LELAND BAKER IS ONE OF THE TOP SAXOPHONE PLAYERS IN THE NEW ENGLAND AREA. WE SPOKE WITH HIM ABOUT COMMUNITY, HIS INFLUENCES AND THE PROVIDENCE JAZZ MUSIC SCENE.
LELAND WILL BE PERFORMING AT THE GRANGE PROVIDENCE SUNDAY NIGHT, DECEMBER 9TH 2018.
What are your roots in the PVD music scene?
I was born and raised in Providence and Pawtucket, but my roots in the PVD music scene wasn’t really planted until I came back home from New Orleans in 2012. I was gone from 2007-2012. Once I came home, I got involved with the Roots and hanging at places that I could network and meet other musicians in the area.
You moved to NYC for a period of time. What was that experience like?
Personally, NYC is incomparable to any place/ city I’ve been. It’s the jazz capital. It was very inspiring, and I learned some of the best lessons in terms of how to grow and push forward as an artist. Most jazz artist who I talk to that never lived or hung out in NYC worry about the competitiveness of being an artist in NYC. The most important thing though for me was the creative vibe and closeness of the jazz community there.
Who are some of your greatest inspirations and influences?
John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Elvin Jones, Wayne Shorter, Miles Davis, Kenny Garrett, Brian Blade, Walter Smith, the list goes on. Those are some of the artist that I have on repeat though. Including non-musicians such as Basquiat and Malcome X
Sunday night at The Grange will be a Roy Hargrove tribute, what is something you greatly admired about him?
The thing about Roy is that he had the ability to put his soul into every note he played. There is always a presence in his playing that is hard to describe. I think it’s just his passion and love for the music that shines when he plays.
What are some of the top venues that hold space for Jazz in Rhode Island?
I would say the Parlour, Grange, Nico Bella’s, 10 Rocks, Acacia Club, and Askew.
How does spirituality and music communicate together in your experience?
I believe music is the catalyst for spirituality; a spiritual connection or awakening. John Coltrane is a prime example that comes to mind. He was able to command his instrument on the spot to be a vessel for his spiritual being…Again, hard to fully put in words. It’s something that just has to be felt.
Who are some of the hardest working players in the local scene that are on your radar?
Wow, well there are plenty. Some that come to mind right off that bat would be Max Goldman, Jhony Keys, Nick Sanfilippo, Seth Woodruff and Dave Murphy. There are some young katz in high school that I think will soon be hitting the scene hard like Ian Quinton and James Winner
Why is community in music so important?
We’re all in it together. Specifically, in jazz, the music was centered around the importance of community and union. It teaches us how to work with one another and to serve a greater purpose. To work and achieve that purpose as one; in this case that purpose being music.
:::%::: 8:00-10:00 pm
:::%::: no cover
:::%::: 166 Broadway Providence, RI
Interview by Chrissy Stewart
Photo Credit : Erin Smithers