Your’s truly… One More For the Road
A review of the $250 Opus USA alto saxophone
There once was a jazz musician. Who had no inhibition. Never disgraced if he fell on his face – since his triumphs launched solar emissions.
There is a famous quote attributed to Mahatma Gandhi in which he states to admire Jesus, but not followers. In one version, he speaking to E. Stanley Jones, author of “The Christ of the Indian Road”. In response to a question about bringing Christianity to India Mr. Gandhi states, “I would suggest first of all
My review of the $250 “Opus USA” alto saxophone. Purchased to play while my Selmer alto is in the shop.
There once was a jazz musician.
Who had no inhibition.
Never disgraced if he fell on his face – since his triumphs launched solar emissions.
There is a famous quote attributed to Mahatma Gandhi in which he states to admire Jesus, but not followers. In one version, he speaking to E. Stanley Jones, author of “The Christ of the Indian Road”. In response to a question about bringing Christianity to India Mr. Gandhi states,
“I would suggest first of all that all of you Christians, missionaries and all begin to live more like Jesus Christ.”
I grew up going to Sunday school as a child. Our small Congregational Church here in Centerbrook only counted a few families as members. My great aunt Catherine played the piano. In Sunday school we mostly read the Gospels and bits of the New Testament. There was an emphasis on trying to be like Jesus – in fact it was the name of one of the songs we used to sing: “Lord I Want to Be Like Jesus”.
The Jesus I came to know as a child was a kind, loving, forgiving presence. He was someone who could see the very essence of a person’s heart through all their bullshit, all their wounds, all the “things” they had become in life. The message to me was that I must always love my neighbor, that I must always strive to let go of material things, let go of grudges, that I must never judge and that I must develop a compassion and understanding for those less fortunate than I – whether that meant the poor in “pocketbook”, the poor in spirit, or even those lacking the same knowledge I had of our potential to be so loving and kind as to say we were indeed, “like Jesus”.
It wasn’t until later in life I realized that Christianity seemed to mean something very different to some other people.
As I read through the entire Holy Bible myself, it seemed to me that Gandhi made quite a powerful point.
I was not taught to worship Paul – although his writings reveal much about the early Church. I was not taught to bring judgment against my fellow human beings. I was not taught it was ok to rationalize my political beliefs using the Bible. This is the point where formal Christianity and I parted ways.
What do I think now? I think Jesus overturning the money changer’s tables would pale in comparison to what he might have to say to a few folks using His name today…
I also think Jesus would be a fast friend to a few of us doubting Thomases…. Who simple question what to believe in the face of so much religious zealotry and insanity.
I think if the folks so wrapped up in telling the rest of the country what to do would spend more time trying to be like Jesus, we’d all be better off.
I lost my mother on January 31, 2013. A week later my uncle and God-Father Kenny died. My uncle Frankie died less than two weeks later.
My dad died in 2005 and my only sibling, Joey, died in 1992. “Adult Orphan - When Parents Die” syndrome was a very real and very unexpected feeling for me.
It has been an enormously emotional time for all of us.
I don’t get to see my father’s side of the family that often. Through Facebook my wife and I recently reconnected with many members of the family. Also through our interest in dog rescue we reconnected with my cousin Jodi who has established her own 501 (3) (c) foundation Running For Rescues.
It has been deeply comforting and wonderful to be with my many Aunts, Uncles and Cousins during our recent losses.
Even though many years pass by, and in many cases decades, I always pick up exactly where I left off when I see them.
My father kept them informed over the years, and he would also tell me what was happening in their lives… So – for example – even though I hadn’t seen my Uncle Frank in perhaps 10 or 15 years – all the memories from my childhood – all the conversations with my father – I felt I knew him well. He was a musician too, and so is his son. There is the added “way” musicians understand each other that I think we shared too…
I was really blessed to have the opportunity to visit with my Uncle Frankie, his dear mother Filomena “Fanny”, Aunt Marie and Cousins Frank and Jay during his final weeks – and to share some music with him. I can’t put into words how blessed I felt to be able to play for my uncle and his family. When asked to play Amazing Grace at the cemetery service I was absolutely honored. I can communicate so much of what is in my heart through music – and I just felt like I had so much to say. I wanted big Frank to know I looked up to him – if only from a distance. I wanted his family to know I understood and shared the pain of their grief. I can’t express any of these things 1/1000th as well as I can with the horn.
I didn’t get to see Uncle Kenny as much. But he and Aunt Tessie were my God-Parents and present when I was baptized over in the “other” church on the hill in New Canaan. Kenny served his country in the Navy and the New Canaan Fire Department for fifty years. These men are people I’ve looked up to – their sincerity, passion, values – and perhaps most important their ability to take the good with the bad and come out ahead of the game each time.
During the services and receptions I had the opportunity to see much of my family – My parents divorced in 1973, and so of my cousins were still being born. I have first cousins I never met until these funerals – and while its so sad to mourn the passing of a beloved father and uncle – it is also deeply joyful to reconnect.
I’d look across the room and know by the face who all the Soccis were. Its an unmistakable look we have in common. Then their children – and THEIR children. What beauty and sadness at the same time.
I know I look a lot like my father – and he talked about me quite a bit. As I sat on one side of the room I’d look to the other and catch the gaze of one of my uncles – and we’d just stare and smile. No need for words. Recognition. Love. Family. Straight from the heart.
I started getting serious about music when I was 15. When I was 16 I wrote Jackie McLean a letter because I knew he had developed a music program at the Hartt School of Music, University of Hartford, which was only a half hour from my house.
