Swingin' Saturday: The Swing of Things Chapter 1

Lieutenant Commander Kaidan Alenko shifted his trumpet case nervously. He'd never met any of the people with whom he was supposed to play here on the Citadel and he wasn't sure if they'd know or care about his other rare abilities. But he'd been blowing the horn since he was four and he supposed in the end that was the only skill that would matter to the others.

He opened the door to the rehearsal room and found a beefy older man tuning an upright bass. A keyboard sat empty several feet to the right. The man introduced himself as David Anderson and offered his hand. Kaidan had heard plenty about Captain Anderson before but no one had ever mentioned that he was a musician. “An honor to meet you, sir,” Kaidan said.

He took out his beloved trumpet, set aside the case, and began warming up with some scales, tuning as he went. The two were doodling around a bit, each getting a feel for the rhythm of the other, when the door again opened and a young man entered hesitantly. He carried a saxophone case his right hand and a beret in his left, the scrub of dirty blond hair on his head showing that he'd recently been wearing the latter. A reed poked from one corner of his mouth. Alenko and Anderson broke off and introduced themselves. “Corporal Richard Jenkins,” he offered, speaking around the reed from long practice and looking intimidated at the rank of the two men with whom he was intended to play.

Kaidan knew he'd have to make Jenkins feel at ease or he'd never play as well as he hopefully could. “We're just tuning up. Get out your horn and we'll do a little improv,” he suggested. Nothing relaxed a player like a familiar warm-up, even with strangers. The trio played a few more scales and moved into a gentle take on Take the “A” Train, more noodling than melody.

As they embroidered Kaidan became aware of the sound of piano blending into the tune. He glanced over at the keyboard he'd noticed earlier, wondering if Anderson had somehow triggered a recorded version. He stopped playing abruptly, trumpet forgotten at his lips, when he realized that a man in a billed cap sat, oddly stiff, fingers playing across the instrument.

Anderson and Jenkins trailed off when they realized that Kaidan had quit. Both turned to follow his eyes. Anderson, much closer than the others, tipped his bass entirely. Kaidan unthinkingly tossed out a biotic flare of blue and caught it before it could hit the ground. Anderson took it and nodded his thanks with narrowed eyes but chose not to add another complication to the strange situation.

The mysterious newcomer continued on a few notes, grinning at the reaction he'd generated. “Jeff Moreau,” he said, adding a few ominous bass notes on the keyboard. “I came in the back way.” He gestured to a door the others hadn't noticed, half-hidden behind a stack of chairs. “I didn't want to interrupt your swing.”

Anderson's laughter broke the tension in the room. “Good to have you aboard,” he boomed. “Next time just clear your throat or something.” As they were introducing themselves an older, balding man entered, the distinctive case of a slide trombone at the end of his arm. The men were talking over each other by then and all Kaidan could catch was the last name Pressly.

The men settled into chairs and discussed gigs and songs as Pressly assembled his trombone and gave a few practice runs. Kaidan was impressed by the strength of the musicians and he watched as Jenkins forgot his intimidation in the discussion of standards and favorite composers.

Once they'd gotten to know each other better and were ready to start an actual rehearsal, Anderson announced that he'd been given a set list for their first performance and distributed the list to the displays that each man had placed before himself. Kaidan, a Gershwin man at heart, grinned at the inclusion of Summertime with a “very up-tempo” notation beside it, as well as I've Got Rhythm.

It seemed strange that the quintet would be playing songs so well known for their vocals but he didn't see anything on the list he didn't know. There was Stardust and Cherokee, even Sweet Georgia Brown, none of which strictly required a vocalist, but then Mack the Knife appeared (again with a note, this one reading “Swing it!”).

You can't swing Mack without a singer, he thought to himself. Anderson counted them into Ko-Ko and Kaidan lost himself in the music, setting aside his other concerns. They were a few minutes into the song when the door opened again and a woman swayed appreciatively into the rehearsal room.

The Swing of Things Chapter List

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