When Dan Froot improvises on saxophone, children say they see birds, traffic, dogs, even a drunken rabbit.
Froot, one of 400 performers who will descend on Annapolis for New Year's Eve, was making the rounds of local schools this week to promote First Night Annapolis, the annual citywide celebration of the arts. The promotional performances were set up in cooperation with the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County and state and county arts groups.
If the enthusiastic response of the students at Annapolis Elementary School is any indication, he ought to be a big hit.
Froot, who has toured the United States, Europe and South America, mesmerized the youngsters, who were eager to answer his questions. Did they know what instrument he was playing? What pictures did they see in their heads when he played, and did they know what improvisation means?
"I was impressed with the spontaneity of the students," he said later. "They are enthusiastic about music and attending First Night."
Froot started playing saxophone when he was a youngster in Connecticut, but tired of practicing four to five hours a day. When he started practicing less, he said, he started enjoying it more.
He majored in theater at Bennington College in Vermont, then worked mostly as a dancer in the early 1980s. He switched back to saxophone after an accident in New York in 1987.
Now he is based in Los Angeles and New York, where he is a teaching artist at New York's Lincoln Center Institute. He also composes scores for dance and theater companies.
He said he was "financially motivated" to develop the solo act because "keeping a group going is expensive."
Froot combines his theater and dance skills in his performances. It is his impish, pixyish quality that appeals to the audience and what brought the enthusiastic response from the students at the Green Street school.
The centerpiece of his First Night performance is his innovative and jazz composition, "Knee Deep in a Kiss." He also incorporates a technique called circular breathing, in which he blows through the saxophone while inhaling through his nose. He can play an entire six-minute piece without pausing for air.
Billing himself as the "Wizard of Jazz," Froot will perform in the St. John's College Conversation Room. Information: 268-8553.
Pub Date: 12/08/96