What do you do? I ask the old soldier sitting in my chair. He’s come to me for an eye test. I’m a musician in the army band, he says. Aha! Cool! What do you play? asks I.
The Saxophone, he says. The best of all the instruments! I flatter. How long have you been a soldier? Not long, he says, I joined a couple years ago and I’m just about to retire on a small army pension. What did you do before?
I was saxophonist in big bands. I toured the world. Mario Montereggi’s Big Band? I ask. Yes, indeed, I played with Mario.
And then he drops the big one:
I was with the African Jazz Pioneers for years. Wow! African Jazz Royalty in my chair!!
He might even have played with Mario at my fiftieth, where Aitch surprised me by getting Mario’s small ensemble to blow me away:
Is this him entertaining the kids, maybe?