Saturday, April 4, 2009

How about a little TLC?

Ever tell a friend to go get a nice bath? How about a nice chemical bath?

Well, I just did this week. Heck, I even agreed to pay for it.

I've known this friend since I was nine; met her in 1973. She was very dear to me, and I had a wonderful relationship with her through high school. She was my old stand-by. My first love, in a way.

"She" is my first horn, my beginning Conn cornet. She was squirreled away in my parents' garage for many years after I went to college and graduated to "finer" horns. But a few years back I got her out and she sounded pretty good. Real darn good, actually. So she came back to St. Louis.

I took her in to the wizard of St. Louis horn repair men, Bill Meyers. Blind Willie turned me on to him and he did a marvelous job with my 1979 Bach Strad (30-year birthday coming up in the fall--we'll have to have a celebration at Hammerstone's). Legend has it, according to Willie, that Bill Meyers once worked on Freddie Hubbard's trumpet, which had never been cleaned and was purportedly in terrible shape. I think the look of shock on Bill's face when I showed him the Strad several months back in its deplorable state must have been the same as when he saw Freddie's horn. (Hey, I've always fantasized about being called the second coming of Freddie Hubbard--I'll take what I can get!)

And who helps Bill out with his magic? Brian "Big B" Casserly of course. Brian sidled up to the counter with interest when I was dropping the horn off (in fact, he sort of edged Bill out of the way). They were looking at her lovingly, knowingly, like a dear friend we were all trying to do right by ("Look at the way the tuning slide curves under!" "Nice big bore!" "Oh, that's a Japanese manufacture" "I'm guessing 1960s, maybe 50s on that?" Brian noted. "Oh, no," Bill chimed in, "Got to be mid-70s, right Rob?" "Yep, she was new when I got 'er in '73" I said. "Oh yeah, look at that serial number, '70s for sure" said Brian.)

She'll be ready next week, and I can't wait to take her down and show her off on the Wednesday jazz jam session. Love a cornet sound--not a trumpet, not a flugel, but it's own wonderful sound. You just play different on a cornet--they horn makes you play different ideas.

Good to see you again, girl--enjoy that chemical bath!