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_Carrying The Saxophones_ Front-Cover, May 29, 2024.png

                                               ON "CARRYING THE SAXOPHONES"



Roger Lewis’ telling me about his Long Walk with three Heavy Horns, compelled by his "getting lost" in practicing is the basis for "Carrying The Saxophones>"
Roger indeed had to walk about four miles, ‘Carrying two saxophones and a bass-clarinet’, from the campus of SUNO, Southern University of New Orleans (pronounced “Soo-Know”),  home to his house on the farthermost street, Delery, of the Lower 9th Ward, The walk, as Roger tells it, started around 3:00 a.m. How did such a trek happen? Roger, then 36-or-so years young and touring with Fats Domino and beginning  the Dirty Dozen Brass Band with Benny Jones, Kirk and Charles Joseph, Gregory Davis and more,  was also studying at SUNO with a group of musicians drawn to learning from Edward “Kidd” Jordan.

Roger asked Kidd if he could stay after class that night and practice in a music-room. Kidd said, “Sure.” Hours later (“Just as I was finally getting this horn to sound right,” Roger says), a Security-Guard tapped on door to the music-room. He informed Roger that no one but him was supposed to be there in the middle of the night. Roger said: “:Kidd Jordan told me I could practice here.” The Guard answered: “Kidd Jordan is not the President of Southern University.”

Thus began Roger’s walk with the horns that he wanted to bear safely home. Lyrics relate how I imagined the experience—through the Gentilly neighborhood, onward over many more blocks to short-cut across the Florida Avenue Bridge, and there and then (carrying still, of course, Baritone and Tenor Saxophones and a Bass Clarinet) another mile back to Delery’s border with Saint Bernard Parish. Influences from New Orleans musicians’ never-fading legacies—‘Milneburg joys’ after dawns-to-dark in ‘cane and cotton fields’—also figure in the lines. It’s meant to be a kind of tale of triumph for those living in the Lower 9 and Wards like it.

The Rivers Answer Moons band of Roger and Kirk and the inimitably down-home and sophisticated Herlin Riley on drums-set recorded “Carrying The Saxophones” on August 1, 2021 with Rick G. Nelson at this Marigny Studio. Roger overdubbed with Adam Wilson Keil i Studio B on August 15. This very month of May 2024 I went back into the Track via Audacity to accent and amplify the multiplicity of Roger’s voicings and Kirk’s and Herlin’s improvisation and—I hope—the overall vividness and soulfulness of the tale. Great band!



            "Carrying The Saxophones"


It’s Three A.M.
And everybody ’s gone to bed.
I’m carrying two Saxophones
And a Bass Clarinet
Home from the shed,
SUNO to Gentilly 's a little way in itself.
Porches are lit and windows dark as shades
Mist off the Lake cake-walks into the Parade.

Sometimes I hear ‘em, one by one,
Blowing by the long-gone
Canals and horses’ bells,
Rocking the whole Lake
With their Milneburg joys,
Clear as dawn over cane and cotton fields.
Voices of Church, voices of dance!
They’re undeterred!
And the Claiborne Bridge arcs
Like a Cathederal
Toward Delery

Sure-enough far,
All the way back
Into our Lower 9th Ward.
   Carrying the saxophones
   Carrying the saxophones
   Carrying the saxophones
   Home-Home        Home-Home


   And I’m not alone    Not alone    I''m not alone.

                First drafts Jan. 18 and 19 and Feb. 2, 2020


Roger, David "Fathead" Newman, Frederic Kemp copy.png

Roger, David "Fathead" Newman, and Frederick Kemp, Roger's

childhood friend and later Bandmate with Fats Domino.

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