Paul Jones is an incredible saxophone player I met while at MSM. I urge you to visit paulthejones.com to listen and learn more about his musical pursuits.
When did you start playing music, and Jazz? How did that come about?
I think my first initial interest in music was Michael Jackson. Apparently, as my parents tell it as a toddler I was very into Michael’s album Off The Wall. I started playing music when I was 8. I wanted to play saxophone, but the music teachers told me I had to wait until I was ten and my hands got bigger. So I started on piano. I wasn’t in love with the piano and as soon as I could I switched to saxophone. I didn’t discover Jazz though until I was about 14. I moved to New Hampshire and they had a Jazz band instead of a concert band or marching band like in Maryland. Immediately after my first day of Jazz Band I was hooked. I started listening to Miles Davis and John Coltrane records with friends from school.
Who are some of your biggest influences as a performer and as a composer? As a musician in general?
As a performer I’m extremely inspired by John Coltrane, Joe Henderson, Bill Evans, Miles Davis, Jerry Bergonzi, George Garzone, Mark Turner, Chris Cheek, Brad Mehldau, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Lettuce, Soulive, and all my musician friends and mentors. There’s so many musicians who influence me on a daily basis. As far as non-musical influences, my grandfather for his inspiring work ethic and personality. As for composing one of my favorite pieces is Ravel’s String Quartet in F major. Kurt Rosenwinkel’s compositions are some of my favorites. Lately I’ve been checking out the Rite of Spring. Bach and Beethoven are the best. If I had all the time in the world I’d work on playing Chopin on the piano.
I know you keep a pretty busy schedule, and that you also have health concerns. How do you manage to balance these two things as a musician?
The answers to each of these questions could take a whole page each easily. This one especially for me. Just before moving to NYC in 2009 I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. It’s a chronic illness and demands my attention all hours of the day everyday. As time has passed I have become much better at managing it and learned how to not let it determine my life. But my health comes first before music. There have been many doctors visits and beyond numerous phone calls to insurance and supply companies. I’ve been fortunate to be able to keep progessing in music though through this condition. Many days I just work on music. But there are many days where it’s just taking care of my health. Another added toll of Type 1 Diabetes that is not as commonly known (I believe) is that it is one of the most expensive diagnosis’ a person can receive. The management of Diabetes requires life long care, supplies, and supervision. There’s not a lot of downtime for me currently. I feel fortunate to be gigging a lot this year but since most gigs don’t pay a lot I keep a day job to cover my regular expenses and medical bills.
Do you have a favorite performance you’ve done in the last few years?
I have felt fortunate to be performing a lot this last year. Some of my favorite performances have been with my own group, once at the Cornelia Street Cafe and then IBeam. Performances with the Uptown PartyDown at Rockwood Music Hall have also been really inspirational. A standout performance with AP was at the Tea Lounge in Brooklyn. I’ve been learning how important auxiliary perc. can be on performances. A performance with the SNAP Saxophone Quartet at Somethin’ Jazz Club was really musically challenging and nerve racking because I felt like it was the most musically obscure gig I played so far this year. But I loved it and am looking forward to performing with all these groups soon.
Do you have any specific practicing routine that you work through? How do you practice?
My practice routine changes often I feel. I usually focus around what gigs I have upcoming. When not working on the music for the gigs I generally work on instrument technique. Keeping my sound, hands, and mind together. I’m currently taking a group class with Jacob Sacks on mixed meters. This class has been taking up a lot of practice time lately. Once the class is over I’ll not exactly sure where my practicing will head, but I think it will involve transcribing, playing songs in 12 keys, and composing.
What are your musical goals?
I’m not trying to think to long term these days on my musical goals. I want to record my first album this year and need to find funding for that. I also also want to make a 4 part video of a suite I am currently working on.
What are you listening to these days?
Lately I’ve been listening to Ben Wendel’s record Frame. Kneebody: The Line. Aaron Parks: Alive in Japan. Thundercat. Gregory Porter. Rite of Spring. random videos on youtube like Brad Mehldau in 94. Gerald Clayton. Marc Copeland: Night Whispers. Miles Okazaki: Mirror. Tony Scherr.
Do you have any book recommendations?
Next on the list is Lolita. I’m not an avid reader, but books and writing have helped me discover how I compose music. I started using the titles to develop pitch material and have learned a great about building music through editing essays and papers.