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Take Five With Steve Sacks

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Meet Steve Sacks:

A jazz saxophonist/flutist and Harvard-trained musicologist, Steve, has for 35 years, focused his talents on the richness and diversity of Brazilian and Latin music. An internationalist fluent in five languages, and with twenty years experience on the New York music scene, Steve has performed, recorded and/or written for a wide variety of artists including Tito Puente
Tito Puente
Tito Puente
1923 - 2000
band/orchestra
, the Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
1899 - 1974
piano
Orchestra, Airto Moreira
Airto Moreira
Airto Moreira
b.1941
percussion
and Flora Purim
Flora Purim
Flora Purim
b.1942
vocalist
, Earl Klugh
Earl Klugh
Earl Klugh
b.1953
guitar, acoustic
, Mongo Santamaria
Mongo Santamaria
Mongo Santamaria
1922 - 2003
percussion
, Astrud Gilberto
Astrud Gilberto
Astrud Gilberto
b.1940
vocalist
, Paquito D'Rivera
Paquito D'Rivera
Paquito D'Rivera
b.1948
saxophone
, Paul Simon
Paul Simon
Paul Simon
b.1941
composer/conductor
, and Talking Heads. David Byrne made extensive use of Steve's talents on his Rei Momo and Uh-Oh albums and subsequent world tours. He has released three solo CDs: First Dream; Look To The Sky; and Christmas Presence.

Instrument(s):

Sax (alto/soprano/baritone), flute.

Teachers and/or influences?

Teachers: John Lewis
John Lewis
John Lewis
b.1920
piano
, Steve Lacy
Steve Lacy
Steve Lacy
1934 - 2004
sax, soprano
, Andre Hodeir
Andre Hodeir
b.1921
, Ron Carter
Ron Carter
Ron Carter
b.1937
bass
, George Young
George Young
b.1937
.

Influences: Julian "Cannonball" Adderley
Julian
Julian "Cannonball" Adderley
1928 - 1975
saxophone
, Antonio Carlos Jobim
Antonio Carlos Jobim
Antonio Carlos Jobim
1927 - 1994
piano
, Milton Nascimento
Milton Nascimento
Milton Nascimento
b.1942
guitar
, Hubert Laws
Hubert Laws
Hubert Laws
b.1939
flute
, Oregon.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when... I joined my high school jazz band on lead alto sax, and discovered that music was challenging and liberating beyond anything else I'd experienced to that point in life.

Your sound and approach to music: Playing music requires the ability to express oneself, collaborate with your fellow musicians, and communicate with your audience. It begins with your individual tone color, distinctive and yet responsive to the sounds of others.

Your teaching approach: Discover who they are and where they are headed in music and in life, recognize their strengths and limitations, and guide them by serving their needs above your own.

Your dream band:

I would love to play with Hubert Laws, Brian Blade
Brian Blade
Brian Blade
b.1970
drums
, Paul McCandless, and Larry Goldings
Larry Goldings
Larry Goldings
b.1968
keyboard
.

Road story: Your best or worst experience: Best experience: playing with my Brazilian group, Trilogia, in New York's Greenwich Village, when a guy sitting at a table in the back of the room came up to us in the break, saying "I like your music and I'm going to come back to hear you." The guy was Ornette Coleman
Ornette Coleman
Ornette Coleman
b.1930
sax, alto
...and he did come back!

Worst experience: getting a horrible sunburn on a tour of Ecuador with the Tito Puente Band, then driving all night through the mountains on bumpy roads to get to the next day's gig...

Favorite venue:

Visiones in New York City—good treatment, regular gig, complete artistic freedom.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why? Four Colors, featuring my four-flute group of the same name, because I could arrange some great standards and originals for four outstanding players (plus rhythm section) and communicate the rapport we had built up over many rehearsals and gigs.

The first Jazz album I bought was: Kind Of Blue, Miles Davis
Miles Davis
Miles Davis
1926 - 1991
trumpet
.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically? A sense of hope, freedom and joy in a world which desperately needs them.

Did you know...

I am fascinated by the characters used to write in Japanese, and can spend hours in a museum looking at calligraphy.

CDs you are listening to now: Larry Goldings Trio, As One;

Oregon, Live At Yoshi's;

Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
b.1930
saxophone
, Worktime;

Chick Corea
Chick Corea
Chick Corea
b.1941
piano
and Steve Kujala, Voyage;

Sam Yahel
Sam Yahel
Sam Yahel

keyboard
Trio, Truth And Beauty.

Desert Island picks: Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock
b.1940
piano
, Speak Like A Child;

Cannonball Adderley, Cannonball's Bossa Nova;

Bill Evans
Bill Evans
Bill Evans
1929 - 1980
piano
, Live At The Village Vanguard;

Quarteto Novo, Quarteto Novo;

Milton Nascimento
Milton Nascimento
Milton Nascimento
b.1942
guitar
, Minas.

How would you describe the state of jazz today? Jazz is caught between the incessant drive to innovate of the real creators, and the need to survive in a world of changing musical tastes and economic turmoil.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?

*Places to play;

*People willing to go out and listen to live performances;

*Exposure to good recorded jazz in schools, on radio, over the internet;

*Musicians willing and able to make the financial sacrifices necessary to develop their art, yet with the open-mindedness necessary to develop their craft through playing in many different situations.

What is in the near future? I have just released a new CD of jazz and Latin arrangements of Christmas carols, called Christmas Presence, featuring some of the top jazz musicians in Tokyo, Japan where I've been living for the past 11 years.

If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a: music minister in a church.

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