A professional orchestra committee was discussing repertoire for the upcoming season, and The Lt. Kiji Suite by Prokofiev was mentioned as a possibility. The conductor was reluctant to program it because they would have to hire a saxophonist for the concert, and he just didn’t trust saxophone players. After all, they played music in smoky night clubs, probably dabbled in drinking and drugs and their reliability seemed questionable since they stereotypically seemed to have a rather flippant “jazz attitude.” The Personnel Director assured the conductor that he could find a reputable saxophone player that would be satisfactory, so it was agreed that they would program the piece.
At the first rehearsal for Lt. Kiji, the conductor was impressed that the saxophonist who had been hired was there before anyone else, waiting patiently while reading a music business periodical. When it came time to play his part, he did it flawlessly, and added a level of musicality to the orchestra that they rarely exhibited. Every rehearsal was the same, and the conductor’s respect for saxophonists and jazz players in general increased with every run-through.
After the dress rehearsal, the conductor happened to run into the saxophone player in the hallway backstage. The conductor took the opportunity to thank the saxophonist for his professional posture and immense talent, adding that he had been admittedly reluctant to hire someone of the jazz ilk, but his worries had been eliminated by the excellent work ethic that had been exhibited.
The saxophonist replied, “Thanks, man! I ‘preciate it. By the way, I can’t make the gig, but I’ve got a sub coming!”