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He's known as the sax doctor for a reason. Younger and better may have passed him by, but he is still a character. My Ref. 54 is starting to play SO well, and it carries an Emilio Lyons sticker on it.
Anyone who has dealt with him knows what a character he is, and there are lots of stories, including mine. One of favorites is from my student at Berklee days:
Spotting me in the old Rayburns, he calls out across the room, "For you I have perrrfect! Perrrrfect soprano. Yanagasawa! Perrrrrfect! Is $600, but, for you, $700!"
I bought it. And it was a damned good soprano. It bent on its own near the octave pip, but was still a good horn.
 

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This is a great idea for a thread. And there is a very good reason they call him the doctor. Last time I saw Emilio, I hadn't seen him in a few years and I went up to the counter to greet him, thinking a few years was long enough to justify interupting a conversation he was having with some guy at the counter just long enough to say hello. He said hello, asked how I'd been doing, and then said, "Oh and by the way, I'd like to meet Kenny Garrett." Me and my big mouth. Kenny Garrett is a real gentleman, too. He was picking up his horn after Emilio overhauled it. Stood there like a fool and listened to him test it.

Several years before this, I was there to try horns, trying to keep Emilio's attention, even though he was packing up an alto he'd finished a job on, to ship back to the customer. He handed me a piece of paper and a pen, and asked me to write down his directions to the customer for keeping the finished clean. (Old English lemon oil) I did so, and when I went to hand him back the slip of paper to put in the case, he asked me to sign his name at the bottom of the note. I had to think about it a minute, but as soon as I stopped laughing I signed his name.

I hope no one starts selling his autograph on ebay.
 

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Many years ago my brothers VI had been bent (the whole tube) it dogged him for years. Finally, he comes out to my wedding a couple of years ago and brought the horn as I wanted him to play it at the wedding. He starts complaining about the horn and how he's gotta have it looked at. I suggested we go to Emilio and check it out. He's only in town a couple of days and it's gonna take a complete overhaul to fix the problem, my brother decides he wants to do it. Though he couldn't finish it by the wedding (the next day) he gives him another VI to play the wedding but finishes it in 2 days before my brother has to leave.

Turns out Emilio did it on a Sunday and wasn't taking VISA for payment so just says. "Take the horn and send me a check when you get home."

Sweet sweet man. And the horn played better than ever.
 

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Thanks To Emilio

Emilio's series of articles on how to repair saxes which were published in Sax Journal, and Ernest Feron's book, inspired me to learn to work on saxes.
 

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I recently met him a couple weeks ago and when I walked in he told me "I'll take care of you" 20 minutes later when I was trying a Selmer Series II he said he recently recieved a Mark VI, Two weeks later after he changed the pads and built up the keys I got it back and it plays better than I ever thought it could. Thanks Emilio

-Birdman
 

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I've known Emilio for 34 years and have purchased many horns and "overhauls" from him. I've got some stories that'll make your hair stand on end. PM me and I'll tell you one.
 

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JonL said:
Last time I saw Emilio, I hadn't seen him in a few years and I went up to the counter to greet him, thinking a few years was long enough to justify interupting a conversation he was having with some guy at the counter just long enough to say hello. He said hello, asked how I'd been doing, and then said, "Oh and by the way, I'd like to meet Kenny Garrett." Me and my big mouth. Kenny Garrett is a real gentleman, too. He was picking up his horn after Emilio overhauled it. Stood there like a fool and listened to him test it.
That may have been the same weekend I was there, with a similar story:
I had to bring my Super 20 for an over-buzzing middle D issue, it was a Friday or a Saturday. I walked in to the shop and Emilio was in the back behind his bench. There were ~5 or 6 people at the counter with horns in hand, and the new Downbeat magazine with Kenny Garrett's picture was on the counter display.

When Emilio saw me he came out and asked what was up. I told him what I needed done and he replied: "I'll help you but I'm in a jam now. Kenny Garrett's at the Regatta Bar tonight and I have to fix his alto." I quickly replied:"But Emilio, who do you love more, me or Kenny Garrett?" At that moment, I noticed the guy standing at my right elbow had the same hat as in the Downbeat magazine cover. It was Kenny Garrett with a funny grin. I shook his hand, complimented him on his Coltrane album, and turned to Emilio and said: "Well, please hurry. I've got a gig tonight!"

I came back in a few hours and it was ready. I'll never forget the grin on Kenny's face.
 

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this isn't so much a story about Emilio as it is about a brush with the famous....anyway, years ago on a cold, rainy fall Boston day, I went into the old Rayburns to look at trumpets (cause that's what I played then).

