CHAPTER TWO: TRIUMPH (1/5)

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The room was abuzz with life and laughter and love - love for good music which put spirit in one's blood

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The room was abuzz with life and laughter and love - love for good music which put spirit in one's blood. Men and women danced across each other's paths, stepping to the fast beat of the drums, their skins as mixed as the keys on the piano at the head of the room. Black and white together, not contrasting but complementing one another in elegant harmony.

Sol looked at Johnny, strumming his banjo with such fervour that he was sweating through his tuxedo, as was Max on the violin, but both were smiling broadly, aware only of the music. Sol barely heard his name under the noise and turned to see the band's singer, Billy, looking back at him expectantly.

It was his moment.

Sol nodded and lifted his sax to his lips, resting the reed on his tongue while his fingers slipped automatically into place. He drew a single short breath, like he was taking a drag on the music, and released it straight back into his instrument.

The dozen-or-so people sitting and chatting by the bar stopped and turned their attention to the band, drawn by the new sound which was so infectious it could not be ignored. One by one, they slipped from their stools and waded into the dancing crowd to join them. Sol watched on as he translated his soul with the brass in his hands. There was no better feeling.

"You can really play that thing," Billy told Sol after the show. "I can't lie; I don't normally care for sax players, but I never heard nobody play one like the way you do. You had the whole room jumping. Where'd you learn to play like that?"

"My dad," Sol said, locking his sax in its case.

"He play the sax, too?"

"The sax, the spoons... You name it. Wasn't any instrument I ever saw that he couldn't play. If it could make a sound, he could make it sing."

"Haha, I like that. If it could make a sound, he could make it sing... You got a lot of work on at the moment, Sol?"

"No, not at the moment."

"Good. Well, not good... What I mean is, how'd you like to play with us? Full time."

"Full time? With you?"

"With us. You interested?"

"Yeah! I mean, yes, sir. Absolutely."

"Excellent. You've got a great sound, Sol. I think you're gonna go far with us."

"I hope so."

"No need to hope. Just you wait till we go to Europe. You'll have a smile bigger than those crooks at Tammany Hall."

Sol blinked. "Did you say Europe?"

"I certainly did. We got a big tour booked in May. Four months. Rome, London, Paris... How does Summer on the Seine sound?"

Sol's shoulders sank. "Yeah... I'm sorry, Billy, but I won't be able go."

"I thought you said you were free?"

"I am here, I just... I can't leave. I'm sorry. Thanks anyway." Sol grabbed his case and carried it mournfully away.

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