Saxophone Day by Charlie O'Shields

National Saxophone Day is celebrated annually on November 6, the birthday of British instrument maker, Adolphe Sax who was the inventor of the saxophone, one of the main instruments in jazz music. Absolutely no idea who started this particular day, but it’s all about relaxing and listening to some good jazz music, so who really cares.

I attempted to doodlewash a saxophone and realized that this is a ridiculously complex object. While I can marvel at the complexity as a casual viewer, as a doodlewasher, I wanted to throw down my brush and run screaming into the street. So apologies to Adolphe, but I simplified his contraption somewhat. If anyone actually plays the sax, please don’t judge or attempt to play this one. It’s missing a few key elements and is, after all, only an illustration.

Jazz has always been a big part of the history of my hometown of Kansas City, Missouri. Jazz greats like Count Basie were discovered while playing here and a saxophone player named Charlie “Bird” Parker began his path to stardom right here as well. Hope wherever he is, he’s celebrating his day today.

While I enjoy some jazz music, I wouldn’t be what you would call a fan. But it’s nice to have in the background, as I do right now while writing this. It is strangely relaxing even though currently someone is having an epileptic seizure while playing a piano. Wait, it looks like that has passed and they are now back to something that sounds like a melody.

I think jazz is a lot like abstract art to me. I appreciate it tremendously, but it’s not something I myself have figured out how to participate in. Oh wait, the pianist has really lost themselves now and I’m not sure if they’re going to make it. Ah, that was just a finale, sort of like the musical equivalent of a fireworks display. Jazz often confuses me.

When I was a kid I had one of those Casio keyboards that you could press a button and it would start playing a tinny version of a be-bop or swing sound so you could play along. I tried to make up something to play along with it, but would get frustrated and return to Chopsticks, a stupidly simple song that is often the first and last anyone every learns to play on piano.

Eventually I did move to a real piano and learned to come up with songs of my own, but they all had melodies. I was never able to jam and create a “sound” as I always wanted to create a song, something that told a story everyone could easily understand. Not debate the meaning of later over cigarettes and whiskey.

And yet as the music plays in the background, I’m captured by the sound. This one is calmer and brings up memories that I can’t quite hold onto, but I’m glad to know they’re still there. But I’ll always be more drawn to jazz artists who sing songs that tell stories like Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald . I don’t mind if the piano player wants to go crazy then, as long as Ella comes back to explain things.

But it’s Saxophone Day, so grab a bottle of wine (not required, but seemed like a good addition) and turn on the sax. Anything you like! I have to say I prefer the oldies vs. Kenny G, though I guess he’s old now too, and likely still getting mistaken for “Weird Al” Yankovic. But the beauty of jazz is that you don’t have to understand it to enjoy it. So play the music and let your mind wander. You never quite know where that saxophone will take you next.

Posted by:Charlie O'Shields (doodlewash)

Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world!

45 replies on “National Saxophone Day

  1. Absolutely FABULOUS doodlewash!!! You made the sax look so realistically shiny!! I thought for sure you would doodlewash nachos for National Nacho Day…this is less caloric 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A virtuosic sax solo of your own, Charlie – that is a masterpiece! I can imagine how complex it must have been but it’s so worth it! As soon as I laid eyes on your doodlewash, the epic ‘Baker Street’ solo started playing in my head.😉 I casually love a bit of jazz and do have a soft spot for the saxophone – I wish I had both the motivation to learn and the money to buy one. My sister can play pretty well (but she plays literally every instrument well).

    I used to have a keyboard! Mine was a Yamaha model; it was shaped rather like a guitar and with a strap, so you could rock out and impress girls. It had only one demo/tutorial track to my recollection: hilariously, Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’. And no, I never learnt it properly. My musical endeavours ended rather too quickly. It’s much easier to listen and appreciate!😉


    1. Awwww Thanks Jacob! 😃Haha! Wham!? That’s awesome!! I bet you rocked it better than you think. I tried classical guitar for a bit and then stopped. I have a Yahama electronic upright in the living room that Philippe and I used to play, but now it have Legos on top of it. 😊 I don’t know what it is about playing an instrument, but I just can’t seem to keep it going. I’d rather be doodlewashing. Hehe

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Holy Moly Charlie! This is a FANtastic Doodlewash of a Sax! 😄 VERY impressive my friend!!! 🌟🌟🌟I like some jazz but I like it pretty mellow. My husband likes the more peppery stuff as I call it. Hehe! 😉🍷🎶🎷🎨 Hope tomorrow is National Kleenx day so you can paint something easy… 😜

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Jill!!! ❤️😃 This was rough…I do need an easier day in the future. But I haven’t even been looking ahead so no idea what’s next. Kleenex sounds hard too! 😳lol And, ohhhh… The peppery stuff is pretty good…I think I listened to that while writing this post! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Gorgeous saxophone! You are a glutton for punishment picking such a complex instrument! I love playing the piano and like you, find it difficult to improvise. The Jazz scale, the syncopations, and melodies make it difficult to play for me but I do enjoy listening to Oscar Peterson. I did get to watch Ella Fitzgerald sing when I was in high school!

    Look forward to seeing what you come up with tomorrow!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You have managed to capture both the complexity of the instrument and the brilliant shine of the metal…holy moly, you’re GOOD!

    Mixing Kenny G up with Weird Al! Bite your tongue, young man! One is a genius and the other is Kenny G.😀

    Liked by 1 person

  6. WOWZA – I imagine it took you a good – eh – 18 minutes to do this one – right?

    So absolutely amazing! I can’t even imagine that you are an eensy bit disappointed. It looks like a photo!

    My oldest son is a sax player. An amazing jazz improvisational player. It is an amazing instrument and you did it incredibly well.

    And I am enjoying a glass of wine while I look at it. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Awwww thanks so much Jodi! ❤️😃 I’m thrilled you like it! This one took me a bit longer.. hehe… a little over an hour which it seriously pushing my attention span. Lol That’s soooo cool about your son! I’m envious of that talent! 😳 I think my posts are served best with wine, that’s why they’re posted at the end of the day. Lol

      Liked by 2 people

  7. All those intricate keys on woodwinds…great job, and you got the shine too. The local radio station I listen to in the morning was playing saxophones (mostly accompanying singers) this morning in honor of the day. Sonny Rollins with the Rolling Stones! (K)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. That sax has reality…depth and colour…so bright and vibrant, Charlie, with added depth provided by the paper texture. As to jazz, well I’ve been a fan since secondary school days and more ‘into’ it during my married years. Ella, Basie, Parker, Ellington, Bessie Smith, Miles Davis and so on. Trad is something that I can’t handle for any length of time! Puts me to sleep…

    Liked by 1 person

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