Sam Newsome

Sam Newsome
"The potential for the saxophone is unlimited." - Steve Lacy



The Art Dept Collective (SOLO)

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Top Ten (10) Prepared Saxophone Discoveries

Over the past year or so, I've made numerous prepared saxophone discoveries. The most fascinating has been the external-preparation, internal-manipulation hybrids that have allowed me to create even more unusual sonic concoctions.

Below are ten such discoveries. I can't remember exactly how many videos I've uploaded demonstrating these techniques, but these seem to be the ten that stick out most in my mind.

Enjoy! And more to come.



1. Double-Prepared Saxophone with Aluminum Foil and Plastic Tube Extension





2. Prepared Saxophone with Balloons 






3. Ostinato in 23/8 with Tube Extensions





4. Tube Extension with Plastic Water Bottle






5. SaxDrum - Soprano with Deflated Balloon on the Bell






6. Soprano with Groan Tube Noise Maker






7.  Soprano with Deflated Balloon on the Bell Played Like a Bata Drum






8. Soprano with Flugelhorn Bubble Mute and Plastic Tube Extension





9. Soprano with Three-Inch Tube Extension





10. Duo Concert with Sandy Ewen on Prepared Guitar @ Downtown Music Gallery

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

The Three (3) Tiers of Practicing

Often when I do masterclasses I’m asked by aspiring musicians questions about practicing, which is understandable. They figured I’ve gotten enough together to be invited to give a masterclass, then I MUST know what I doing—at least I’d like to think so. 

Practicing, as I explain, means different things depending on where you are in your level of development. In fact, I’ve identified the process as having three tiers.

Tier 1: Practicing to ACQUIRE knowledge and skill sets that enable you to improvise.

Tier 2: Practicing to PLAY great improvisations.

Tier 3: Practicing to GET OUT OF THE WAY OF great improvisations.

Tier 1 is what I refer to as the building blocks stage. This when you’re working out your scales and harmony, vocabulary building, as well as building a repertoire of tunes that will enable you to do a gig. Students at this sometimes sound mechanical and are often without an original approach. This is fine. I’ve often argued that this is where they should be. That stuff is part of the macro. Right now they should be focused on the micro.

Tier 2...this is what I call the practicum. The stage in which you’re taking all that you have an accumulated during Tier 1 and are now trying to weave it together into a comprehensible, perhaps personal form of expression. This is accomplished through both playing and practicing. In some ways, the former is more important than the later. Playing forces you assess in real time, giving you a clearer sense of your strengths and weaknesses, which will, in turn, give more focus to your individual practice. Players during this stage are starting to come into their own and are not just honing skills, but an improvisatory concept. You might say that they’re moving from the micro to the macro.

Tier 3...here, we’re assuming you’ve done your homework, and that all the ducks are in a row for Tiers 1 & 2. This level is more difficult to assess since your now trying to align yourself with the forces of nature rather than forcing your agenda. This level is more about openness, acceptance, and transcendence. It can be more about your state of mind that the state of your chops—not that the latter is not important.

How do you get there? Well, that is the $64,000 Question. The irony is that you get there by not worrying about how to get there. But by being ok with getting there and not getting there. It’s about being beyond getting there, and just being. 

The truth of the matter is that the lines between Tier 3, living a spiritually sound life, and getting in touch with the essence of your being become blurred. Sometimes they’re one and the same. 

My feeling is that when you do arrive, everyone will notice but you.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Groan Tube Soprano - Prepared Saxophone Explorations

My most recent prepared saxophone explorations is what I call "Groan Tube Soprano." This is a technique where I take the noisemaker (see Figures 1A - C) inside of the Groan Tube — a small cylinder-shaped device that produces a toy baby like sound when it moves up and down the tube—and place it inside of the soprano by dropping it into the bell. 

Of course, the entire Groan Tube cannot fit into my soprano, but the aforementioned noisemaker does fit quite snuggly.

Step 1: Aquire a Groan Tube!

                                                                                     Figure 1A



           
Step 2: Remove the noisemaker located inside the Groan Tube.


                                                                               Figure 1B:


                


Step 3: Drop the noisemaker into the bell of the soprano.


