DRAWING LIFE by fred hatt


Subway Sax

Filed under: Video: Music — Tags: , , , , — fred @ 23:30

Subway Sax from Fred Hatt on Vimeo.

In honor of my brother, Frank, and in celebration of his moving back to the Northeast after a sojourn in Oklahoma, I’m posting a video we made eighteen years ago. This is Frank improvising on his alto saxophone in the West 4th Street Subway Station in Manhattan on a late evening in 1991, filmed with the new technology of the day, an 8mm video camcorder. I observed Frank as I would observe an unknown Subway musician, sometimes watching him, sometimes watching other things going on in the station as a dance to the saxophone’s wail.

This became a piece about the rhythms of crowds and loneliness, trains and people coming in and going out like waves on the shore, an urban surf that goes on ceaselessly through all the stations of the Subway.

I made new titles for it and changed it to monochrome as the original color wasn’t very pretty.  Otherwise this is the same as the original edit I made in 1991, edited on U-matic at Film/Video Arts, where I worked at that time.


  1. Very cool! I remember years ago there were lots of sax players in the NYC subway. Then they all dissappeared…
    If you revisit NYC, I would like to suggest you check out the ‘Saw Lady’ ( http://www.sawlady.com/blog )- she plays the musical saw in the subway. It’s very visual, because the entire instrument moves as she plays it, creating sort of a wave in the air. You might like it.

    Comment by Michelle — 2009/11/05 @ 12:03

  2. I still live in NYC, and I’ve seen the Saw Lady. There are still a lot of musicians in the Subway, and some of them are amazing!

    Comment by fred — 2009/11/05 @ 16:59

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