Feature Friday Q&A with Wayne Escoffery Part II

Feature Friday Q&A With Wayne Escoffery Part II

The conversation with Wayne Escoffery continues this beautiful Friday! Today we talk more about the Grammy-award-winner’s early times on the sax, along with his other career aspiration—psychology. 

JK: Do you think there was anything specific that inspired you to play the tenor saxophone?

WE: I mean, again, my mother was a big influence in that regard. And it turns out that my grandfather on my father’s side. played amateur saxophone so that I guess was kind of, somewhat of an inspiration. As far as the tenor goes, really at my elementary school, they were handing out saxophones and the tenor was the biggest one and I was the biggest guy so they gave that to me.

JK: Makes sese! Do you remember any of the first songs you learned on the tenor sax?

WE: Uh, probably Hot Cross Buns.

JK: Haha of course. And then were there any songs that really resonated with you as you started to advance?

WE: Let me think about that. Because I came from the perspective of a singer and I was influenced by those Motown singers as well as the singers of the choral tradition, I would really try to play some of those melodies by ear on the horn. And even popular melodies of the time. I remember trying to play songs by New Addition, songs like Candy Girl. Whatever was popular at the time, I tried to play on saxophone. I watched a lot of black TV shows like the Jeffersons, and I used to try and play that theme song on the saxophone. I pretty much played any popular music that I was hearing. And I think that was good to do because it’s important to play what is familiar to you, so you learn how to play what you’re hearing in your head on your instrument because ultimately that’s what we try to continue to do.

 

JK: Do you miss singing at all? Do you still sing?

WE: I don’t sing anymore. I do miss it sometimes. It was a very great experience, not just the act of singing but the camaraderie. The organization was a great organization and the amount of discipline that was required to perform—there are a lot of aspects of that that I think I kept with me over time.

JK: When you were a kid, did you pretty much know that you wanted to become a musician?

WE: I kind of did. My dream was to be a pop singer. But I’m not sure that I really thought, when I was young, that that was a career. I knew that it was something that I wanted to do and that I loved to do and that I fantasized about but I don’t  know that I thought about making music as a career or a way to make money, it was just definitely something that I wanted to do. When I was older and realized that a career meant making money so that you could take care of yourself, I wanted to do other things but the music was still a passion and I decided that if I really wanted to be a successful, serious musician that I had to really dedicate my time and energy to it.  

JK: Did you have an idea of something else you wanted to do to make money?

WE: I studied psychology a little bit. Even in high school, I was fortunate enough to take some college level classes in psychology. At one point I really wanted to do that, to be some type of therapist or a psychologist.

JK: But then your music career took off?

WE: Well, it’s not that it took off but that I realized how much time and dedication it would take to reach the level of artistry that I wanted to be at and I felt like I had to make a choice—I wouldn’t be able to do both.

If you’re looking for some more Wayne Escoffery, check out our albums My Ship and Old New Borrowed & Blue, both of which are available in our store and on all major music platforms!

Feature Friday with Wayne Escoffery

Feature Friday with Wayne Escoffery

What are your plans for the weekend? Maybe you’re going hiking, or kayaking? What about the drive-in movies? With the nice temperate weather we’ve been having lately, the possibilities are endless! Whatever your plans are though, we at Night is Alive, hope you enjoy yourself as much as we enjoyed sitting down and chatting with jazz saxophonist Wayne Escoffery!

Born in London and now based in New York City, Escoffery has experience performing with a multitude of musicians, such as Carl Allen, Eric Reed, and the Mingus Big Band. And now, we at Night is Alive are lucky enough to have collaborated with him on three albums: Christmas Ain’t Like It Used to Be, Old New Borrowed & Blue, and most recently, My Ship. In the latest release, My Ship, Escoffery’s vibrant sax is sure to make you want to move and groove!

Now, time to learn a bit more about Wayne Escoffery:

If you are not playing jazz, what is your favorite music to play?

I’ve always enjoyed playing Funk music a la James Brown, “Soul Jazz” a la Eddie Harris and Fusion a la The Yellow Jackets. Unfortunately, I don’t get to play those styles as much as I would like. 

If you were a song, which would you be and why?

A Change is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke. It’s timeless, and will make you feel happy, sad, hopeful, and sexy all at the same time. 

Do you have a favorite place to vacation?

At the moment, Portugal and Mallorca are at the top of the list. But, I think it’s ultimately more about the company you are with and your state of mind during the vacation that is most impactful. 

Who is your dream collaboration (living or legend)?

Miles Davis.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given?

“Be patient, you’ll get ‘em next time.” –Jackie McLean