Sir Duke

Dusted off the Selmer last night. Was watching a terrible Clint Eastwood film mid-afternoon, eyes half closed, when facebook pinged. Did someone know a sax player in Hackney, ping. David Harrison? ping. Just around the corner, ping. And ping and ping. And here’s the set list, ping. Some funny keys, but I did a quick Health & Safety assessment, and flung open the wardrobe to see if anything said ‘Smart but Casual’. I went for Ted Baker and chunky cardy. Essex boy meets 1970s English teacher. Boom. Sir Duke was on the list. Now, I’ve *always* played this in Bflat (key of G on alto) but it turns out the original is in B. Who knew? And frankly, having learnt the big horn line as a sixteen-year-old, I always played it like a sixteen-year-old. In years of function gigs I kind of busked it, good enough, there was often a dodgy bit in the staggered pentatonic falls where I just strobed a bit with everyone else but well never mind. So I’m finding a reed and a strap and looking up the changes to Cantaloupe, and it’s nagging me. So I google ‘Sir Duke horn line image’ and up pop a gazillion different versions, some for sale, many just way more wrong than the one in my memory and I look at the clock and there’s time. I find the mp3, and I open up Sibelius, and transcribe it in G sharp. G bloody sharp. I know, but you know down a minor third and add three sharps for alto and everything and you might think A flat is easier well yes at the end, obviously, to read, but not in my head I don’t care.
And I’m done. I print it, I locate a music stand, I walk up to the gig in my S-but-C. First tune, The Chicken, obviously, it’s like some sort of jazz haka for function giggers everywhere, just lays it out there, this is what you’re going to get, are you ready for us? Next up, Sir Duke. My music’s on the stand. No other horns, and the bandleader looks anxiously over. I point to the sheet of paper on my stand and he gives me the thumbs up. Clearly no one else is joining in on the break. Not even the bass player? Okay no sweat, I have this puppy covered. If you can cover a puppy. Four-bar break. Horn stab bad-ap! and another, baap. Repeat. Two-three-four:
And at the exact moment at which the entire band stops for me to play this iconic passage of pop, a four-year-old runs past and crashes into my stand, sending my labour, my luck, my immediate future, floating off in the direction of the samosa bar.

Bap. A-floodap. A-doobie, app-boodle-doobie-do-ap, wa-da-dap. Bla, da, ba, da-be-doobie-oobie, woobly-oo-bi-do-bi-do-dap. Da, do-bi-oo-bi-do-bi boodle-doo, bu-doodle be-di-be-di-bo-di-o-do, dop. (Ah)bo-do-boo-di-do-bi-o-bappidah, bappidah, bappidah, WA-DAP!


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