                                                                    Figure 1C:


One of the benefits of playing with this noisemaker piece inside my instrument is that I’m forced to explore a multitude of velocities through which I can move sound through my instrument. Playing the soprano the conventional way is not an option. However, blowing the airstream slowly, rapidly, jaggedly, inhaling, exhaling, slap tonguing, and flutter tonguing—they all seem to force the air stream to interact with the noisemaker in interesting and unpredictable ways. In addition, pressing the keys adds another layer of sound manipulation.

Joining me is Canadian-based soprano saxophonist Kayla Milmine-Abbott--an important musical figure on Toronto’s improvised music scene. Together, I’m sure you’ll all agree we’re able to create a musical realm like no other.





* Below is a clip of flutist Stacy Russell demonstrating this technique with the flute body and foot joint.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Why Roy Hargrove was so Important to Jazz


Whenever one of our own is taken away from us, it’s always a sad occasion. However, when this happens while they’re still young and have a lot more music to give, it’s even more tragic. This is certainly the case with trumpeter Roy Hargrove, who died on Friday, November 2, 2018, of a heart attack. He was only 49 years old. 

I first met Roy in the late 1980s at the after-hours session at the Blue Note Jazz Club. This was a common meeting ground for young musicians having just arrived in town. I was 23 at the time. And during this youth fascinated period of jazz history, I was approaching the age of being little use to anyone in the industry. This was a very different time. Roy, however, was on a very different trajectory. He was 18 at the time and still attending Berklee College of Music. By the time I heard him, his reputation had quickly preceded him. It was usually along the lines of “Aw man! You gotta hear this cat Roy from Texas.” And the fact that he was already signed, further fueled the excitement.

Roy came on the scene when there were few trumpet players like him. In many ways, he was counter-culture to the intellectual and virtuosic approaches popularized by trumpeters like Wynton Marsalis, Terence Blanchard, and Wallace Roney—in that order. Roy brought something much simpler to the table. His approach emphasized the blues, swing, and a dash of R&B. He was coming from a much more organic place than the aforementioned. He was one of the few jazz young musicians at that time to play the blues scale unapologetically. It really struck a chord with the public—especially budding musicians his age and younger. He became the voice of a new generation. 

Unfortunately, his reputation of drug dependancy equally became the topic of discussion, alongside the new neo-soul sound he was honing with bandmates Antonio Hart, Geoffrey Keezer, Christian McBride, and Gregory Hutchinson. 

Most of us wake up to a daily fight with our demons. Some find healthy and positive resolves, others like Roy were not so lucky. 

I never got the opportunity to perform in any of his bands, but because of his love for playing and jamming with fellow musicians, we did share the bandstand numerous times in informal settings. It was nothing short of joyous listening not only to his love for the trumpet and jazz, but for life. Playing jazz might have been his occupation., but it was the sharing of his gifts with the world that became his life's mission. 

I’m sure Roy will always be looking down over us, trumpet in hand, a smile of his face, anxiously waiting to sit in. 

RIP. You’ll be missed.


Check out this clip below of Roy playing one of my favorite compositions of his, "Strasbourg St. Denis."



Sunday, October 28, 2018

Political Correctness: The Creative Artist's Kryptonite




Folks often ask me why I insist on pushing the envelope--especially with regards to the sonic realm of the soprano. My answer: Because I can. More accurately: Because I can without the fear of public backlash. 

As creators of instrumental music, we are immune to the kind of scrutiny that folks who work in mediums like television or print media have to deal with. Their careers can end with one racially charged tweet, an offensive YouTube video, or just saying something insensitive while the cameras are running. We’re living in an age where even stand-up comics are having to apologize for doing what people have always paid them to do: take us to an uncomfortable place, and then make us laugh. 

In our line of work, if people don’t like what we do, they just leave--or don’t bother showing up at all. I’d much rather this than having to apologize for being an artist.  

