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Taste Rite

by Seymour Wright

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Taste Rite 28:03


Taste Rite (2020)

An alto-saxophone solo [after Jamal Cyrus, Johnny Hodges, Judith Rich Harris, and Sandor Ellix Katz]

[Johnny Hodges’] tonal charisma is difficult to describe, but he always referred to it as his "kitchen".

So wrote Duke Ellington of the great alto-saxophonist. Re-reading these words this April was powerful and set me thinking about a certain way of playing. Evan Parker had a kitchen where he could practice, a space that was important in enabling what he did. And Jamal Cyrus has taken this further in Texas Fried Tenor (2012) as part of his Learning To Work The Saxophone series.

I wanted to play the saxophone through the human, quotidian and vital processes of the kitchen, and cooking – saxophone qua kitchen qua saxophone – beyond Foley, to get at something more hearty, nourishing and transformative (and traditional). To ‘cook’ with the saxophone and get at its flavours, fats, traces. To serve a saxophonic menu:

- body of Blechblas und Signal (1969) alto-saxophone stuffed with fermented (Woodpecker, 2017*) solo
- alto neck (from the same instrument) filled with an effervescent foam,
- sauted (aged) Hemke No 2 reeds
- blanched Brilhart Level-air 5star mouthpiece and Rico Plasticover, (with half a raw Hemke No 2 grated on top)

And freshly crushed pepper – white, pink, green and black.

Recorded London, late summer 2020.

*I spend hours in my kitchen, and the (boundless) relationship between the ethics of what we eat, grow and create is integral to what I do. During lockdown the kitchen became the only space that I could play. It also became a place (domestic/private) to survey and process the world (public/local and global) in new ways, like so much in 2020, without much lived precedent.

Pre-lockdown, a woodpecker could be heard close to my flat (in Haggerston, east London) every morning of last winter (in the old and new year). When lockdown started – listening from inside kitchen windows out – the bird disappeared. It seemed to signal a shifted world.

Again pre-lockdown, the arborial boom of morning beak on bark reminded me often of the hollow creak and fizz of alto against fibre glass in the dome at Milano Marittima’s [Milan-on-sea] Discoteca Woodpecker – or now ex-Woodpecker. It is a beautiful and unlikely building, with open walls. A disco at a beach resort on the Adriatic coast designed by Filippo Marni and built in 1966 (to match – or ‘echo’ – the proportions of the Filippo Brunelleschi’s 1296/1433 dome in Florence). A relic now of a certain glamorous fun and decadence past, abandoned, derelict, overgrown with reeds.

I played a solo there in the summer of 2017 at the invitation of the organisations MAGMA and MU. It was a solo about the building, its history, locale (and the reeds). An important solo for me. But the recording, elegantly recorded by Giovanni Lami, remains unreleased.

As news emerged from northern Italy early this year I thought again of that visit and the people I met there (and the solo that emerged) often – and returned to the recording. In the end over the last couple of months I went further than re-listening. I sought to distil it somehow. To draw its essence-past, emotional flavour, but not its original form or texture, into the present.


released September 8, 2020


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