Behind the Beat: Pick Any Key

The story of the band Casual Sax begins, as many interesting stories do, with the answering of a Craigslist ad.

On July 7, 2011, saxophonist Jonas Cain saw an ad on the popular classifieds website posted by The Hill, an old church/ arts venue located on Chestnut Street in Springfield. The Hill was looking for a jazz trio to play between acts at an upcoming poetry reading, and Cain was able to book the gig on the merit of the music he’d already posted to his website However, there was still one problem. In order to play as a trio, Cain would need more musicians.

Quickly adding Kyle Hume (drums) and Josh Miller (bass) after Cain dug up Hume’s contact information from a past meeting at open stage night at the Black Moon Music Lounge in Belchertown, Cain had a trio ready to take the stage for its first gig on July 22, 2011. But first it needed a name.

Hume says, “We formed our trio in a hurry, so at first we went by Eclectic Overtones, the name of a trio Jonas had once played with. Jonas wanted the group to be called The Kyle Hume Trio, and everyone but Josh wanted the group to be called Josh Miller and the Miller Mountain Boys. Ultimately we picked Casual Sax in reference to our casual approach to music.”

Fusing an eclectic mix of jazz, blues, funk and more, Casual Sax places a major emphasis on jamming and improvisation during its live shows. For example, the band will often ask the audience to “pick a key, any key,” and then proceed to make up corresponding music on the spot. Even when they’re not taking suggestions from the crowd, the band members frequently turn to each other for even more off the cuff inspiration.

“At every show Josh is expected to be responsible to make up a new riff on the spot and Jonas and I will follow his lead,” says Hume. “This is meant to anger Josh, confuse the audience, and fill in time when we’ve played all our pieces and there’s still an hour. We also like to go back to the top of our set list and play the same songs again, but in a new tempo and in a new genre. We currently have 21 pieces in our repertoire, excluding Josh’s improved jams.”

Unfortunately, due to Cain’s move to Salem, Mass., the future for Casual Sax is undecided. While the members still remain in contact, there are no future recordings or projects in the works for the band and no upcoming gigs for fans to mark on their calendars. But instead of ending on a depressing note, both Cain and Hume decided to leave readers with their thoughts on music in general.

Cain says, “Music is the heartbeat of the world and an expression of the eternal truth.” Hume adds, “Life without music is something I cannot imagine.’”•

For more information on Casual Sax please visit

Author: Michael Cimaomo

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