As musicians, particularly in the realm of experimental music, we can unapologetically go to the dark and uncomfortable places that people in most fields can't. I don't want to come off as one of these people who attach an over-inflated sense of importance to what they do. But we really are in a unique position. We are immune to the creative curse of political correctness. At this moment in time, that's saying a lot. Let's face it: PC-culture is kryptonite to creativity, thinking differently, and pushing the envelope. Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, Don Rickles, and many other great comedic minds would never be given a platform to thrive in this culture of not offending. Not without the social justice warriors trying to shut them down at every opportune moment. 

We have an amazing opportunity as artists--especially sound artists. For the next few decades, the world might look to us as being the ones who can offer a view unhampered by identity politics and fear of offending--sort of like it used to be. In fact, back in the early 1900s, the jazz culture was thirty years ahead of the rest of the nation as far as race relations and redefining what it meant to be an American, particularly a black American. Maybe that time has returned. We no longer have to follow the neo-conservative musical behaviors of the 1990s. Those gatekeepers who made us jump through hoops just to have an opportunity to play music, no longer exist. It's actually funny that many musicians are still propping these people up, and are begging to be picked by them, even though they have absolutely no relevance in this era of abundance. 

I'll say this: Thank goodness I’m not a writer, a radio talk-show host, a TV news commentator, a politician, or a stand-up comic, for that matter, but a creative artist working in the medium of sound. My career won’t end on one bad note. And if it does, that note will be sure to make history!

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

What's Wrong with the Word Jazz?



Many see the label "jazz" as some institutional relic no longer representing today’s improvising musician. To me, it symbolizes a rich and vibrant musical culture of which I’m proud to be a member. And I realize this is not for everybody.

Here’s what I think: The problem most folks have with the term “jazz” is that it doesn’t accurately reflect what they do. This I understand. Jazz is unique in that it underwent numerous transformations since it’s early 1900s inception. Consequently, the jazz of 1920s New Orleans sounds nothing like the Miles Davis electric jazz of the 1960s. The term simply does not provide us with much aesthetical clarity. This is very different from other idioms like blues and rock music. Blues, for example, except for moving from acoustic to electric instruments, and sometimes the implementation of background singers and horn sections has experienced few aesthetical overhauls. For this reason alone, referring oneself as a “blues artist” will spawn few philosophical debates. Jazz is a different story.

Bigger question: Is this reason enough to disassociate ourselves with the word altogether and just call ourselves Improvisers? I’m not convinced. Being classified as a "jazz artist" might not be an accurate depiction of what many of us do.  However, calling ourselves improvisers,  or folks who just “play music, is even more unclear. Not to mention ambiguous and non-committal. 

“Jazz artist” at least gives an understanding of the genesis of our music--provided it is rooted in the music's history. It may not describe exactly what one does, but at least it gives insight as to where the music comes from.

Envelope-pushing musicians like Roscoe Mitchell, Henry Threadgill, and Anthony Braxton, may not prefer the J-word, but I feel it more accurately describes what they do than "composer" and "improviser."  And I'm speaking more of their small group work. European players like Evan Parker, John Butcher, and John Surman don’t display the same obvious ties to jazz’s African American history, especially to the blues. So improviser might be better suited for them. They are more avant-gardists. However, Mitchell, Threadgill, Braxton, fall more in the realm of what guitarist Bern Nix refers to as “avant-traditionalists."

Which raises another point: you don’t always have to fit in.

Let’s say you have a group of musicians playing on stage together improvising. They might have common goals as far as desired performance outcomes, but they’re not coming from the same place. You can have Peter Brötzmann and David Murray playing together, but their musical and cultural genesis will lead you down two different paths. If you asked Murray what he’s working on, you would not be surprised if he said “Lush Life.” I’m not sure if the same can be said about Brötzmann. Not to name one as better than the other. Only the musical DNA is different. 

At the end of the day, you might say I’m a subscriber to what George Lewis refers to as the “one-drop" rule of jazz--something he discusses in his book A Power Stronger Than Itself. Lewis speaks of it as something negative--a way to box African American composers into a cultural and aesthetical corner.  I totally get it. For the record, I would never tell anyone how to self-identify. That right is one of our sanctities as belonging to an evolving human race. But as Popeye used to say: “I am what I am.” And proud of it!

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Is Piracy a 1990s Kind of Worry?




