It may surprise you to know that the saxophone does have a very precise birthday and that it’s today. In 1846, Adolphe Sax patented this new musical instrument.
One of music's unsung heroes, Sax learned to make instruments from his father as a child. He personally played both flute and clarinet but felt the need for a new instrument that was softer than brass and more penetrating than woodwind. With a reed-based mouthpiece, like the clarinet, and the brassy quality of brass instruments, the sax really is the best of both worlds.
The saxophone would go on to become a jazz staple, so tonight we're opting for a famous Jazz Age cocktail: Johnny Solon's Bronx. Created at New York's Waldorf Astoria, Solon allegedly named it for the Bronx Zoo, because some of his customers had told him about the strange animals they saw after a lot of mixed drinks.
Back in 1914, most ordinary folk in the US and Western Europe thought life was ticking along just fine. Then, on 28 June, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian empire, once one of the greatest powers in Europe, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, escaped a bomb attack in Sarajevo that injured some of his entourage. He decided to visit them in hospital later that day, and drove past an amateur assassin named Gavrilo Princip. Gavrilo closed his eyes, pointed his gun, and fired. One bullet burst the Archduke's jugular vein; the second hit his wife in the stomach.
The story made front page news in America and the UK. Yet, within two days, it was relegated to the inner pages. No one, yet, could see how a Bosnian/Serbian/Yugoslav/Austro-Hungarian assassin killing an Archduke could possibly affect them.
But it would. Today was the first step on the road to worldwide war, so we're marking this sombre anniversary with Gaz Regan's Noblesse.