Home » Member Page

Benjamin Boone

Saxophonist, composer, arranger and educator.

My Jazz Story

I grew up in the small town of Statesville, NC and entered jazz through bands like Pat Metheny, Chuck Mangione, and big bands like Count Basie. Folks like Miles Davis and Charlie Parker just weren't on my radar then - the only records available were the ones the local Woolworths had. So the first real "show" I attended was about 60 miles away in Charlotte, NC, when I was about 16, which was a big deal for me. I was way into Chuck Mangione, particularly because I loved Chris Vadala's saxophone playing. My friend Eddie McLelland and I arrived early and we were walking around the area when I spotted Chris. We ran around the block - just like in the movies — so that we could cross paths. Chris was super cool and gave us backstage passes - so when the show was over we got to hang out with the band for quite a while. The guitarist had sight read the gig which amazed me. They were asking great questions and I was just completely tongue tied. What struck me was how nice they were to a young kid who didn't even known what questions to ask. I shared that story with Chris about 30 years later when we met at a saxophone conference, and of course, he didn't remember, but it was fun to let him know how much his kindness had meant to me.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.