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Every time I donate a pint, I'm sure someone boogies out of the hospital. Growing up in New Orleans infused jazz into my blood.
The standard jazz repertoire has many fine old tunes, but I prefer to play ones by the more recent jazz composers – Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel, Eric Clapton, Ray Charles, Steely Dan and others. So you don't think of their music as jazz? You haven't heard me play it!
The essence of jazz is improvisation. A jazz musician typically plays the melody of a tune once, then improvises, leaving the melody behind. I believe improvisation works best when the listeners know the tune and can supply the missing melody. I love to watch faces light up as they recognize a tune that was part of their life story, then follow along with me as I lead the song down a jazz path.
To fit the space and budget of smaller venues, I keep my format simple: one saxophone accompanied by prerecorded backing tracks. My sax is never amplified. This gives it an intimacy not filtered through a loudspeaker and lets me adapt my volume to suit the mood of the audience.