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Take Five With Jim Ferris


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Meet Jim Ferris:

I play the sax and flute. Moved to Raleigh, NC from Rochester, NY in 1999. I have been leading my own jazz group since the late '80s in New York and North Carolina. In Rochester, I fronted the Jim Ferris Quartet for about a decade and have been performing for more than 35 years, playing jazz, R&B, top 40s, rock and more.

The Jim Ferris Trio reached number one on the ReverbNation jazz charts for Raleigh in 2013. They perform a wide selection of standard and contemporary jazz featuring Jim Ferris on sax and flute, Mike McPherson on drums, and a lineup of the premier jazz pianists in the triangle. The group also performs as a duo, quartet, or quintet.


Alto sax, soprano sax, flute.

Teachers and/or influences?

Charlie Parker, Paul Desmond, Grover Washington Jr., Stanley Turrentine.

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

I was five and all my four older sisters all played instruments.

Your sound and approach to music:

My main ax is alto. My sound is closer to Paul Desmond and my approach is more Stanley Turrentine, maybe some Desmond, Grover, Art Pepper, and Julian "Cannonball" Adderley.

Your teaching approach:

Practice, practice, practice, listen, listen, listen. Start slow and build.

Your dream band:

I enjoy working with great musicians who have a good attitude.

Road story: Your best or worst experience:

When traveling on business to New Orleans, I often played on a the street corners. One night outside a hotel, I played "Harlem Nocturne." A very old and slow man, ready for bed, put his clothes back on, made his way down to the street to drop a $20 in my case for playing one of his favorite songs.

Favorite venue:

C GRACE in Raleigh, NC. Management is a great supporter of jazz. It's a wonderful atmosphere with a great audience. It's the hippest jazz joint outside of lower Manhattan!

Your favorite recording in your discography and why?

Too many to choose from.

The first Jazz album I bought was:

Chuck Mangione, Friends And Love (Mercury, 1970).

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?

Keeping jazz alive. I could play blues, funk, and rock, which are all more popular, but choose to play jazz.

Did you know...

I'm an avid soccer player (goalie). I wear gloves with finger spines so I don't break my fingers.

CDs you are listening to now:

Chick Corea, Return to Forever (ECM, 1972).

Desert Island picks:

Stan Getz, Serenity (Verve, 1991).

How would you describe the state of jazz today?

Static. It seems to ebb and flow. I've seen a resurgence in the past 18 months, but expect it will subside too.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?

Support from club owners/managers and more music only venues.

What is in the near future?

Just gigs.

What's your greatest fear when you perform?

That Charlie Parker will walk in.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Kirk Whalum's rendition of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow."

What is your favorite song to whistle or sing in the shower?

Depends on how I feel when I get up.

By Day:

Director at SAS—a software company.


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