The Art of Breath
Musings from a Saxophonist Blog
by Ellery Eskelin
1M ago
    I just took a bike ride through Central Park this afternoon and stopped to listen to a jazz combo play the tune “Star Eyes”.  Took me a minute to remember the title but it was a stalwart choice at jam sessions back in the day.  And a nice tune which got stuck in my head as I tried to recall the chord changes while continuing on my ride.  Of course once I got home I had to play though it, remembering all the little nooks and crannies where one can inject clever little ideas to connect the contours of an otherwise straightforward song.  I’m going to guess ..read more
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What is it we want to say?
Musings from a Saxophonist Blog
by Ellery Eskelin
2M ago
Last evening I attended a contemporary chamber music concert to which I’d been invited by some friends I hadn’t seen in awhile. It was located within walking distance so I got there a few moments before start time, took a seat in the front row and tried to relax from the jarring energy that is midtown Manhattan. Before long a gentleman came to the front of the room and introduced himself as the artistic director of the ensemble. He prefaced his remarks by apologizing that he did not have a witty means of conveying his feelings about the present political situation in the US, while still man ..read more
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Solo Concert 12/15/2023
Musings from a Saxophonist Blog
by Ellery Eskelin
7M ago
This past Friday evening I performed a solo concert in Brooklyn. It was my second concert in about four years, the previous one also being solo which took place in 2021.   This particular concert took place at a zen temple.  More about that in a moment. The Set Up… Preparing for any concert requires concentrated practice but a solo concert is perhaps the most demanding.  I began focusing my daily practice a couple of months in advance, gradually ramping things up in earnest about a month out only to encounter a bad bout of “reed neurosis”, something that does not happen oft ..read more
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What's the Story?
Musings from a Saxophonist Blog
by Ellery Eskelin
8M ago
 If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time you know that… 1. I’m an improvisor. 2. I’m an advocate for acoustic music. 3. I have my concerns as to the ways technology affects our experience of music. Perhaps more than any of these things I am a listener.  These days it feels just as gratifying to listen to someone play music as it does to play it myself.  As such I’m beginning to realize that beyond my love for jazz, improvisation and the saxophone the real artistic medium to be spoken of is the concert experience itself.   You may also have noticed that I ..read more
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A Radio Interview
Musings from a Saxophonist Blog
by Ellery Eskelin
1y ago
Veteran saxophonist Dave Sewelson has just invited me to be a guest on his radio program.  Dave has been living in NYC since 1977 and has played with an array of wonderful musicians.  I look forward to conversing with him and comparing notes on a swath of music history.  Along the way I'll be sharing some recordings, not yet sure what, putting that together now.  Of special note is the fact that this will be done under the auspices of WFMU radio, a broadcasting institution that has served as an essential part of the cultural soundscape for decades.  They are in fact t ..read more
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An Extended Appreciation (of a somewhat confused nature)
Musings from a Saxophonist Blog
by Ellery Eskelin
1y ago
2022/23... We are fast approaching 2023, an old year out, a new year in.  It was in March of 1983 that I made the move to New York City, as in forty years ago, kind of a large number.  Maybe I’ll have some thoughts about that down the road but at the moment it feels compelling to note the passing of this year in the traditional way, an assessment in which we might consider the way forward as we enter into the coming new one.   On a note of gratitude I might begin by expressing an appreciation of music.   “There's nothing like being in the presence of great musical artist ..read more
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It occurs to me…
Musings from a Saxophonist Blog
by Ellery Eskelin
1y ago
Now that things have opened up to a great extent compared with conditions two and a half years ago I’m getting out more and running into folks I haven’t seen in awhile.  A common question I'm asked is “so, have you been traveling?”  “No”, which I usually say matter-of-factly, giving pause afterwards for effect.  And I’m not even sure what it is I’m wanting to convey by that. It happened just this afternoon in fact.  My wife and I were biking in Central Park and came across a jazz group led by trumpeter Ryo Sasaki in which a friend of mine, saxophonist Chris Bacas, often pl ..read more
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The 55 (and others...)
Musings from a Saxophonist Blog
by Ellery Eskelin
2y ago
We’ve lost a number of important venues in the city recently.  Cornelia Street Cafe, The Jazz Standard and just a few months ago the 55 Bar.  This might be seen as part of an ongoing process, I could easily list a dozen or more clubs that have closed their doors since I came to New York in 1983 but there were new ones to take their place.  However, conditions these past couple of years have been exceptionally hard on businesses and while we’ve had to accept these realities I’m finding the loss of the 55 to be hitting emotionally close to home given my proximity to events in the ..read more
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The aesthetics of losing control
Musings from a Saxophonist Blog
by Ellery Eskelin
2y ago
I once had an aesthetics professor in college, an older man with a long white beard, I wish I could recall his name.  He seemed a bit eccentric and I found him intriguing.  I recall little about the course except for two things.  Once during a class discussion, seemingly unrelated to whatever topic we were on, he started talking about drug use saying that whatever length of time one were to have been involved with drugs would require an equal amount of time going back through whatever it was you went through just in order to undue the damage and regain your sensibilities.  ..read more
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Music from last century…
Musings from a Saxophonist Blog
by Ellery Eskelin
2y ago
Work on the archive slowed these past months as I searched for someone who owned a working DAT machine.  Interesting how a new audio format hits the scene with great excitement only to be rendered obsolete within a relatively short amount of time.  Fortunately my friend Mikel Rouse (composer and subject of the previous post) came to the rescue and transferred a slew of tapes, a select number of which I’ve added to the Band Camp archive.  These recordings are of an earlier vintage than the rest, starting in 1992 with my first solo concert, recorded live at the old Knitting Facto ..read more
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