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Take Five With Jerome Sabbagh

AAJ Staff By

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Meet Jerome Sabbagh: Saxophonist and composer Jerome Sabbagh was born in Paris in 1973 and has been living in New York for eleven years. After stints as a co-leader with the collective Flipside (with whom he worked for five years and recorded an album for Naxos Jazz), and sideman work with Laurent Coq and Guillermo Klein, Jerome Sabbagh has been leading his own band for the last four years.

Jerome Sabbagh's first album as a leader, North, with Ben Monder, Joe Martin and Ted Poor, came out on Fresh Sound New Talent in 2005. It was elected "CD of the year" by the readers of French monthly magazine Jazzman and chosen among the ten best CDs of 2005 by The Ottawa Citizen.

Instrument: saxophone.

Teachers and/or influences? Teachers: Joe Viola, George Garzone, Bill Pierce, Dave Liebman, Jean-Louis Chautemps, Eric Barret, Philippe Chagne.

Influences: many. I listen to lots of different things and these things find a way to come out in my playing and writing, or not.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when... I had my first music class in high school. The teacher, Annick Chartreux, played Mozart, Miles Davis and Jimi Hendrix in the same class. That did it. I knew I wanted to play saxophone when I saw a saxophonist play in the high school band (same high school, Claude Monet in Paris, France: I was very lucky to get quality music classes there).

Your dream band: It's kind of a cliché but it's true: my dream band is my current quartet with Ben Monder, Joe Martin and Ted Poor. I can't think of a better unit to play my music and I feel very fortunate that we have been able to play for four years now.

Musicians I'd like to get a chance to play with: Roy Haynes, Al Foster, Paul Motian, Brian Blade, Hank Jones, Pat Metheny, John Scofield, Dennis Irwin.

Anecdote from the road: My first gig in New York was in a laundromat (1995).

Favorite venue: To listen to music (I haven't played there): Village Vanguard (New York) to play: anywhere where people come to listen.

CDs you are listening to now: Laurent Coq Blowing Trio, The Thing to Share (Cristal Records); Gillespie, Rollins, Stitt, Sonny Side Up (Verve); Beethoven, Symphony no.3 "Eroica" by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Sir Georg Solti conducting (London); Thelonious Monk, Brilliant Corners (Riverside).

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing? Honesty, commitment, fearlessness, energy, awareness.

What is in the near future? My next album, Pogo, with Ben Monder, Joe Martin and Ted Poor, is coming out on Sunnyside on April 24, 2007. We are playing at the Jazz Standard for the release and going on tour in Europe in May.

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