Apples and oranges. Guitars and saxophones? In my mind, wind instruments have always seemed rather foreign or alien. I am a guitar man and have been since I can really remember.
For that matter, stringed instruments in general just seem to make sense to me, especially since I learned how to play guitar. My appreciation for jazz has grown with my love of music. But I remain mystified by wind instruments, both brass and wooden. I tried to play a saxophone one time, and couldn’t even get the thing to make noise!
But I’ve heard it said that Jimi Hendrix was a fan of the saxophone and drew inspiration from players like John Coltrane. For me, that concept didn’t entirely make sense at first. Guitar players playing like saxophone players?
The Bob Thompson Unit
A few years ago, I saw the Bob Thompson Unit live. They had a saxophone player with them that night, and it was an awesome show. In one song, Ryan Kennedy and the sax player synced up their melodies together, and Ryan had switched on the overdrive or distortion and they played the melody together.
What was most surprising was how great it sounded!!! The guitar almost began to sound like a saxophone! Now fast forward a couple of years. I play lead guitar (and rhythm guitar) in my church and we also have a saxophone player who plays with us.
It shouldn’t have surprised me so much, but I recognized almost immediately that we (lead guitar and saxophone) were in fact occupying the same musical space. What seemed so foreign before suddenly grew very familiar.
Playing with others is always an exercise in give and take and especially in this case. His sax solo and my guitar solo may sound great, but only when played separately!
When played together, it tends not make much sense musically, like a debate where everyone is shouting and not listening.
We have a give and take and a better understanding of each other now; sometimes he’ll give me space to cut loose and vice versa. It goes to show that connections (musical or otherwise) can show up in the most unlikely places.