Jazz: Man With a Brain

At the Monterey Jazz Festival in California last week, Composer-Saxophonist John Handy and his quartet launched into their opening number. Crash. A microphone toppled over. Handy tried to recover with a spiraling solo, but just as he built to a climax, the roar of a Boeing 727 jet drowned him out. Handy pressed on, but then the reed in his alto sax went sour, grounding the high-register flights that he plays so well. Undaunted, he introduced Blues for a High Strung Guitar—but wait, where was the guitar player? Unstrung backstage, as it...

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