Notes From a Basement

By Doug Hubley: Sounds and reflections of a musical life

Another view from a basement: Booth takes its toll on Jim Sullivan

Shown playing sax at a Fashion Jungle gig at Kayo’s in 1981, Jim Sullivan also brought skills on keyboard, violin, guitar and bass to the FJ and the Mirrors. (Jeff Stanton photo)

By Jim Sullivan

In the mid-’80s when I was still attempting to get reasonable on tenor sax, and realizing that the instrument was capable of sonically reducing buildings to rubble (second only to bagpipes, perhaps), I gathered some retired braided rag carpets, beat them enough to get most of the mites and dust out, and erected a practice booth in the basement of the two-family house I rented the first floor of with my wife, in hopes of respecting both hers and the upstairs landlords’ ears.

The rugs did deaden the sound quite a bit, but the environment was noxious enough that I often found something else to do.  To complete the smelly-old-rug atmosphere, the heating pipes down there had asbestos coverings, and the walls had urea foam insulation: I don’t know if my playing improved any, but the combined toxics probably ruined my chances of ever winning the Nobel for making advances in quantum mechanics.

Around the same time, I saw a couple of local tenor players whose expertise convinced me to retreat to focusing on stringed instruments, where I had a bit more of a foothold.  The tenor sat neglected until I resurrected it for an Fashion Jungle reunion gig (audio evidence of which can be found here), shortly thereafter to be sold in favor of funding a new acoustic-electric five-string violin.  Good decision.

  • Hear more of the Fashion Jungle with Jim on sax here and here.

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