Quamon Fowler: His Life and Faith
“ Musicians are always seeking higher spiritual experiences. ”
Twice-winner of the ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Award, tenor saxophonist Quamon Fowler performed earlier this summer at the Jazz Journalists Association's Awards program at B.B. King's in New York. Following the award Fowlerwho recently celebrated his 25th birthday and the release of his third CD, The Visionwas praised by Ken Cicerale of ASCAP as, "...a player and as a composer who is one of the most exciting players coming up. We're going to hear a lot more from him in the future, his high quality as a composer and as a band leader. Cicerale, in interview, said of Fowler, "This is it. This is the next generation. In the following interview Fowler talks about his life, and the faith that keeps him and his career going.
All About Jazz: How did you enjoy being in New York?
Quamon Fowler: New York was fun. It's always exciting to come to the city of New York. It is the Mecca, you could say, in entertainment and music productions.
AAJ: What all did you do while you were here?
QF: Most of the time, I was trying to rehearse. I was rehearsing with a band for the event. The rest of the time we walked around.
AAJ: What did you think about that jazz event that you played at?
QF: I thought it was cool, like I was in the back most of the time, but I saw a little bit. It was long event.
AAJ: Who are some of your favorite players in general?
QF: I came up listening to a lot of Sonny Rollins and Johnny Griffithand Cannonball Adderly and Branford Marsalis, as well as others like Arnet Cobb, one of those Texas tenors from Houston.
AAJ: What are you doing now?
QF: I go to Texas Tech., majoring in music performance. I'm doing a teacher's assistantship, so I'm a jazz instructor.
AAJ: How did you happen to play at the professional jazz industry event in New York?
QF: We won the young jazz composers event and ASCAP wanted their young composers to play. This was my second time winning the ASCAP Young Jazz Composers. Ken Cicerale, in charge of the awards, was real supportive.
AAJ: He praised you a lot that night.
QF: He's very supportive. He's an encourager. I need to send him a CD.
AAJ: What was the other year you won?
QF: I believe it was a few years ago.
AAJ: Is this your first CD?
QF: No, this is my second CD. The first one I did was in 2000.
AAJ: Tell us about this new CD.
QF: The new CD is entitled The Vision. The reason I wanted to call it The Vision is because God had revealed to me some things as far as songs I wanted to display in the project. Also, I'm visually impaired and I'll explain that.
AAJ: What does that mean?
QF: I have challenges visually seeing, and just need special accommodations.
AAJ: Such as what?
QF: Like magnifiers; I have low vision.
AAJ: Did you wear glasses that night of the JJA event where we met?
QF: No, they won't really help. I need to be close to focus on things, to get precision. I need to be closer than normal. I put the vision material on the inside of my CD; that I was different as a child, not being able to see things as other people did. Growing older, I realize God has given me an ear for music. While it was a challenge to see things visually, it was easier to pick up things musically.
To grasp things musically, I have to hear it from listening to it. I learned to read music and everything, but would have to get close enough. Once we played things a few times, I would memorize. I wouldn't need the music anymore.
AAJ: Did your teachers know that?
QF: Yes, they noticed it.
AAJ: Did they just think you were gifted?
QF: Yes. I was able to visualize the music in my mind based on what I heard.
AAJ: How was God involved? Do you feel more spiritual because of this?
QF: Yes. Ever since I was a child, I realized this and went through the struggle of not being accepted like the average person...like my peers, they would mess with me, tease me and make fun of me and all that stuff. The thing I realized over the yearseven though I had a challenge in my physical bodywas that God had given me a blessing through my perception and in hearing music. There's a scripture, II Corinthians. 12: 9: "For my grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ's power will rest on me...
AAJ: Mom likes to quote that too because she's in a wheelchair and can't walk now due to polio.
QF: I have it in my CD here. That's a beautiful verse. [He laughs jovially and continues to read from the Bible.] "That is why for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecution, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then am I strong.
AAJ: That's really nice.
AAJ: Do jazz musicians talk much about the Bible?
QF: [He laughed.] I think it'd be great if they would.
AAJ: Saxophonists are always talking about their embouchures and stuff. This is stuff perhaps saxophonists don't always mention.