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Take Five With Milton Suggs

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Meet Milton Suggs:

The remarks of those who hear him for the first time often go something like this: "I didn't know he could talk, let alone sing!" or "That voice does not belong to that body!" That's because Milton prefers to let his talent speak for itself.



Music has been an integral part of Milton's life from an early age. While in elementary and middle school, he played various instruments including the bass, the alto saxophone, and the drums. From these experiences Milton developed a love of, and discovered an intuition for, music that has aided in his growth and development as a musician.



In 2001 Milton began learning to play the piano under the tutelage of his godfather, renowned jazz pianist Willie Pickens. In 2003 he enrolled at Columbia College Chicago, where his passion for performance and arranging began to take shape. It was here where he first began to develop his skills as a vocalist and pianist, as well as a composer/arranger. Shortly after receiving his B.A. from Columbia he chose to attend DePaul University, where he received a Masters degree in Jazz Studies. It was while attending DePaul that he received a Downbeat Magazine Student Music Award for outstanding vocal performance.



Thus far, Milton has had the pleasure of sharing the stage, performing for, and recording with such notable musicians as Wycliffe Gordon

Wycliffe Gordon
Wycliffe Gordon
b.1967
trombone
, Phil Woods
Phil Woods
Phil Woods
b.1931
sax, alto
, Sean Jones
Sean Jones
Sean Jones
b.1978
trumpet
, Vincent Gardner
Vincent Gardner
Vincent Gardner
b.1972
trombone
, Winard Harper
Winard Harper
Winard Harper
b.1962
drums
and Wynton Marsalis
Wynton Marsalis
Wynton Marsalis
b.1961
trumpet
—all of whom have expressed high opinions of his ability.



He has had the honor of being selected to participate in Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead residency program in 2010. This opportunity enabled him to work side-by-side with legends such as Dr. Billy Taylor

Billy Taylor
Billy Taylor
1921 - 2010
piano
, Curtis Fuller
Curtis Fuller
Curtis Fuller
b.1934
trombone
, and Dr. Nathan Davis
Nathan Davis
Nathan Davis
b.1937
saxophone
, as well as iconic vocalist Carmen Lundy
Carmen Lundy
Carmen Lundy
b.1954
vocalist
. With the drive, dedication, and talent he has exhibited thus far, Milton is poised to become a powerful force within the world of music.

Instrument(s):

Voice, piano.

Teachers and/or influences? Willie Pickens, Bobby Broom
Bobby Broom
Bobby Broom
b.1961
guitar
, Lyndia Johnson, Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong
1901 - 1971
trumpet
, Joe Williams
Joe Williams
Joe Williams
1918 - 1999
vocalist
, Oscar Brown Jr.
Oscar Brown Jr.
Oscar Brown Jr.
1926 - 2005
vocalist
, Nat "King" Cole
Nat
Nat "King" Cole
1919 - 1965
piano
, Johnny Hartman
Johnny Hartman
Johnny Hartman
1923 - 1983
vocalist
, Billy Eckstine
Billy Eckstine
Billy Eckstine
1914 - 1993
vocalist
, Red Garland
Red Garland
Red Garland
1923 - 1984
piano
, Erroll Garner
Erroll Garner
Erroll Garner
1921 - 1977
piano
, every ancestor that has had a positive impact musically and/or spiritually.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when... I was in second grade, when I first wanted to become a musician. However, it faded as I got older. The desire resurfaced permanently when I was a senior in high school.

Your sound and approach to music: Ease, energy, and enjoyment; the same way I try to approach life. It's difficult, but it's all about the journey.

Your teaching approach: Be honest to yourself about what it is you like. Listen to anything and everything and figure out what it is that truly speaks to you. When you find it, pursue it with others and especially within yourself. And practice!

Your dream band:

Nearly impossible, but I'll try. A mixture of those living and departed Rhythm Section: pianist Kenny Kirkland; bassist Ben Williams; and drummers Chris Dave and Jeff "Tain" Watts.

Horns would fluctuate between: alto saxophonists Kenny Garrett

Kenny Garrett
Kenny Garrett
b.1960
sax, alto
and Wessell Anderson
Wessell Anderson
Wessell Anderson
b.1964
saxophone
; trombonist Vincent Gardner
Vincent Gardner
Vincent Gardner
b.1972
trombone
; trumpeters Blue Mitchell
Blue Mitchell
Blue Mitchell
b.1930
trumpet
, Roy Hargrove
Roy Hargrove
Roy Hargrove
b.1969
trumpet
and Wynton Marsalis; and tenor saxophonists Dexter Gordon
Dexter Gordon
Dexter Gordon
1923 - 1990
sax, tenor
, Branford Marsalis
Branford Marsalis
Branford Marsalis
b.1960
saxophone
and Marcus Strickland
Marcus Strickland
Marcus Strickland

saxophone
.

Favorite venue:

The Jazz Showcase in Chicago, IL is a great room.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why? "Lush Life," from the album Just Like Me. That has been my favorite song since I first heard it, and to finally be able to record it with pianist Willie Pickens was something I had been waiting on for a long time.

The first Jazz album I bought was: A compilation of Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
1899 - 1974
piano
compositions.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically? The most important thing any artist can contribute is a true representation of him/herself and an honest interpretation of what she/he experiences in the world. That ideal defines my goal as a musician and what I seek to contribute at all times.

Did you know...

The bass was my first instrument (and my father's instrument). I started when I was eight and I am currently reacclimatizing myself to it, so watch out!

CDs you are listening to now: Janelle Monae, The ArchAndroid (Bad Boy/Wondaland);

Terence Blanchard
Terence Blanchard
Terence Blanchard
b.1962
trumpet
, Choices;

Stefon Harris, Urbanus; John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman;

All the Oscar Brown Jr. I can find.

Desert Island picks:

Errol Garner, Concert By The Sea;

Outkast, ATLiens
Wynton Marsalis, Black Codes from the Underground
;

Kenny Garrett, Songbook;

Oscar Brown, Jr., Sin and Soul.

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