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Take Five With Jason Hammers

AAJ Staff By

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Meet Jason Hammers:

Originally from Gaithersburg, MD, Jason Hammers grew up in Stafford, VA where began his musical journey on the alto saxophone at age 11. While a student at Stafford Senior High School, he was named to numerous All-County and All-District Bands and had established himself as a featured soloist with the school's jazz ensemble.

Upon graduating high school, Jason matriculated to Christopher Newport University in Newport News, VA to continue his musical education. It was during his freshman year that the tenor saxophone became his main instrument. As a member of the CNU Jazz Ensemble, he performed at the Ella Fitzgerald Jazz Festival from 2007-2009, performing with Kurt Elling, Steve Zegree, The New York Voices, Kenny Garrett, and Dave Douglas. In his senior year, Jason was a member of the CNU Jazz Combo I, that was selected to perform at the 2009 North Texas Jazz Festival and earned an Outstanding Soloist Award. In 2009, Jason graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.Mus. degree with concentrations in Classical and Jazz Performance.

In the same year, Jason was accepted in the Masters of Music program at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where he was a student of Ben Schachter. He completed the program in 2010, writing his thesis titled "The Comeback: Frank Foster's Impact on the Count Basie Orchestra."

He is currently a freelance performer, composer, and educator in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.


Saxophone, flute, clarinet.

Teachers and/or influences? Influences include, in no particular order: Antonio Hart, Bill Evans, Bob Mintzer, Brad Mehldau, Joel Frahm, Chick Corea, Dave Douglas, Dexter Gordon, Duke Ellington, Joe Lovano, Horace Silver, John Coltrane, Keith Jarrett, Roy Hargrove, Wayne Shorter, and many more than I don't have time to list.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when... I watched the 2002 Thelonious Monk Saxophone Competition. I had never heard the saxophone like that before. It blew me away, and I realized that music was going to be a big part of my life.

Your sound and approach to music: I try to be honest about who I am as both a person, and an artist.

Your dream band:

My dream band would be McCoy Tyner on piano, Christian McBride on bass and Antonio Sanchez on drums.

The first Jazz album I bought was: John Coltrane's Blue Train.

Did you know...

When I first went to college, I was an Environmental Science major.

CDs you are listening to now: Dave Brubeck, Buried Treasures;

The Moody Blues, A Question of Balance;

Michael Brecker, Tales From the Hudson;

Roy Hargrove, Diamond in the Rough;

R.E.M, Out of Time.

Desert Island picks: Dexter Gordon, Go;

Joe Lovano, Symphonica;

Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, Free For All;

Jethro Tull, Aqualung;

Led Zeppelin, IV.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing? As long as people enjoy being around and interacting with others, I think jazz will still have a place in the future of American music.

If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a: marine biologist, saving the planet one whale at a time.


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