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James Saxsmo Gates

James Saxsmo Gates

James Saxsmo Gates

What artists do you feel akin to or in the same tribe with?

Brandford Marsalis, Walter Beasley, Jeff Lober, Alex Bugnon, Freddie Fox, Mark Whitfield, Jeff Watts, Curtis Williams, Kevin Eubanks, Fred Wesley, Kirk Whalum, Kim Waters, Billy Kilson, Billy Childs, Terri Lynn Carrington and my partner in crime Bill McGee.

What would you define as the most life-changing event so far in your musical career?

The passing of both of my parents made me realize that my love of music and the support both of them provided me in my quest to be a musician was the root of my passion. My mom was a dancer, back in the day; she loved music. My dad was a sax man, my inspiration, he loved music and they both loved me and encouraged me to finish what you started, they also told me to be the very best at playing this horn... and that's what I'm going to do.

What are you most proud of at this point in your life and career?

First being a child of God. Graduating at the top of my class with my Masters degree in Jazz Studies. Finally, my love and dedication to shedding (practicing) and performing. I know my parents, God bless their souls, would be very happy with all of those accomplishments in my life and career.

What’s your favorite non-music activity?

I love playing Tennis... Outside of music, working out, mentoring kids and Tennis! That's it!

If you were magically allowed to spend an hour with whomever you chose in history… alive or dead… and really be able to get inside their head, who would that be?

Count Basie, Charlie Parker, Julian Cannonball Adderly, Arthur Ashe or Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., did I have to pick one?

What are some of the most important goals you have for yourself in the next five to ten years?

Several hit CD's, a Grammy or two, touring around the world, and developing the Billy Taylor Jazz Studies Program in to a world class program for young people interested in learning how to play jazz, CEO of my own Academy of The Arts School for underprivileged kids and my own Top Notch Jazz Club!

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