Thursday, June 22, 2017 This Week's Paper

Alex Worland – Born to be brilliant

It is fun seeing people grow up, isn’t it? I guess it is not something that you really notice until you yourself have grown up and have learned the ability to take notice of it. Yet when you spend your entire life beside someone, the observations that one can make in regard to their coming of age and growth is something almost nostalgic.

Alex Worland was simply born to be brilliant. I have known this man since I was 2 years old, and he is one of my two oldest friends. As I write this, I reflect on our childhood. It is strange to look back on it really; I can still firmly recall the fads that dominated our adolescence. Bionicles, Pokémon, Halo, and bad computer video games played for 30-minute intervals are on my mind again for the first time in what feels like years. I have known Alex for far too long. It is strange to say that, it is unusual that I still know him and that at any given moment I can recall his friendship with a simple text message. However, even with our years spent together, as far as I know there is no other way to describe him. He was simply born to be brilliant.

Alex is a musical prodigy with a natural gift for multi instrumentation and composition. Alex's arsenal for creation includes alto, tenor, and baritone saxes, flute, clarinet, trumpet, trombone, French horn, euphonium, and varying types of other brass instruments along with the bass, various percussion instruments, and of course, piano. Yet at his finest, Alex is an alto saxophonist, an instrument that he has been playing for the past five years. Under the instruction of Tracy Knoop, Alex has seen his talents grow in leaps and bounds, from inexperienced to prodigy. Five years after beginning to take lessons, Alex is ranked as one of the best alto saxophonists across the Pacific Northwest, has traveled and played shows in Europe and has played in the All North West Jazz band. Despite his achievements at his extraordinarily young age, Alex is remarkably humble. After asking him for the input that would eventually go into this article, like an old philosopher Alex could only repeatedly say that he had so much room to grow and to develop.

Alex takes influence from the great jazz classics such as Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Count Basie and Glenn Miller, but is entirely his own player. As he explained to me over text messages regarding his influence and his desire to create his own style of music: “There isn’t one musician or composer that I’ve taken a liking to above all others. For a jazz musician (and horn player) you try to make yourself sound like someone else and then mess with it to create your own sound.”

Alex’s drive to create himself as his own musician is perhaps one of the most admirable aspects of his playing career. He is simply unsatisfied with following in others' footsteps, and has both the ability and the desire to leave his mark on the music of jazz as his own musician. In his playing style, Alex is a gifted performer. His energy and love for the music he creates dances gleefully on his face. His solos are playful and energetic. Alex has a knack for showing off, his confidence in his own ability is uncanny, yet remarkably never comes across as cockiness or pretention. Even in the eighth grade, he had already developed a taste for making jaws drop to the floor.

Comparisons, I feel, must be made to his father Randy Worland. Like Alex, Randy is simply an extraordinary multi-musician who is possibly in touch with his own perfect pitch. It is not difficult to connect Randy’s talents to those of his son’s; both bear an uncanny similarity to one another. Both are well aware of their ability for creation, yet both are remarkably humble when it comes to the subject, both share an immense passion for the various instruments that they take part in playing, and both are aware of the fact that there is always more to learn.

As I have said, looking back on our childhood is a very unique nostalgic experience to me. Yet one memory has always returned to me, and until this point I have not known why I felt it to be so important. Now, I recognize it as a moment of pure brilliant irony. I remember us very clearly, both around the age of six standing at the top of the stairs leading us to his father’s band practice room. From below, we could hear the sounds of a record being played, and the notes of saxophone and trumpet climbing the stairs in our direction. Alex turned to me and said

“You know, I don’t like jazz.”

It is fun watching people grow up, isn’t it?

Sean Contris is a student at Wilson High School. Oftentimes he comes too close to embodying the classical, and often times stereotypical, persona of a young male writer. Sean enjoys listening to a wide range of music and locking himself in his room to read sad Russian novels.