Theres not much that’s sexy around my shop, but every once and a while, someone comes along and you gotta shake things up! I’m talking about a Yamaha 82Z special order raw brass tenor sax whose owner, Ron Oshima, was looking for a re-pad. I could see that this horn had a lot of potential, and with a makeover, could turn some heads.


Even though the instrument was new, the original pads were sticking badly. I suggested using Music Medic’s standard tan pads that I’ve used on 5 sax re-builds. The last one was a Selmer Reference 36 tenor belonging to Doug O’Connor of the US Army Band. He heard that soldering the body to bell bow joint would improve the resonance of the horn. These joints on most modern saxophones are glued. As long as we were doing a re-pad, I thought we should try it on Ron’s horn.

WAIT! There’s MORE!!!

In conversation, Ron mentioned that he really liked the vintage look of older horns and wanted to know if I could create a funky look. I suggested we oxidize the body. I tested it out on the neck with a satin brush finish octave key and sent a photo for his approval. It was a go!


Ron is a really fine free-lance jazz player and friend. When he came to pick up his instrument, he opened the case with a “NOOOOOO WAYYYYYY!!!” It doesn’t get better than that.


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NOWfest Japan

Imagine yourself sitting in an Asian oasis…which turns out to be the home of the Japanese ambassador to the United States. You are sipping a glass of saki and dining on sushi and tempura amongst the well-dressed and well-funded benefactors of the New Orchestra of Washington (NOW). WOW!!!

Embassy of Japan

Gardens, through the Tea House looking glass

Party Animals

Yo, Bob, our DC Concert Orchestra President, and I attended a concert last night called NOWfest Japan:  One World, One Dream, One Love. NOW is a “flexible ensemble” of professional musicians who come together to play reduced arrangements of great classical orchestral music, newly commissioned works and “genre-bending adaptations.” Basically, they’re awesome. This program was themed around contemporary Japanese music, with the finale being Marimba Concerto No. 1 by Chen-Cheng Lin (b. 1984).

Robert Schroyer on Marimba

Percussionist, Robert Schroyer, his partner, Stephen Keys (Oboist) and family

Robert Schroyer’s performance on Marimba gave me goosebumps – twice. We talked to him afterwards and he learned the piece by memory in 7 weeks. I wonder just how many Concertos there are for marimba??? One of the most interesting compositions was Threnody to Toni, Op. 12, by Takashi Yoshimatsu, a tribute to the Toki bird which is approaching extinction. If you close your eyes, you can hear the bird fluttering and attempting to fly…before coming to permanent rest.

New Orchestra of Washington

It was a great night and we are fortunate to be associated with NOW through our own DCCO. They coach our chamber music groups in master classes and we perform in pre-show settings before their concerts. It’s a great relationship, thanks to President Bob. THANKS, BOB!

DCCO President Bob Myers

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In the Wild

Get a load of what came into the shop yesterday. It’s a Yanigasawa bronze tenor sax! A good friend and awesome player, Will Tynch, brought this baby in for a tune-up. All I can say is…WOW!!! Now Yo wants leopard in her flute case…

In the Wild

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At the Edge of Infinity

On Saturday night we celebrated the birthday of our good friend Marianne by attending a Gala at the Hirshhorn Museum. It featured an amazing exhibit, called “Infinity Mirrors” by Yayoi Kusama, which is up and about to move on. These photos don’t do it justice, but just imagine yourself at the edge of infinity…

Peering into infinity

The first “room” is an 8’x8’x8′ cube, with mirrors on all sides on the inside, with LEDs on the ceiling. You can peek into this cube from the outside through a couple of head-sized boxes, finding yourself and others floating in an infinite array of color and light.

Tiny Bubbles

This is another peek-a-boo installation, an 8 foot pink polka dot sphere into which you can peer through a 4 inch port. Inside are mirrors with polka dots on the surfaces and silver mirrored spheres of various sizes that hang from the ceiling.

Marianne and Jeff in a Bubble

This is one of the infinity rooms, the inside of a pink polka dot sphere, lined with mirrors and populated with polka dot beach balls, lit from the inside and reflected in mirrors.

Tne next two rooms are 12’x12’x12 cubes lined in mirrors on all sides with a short runway down the middle. Each is full of suspended lights that are reflected on all surfaces. When you look down, you feel as though you are floating on your own landing pad at the edge of the universe.

