JOHN ALEXANDER - Charlotte Jazz Orchestra


Testimonial

I spoke to a fellow player about the Gaia mouthpiece prior to purchase. He told me that it is better than the best link I had ever played, and he was correct. The Gaia has a great sound, feel, and ease of playing. It is consistent in all registers, and the altissimo pops out easily with the right reed.

Biography

"Born in 1948 and raised in Gastonia, NC, I started playing in a band with my friends and played my first professional gig when I was thirteen. We were a horn band and liked to play tunes by James Brown, the Motown groups, and the Stax groups as well as other R&B songs. I started piano lessons at seven and played trombone in middle school band. Along the way I learned to play guitar, electric bass, and trumpet. I taught myself to play saxophone when my younger brother came home from band instrument selection day with an alto. I never had a formal lesson until I attended grad school.

In Miami I was very fortunate to play with Jazz Giant Ira Sullivan, a Chicago legend who had moved to South Florida. After finishing school I continued to play with Sullivan for a time, participating in his recording ""Ira Sullivan With Strings Attached"", a group that included a string quartet, rhythm section, me and Ira. A couple of my original pieces were included on the recording.

I moved back to NC in 1992 and began teaching and playing in the Charlotte, NC area. I have recorded five CD's either with groups or under my own name. I became a member of the Charlotte Jazz Orchestra some ten years ago and have used this opportunity to compose and arrange for the group."
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Inspiration

What is your experience when you feel connected into the music?
"Born in 1948 and raised in Gastonia, NC, I started playing in a band with my friends and played my first professional gig when I was thirteen. We were a horn band and liked to play tunes by James Brown, the Motown groups, and the Stax groups as well as other R&B songs. I started piano lessons at seven and played trombone in middle school band. Along the way I learned to play guitar, electric bass, and trumpet. I taught myself to play saxophone when my younger brother came home from band instrument selection day with an alto. I never had a formal lesson until I attended grad school. In Miami I was very fortunate to play with Jazz Giant Ira Sullivan, a Chicago legend who had moved to South Florida. After finishing school I continued to play with Sullivan for a time, participating in his recording ""Ira Sullivan With Strings Attached"", a group that included a string quartet, rhythm section, me and Ira. A couple of my original pieces were included on the recording. I moved back to NC in 1992 and began teaching and playing in the Charlotte, NC area. I have recorded five CD's either with groups or under my own name. I became a member of the Charlotte Jazz Orchestra some ten years ago and have used this opportunity to compose and arrange for the group."

What is your experience of when you don't feel connected to your music?
Bored, useless.

Where does your inspiration comes from? What does it feel like?
"I get a lot of ideas for compositions while driving back and forth to gigs. However, the challenge here is two-fold: recognize that the idea is indeed a good idea; and remember the idea until I can pull over and write it down. Of course, I listen to and study great players of the past and present, as we all do, seeking to understand how they do what they do."

What is your experience while improvising? Does it relate to any spirituality you may practice in your life?
I suppose that the best place to be while improvising is fully in the moment. Most days I am able to do some short meditative or mindfulness exercises to achieve a more centered state.

Where does your inspiration while composing come from? What is your experience of that inspiration like?
Same as two questions ago.

Do you have any fun stories of inspirational moments to share?
I remember one Monday night years ago playing with Ira Sullivan. We have a fine pianist, Gene Bristo, on the gig as well as a young bass player and drummer who were my contemporaries. Everything we played that night was magical - there weren't any wrong notes, we were all of one mind, and the whole was certainly greater than the sum of the parts. I think that is the first time the idea of synergy became real to me. A wonderful night.

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