He graciously invited me to come and meet him in his office at the school. I was very familiar with his playing at that point and he was probably my very favorite alto saxophonist. I brought some of my favorite recordings which he autographed for me. He invited me to come to his house so he could hear me play, which resulted in my studying with him privately over the next few years until I graduated high school and entered the Hartt School.
By the time I graduated I really sounded like Jackie – or at least a fair rip-off. I always had my own feelings about music – but Jackie became a larger-than-life super hero to me during those years between the time I was 16 and my very early twenties. To me he was much like a parent, and I wanted to do and think about everything the same way he did.
Jackie had such a massive persona – it would take me many years to understand that and put that wonderful gift into perspective and integrate it into a “self” that melded peacefully into Charley.
My very first job out of school was playing in the lounge band on a cruise ship in Los Angeles. The house band was a really tired and disharmonious group – and it was very, very difficult for me – without going into detail, a young twenty-something from the East Coast fresh out of school with a big New York alto sound and ideas and presumptions to match was not exactly well received.
The highlight of the time I spent on that boat gig was a week-long jazz cruise featuring some of the legends who were still alive at the time.
I was practicing in the lounge one day – and in walked Billy Higgins himself, with a huge smile on his face. Jackie and Billy Higgins were very close.
The minute he saw who was playing the saxophone his face dropped. It was one of the type of moments I’ll never, ever forget.
He didn’t say anything to me. He didn’t have to.
I realized at that moment that I had some deep soul searching to do. I switched to tenor for many years.
In school it wasn’t popular to talk about anything outside the 50′s/60′s hard bop legacy. I began listening to all kinds of music and rediscovering my own tastes – and making my playing personal and more about me.
Two musicians who are very close to me – Tony Scherr and Tony Lee – made comments to me that there was something personal in my alto playing that they liked – and I realized I had “thrown the baby out with the bath water”. It wasn’t that I needed to stop playing alto – I just had to finally become Charley and play the alto like that.
There is still a lot of Jackie McLean in my playing – and there is a lot of Jackie McLean in who I am. He was a great mentor and remains one of my heroes. I’m free to express the Jackie McLean inside me – but it is now in the context of Charley.
This is something that took me YEARS to understand.
We’ll have more to say later. For now, the obituary I composed. Rest in peace ma…
Lily Strange Socci of Centerbrook died at Middlesex Hospital, Middletown, CT on January 31, 2013. She was 88 years old.
She was born Lily Louise Strange, the youngest of three children, to Louise (Wright) and Charles H. Strange on July 30, 1924 in Pottsville, PA.
Lily was best known for her one woman show, “The Pink Lady”, which included original comedy, songs, and impressions of Hollywood stars such as Marilyn Monroe and Mae West. She had appeared on stage or worked on stage productions with such notable celebrities as Art Carney, Joe E. Brown, and The Public Theater of NYC’s Joseph Papp.
She was the mother of two sons, Joseph Peter Socci born 1964, and Charles Strange Socci born 1966 of Centerbrook. She was the former spouse of their Father, Peter Joseph Socci who was remarried and died in 2005 in Danbury, CT
In addition to her theatrical activities she was a tireless advocate for closing the large state institutions and integrating the mentally challenged into the community. She cared for her Downs Syndrome son Joey at home until his death in 1992.
She also briefly taught art in the public school system, and was a lifelong lover of painting, drawing and pastels.
She obtained her undergraduate degree in English at Penn State, her teaching certification at Southern Connecticut State University, and a Masters in Liberal Studies from Wesleyan University.
Lily was an active member of many organizations during her life time, including: The Daughters of the American Revolution, the National Association for Retarded Citizens, the Cappella Cantorum, Trinity Lutheran church choir, and the The Middletuners singing group of Middletown, CT.
She was predeceased by her son Joseph Peter Socci, her Father Charles Hodgetts Strange of Jacksonville, FL, her Mother Louise Wright of Centerbrook, and two brothers; Charles Alfred Strange of Milford, CT and Walter H. Strange of Pelham, NY.
She is survived by her son Charley and daughter-in-law Kristin Lynn Socci (McGarigle) of Centerbrook, two grand-children, Alexander David Charles Socci, and Norma Lucille Louise Socci of Deep River, her beloved dog Champagne “Shammy”, and dear family friend of 50 years Frances Outland of Middletown – as well as her lifelong childhood friend in Pottsville, Evelyn Berger.
Family and friends may visit the Swan Funeral Home, 1224 Boston Post Rd., Old Saybrook, Thursday, February 7, from 5 to 7. Funeral Services will be held Friday, February 8, at 1 pm at the Trinity Lutheran Church, 109 Main Street, Centerbrook CT. Interment will follow at Centerbrook Cemetery. Please visit www.swanfuneralhomeoldsaybrook.com for tributes and condolences.
I’ve composed a photo album for my mother, which may be viewed by clicking the following link. If you have any photos or video to share, please let us know! Our number is +1 860 581 8361 Lily Strange Socci Photo Album
Something I wrote down a while back.
I come from the west with a seed in my heart, what have you in store for me?
Things i can’t imagine, what does it mean to be human? Africa what have you in store for me?
Batuuli was raped by the rebels yet showers her love without limit on all she meets, Africa what have you in store for me?
Haji’s hand was taken by the rebels yet today he plays the guitar, Africa what have you in store for me?
People with nothing yet rich beyond any measure in the things of the heart, Africa what have you in store for me?
Beautiful dawns, lush green days and tropical rains – nights filled with the smell of wood fires, Africa what have you in store for me?
Purchased from KTone in Queens, NY – arrived in two days. Nice case, mouthpiece, reed, cork grease, cleaning rags, swab. Horn plays surprisingly well. Wouldn’t think twice about bringing it on a gig. http://stores.ebay.com/Ktone-Music-Store