Infinite Light

On the Edge

There were a number of sculptural works outside of the infinity rooms made of stuffed cotton forms that look like creatures from another planet. This is a room full of creatures.

The Land of Dotted Creatures

Creatures of the Mind


TIME OUT! The last piece in the show is the Obliteration Room. Attendants hand out sheets of colored dots that you can place anywhere in the room. After thousands of people have passed through this space, the explosion of dots is in no need of mirrors to multiply!

Time Out

We were very fortunate to see this incredible exhibit without the infinite crowds of people that formed lines around the block. We were given 45 seconds in each room by ourselves, compared to 20 seconds for the patient ones. If you ever have a chance to visit Infinity…….GO!

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Roy Hargrove Quintet at Blues Alley

Last night we attended a show at Blues Alley, one of the oldest jazz clubs in DC, located about a block from Yo’s office. If you recall from previous posts, Roy circles back to play in DC of a regular basis, and his manager, Larry, has brought his horn to me to repair on two occasions. We were not able to catch his show back then, so we made a concerted effort to go this time around.

Roy Hargrove Quintet


The quintet featured Roy on his DaCarbo trumpet and flugelhorn, Justin Robinson on alto sax, Ameen Salem on bass, Sullivan Partner on piano and Quincy Phillips on drums.

Roy on Flugel

Roy plays a carbon fiber DaCarbo trumpet which is a beauty. It’s light weight and easy to play. The last time he brought it in it looked like he had dropped it off a ladder or run over it with a grocery cart. This time the DC curse was broken and did not require any work.

Reconstructed Roy

I was able to chat with him for about 10 seconds and I’m hoping to see his flugel in the shop soon!

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Fraternal at Twins

Last night Yo and I went to Twins Jazz club on U Street with our hip hop dancing, filmmaker friend, Zohar. It seems crazy we’ve never been there before being that it’s about a 10 minute walk from our pad. I guess Bohemian Caverns had our full attention until it closed last year. It was the Kenny Rittenhouse R&B quintet that got us up and out. Great band, great music.

R&B Jazz Quintet

Twins is one of those intimate, upstairs city venues with crowded tables and enthusiastic fans, some of whom have been going there for a decade – maybe two. If there’s a seat at your table, someone’s going to be joining you. Next to us was an unlikely duo – a black man in his 60s who has followed jazz in DC his whole life, randomly paired with a young woman from Argentina who is a Doctor at Children’s Hospital. Neither had much in common, except their love of jazz.

Herman Burney and Kenny Rittenhouse

The band played some high energy be-bop, mixed with sultry ballads. They played an alt-rhythm version of C Jam Blues and an original composition called 9 to 5, using “9” chords in a 5/4 time signature. They were joined by tenor sax player, Grant Langford, from the Airmen of Note, and a pianist, whose name I can’t locate, who dominated the keyboard, singing along with his improvised notes.

Kenny Rittenhouse

Outside the window by our seat was one of many colorful murals in DC. There is a long tradition of murals in the jazz corridor which has spread across the city. I couldn’t find an explanation for this one, although we think it’s a scene from Columbia, referencing the menacing AUC, a paramilitary drug trafficking militia. If someone out there knows the story, please let me know.

Alley Mural

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Axelrod String Quintet at the Smithsonian


Last night we attended a fine concert by the Axelrod String Quartet at the National Museum of American History. Our friends Matt and Cindy bought tickets for us for Christmas, and they joined us, along with Jeff and Marianne.The quartet is named after their Axelrod patrons, who donated 4 instruments created by Nicole Amati and 4 of the 11 surviving ornamented Stradivari to the museum, which they play in concert. WOW!

Historic Instruments

They played the Haydn Quartet in E-flat Major, Op 76, No 6 followed by Beethoven’s Quartet in G Major, Op 18, No 2 with finesse. Beethoven had a little fun with Haydn, as both a tribute and a light-hearted poke at his former teacher.


And then, there was this! A bit of American history on the way out…the Tucker 48. THe Cyclopes headlamp turns with the front wheels. It was the first car with seat belts and a padded dash, and the only car built with a rear-engine helicopter motor.  were only 48 of these made – one recently sold for 2.9 million!

1948 Tucker

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