You can’t play the saxophone in a swimming pool, or can you? Saxophone virtuoso Ray Manzerolle plays regularly with Windsor’s
and at Sunday’s concert happening at the
, Ray is debuting a brand new instrument that may challenge that assumption.[caption id="attachment_20018" align="alignleft" width="360" caption="Saxman Ray Manzerolle With Plastic Alto ~ Photo By Hugh Leal"]
[/caption]The Speakeasy Trio brings the rum-running era back to life with jazz from the late 20s and early 30s and Ray is a noted collector of unique vintage brass instruments dating back to the era in which the music was composed. “For the longest time I’ve been drawn to archaic, forgotton, inferior or unusual instruments,” Ray said. “As an artist you’re looking for something to inspire you, and often the intrinsic nature of instruments will bring you places other instruments won’t.”Ray’s curiosity led him to a prototype model of the world’s first, entirely plastic, polycarbonate saxophone. Ray found his plastic sax serendipitously, “I was looking for an inexpensive, plastic, oboe on the Internet and somehow I stumbled on a thread talking about a plastic saxophone.”In the early 1950’s an English company created a saxophone called a
, which had an acrylic body, but included brass keys and other metal parts. Ray had a tough time tracking down a sax made entirely of plastic, “I was trying to find somebody who carried it, what it sold for… I kept running into these dead ends.”Eventually Ray found the company located in Thailand, and he ended up testing out a prototype version of the alto sax model. “I’ve been working on it, trying to make adjustments and improvements on the instrument. It’s easy to go down to the hardware store plumbing section and get some PVC piping to make parts.”It compares fabulously to the sound of a traditional brass saxophone, but there are certainly some advantages to the plastic version. “It weighs about 850 grams, which is about as much as a large bag of chips,” said Ray. “There is a difference in sound, but it’s not a large difference. The variation in sound would be as great as the variation between any two alto saxophones.”It's also a versatile option, “You can play it in a swimming pool. It’s completely waterproof, so it would be great for marching bands, perfect for the Santa Claus parade...and this version is white plastic and I know a lot of marching bands love white.” It also has a unique look which Ray said “will draw some attention”.The Speakeasy Trio is "plus one" for Sunday afternoon’s concert, adding pianist Mike Karloff into the mix along with Ray, cellist Mike Karoub and bandleader guitarist Hugh Leal. “Mike is a quick learn, like a sponge he’s picked up the style”, said Ray. “Hugh Leal plays tenor guitar, so he’s essentially filling the role of the piano and drummer in the band...That rhythmic style of playing four to the bar can be tough on the arms so having Mike along gives Hugh an opportunity to relax.”Not many musicians tackle the complex melodies and tricky chord changes involved in creating a vintage jazz sound. “Somebody a long time ago, I think it was
, said ‘jazz isn’t dead, it just smells funny’.” Ray pondered on the future of jazz, “There are people doing legitimately jazz music, its progressive, as jazz has always done. Jazz has always utilized aspects of contemporary music but there are a lot of people who think that jazz stopped at a certain era.”Ray isn’t concerned about the future of jazz music and the influences the early days have had on the style today... “Every generation has its jazz” and looks ahead to what may evolve in the future.Saunter on down to the Art Gallery Of Windsor on Sunday afternoon (October 23) to hear the world’s first plastic saxophone on stage with The Speakeasy Trio, performing the concert completely unplugged. Joined by pianist Mike Karloff, the show begins at 2:30 p.m. and tickets are $15 in advance at the AGW Gift Shop, or $20 at the door the afternoon of the show; AGW Members tickets are $12 in advance.