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Eric Kloss: About Time

Eric Kloss

Anyone brave enough to join Sonny Stitt onstage knew that he risked public humiliation if he didn’t meet the moody alto saxophonist’s impeccable standards. So when Eric Kloss sat in with Stitt at Pittsburgh’s Crawford Grill, the 12-year-old alto player wasn’t going to get any breaks due to his age-or his blindness. Stitt called “Cherokee” in B-up a half step from its usual key, and a tricky one for anyone playing a reed instrument. Knowing he had to play the melody on the bridge, Kloss’ mind started racing as the song kicked in. “It’s a minor third from B-flat to the C-sharp,” he thought, “and if you go from the B up to the D, and if I know that the concert E that I have to play is a ninth above, I think that’s right.”

He took a deep breath and blew what he hoped was the right note. When his guess proved correct, Stitt grabbed Kloss’ knee and enthusiastically responded, “Yeah, man.” Not only had Kloss passed the audition, the elder saxman became a friend and teacher, dining at the Kloss home and teaching young Eric breathing and fingering techniques.

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