Q&A with Jacam Manricks – 2009 NJA Finalist

Jacam Manricks, saxophone, currently living in New York

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 alto saxophone when I was 10. My Grandfather was an alto saxophone and clarinetist and although I never meet him the stories that where passed on through the family where inspiring to me as a kid. But also my father had hipped me to some great recordings of Coltrane, Cannonball, Bird, Stitt at home growing up. This was key inspiration.

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

I most admire musicians who can ‘do it all’ or have something innovative they bring to the art-form. By ‘do it all’ I mean guys who can ‘burn’ in a musical way on their instruments, plus write and arrange interesting music. Musicians who have a ‘heavy’ understanding of music harmony, rhythm etc and use it to contribute something fresh, beautiful and/or compelling. Guys like, Gustave Mahler, Duke Ellington, Arnold Schoenberg, Charles Ives, Bob Brookmeyer, Gil Evans, Miles Davis and his many sidemen, Messian, Dolphy, Ornette, Bartok, Konitz, Trane, Bird, Cannonball, Dave Holland… these are a few

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?

Other art-forms have inspired me yes. Particularly painting. On my new album ‘Labyrinth’ there is a piece titled ‘Rothko’, which was inspired by a Mark Rothko exhibit I saw at MOMA in NY. But I frequently borrow ideas from other musicians, and different types of music. I check out scores and listen as much as possible… I try to take an idea and make it sound better or mold it differently somehow.

What’s your favourite place to play or practise?

Any place I can play with great players! These days I want to play with others as much as humanly possible. I am still diligent about practicing my instruments but also practicing/developing a musical dialogue with other musicians. I rent a studio in Queens NY with some other Jazz musicians, which is great for that purpose.

What does Wangaratta Jazz represent for you?

It represents Australian Jazz internationally and provides a creative environment and Jazz-community for Australian Jazz artists.

What are you listening to now?

Messian ‘Quartet for the End of Time’,  Miguel Zenon Awake & Jibaro, Charles Ives ‘From Hanover Square North’, Ornette Coleman ‘Civilization Day’

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