Many musicians and industry folks alike feel piracy is our biggest worry.  I'm here to beg to differ.

In this era of musical abundance,  obscurity should be our biggest concern. Seeing how consumers have access to as much music as their precious little ears can consume, we should be honored that someone would want to steal something we've created. It means that we have somehow figured out how to cut through the clutter. According to an article in Time Health, the average internet user has the attention span of a goldfish, which amounts to eight staggering seconds!

Not only is piracy improbable,  but getting folks to know and care that we exist after discovering us, is equally difficult. 

If this sounds harsh, consider what we have to compete with:

- According to an article in Tubular Insights, 500 hours of YouTube video are uploaded, not every day, or every hour, but every minute. And this was back in 2015.

- In an article in Internet Live Stats, 6,000 tweets are tweeted on Twitter every second.

- And in an article in GeekWire, 95 million photos and videos are shared on Instagram daily.

Get the point?

Looking at these stats, worrying about someone even noticing our music seems overly optimistic--never mind, actually taking the time to figure out how to steal it. I’m not saying that it can’t happen. It happens all the time, especially with sampling. But in all honesty, how often does a big name rapper illegally sample our music, making millions, while giving us nothing? Rarely. And if they do, what is the likelihood that they would get away with it?

So you get my point. Casing the room for folks making audio and video recordings of our performances is counter-productive. I used to play with a bass player who would stop playing if he saw someone recording--even if it wasn't his gig. Needless to say I don’t use him anymore. In this age of abundance, we should be thankful that someone is willing to record our performances and share it with their friends and followers on social media. Some might see it as stealing; some might see it as exploitation. I see it as free publicity. That person and their Samsung might give exposure to a few thousand folks that ordinarily I would not have reached.

If someone illegally records your music and makes a commercial recording of it, or steals your tune and claim it as their own, that’s a different story. Again. How often does this really happen?

Look. I know we want to protect our precious tunes and performances of them. But trust me when I say that most stuff written and performed is not even exploitable by the musicians who’ve created it. Never mind a couple of drunken millennials with smartphones. Not to say a lot of music is not good. Just the opposite. This is one of the most creatively fertile periods I’ve experienced in my lifetime. But being good and being exploitable for commercial gain are two different conversations. 

Let me say this. Yes, copyright your music. Make sure your publishing is in order. But when you encounter folks out here doing free publicity for you, don’t fight them, embrace them. Hell, maybe even thank them. Realistically, most of the people exposed to our work on social media will give us eight seconds of their precious time, at best, before moving on to the next tweet, Instagram post, Facebook post, Snapchat post, or controversial YouTuber-of-the-month. I don’t know about you? But I’ll take it. Every little bit helps.

In this era of musical abundance, our only recourse is generosity and sharing, not selfishness, suspicion,  and hoarding. 

Friday, October 5, 2018

Remembering Hamiet Bluiett: Big Horn, Big Heart



I first met Hamiet Bluiett back in 1989, when I first moved to New York. I was fresh out of Berklee and green as the cucumber fields of Fruitland, Maryland. Back then I counted on friends and colleagues who had already moved to New York a year or two earlier to be buffers between folks and me I wanted to work with. 

On this particular day, I was hanging with guitarist Mark Whitfield, who had left Berklee a year or two earlier to play with a renowned R&B band. After we had finished playing a jam session, Mark told me that he was playing that night with this baritone saxophonist named Hamiet Bluiett, whom I had never heard of, at a spot in Greenwich Village, and that I should bring my horn--at the time would have been my vintage Mark VI tenor saxophone Back then, showing up at other people’s gigs with your instrument was how you found work. It was an informal type of audition and casting call that was never-ending. Much to my surprise, it was one of Hamiet’s large ensembles, that at the time featured Troy Davis on drums, Reginald Veal on trombone (not bass), Steve Wilson on saxophone, Bruce "Bud" Revels on saxophone and clarinet, James Genus on bass, and many others whose names are escaping me. 

