Baritone & Tenor Saxophonist Jared Sims Tells His New York Story On Forthcoming Ropeadope CD, "The New York Sessions," Set For October 12 Release


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The theme of this record is not just what New York means to me, but what New York meant to me before it just became all Starbucks and strip malls. Not so much looking backward, but telling my New York story.
Jazz saxophonist and educator Jared Sims pays musical tribute to experiences that influenced his creative development on The New York Sessions, his fifth album as a leader. Set for release by Ropeadope Records on October 12, the disc is a post-bop quartet outing that comes 20 years after Sims was performing regularly at clubs like the Knitting Factory, Wetlands, and Brooklyn’s Tea Lounge. Joined on The New York Sessions by pianist Chris McCarthy, bassist Alex Tremblay, and drummer Evan Hyde, Sims plays his main axe, baritone saxophone, on only one of the album’s five tracks, the jaunty-mid-tempo ballad “Brooklyn Tea,” named for the defunct Tea Lounge venue. Becoming a kind of outsider to himself, he plays tenor on all the other songs: “Tribeca Tap Bar” (which shows off his Getzian influence), “Wetlands Preserved” (named for the famed Tribeca club), “The Bodega,” and “Pelham.”

“The theme of this record is not just what New York means to me, but what New York meant to me before it just became all Starbucks and strip malls,” Sims told CD annotator Michael J. West. “Not so much looking backward, but telling my New York story.”

Jared Sims, who turns 44 today, started playing the baritone in the fifth grade in his hometown of Staunton, VA, and attended his first jazz concert, by Michael Brecker, in tenth grade. He saw the World Saxophone Quartet perform the following year, and his fascination with the saxophone went “over the top” after speaking with members of the WSQ after the show. He dedicated himself to the baritone after bringing a tenor to a class at the New England Conservatory (NEC) and having his instructor warn him he’d never be great on it because he’d be following in the footsteps of too many legends. Far from taking offense, Sims took his teacher’s words to heart. “There are a lot of gold standards on tenor,” he says. “I was trying to find a way to move past those influences. Playing the baritone felt really natural to me. I felt like I could do something personal and interesting with it.”

While an undergraduate at West Virginia University, from which he graduated in 1996 and where he’s now in his third year as director of jazz studies, Sims studied traditional styles with David Hastings. At NEC, where he played clarinet in addition to baritone, alto, and tenor, he was exposed to non-traditional genres including Third Stream, under the tutelage of distinguished faculty members Gunther Schuller, George Russell, and Ran Blake. Another of his NEC mentors was Allan Chase, with whom he collaborated for various projects.

Sims went on to earn a doctorate in classical music performance at Boston University, where his lecture recital was on the modern Italian composer Luciano Berio and his solo Sequenza pieces. He also did research on Igor Stravinsky, Charles Ives, and American popular music.

While in Boston, where he earned a reputation as a “saxophone colossus,” Sims roomed for four years with virtuoso baritone saxophonist Charlie Kohlhase, a cog in Either/Orchestra, who turned him onto Sahib Shihab. He played in numerous Boston-based bands including the Afro-Latin group Mango Blue; the organ funk outfit Akashic Record; Blueprint Project with guitarist Eric Hofbauer; and the jazz-rock quartet Miracle Orchestra. He has collaborated with an eclectic list of artists including the late Bob Brookmeyer, Han Bennink, Matt Wilson, Dave Liebman, Anat Cohen, the Temptations, 10,000 Maniacs, and Oasis’s Noel Gallagher.

Sims made his recording debut as a leader with the trio effort Acoustic Shadows (2009) and followed it with another trio session, Convergence (2011), and the collective quartet album The New Stablemates (2012). On Layers (2016), he overdubs himself playing saxophones, clarinets, and flute on tunes by Ellington, Monk, and Mingus, while on Change of Address (2017), a soul-jazz quintet date featuring the Hammond B-3 organ, he plays only baritone.

Jared Sims will be touring in support of The New York Sessions at the following venues:

Sat 10/6 Ashland (VA) Coffee and Tea (8pm), with Ayinde Williams, p; Mike Hawkins, b; Emre Kartari, d.

Fri 10/12 Wallace’s Whiskey Room, Pittsburgh (7pm), with Cliff Barnes, p; Paul Thompson, b; Tom Wendt, d.

Mon 10/22 Marvin, Washington, DC (7pm), with Collin Chambers, p; James King, b; Nasar Abadey, d.

Thu 10/25 Button Factory Stage, Portsmouth, NH (8pm), with Mike Effinberger, p; Rob Gerry, b; Mike Walsh, d.

Fri 10/26 Lilypad, Boston (7:30), with Mark Shilansky, p; Keala Kaumeheiwa, b; Steve Lagone, d.

Sat 10/27 Silvana, NYC (9pm), with Frank Straub, g; John Feliciano, b; Alex MacKinnon, d.

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