Take Five With Jake Hanlon

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Meet Jake Hanlon: Performer, composer and educator, Jake Hanlon currently resides in Antigonish Nova Scotia, a Professor of Music at Saint Francis Xavier University.

A native of Nova Scotia Canada, Hanlon has had the opportunity to work some of the brightest and talented students and teachers in the world. In 2003 he graduated with Honors from Saint Francis Xavier University with a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies. In 2007 he was hired as a Graduate Teaching Fellow at the University of North Texas. The Fellowship Duties included instruction of private lessons, Performance Fundamentals and direction of the UNT L5 and Super 400 Guitar Ensembles, the L5 ensemble being one of the foremost College Guitar Ensembles in the World.

Instrument(s): Guitar.

Teachers and/or influences? Teachers:

Fred Hamilton, Lynn Seaton, Stefan Karlsson, Paul Tynan, Tom Daniels, Gene Smith.


Jim Hall, John Abercrombie, Wayne Shorter, Kenny Wheeler, Joe Henderson, Chris Potter, Dave Holland, Keith Jarrett, Oscar Peterson, Freddie Green, Grant Green, Wes Montgomery, Pat Metheny, John Scofield.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...

I discovered my need to be a musician at the age of 20. Prior to that I was a musician, someone who played but did not understand how important it was to me until I returned to music full time.

Your sound and approach to music: Music is about emotion and communication. When I play I need to feel something. Aside from the technical aspects of jazz, the emotional aspect of it is what connects me to it the most. It could be the fun of playing with a superior player or the dread of a big performance. The passion of a well played ballad, the energy of a burning composition. It sustains me and makes me feel more alive.

Your teaching approach: To give the students a strong basis in the fundamentals of the music so that he or she can proceed to begin playing as quickly as possible with other people. Playing the music is the best way to learn it and from there the student can continue private study to guide them in how to fix what they cannot fix themselves.

Your dream band: John Taylor on piano, Dave Holland on bass, Peter Erskine on drums. That rhythm section on Widow in the Window (ECM) is far to hip for me to know how to deal with it.

Road story: Your best or worst experience: I remember a gig I took out in Texas at an amateur airplane club. I was told it was 50 bucks a man plus free food, lots of food as it was a Texas style BBQ. I was hungry and a student so I took it. The gig day came around and I was told that the drummer would be the wife of the organizer's 13 year old son who "liked jazz" and owned one album, a Miles Davis CD of compiled music.

It was brutal.

Favorite venue: I have no favorite venue.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why? My debut CD is out soon, I must say that one.

The first Jazz album I bought was: First jazz album I fell in love with was Miles Davis' Kind of Blue.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically? That question for me is impossible to answer since I still am finding my voice.

Get back to me in 20 years maybe.

Did you know... I was a pretty decent classical bass trombonist!

CDs you are listening to now:

Jonathan Kreisberg, Night Songs (Criss Cross);

Jesse van Ruller, Circles (Criss Cross)

Kenny Wheeler, What Now? (Cam Jazz);

Kenny Wheeler, Angel Song (ECM);

Pat Metheny, Day Trip (Nonesuch).

Desert Island picks:

Miles Davis, Miles Smiles;

Sonny Rollins, Saxophone Colossus;

John Coltrane, A Love Supreme;

Joe Henderson, So Near, So Far;

Stevie Wonder, Songs in The Key Of Life;

Pat Metheny, Bright Size Life;

Wes Montgomery, Smokin' At the Half Note;

John Scofield, Works for Me;

Jim Hall, These Rooms;

Pat Martino, We'll Be Together Again;

Kenny Wheeler, Widow in The Window;

John Abercrombie, Third Quartet;

Tom Harrell, Sail Away;

Kurt Rosenwinkel, The Remedy.

How would you describe the state of jazz today? I would describe it as underground counterculture.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing? My faith is that jazz will always be there, yet popularity will always be low. We live in a society driven by instant gratification and financial worries and not about culture and the humanities. Perhaps some day we will return there, but by then other things will have evolved to take over the roll jazz played at it's height of popularity.


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