The music was very eclectic, a mixture of written parts, musical cues, and free improvisation. What you’d expect from Hamiet Bluiett. In fact, this was my introduction to free improvisation. Coming straight out of the conservatory setting, I was used to following a musical map telling me the tempo, the meter, what chord changes to play on, and how many choruses to play. What Hamiet introduced me to that night was how to follow a musical compass—learning to listen to my musical instincts and not just regurgitate pre-rehearsed vocabularies. 

Long story short, I sat in and did my little thing and everyone seemed to dig it, especially Hamiet. 

Here’s the funny part.

After the first set, Hamiet, looking a little perturbed, asked the band to convene upstairs for a band meeting—including me, even though I had only played on one or two pieces.
All of the band huddled around Hamiet in this very small and cramped green room. We were all sitting, while he stood, occasionally prancing from left to right, as he began tearing the band a new one!

His tirade went something like this: “What the hell are you guys doing out there?! What the HELL are you doing?! Why the hell are you trying to swing? If you want to swing, go play with Miles Davis or Jimmy McGriff, or one of those motherfuckers! Don’t bring that shit to my bandstand. If I play in C, don’t you play in C. Play in B or Db. If I play in 4/4, don’t you play in 4/4. Do something different. Use your imaginations.”

And much to my surprise, he pointed at me and said, “Now this man. He’s going in the same direction as me.” To say that I felt more uncomfortable than flattered would be a gross understatement. During those days I was very much influenced by 1960s John Coltrane and Joe Henderson. So playing in that freer,  experimental setting felt very scary, yet, liberating—something I only learned to appreciate years later.

That night made a significant impact on me. Going to Berklee taught me to be a musician, that night with Hamiet taught me what it’s like to be an artist. A path I’m proud to say that I’m still pursuing passionately.

Mr. Bluiett’s music and generosity of spirit will be missed. He formally and informally mentored many young musicians who had the good fortune of crossing his path. Brooklyn, Illinois, would be proud to know that one of their own represented them well. He left the world in a much better place--an endeavor to which most can only aspire.  R.I.P.

Check out this 2010 performance of Hamiet playing at "Giant Steps" at a rehearsal for the Tel Aviv Jazz Festival. Recorded February 4, 2010.

This trio features the Kahil El'Zabar Ritual Trio


Kahil El'Zabar -- drums

Hamiet Bluiett -- baritone saxophone

Junius Paul -- contrabass

I really like the way Hamiet opens up this tune. Not an easy task. As most know who've played it, it's difficult not to fall into a patternistic approach when playing this tune. Hamiet's performance is devoid of all cliches. 

Enjoy!



Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Awards and Accolades: They’re Only Half the Picture





Being musicians and artists, we often aspire to get awards and accolades under our belts. Whether it's getting a sizable grant, the Guggenheim fellowship, the NYFA fellowship, or the Pulitzer Prize, these kinds of awards are considered the highest of honors in the arts and entertainment--nothing to turn up our noses at. Being recognized, however, by these types of organizations will not act as a surrogate for what really matters: having your music or work become better and more impactful. Or better yet: Doing work that matters.

As creative people, how we’re perceived is not always based on past accomplishments, but on what we’re currently doing or might be doing in the future. Past accomplishments usually gain notoriety-equity only after we’re gone. A sad truth.

Regarding awards, I’ve known many musicians whose music actually became less interesting, or simply not as good, after receiving this type of establishment anointment. My theory is that before, they were hungry, but then they became full of themselves. 

This is one of the dangers of the ego and how it can become a barricade between us and where greatness lies. It’s one thing to create because you’re inspired, it’s another to create with concerns on how your creation will be perceived in comparison to previous work, especially if that work catapulted you to a higher level of fame and recognition. The latter tends to work more against you, than being a new starting place for greater things.


As I see it, receiving grants and awards are great things, for no other reason that they open up opportunities, enabling you to grow your audience, and at times grow your bank account. But at the end of the day, what you most want to be excited about is doing work that which makes you a better musician and more impactful as an artist. In other words, doing work that would be missed if you didn't show up to do it. No plaque, trophy, or paycheck could ever replace this.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Talking Shop with Soprano Saxophonist Jamison Williams

Have you ever wondered about the setups other saxophonists are playing on soprano? 

NOW you can find out!

