Thursday, April 3, 2014

High School All-Star Alumni at the New School: Interview with Jake Botts

SFJAZZ Education is very proud to be expanding its High School All-Stars Alumni program; an important step, considering the waves being made by our illustrious alumni out there in the world. We are continuing to engage these bright young players not only musically, through commissioning pieces as well as utilizing them as clinicians and mentors to our current All-Stars, but also through keeping up with their current projects and plans by way of interviews. You can find several of these monthly interviews already up on SFJAZZ's YouTube channel.

This month, we are doing a spotlight on All-Star Alumni at the New School in New York. The New School is in Greenwich Village and has a world-famous jazz and contemporary music school ( Our first interviewee is Jake Botts, an alto sax player and junior at the New School. While Jake is not a High School All-Stars Alumn, he is an alumn of SFJAZZ, as he spent several months interning with us in 2013.

When did you start playing jazz? Why did you choose your instrument?

I started playing saxophone about 6 months after I had the life-changing experience of hearing a street performer playing outside of a Giants game. I was 11 or 12 at the time, and when my dad and I walked past him, I was instantly drawn to the sound, look, and general aura of the alto saxophone. After hearing me talk about it for months, my parents realized that I was serious about wanting to play. Ever since they got me my first horn, I was hooked. All throughout high school, music was my escape. I always loved jazz and studied it seriously in high school, but it wasn't until I spent my first year of college in Nashville and subsequent year home in the Bay Area when I really started to put the pedal to the metal in terms of my commitment to jazz.

What is your biggest accomplishment as a musician? What are you most proud of?

My biggest accomplishment as a musician so far has been getting the opportunity to make the move to New York City and study at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music. So far, I have had so many amazing musical experiences, from studying with some of my musical heroes (Vincent Herring, Jaleel Shaw, Reggie Workman) to playing after hours jam sessions at venues like Smalls with some of the top musicians in the city, to just being in an environment that is competitive and pushes me... Not to mention all the amazing friends and musicians I have gotten to know over the past 7 months since I moved here. Coming to New York has really put me in the best position to learn and grow.

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