“Sax Appeal” is a musical project that celebrates the incredible legacy of the saxophone in the American art form known as Jazz. The music performed is a mixture of classic Jazz compositions coupled with original material from the members of the ensemble. Saxophonist Javon Jackson comprised “Sax Appeal” in an effort to perform and tour with close friend and mentor, saxophonist Jimmy Heath.
NEA Jazz Master Jimmy Heath has had an illustrious career that spans six decades as saxophonist, recording artist, composer and educator. Quoting Jackson, “it is an honor and a privilege to have his friendship as he is one of my musical fathers. In addition, “Sax Appeal” also includes alto saxophonists Gary Bartz and Donald Harrison, pianist Jeremy Manasia, bassist David Williams and drummer McClenty Hunter.
Javon Jackson came into international prominence as a member of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. He has also toured and recorded with Elvin Jones, Freddie Hubbard, Cedar Walton, Dr. Lonnie Smith, and Les McCann. Jackson has also developed a formidable career as leader and recording artist, touring throughout the world. Javon’s current musical group, The Javon Jackson Band, incorporates many styles including jazz, funk, R&B and rocks numerous others. As an educator, Javon Jackson is a Professor of Jazz and Director of the Jackie McLean Institute at the University of Hartford.
Jimmy Heath has long been recognized as a brilliant instrumentalist and a magnificent composer and arranger. A living jazz legend on the saxophone, Jimmy Heath has played with some of the most influential jazz players of all time. He has played with John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Max Roach, Benny Golson, Miles Davis, Chet Baker, and Art Pepper. Heath was a recipient of the 2004 NEA Jazz Masters Award. Heath has been a professor at Queens College for over 20 years, where he continues to pass on the baton to the next generation of jazz musicians.
One of the finest and perhaps under-noticed alto players of his generation, Gary Bartz has a long history of greatness in jazz. After attending the Julliard Conservatory of Music in the 1960s, he became a member of Charles Mingus’ Jazz Workshop where he worked with Eric Dolphy and McCoy Tyner. Bartz later in his life became a member of Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers. To this day Gary Bartz tours and plays with the best jazz musicians around the world.
Donald Harrison was born in New Orleans in 1960 and grew up in a home environment saturated with the city’s traditional brass bands, afro-new Orleans culture, modern jazz, R&B, funk, classical, world and dance music. This environment molded Harrison into one of the most creative saxophone players of his time. Over three decades of playing as a professional has placed Harrison on stage and in recordings with some of the most influential artists of the 21st century. These artists include Art Blakey, Miles Davis, Roy Haynes, Ron Carter, Notorious BIG, The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and the Louisville Philharmonic.