During this installment, we’ll be talking shop with soprano saxophonist Jamison Williams. Jamison, who resides in Jacksonville, Florida, self-identifies as an experimentalist and an improviser. Not to mention that he thrives on pushing the envelope with regards to extended saxophone techniques, sound exploration,, and music programming.  Check out his [neu] Sonic Music Initiative. Jamison also has a fascination with reimagining the Disney Songbook through avant-garde lenses.

Knowing Jamison, and knowing that he is out there doing his thing, makes me very excited and optimistic about the future of the soprano saxophone and experimental music.

So I am extremely grateful that he was generous enough to take time from his busy schedule to talk shop.

Sam Newsome: Jamison, during our last interview, you stated that you play the Conn 18M soprano. Is this still the case? Being an older model, how does it compare to some of the newer horns available?

Jamison Williams: There are some tools you refuse to let go of, they’re an appendage, and they just seem to pronounce the exact syllables intrinsically appropriate for the story being told; this is the most ideal instrument needed to manifest every word to complete that creative sentence. It will be with me for life. 

                                                       Jamison's Conn18M Soprano Sax (Disassembled)

Having played Nonoko Yoshida’s soprano, it definitely gave me an eye-opener as to the more comfortable ergonomics developed by newer models, but compared to the 1865 Adolf Sax soprano I’d played at Saxquest, this ’27 New Wonder II feels practically futuristic. A very satisfying era, for me, in soprano saxophone manufacturing.  

SN: What was it like to play a soprano saxophone from 1865? I’m not even sure if it can be put into words.

JW: The Adolphe Sax soprano was a museum piece located at SaxQuest in St. Louis, played like an absolute charm; it had a double octave key, so in order to get a range above the high G, you would have to engage the second octave key. It played brilliantly, clean, open, no backpressure force, and was surprisingly light, much, much lighter than the Conn I’m playing now. Much lighter. The ergonomics were also spectacular, perfect grip. 


SN: When I first switched to the soprano, the Conn, which I imagine is similar to yours, was of one the sopranos I liked the best. What deterred me was not having access to the fourth octave. Was this ever an issue with you? Eventually, I think I could have figured it out, but I was too impatient at the time.

JW: That’s pretty high. There are colors and musical choices that are distinctly necessary for what’s being designed. That range, when used by me, is masked by auxiliary overtones when using multiphonics. Also, if they haven’t been produced as overtones, I probably haven’t sent them a birthday card either.

SN: Are still playing the Otto Link “Super Tone Master?” You seem to have a proclivity for vintage equipment.


                                           An Otto Link: Super Tone Master" Soprano Sax Mouthpiece

JW: That mouthpiece was given to me by a very well respected soprano player who was unable to attend a scheduled performance due to illness, who’s no longer with us; he asked for me to keep this exchange between us, so it is very special to me, and a private dedication at every performance. It will go with me to my grave.  

SN: What do you most like about it? And what’s one aspect of it that you dislike?

JW: There haven’t really been very many other pieces that I’ve played, this and an S80 and honestly the only ones I’ve ever put to my face; some things just fit, this seems to be the one that just makes the most sense.

SN: And how about reeds…Are you still playing the Vandoren #3? This used to be the brand of reeds I played before switching to the RW reeds.

                                                           Jamison's brand of reeds




JW: Vandoren 2.5 (classics) is the strength that now seems best for my lip, they seem to have a fresher sound compared to the stronger reed, even if by just a little bit. 

Extended techniques are my primary bag; having a reed that provides the support of hourly, heavy backpressure, as well as the flexibility to provide sustainable, clean overtones is absolutely essential. These are the performance spark plugs that power the machine.   

SN: I can certainly relate to this. Like you, being that extended techniques are at the core of what I do, I tend to go through reeds pretty quickly. Do you find this to be the case as well?

JW: Interestingly enough, I am pretty sensitive to the reeds, tapping them, controlled air pressure, and a proper balance, so they pretty much last me a good while; I’m still playing a reed from last year, with no chips, warping, or dullness. My teacher told to back in college to rotate them out, in a series of four, to keep a fresh reed always in hand. Instead, I play one until it’s dead, then move on. Love them, and they will love you in return.


