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