Tuesday, November 22, 2005

One hot, saxy book

If pretty much my favorite nonfiction author, John McPhee, wrote a book about the saxophone I expect it would be a lot like "The Devil's Horn: The Story of the Saxophone, from Noisy Novelty to King of Cool" by Michael Segell, which I bought at the wonderful Vroman's bookstore in Old Pasadena on my trip to LA and finished today.

Segell, an-award-winning magazine writer and a serious amateur saxophonist himself, takes a literary look at my favorite horn, its sometimes checkered history and eccentric inventor, the art of playing it, the acoustical science behind its sound, its care and feeding, and even the health implications for musicians who take it on, among other topics.

As you would expect, there are plenty of jazz musicians among the voices heard in the book, including Sonny Rollins, Benny Carter (briefly just before his death), Lee Konitz, Michael Brecker and nifty interludes with Phil Woods and Dave Liebman. Segell also marched in the band of my alma mater in the course of his research. Great read and a fine holiday gift for that jazz fan in your life.

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