The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

Zach Herchen, my longtime friend and collaborator, asked me for a piece that would make him want to die. This is what I gave him. This performance was filmed live at Ruckus NYC, a conference and concert that I ran at Cooper Union with Victoria Nece and Zach.

T.S. Eliot was twenty-one years old when he wrote Prufrock. Jerk. The world was his oyster, and he was worrying that he might not ever be understood. After a virtuosic opening movement the saxophone soloist faces the same problem, using his instrument and his voice to try to make himself clear.

Zach had never acted before I wrote him this piece, and he still doesn’t much, but when he performs this piece he’s incredible. The intensity he brings to his saxophone playing takes over, and his skill as a performer guides him through all the difficult parts of acting a monologue: when to look at the audience, how to shape the rhythm in a piece of poetry, and what on earth to do with your hands.

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