SN: That’s pretty fascinating! The only time one of my reeds ever lasts a year is when they get lost between the cushions of the couch--something to think about.

And what type of ligature or ligatures do you use? As you know, ligatures have become almost as complicated as the mouthpieces. The newer ones are no longer metal contraptions with screws that you tighten to keep the reed from coming off. 

JW: Interestingly enough, having played a stock Otto lig, a basic Rovner, and a Francois Louis, I managed to Frankenstien one out of an old leather belt, and bound it with an old finishing washer. It’s absolutely perfect: the flexibility, resilience, resistance, tone, and grip. Perfection.

                                                 One of Jamison's homemade ligatures!




SN: It looks pretty cool. How long did it take you to make this? 

JW: Once you have the vision, it only takes a second, think this one took me five minutes maybe, probably less; just needed a good wrap that would provide ‘give’ (for flexibility and vibration), as well as endure an hour-long set without leaving me stranded. 

SN: And have you ever thought about selling them?

JWHa! Selling these things...hadn’t thought of it. Think I will just stick to playing a horn and continuing the growth of an ever-expanding library of published books.

SN: I can respect that. Having a narrow focus keeps you from getting derailed from what’s really important.

So what’s new on the horizon? Any noteworthy gigs/tours/recordings coming up? You always seem to have something in the works.


JW: Always on the move: tour throughout the South in July with a quartet including fellow saxophonist Jim Ivy, New York in August with Dave Miller and Austin White (to commemorate a trio release), solo Japan in January, and solo throughout Europe in February. 


In collaboration with artist MP Landis, January looks to be the inaugural month for an ongoing boxset series, ‘Interpretations from the Disney Songbook’, vol I-V; solo soprano saxophone, each extensively exploring key signature songs, themes fully expanded in duration, space, and development. The motifs have been mapped out in microscopic acuity. Releases will be made available in Portland, Maine in conjunction with an exhibition of the art cover, in full life-sized detail. Highly anticipating this event/release.

Currently continuing the ever-expanding ‘Interpretations from the Disney Songbook’. The previous edition was documenting specific graphic, shorthand notes and exercises (written in my words, for my personal understanding and development), intended for solo soprano, and closed out at over 1200 pages, this edition for ensemble is now amassing at over 800 pages of arrangements ‘for orchestra and soprano saxophone’; this allows for me the opportunity to write out everything in my saxophonic arsenal, with accompaniment, so the soloist is exclusively dedicated to extended thematic techniques. Me, with an organized backing band, per se.

                                               "Interpretations from the Disney Songbook"


SN: That’s quite an itinerary. I’ve always admired how you’ve been able to keep the flames going on so many fronts. Thanks again for taking the time to do this, and I look forward to hearing your new work.

JW: Absolutely! Thank you again, and appreciate you reaching out to me. Take care, and be safe.



Please check out this cutting edge performance of Jamison playing duo with one of my favorite percussionists, Tatsuya Nakatani.




To learn more about Jamison and his music, please visit www.jamisonwilliams.com

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Thought of the day: Taking Risks


When I first switched to the soprano, I equated it to being like jumping off a cliff and growing wings on the way down. As artists, we can't afford to wait for safety nets. Being like no other is our safety net. The riskiest thing we can do in today's musical climate is to play it safe.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Thought of the day: Success Through Failure



The problem with many jazz improvisers is not that they don’t play enough great solos, it’s that they have not played enough bad solos. Failure is the surest path to success. Don't try to be perfect. Just try.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Thought of the day: The Status Quo





The status quo has only two rules: (1) keep things the same, and (2) keep those trying to change things out. Now that you know its rules, make up your own. Don't fit in. Lead. Don't conform. Convert. You can either fit in or stand out. Try to do both, you will fail at both.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Thought of the day: Outsider/Insider




When you decide to become an artist, even when you become famous, you’re still an outsider. So get used to it. And for the record: Being an outsider or insider is usually not about the number of fans you have, nor the amount of money you have, but the vision you have. Embrace it. Share it.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Thought of the day: Ruler


Most people live in a world that they inherit. Artists live in a world that they create. And not just any world, a micro-world.  Even though it starts off small,  it can become so influential that it changes the macro-world at large. Don't settle for macro-world citizenry. Become a micro-world ruler. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Thought of the day: Having a Job


I'm a big proponent of artists/musicians getting 9-5 jobs. It's nothing wrong with paying the bills while continuing to stay focused on your vision. Is it better to be continually gigging and having lost your direction, or selectively gigging keeping your focus intact?

