Q&A with James Sandon – 2009 NJA Finalist

James Sandon, saxophone, Perth

When did you start playing saxophone and why? For example, was there a ‘moment’ when it came to you as a calling or vocation?

I started playing the saxophone at the age of six. Both my parents are musicians so growing up in a house full of instruments I guess it was a natural progression for me. Being taught by my father, I was given a couple reasons why it was important to learn how to play an instrument. The one reason that stuck out to me at the time and still now, was for survival and being able to provide for my family if I ever lost my “day job”. Looking back that was quite a lot to take in for a six year old. It’s quite ironic that I’ve only been a full time musician and have never had a “day job”..

It’s hard to tell when it came to me as a “calling”. I’ve always enjoyed playing music and I knew from an early age that music would somehow play a big role in my life. If I was to narrow it down I guess it would be when I attended WAAPA studying with and learning from some great musicians. I quickly fell in love with Jazz and found I had a talent for it.

Which musicians (jazz or otherwise) have been your greatest influences? What about them stood or stands out for you?

Sonny Rollins, Charlie Parker, Louis Armstrong, Joe Henderson, Ben Webster, Dexter Gordan, Sonny Stitt, Johnny Griffin, Stanley Turrentine, Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, Cannonball Adderley, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Joe Lovano, John Scofield, Branford Marsalis, Wynton Marsalis, Chris Potter, Joshua Redman, George Benson, David Sanborn, Stevie Wonder, BB King, Bob Marley, Ray Charles, Luther Vandross, Me’shell Ndegeocello, Jose Luis Quintana “Changuito”, Miguel “Anga” Diaz, Giovanni Hidalgo. I’m sure there’s more that I can’t think of right now…

Two things that stand out to me in all of these performers is there individuality and there total conviction in what they produce.

When composing or arranging, where do you get your inspiration? For example, do you ever find that other art forms (painting, writing etc.) feed into your own creative process?

To be honest, I am not a prolific composer or arranger. When I have written in the past it has been for a specific date or performance. Writing is definitely something I need to dedicate more time to.

What’s your favourite place to play or practise?

At home; it’s where I’m most comfortable…

What does Wangaratta Jazz represent for you?

Wangaratta Jazz for me represents an opportunity to listen to some great music and to hang out with friends and fellow musicians.

What are you listening to now?

Right now as I write this I’m listening to one of my all time favourite albums “The State of the Tenor” Volume 1 and 2, Joe Henderson.

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These annual Q&As with National Jazz Awards finalists are coordinated by Miriam Zolin.