As I'm passing the counter, I see Emilio talking to a guy in a trenchcoat who looked vaguely familiar....

As I'm waiting for someone in the brass dept. to help me, I hear Emilio describing each of a series of mouthpieces to this guy, to whom he then hands each mouthpiece ("theese one Bergonzi give me...I don't know what it is...do you???") to the guy in the trenchcoat who sticks it on his tenor and just plays the **** out of it, then tells Emilio what each of them is...

I'm standing there with my jaw hanging down at this guy's playing when I realize it's Lew Tabackin who was in town for a gig at the old Lulu White's.....man, can he play!!!! =:)

bigtiny
 

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oh, dats a gaw-jus-a horn!":badgrin:

We (college buddies) used to have contests to see who could do the best Emilio imitation...

You want fast attention at Rayburn's? always bring a pretty girl with you. go straight to the front of the line. :mrgreen:

I don't know how many times I've been in there, for one reason or another, over the years...but this one time...ONE time, I went in there for some reason, right after a National Guard drill, wearing my Army uniform. from that point on, he called me "de Army guy". Whenever I went in, it was "hey, its-a my friend, de army guy! how you been?"
His memory and attention to ALL of his customers always amazed me. I guess if you buy a horn from him, he's your friend for life.
I remember going to see Phil Woods over at the Starlight Roof in Kenmore square, and who was there, but the Dr Himself, fussing over Phil's horns in between sets. He walked past me, saw me, and stopped to say, "hey, its-a my friend, de Army guy! how you been? How's-a you horn? you got a gawjus-a-horn, dare". (referring to the Mark VI he sold me several years earlier).
Here he is, busy with PHIL WOODS fer chris'sakes...yet he takes the time to say "hi" to me. Seems alot of us have the same story, be it Kenny Barron, Lew Tebakin, Phil Woods...he still takes time to acknowledge a "nobody" like me.

Oh, and that horn I bought from him: I was 19 years old, just home from Army basic training, with pretty much my entire earnings from that experience. I spent it on a mark VI. I played a bunch of horns, settled on that one...he gave me a price, and I said I'd come back to pay for it and pick it up. So within the next day or 2 (don't remember exactly when), I came into the "big city" with fourteen one-hundred-dollar bills to pay for my horn. I was nervous as hell, being a kid carrying that much cash (had no other way to make the transaction), in a bad neighborhood (I know several people who have been mugged in that very neighborhood), with just about everything I had. I was so nervous, I forgot to even consider "sales tax". I had a few other bucks on me, but not enough to make up the 70 bucks for tax. I felt so stupid...But Emilio said "dats-a ok"...bring it in next time. So I did.

ahh...the good old days.
 

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I had some tax refund money burning a hole in my undergraduate pockets back in 1986; Went to Rayburn's to see about snagging a modest used horn, at the then several-years-old recommendation of a fellow named Ted Casher, who'd taught woodwinds at Maine Jazz Camp in the early 80s. Must've caught him on a surly day; he wanted absolutely no part of my humble transaction, and starts screaming at me, pointing towards his bench: "See that?! That's Stan Getz's horn! I'm busy, get outta here." (note: Stan's VI was completely disassembled. I was delighted to see it, even though I was being yelled at.)

I explained that I was there on the advice of Ted, whose advice and wisdom I'd always appreciated greatly, and I apologized (even though I did nothing, really, save for entering the store, breathing some oxygen, and asking about used altos. I'm a pretty unobstrusive guy) and turned to leave.

So Emilio sighs and says, "You know Ted?" Then starts laughing his @$$ off, puts his arm around my shoulder and shows me to the used 23s he had on hand.
 

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A few years ago I was in Boston for a visit , after a while I remembered that Rayburn's was in Boston , I did not know the area well and called and asked for directions by subway, I spoke with emilio and he told me how to get there and that the store was closing in 20 minutes - in the end I got there about an hour late and was about to go back home but I noticed someone in the store - it turns out that emilio had told the person at the counter to keep the store open until i got there ,and I smiled all the way home with my new FL Ultimate ligatures !. :D
 

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I bought my first Zephyr from Emilio when I was 14. It was cheap enough that I decided to buy a mouthpiece, too. All I knew was that Coltrane, my teacher, and Stanley Turrentine all played Links, so I knew exactly what brand I wanted. I'd played a Berg and a Dukoff, but my heart was set on the Link. I had no clue what *size* I wanted, only that Stanley played an 8* (I'd just read an article on him in Down Beat).

Emilio said, "What size-a you wuhnna try?"

I said, innocently, "Uhm... an 8*?"

He said, "Kid, who you think you ah, Sonny Rollins? Bergonzi only play-a 6 ohr 7!"