Thought of the day: The Harvest




I release recordings for three reasons:

1. So I won’t forget them.

2. So I can share them.

3. So I can then move on to the next thing.

Focus not on the harvest, but on planting the seeds. Fertile the world with your uniqueness.
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Monday, August 6, 2018

Thought of the day: A New Business Paradigm





Old way: 
  • Artist makes demo;
  • Artist gives demo to manager;
  • Manager gives demo to lawyer;
  • Lawyer gives demo to A&R rep;
  • A&R rep signs artist to label;
  • Label records artist;
  • Label releases record to the world.
New way: 
  • Artist makes recording;
  • Artist makes recording available to the world.

Thought of the day: Hope



Many don’t realize we’re experiencing a music business revolution. That’s because they’re telling themselves a story from the 1980s. This is a new day of abundance, filled with hope, and opportunities to share and connect. Don't squander it.  Start telling yourself a new story.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Thought of the day: Doing the Work




As artists:

Do the work people don’t know needs to be done;

Do the work people don’t want to do;

Do the work people are afraid to do;

Do the work that years later, people will say, “Man, I wish I had done that.”

Thought of the day: Creativity





Creativity is like a parade of ideas marching through the metaphorical town known as our work. The best view of any parade is from the sidelines. Get in front, you might get trampled. Get in the middle, you might get lost. Get in the back, you might get left behind. 

Just observe.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Thought of the day: Success





Four Must-haves for Success in the Entertainment Business
1. Must have friends
2. Must be at the right place at the right time
3. Must have an organization of people in support of what you do
4. Must have lots of luck

If these four things are clicking, your talent will develop just from opportunities to work.

Thought of the day: Storytelling



Musicians often don't realize that the music scene is exactly how it should be. Usually, the only thing wrong is the story we tell ourselves about it. We can be the optimist basking in the middle of it, or the naysayer peering at it from the outside. 

What story are you telling?


Thursday, August 2, 2018

Thought of the day: Sharing



Many musicians think that piracy is our biggest worry. That’s 1980's thinking. In this internet age, obscurity should be what we fear most. Don’t worry about people stealing your music. You should be so lucky to have someone want to steal something you created. SHARE don’t HOARD.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Thought of the day: Communities



Many see music as a means to build a business. I see music as a means to build a community. Businesses make money; communities make a difference. One receives, the other gives.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Don’t Spam, Connect: The True Path to Building Audiences

Finding an audience with whom to connect is something we all want to do as musicians and artists. And why not? These are the folks who will attend our gigs, purchase our music, and support our artistic endeavors. Our base.

My issue is not so much wanting to have a unified group in our aesthetical corners, but how we often times treat those we're trying to woo, is something to be desired. Instead of satiating their hunger for artistic enrichment, we often resort to spamming them to death. I'm talking about the barrage of emails, tweets, Facebook posts, snail mail, you name it. As I see it, spam is an acronym for:

Soliciting 
People
After 
Money

We all need money. This I get. The problem with spamming is that you betray the trust of those who are interested in what you do. They opened your email, read your Facebook and Twitter posts for the first time, maybe even the second, third, and forth, and after a while, they know never to do it again. Why? Because they opened their door, and you showed up, not bearing gifts, but things they don’t want or need. 

So what’s a fella to do?

First of all, don’t spam, speak. More importantly, speak to those already eager to listen. 

Don’t hustle them. Lead them. Lead them to where they're already yearning to go, but did not want to go there alone. Be a guiding light, not an annoying flickering one, only screaming for attention.

And if you do want to connect with your audience, here’s an acronym to guide you: 

Generosity 
Including
Virtually 
Everyone

GIVE!

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