Sam Newsome

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

Podcast for Rhizome's 2022 Catalytic Sound Festival with Layne Garrett

411 Kent - Wednesday, August 17, 2022 @ 8:00PM

411 Kent - Wednesday, August 17, 2022 @ 8:00PM

2022 Vision Festival

2022 Vision Festival
Reserve your tickets now!

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

The First Time I Met Wallace Roney

My first encounter with Wallace Roney was back in 1988. I was still at Berklee, about to graduate, and only marginally prepared for the world on which I was about to embark a few months later.

At the time, Wallace was working with the Tony Williams Quintet at the Regatta Bar inside of the Charles Hotel in Cambridge, Mass. All the heavies from New York used to come through the Regatta Bar. I heard McCoy Tyner, Hank Jones, J.J. Johson, Sphere, Branford Marsalis, Freddie Hubbard...many pleasant memories. Looking back on it, I may have received a better education there than at Berklee, in somes respects.

Wallace had just released his debut recording Verses on the Muse label with Gary Thomas on tenor saxophone, Mulgrew Miller on iano, Charnett Moffett on bass, and Tony Williams on drums. It's a really cool record. A lot of my hyper-ambitious friends and I saw the Regatta Bar not just as a chance to hear some great music but as an opportunity to network. We didn't have social media back then. We had to actually be social. He was someone I thought I'd like to work with when I moved to New York, so I figured what better time to introduce myself. Wrong!

I've always been somewhat resourceful, so I just called the front desk and said, "Yes, would you please connect me to the room of Wallace Roney." I knew it was common for the musicians playing at the Reggata Bar to stay at the Charles Hotel. Lo and behold, they put me through. As expected, there was a lot of awkward silence--especially him not knowing me from Adam. Feeling our conversation going nowhere, I decided to ask him about his recording, Verses. Now, I probably should have asked something along the lines of 'how did you approach this tune?" Or "what were you thinking when you played on that tune?" But I didn't. I asked him how he got his record deal. But he heard it as: How did YOU get a deal? And how can I get one? Needless to say, our conversation went from chili to cold and me getting some stern words on how I need to pay some dues.

A few familiar friends later ended up vouching for me. Having my back, they told him I wasn't a "jive as" you know what, and that I could actually play. We ended up having a very polite conversation when I went to the Regatta Bar that night to hear him with Tony. But that awkward first conversation still comes back to haunt me.

But if you know anything about Wallace and his brother Antoine, it's that they LOVE music. Most musicians, myself included love playing and the creative process. Wallace REALLY loved the music! Terence Blanchard coined the phrase music-aholic. This was Wallace. You could hear in his playing. You could hear it in the passion with which he spoke about music--especially Miles, and everybody who's ever played with Miles.

Thank you, Mr. Roney, for all that you've left us. We'll miss your passion, your commitment and most of all, your sound.

Rest in peace.

 Oh...and this is one of my favorite Wallace Roney moments!

Thoughts of Music - Episode 8: Why We Should Seek Heroes, Not Mentors

What’s the difference? 

Heroes inspire us to follow our own path. Mentors tell us which path to take. When you follow a mentor, you do what they do. When you follow a hero, you do as they do. And to bring the point home even further: One gives you a map to follow, the other allows you to create and revise your plan as you go along.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Thoughts on Music - Episode 7: Developing Good Habits versus Setting Goals

Here, I'm discussing the benefits of developing good habits, versus setting goals. SETTING GOALS enables you to reach that desired place.

DEVELOPING GOOD HABITS enables you to stay there. Goal = a quick fix solution Good habits = a way of life

Friday, March 20, 2020

Thoughts on Music - Episode 6: The Note Onion Theory

Here, I'm discussing The Note Onion Theory. Layer 1. Making the note sound Layer 2. Making the note ring Layer 3. Making the note sing

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Thoughts on Music - Episode 5: Art and the Three Cycles of Functiionalities

Art usually passes through three (3) cycles of functionality.

Cycle 1: Starts as a perspective
Cycle 2: Becomes a movement
Cycle 3: Settles into a tradition. 

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Thoughts on Music - Episode 9: The Era of Squandering

I've often said that this period in time will be known as "The Era of Squandering." The year 1928 was the time of the Great Depression. The year 2020 is the Great Disconnection.

Thoughts on Music - Episode 8: Why We Should Seek Heroes, Not Mentors

What’s the difference? 

Heroes inspire us to follow our own path. Mentors tell us which path to take. When you follow a mentor, you do what they do. When you follow a hero, you do as they do. And to bring the point home even further: One gives you a map to follow, the other allows you to create and revise your plan as you go along.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Thoughts on Music - Episode 4: Three Types of Musical Communities

There are three types of communities that we tend to align ourselves with:

1. Internal communities: our sources of inspiration that exist primarily in our hearts and minds. Folks whose music, philosophy, and vision we've internalized deeply.

2. Cyber communities: those with whom we interact online, usually through social media.

3. External communities: those with whom we interact in person. 

Thoughts on Music - Episode 3: Three Categories of Improvisers

The three categories of improvisers:
  1. Traditionalists
  2. Modernists 
  3. Experimentalists

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Thoughts on Music - Episode 2: Our Musical Aging Process

Four (4) musical ages:

  • Chronological musical age
  • Developmental musical age
  • Artistic musical age
  • Mastery

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Thoughts on Music - Episode 1: My Four-Tier Hierarchical Order of Importance

My approach follows what I call a four-tier hierarchical order of importance.

The top tier is sound. Sound at this level serves no other purpose other than to resonate. This can include the many manifestations of sound: notes, noises, and nuances—something I like to call the three N’S.

The second tier is sound manipulation. At this level, how to make the sound resonate has been established. Now, the goal is to extract many different timbres and nuances from the sound.

The third tier is language. Here, I explore different ways of threading and weaving together sound combinations that form musical sentences; thus, it evolves the beginnings of musical language.

The fourth tier is style. After forming together enough musical sentences, the next step is to find others with whom to communicate. This is essential because upon declaring it, the person or persons with whom you choose to interact with often time has come with an agreed-upon set of musical and sometimes cultural values. This often unspoken contract of aesthetics lays out the do’s and don’ts of improvisation.

Why is this approach important? Typically, when we learn to play, we start with tier four, evolve to tier three, often stopping at tier two. One is usually omitted altogether.

I’ve reversed the process. I start with absolute truth and create a o and around it, rather than starting with philosophy and trying to find the truth within it.'''

And just for record, what I have stated here is not absolute truth. It's simply fruit for thought.

Why Wayne Shorter Mattered

It goes without saying that an institution of musical thought and creative generosity has left the planet. But, on a positive note, also lef...