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Chris West

Born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee, Chris’ interest in music started at a very young age. Having inherited his father’s acoustic guitar, and a small Casio keyboard, Chris started experimenting with music as far back as he can remember. “I used to try and figure out as many melodies on the guitar as possible, and then when I discovered chords, it was a whole new ballgame!” Chris would try and get his hands on any musical instrument he could find and figure out how to play it. Chris decided to polish his talents in music on the saxophone after playing trumpet for two years in the school band. “I knew that’s the instrument I wanted to play before I even knew what it was called” After winning many awards in high school such as the John Phillips Sousa award, and after several honor bands (mid state, all state, mid state jazz, Grammy in our Schools, etc.), Chris decided to peruse music as a career. At this time Chris began studying with world renowned saxophonists Jeff Coffin (Bela Fleck and the Flecktones) and Jeff Kirk (Maynard Ferguson) and in 1998 he earned his Bachelors degree in Commercial Music Composition/Performance at Belmont University in Nashville, where he was a featured artist at the music school’s annual Commercial Music Showcase, featuring the top performers/composers/arrangers of the university. It was at Belmont that he also began studying flute and clarinet. Chris then took 5 years off from school to travel the country and compose for/play with a 7-piece avant guarde funk/jazz band called the Guy Smiley Blues Exchange. With this ensemble, he really polished his writing style and was even nominated for a Nashville Music Award with this group, for a song he wrote. In 2002, Chris decided to go back to school and in 3 years had earned his Masters in Jazz Studies at Middle Tennessee State University as a Graduate Teaching Assistant under the direction of Don Aliquo. Since graduating from MTSU, Chris has been teaching at Western Kentucky University, as well as several high schools in the Nashville area. He has also toured with several major acts such as Deana Carter and Brenda Lee and has had the honor of performing with major jazz/funk artists such as Bob Babbit (Motown), Bela Fleck, Victor Wooten, Benny Golson, Rufus Reed, Kenny Werner, Tim Hagen, Randy Brecker, Sound Tribe Sector 9, Jim McNeely, Chester Thompson, Bill Summers (Herbie Hancock), The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Rebirth Brass Band, John Medeski, Jacob Fred Jazz Odyseey, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Eddie Daniels, etc. He has appeared on the soundtrack for the HBO movie “Boycott” playing saxophone and organ, and has composed and arranged for several master sessions in Nashville. Chris is currently playing with the Dynamites, a deep funk band based out of Nashville, which features soul legend Charles Walker from Little Charles and the Sidewinders. The group is currently traveling the world playing for sold out shows, and opening for acts such as Widespread Panic, The Dave Matthews Band, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Galactic, and has performed at several festivals including the Montreal Jazz Fest, Austin City Limits and Bonnaroo. Following up his first solo album entitled Jazzmanic in 2006, Chris has released the first of a three album set entitled The Surprise Trilogy. Most of the nine original tracks are in the style of traditional jazz and pull from Chris’ straight ahead jazz genre influences, as opposed to the modern/funky jazz style of Jazzmanic. Notable guests on Surprise Trilogy 1 include trumpeter Rod McGaha (Surprise 1), saxophonist Don Aliquo (Kenny), saxophonist Jeff Coffin (Mr. Grossman), and New Orleans style group Halfbrass (Where I Got My Groove Back). The album features all original pieces and can be purchased at Chris’ website, www.jazzmanic.com.

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Album Review

Funkwrench Blues: Soundtrack For A Film Without Pictures

Read "Soundtrack For A Film Without Pictures" reviewed by Chris May

Once upon a time it was hard to walk into an arthouse cinema without bumping into a jazz soundtrack. Miles Davis' for Louis Malle's Ascenseur Pour L'échafaud (1958), Charles Mingus' for John Cassavetes' Shadows (1959), Krzysztof Komeda's for Roman Polanski's Knife In The Water (1962) were among a legion of similarly inclined endeavours. But all that was a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. In the 2020s, if you want to hear a freshly ...

Album Review

Chris West: The Surprise Trilogy: Disc 1

Read "The Surprise Trilogy: Disc 1" reviewed by Glenn Astarita

The first of the 3-CD Surprise Trilogy, by saxophonist Chris West, reasserts that Nashville is not all about country and roots music. Indeed, Nashville plays host to an aggregation of top-flight session artists who need to be adept, multifunctional, and armed with a broad range of musicality. Consequently, West has cut his teeth with eminent artists such as bassist Victor Wooten, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band and pianist Kenny Werner. West's soul-drenched modern mainstream jazz arrangements are augmented ...

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"Kicking off the opening track of his first solo record with a funk line on baritone sax that dips down and scoops up big chunks of sound, Chris West announces his intentions square in the face - Serious jazz chops put in service of making an audience move" -David Maddox, Nashville Scene

"...it establishes West in the upper echelon of Nashville's jazz world, alongside heavyweights like (Jeff) Coffin, (Rod) McGaha, and (Don) Aliquo. In other words, West could easily hang in NYC or LA - but we're glad he's here instead" -Jack Silverman, Nashville Scene

"Chris West brings a feast to the table whether through his playing or his compositions

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Primary Instrument


Willing to teach

Advanced only


I've been teaching all levels, beginner thru professional, grade school thru seniors, for 10 years. I've taught private lessons at several high schools in the nashville area as well as Western Kentucky University. I charge $40/hour from my home studio or $60 for house calls.



The Call

From: Soundtrack For A Film Without...
By Chris West


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