving for the money.  

About eight months later I still hadn’t heard a word from Paul. And I woke up one morning realizing that I could still stand a chance of getting my horn back. And since I obviously hadn’t starved to death and was still waking up in my own bed on a daily basis, I decided to visit Paul. And although I knew that there was a high chance of my horn still being there, I was scared as shit in light of my fear and scarcity driven decision to sell my horn and realizing how insanely hilarious and stupid it was to try to solve a short term problem by getting rid of my most important workhorse. So I walk towards Paul to his working bench and the moment he see’s me, he instantly smiles a very broad smile and runs off to get my horn. 

Paul said, that he was betting on when I was going to show up.  

We were both so glad, nobody had purchased my beautiful Old Lady Horn! 

I’m still wandering, if Paul was actually hiding my horn from customers all that time. I didn’t ever dare to ask him.  

That day was was one the happiest days of my life. I sat in my kitchen that night, with my lady horn resting on the table in front of me, swearing to myself and to her, that I would never, ever give her away again.  

I only recently had her in general overhaul. Sadly Paul couldn’t take the Job.  

There was no Paul when I entered the shop this time. Paul had died of cancer, only 49 years young.  

That's how old I am today. Every time I close the sax case and carefully engage the latches, I think about Paul. 

The kindest Instrument maker and best sax doc in the world.  

He probably saved my Horn and a big part of my musical identity and personal dignity. He didn’t just sell my horn no questions asked, he was concerned and he cared. Paul, my sax doc and greatest fan. He always encouraged me to stick to my aspirations and dreams. 

I will always miss you.  

As my sax doc and as my friend. 

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My Old Lady Horn is a SELMER „BALANCED ACTION“, manufactured 1955, probably in Paris, France.  

Here’s my personal golden line of the five greatest horn players that have influenced me, and their current age, when my horn was manufactured.

Their sounds have deeply influenced me and many of their musical attributes run through my veins.  

Ben Webster (46)  

John Coltrane (19) 

Stan Getz (18) 

Maceo Parker (12) 

Jan Garbarek (8)

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