I tried all three... I bought the 8*.
 

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Emilio is a gentleman and is very considerate of the little guys along with the stars. Case in point (and my own lifetime claim to fame.) I was chatting with Emilio at the far end of the long counter at the old Rayburn Music, in the Symphony Hall block. Emilio was making a minor adjustment on my Yamaha tenor. This was roughly 30 years ago, a Saturday afternoon. From the far end of the store one of the sales guys yells loudly, "Emilio. Phone. It's Stan." Emilio says, "Getz?" Guy yells back, "Yeah." Without hesitation Emilio says, "Tella Stan hang on jus' a minute. I'm helping my friend from New Hampshire here." Of course I'll never forget that, and I think it sums up Emilio's character. Danny Kellerman is also a gracious woodwind repairman at Rayburn who doesn't get notice like Emilio but does impeccable work. As an aside, here's a short list of players I've happened to run into when visiting Emilio - Sonny (although he did not want to see or speak to people,) Jimmy Giuffre, Courtney Pine, Illinois Jacquet, Phil Woods, Johnny Griffin.
 

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Tomorrow they are having a 50 Anniversary celebration for Emilio at Rayburns.

I have never regretted following a recommendation from Emilio. I purchased a Florida Link 8 (modified to an 8* by someone unknown) from Emilio last summer. Anyone who knows me knows I have been mouthpiece crazy for the last 14 years.

That Link is hands down the greatest piece I have ever played. I even have an original 8 Florida that is very nice but nowhere near the player this piece is. Yes, I paid more for it than any other mouthpiece I have owned. But since then I have had no temptation (short of the temporary need to ease my setup while I was ill and that was shorter than I ever thought it would be) to go with anything else.

Emilio is a sweet sweet man and takes care of all my horns so well. And if you buy from Emilio, you won't regret it in my experience. He's been nothing but good and kind to me and my family. Yes, I have run into lot's of players (BIG names and plenty of names that should be big) while at his bench. But in the end. He is the reason I come in there.

When I first met him, I was intimidated, scared even. But once you know how to communicate with him it's a treasure
 

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Rise, zombie thread!

Emilio just did my kid a very nice favor. My kid plays tenor at MIT. (Don't laugh too loud. They have a nice jazz program on the 'not-a-music-major' level.) DJ was having trouble with his Mk VI. Today he took it to Rayburn and went up and down it with Emilio . . . on the spot, with no appointment . . . floated a pad or two, fixed some corks, expanded the tenon . . . "Naw, kid, you don' owe me nothin'. Get outta here!"

Thank you, Mr. Lyons, for being so gracious to my son. His picture may never appear on your wall but we thank you nevertheless.
 

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Many years ago I went to Rayburns with a friend who owned a c melody sax to see if Emilio was interested in buying it. Emilio leans over the counter and says, "Listen. The tenor is like a man. The alto she's like a women. The C sax.....(waves his hand back and forth)... eh..." He was not interested, so my friend asks him for his card to call Emilio in case he changes his mind. Emilio rips a piece of paper off a pad, crumbles it up and throws it at his head. "That's my card! Now get out of here." I was almost on the ground laughing so hard.
 

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Rise, zombie thread!

Emilio just did my kid a very nice favor. My kid plays tenor at MIT. (Don't laugh too loud. They have a nice jazz program on the 'not-a-music-major' level.) DJ was having trouble with his Mk VI. Today he took it to Rayburn and went up and down it with Emilio . . . on the spot, with no appointment . . . floated a pad or two, fixed some corks, expanded the tenon . . . "Naw, kid, you don' owe me nothin'. Get outta here!"

Thank you, Mr. Lyons, for being so gracious to my son. His picture may never appear on your wall but we thank you nevertheless.
Emilio always tells me one thing:
"Don't ever go anywhere else. They will screw up your horn. Always come back. I do it for free."
I went in once, and a guy was in there getting his sax serviced. I was waiting by his desk, and when the guy was finished, he said, "How much can I give you?" Emilio said, "You don't owe me nothin'." The guy put a $20 bill on his desk and left before Emilio could give it back.

He is a great guy. I have only met him 3 times, but after the first, he remembered exactly who I was. He does top-notch work, he does it right in front of you, you almost never have to leave your sax overnight, he remembers you, he doesn't charge anything, and most importantly, he is a nice, funny guy with a good personality.
 

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Unfortunately I’ve never met him but I’ve read many stories about him on SOTW and on some Italian sites (he has gone to give clinics for repairers in Italy several times) . I’d love to meet him and speak Italian to him! Anyway for those of us who have never met him , I found these two videos on youtube. Not very high quality both of them but.......that’s what I could find.

 
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