A CON­VER­SA­TION Jon WITH Saxx

South Florida Times - - BLACK MUSIC MONTH SPECIAL SECTION - By MICHELLE HOLLINGER

Jon Saxx picked up the sax­o­phone when, as a “pre­co­cious 10-year old liv­ing in Cincin­nati, he heard “the calm­ing and har­mo­nious sounds of the sax.” His par­ents, both for­mer pi­ano play­ers, sup­ported his de­ci­sion, but with a man­date. They told him, “if we buy this sax­o­phone for you, you are go­ing to play it un­til you grad­u­ate from high school.” He said he was also in­spired by his ado­les­cent sax­o­phone teacher, John Wright, who told him to keep his fo­cus on “go­ing be­yond the mu­sic” by “mak­ing mu­sic a re­al­ity.” The rest, well, you know what they say. The South Florida Times caught up with the in-de­mand mu­si­cian to find out how he and the sax­o­phone con­nected, which mu­si­cians in­spire him and what his fu­ture holds.

SFT: De­scribe "black mu­sic" and its place in the world.

JS: I think that mu­sic is a part of artis­tic ex­pres­sion. Black mu­sic, as seen through my eyes, is a mu­si­cal roller­coaster guided by love and strug­gle in the mi­nor key us­ing only the black keys. Ev­ery­one has a per­sonal sound­track that they carry with them, but only you can de­cide what you want to ar tic­u­late (be­cause) “You are the mas­ter of your fate, you are the cap­tain of your soul.”

SFT: Which mu­sic-ians/singers in­spire you?

JS: Ste­vie Won­der: When my Par­ents pre­sented me with my first sax­o­phone my fa­ther also in­tro­duced my first record – “In­nervi­sions” by Ste­vie Won­der. He im­parted this wis­dom and it has stayed with me ev­ery day of my life:

Patti La­belle: I am just a big fan. I am from Cincin­nati and I would see her per form ev­ery year at the Cincin­nati Jazz Fes­ti­val. I grew up in church play­ing be­fore my pas­tor gave his ser­mons. Voices like Ms. La­belle give in­sight to a gift from God. Her voice in­spired my slo­gan, “Mak­ing mu­sic a re­al­ity.”

John Coltrane: “Love Jones” is a 1997 ro­man­tic drama film that brought to­gether LOVE + ART + THE FREE­DOM OF EX­PRES­SION – this was the first time I heard John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme.” The first time I re­ally heard Char­lie Parker the mu­sic and the mas­tery of the po­etry awaken some­thing in­side me and the Jon Saxx Ex­pe­ri­ence seed was planted.

SFT: What's one song you never get tired of hear­ing?

JS: “Amaz­ing Grace” and “A Change Is Gonna Come” by Sam Cook. My grand­fa­ther just cel­e­brated his 101st birth­day and his fa­vorite song since I star ted play­ing the sax is “Amaz­ing Grace.” My grand­fa­ther on my fa­ther’s side fa­vorite song was “A Change Is Gonna Come.”

SFT: What's your "go-to" song when you need to feel mo­ti­vated?

JS: “Be­fore I let Go,” by Frankie Bev­erly & Make. This song turns any frown up­side down. (My band and I) opened for Frankie Bev­erly and Maze at the Amer­i­can Air­lines Arena in 2009. “Take Me High,” (by yours truly). I am lis­ten­ing to this right now as I an­swer your very thought pro­vok­ing ques­tions.

SFT: What's your most sig­nif­i­cant mu­si­cal ac­com­plish­ment?

JS: The Jon Saxx “RED LAVA” Cus­tom Sig­na­ture Se­ries Sax­o­phone- In­spired by the Mi­ami Heat. When I was laid off in De­cem­ber 2007 from Cordis Cor­po­ra­tion, the Mi­ami Heat be­came my first home. I honor our coun­try with the play­ing of the Na­tional An­them at the Mi­ami Heat Games, my first game was March 24, 2007 I have been with them ever since.

SFT: Where do you see your­self five years from now?

JS: I will still be The Di­rec­tor of En­ter­tain­ment for the char­ity I love; The Pres­tige Club, cel­e­brat­ing 22 years of help­ing fam­i­lies in need through our 3Ms, Mu­sic, Magic, Mup­pets, un­der the lead­er­ship of our 80 years-young ma­tri­arch, CEO Polly Wilkie.

SAXY SOUL: Jon Saxx is a pop­u­lar South Florida mu­si­cian who can be found at all types of events – from wed­dings to con­certs to live per­for­mances at cor­po­rate galas.

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