HOT FLASHES Musician-Author's Corner The decline of major labels and the rise of self-released material did not come without its drawbacks. However, a particular type of musician, one blessed with a unique blend of creative vision and entrepreneurial spirit, has been able to capitalize on the new environment and advance striking projects and create personal expressions unlike anything heard in earlier eras. One such artist is saxophonist Sam Newsome, a talented multi-reed player whose musical journey has recently led him to explore the soprano saxophone in solo performance.
Pursuing this concept in a highly individual setting, Newsome has self-released a series of truly one-of-a-kind albums, including The Straight Horn of Africa: A Path to Liberation, Monk Abstractions and The Art of the Soprano, Vol 1. A remarkably creative figure, Newsome has also found himself increasingly busy as a writer and on Sept. 24 he self-released Life Lessons from the Horn: Essays of Jazz, Originality and Being a Working Musician, a collection of his writings. Newsome's efforts as a writer emerged somewhat in tandem with his developing soprano saxophone projects, particularly as he began to seek grant funding. "As musicians, we tend to speak in colorful language, but it's often language that lacks clarity," Newsome laughs. "When you have to write grants, you have to be very specific and say exactly what you mean. That experience really got me thinking differently about my music and gave me a new sense of focus." This foray into writing may well have remained fairly low-key in Newsome's
By Seton Hawkins
working life; however, a fortuitous encounter with Peter Watrous of the New York Times changed that. "When I was releasing my first solo album, I reached out to Peter to see if he'd write the album's liner notes," Newsome explains. "He asked for the CD, which I sent him along with some notes and thoughts I had prepared while I was recording the album. A few days later, he called me back to tell me he was impressed by my writing and he offered to help me write my own liner notes." This encouragement led Newsome to launch his own blog, Soprano Sax Talk, where he would go on to tackle a wide range of topics from saxophone technique, to professional advice, to interviews, even to more philosophical considerations of the music. While Newsome's writing work sprung out of his musical efforts, he notes a reciprocal relationship between the worlds of writing and performing. "By writing about what I want to do, and by writing about that music I'm passionate about, I gain more clarity in my mind," he explains. "That clarity in turn makes it easier to work toward the goals I'm setting. As I started working more on solo saxophone projects, I found that writing about solo saxophone topics helped to give me additional confidence to pursue it." Drawing from material that initially appeared on his blog, he selects key pieces that may be of inspiration and value to younger players building their careers and developing their own musical voices. For more details, visit Sam Newsome's website, www.samnewsome.com. Sam Newsome leads a quintet featuring Josh Evans on trumpet, Luis Perdomo on piano, Brad Jones on bass and Gerald Cleaver on drums at Smalls Jazz Club Oct. 9-10.
Galas, Awards and Residencies Evolver Records presents a special onenight festival of new music at Roulette on Oct. 7. Violinist Fung Chern Hwei, vocalist Lola Danza, the George Spanos Trio, Ben Stapp and special guest Matthew Shipp fills out the bill for a unique night of music. Tickets are available at www.roulette.org. The Jazz Drama Program, which composes and produces original jazz musicals for students to perform, hosts its annual
continued on page 32