Why a big band recording? Why in the world did you include "The Funky Little Drummer Boy" - a Christmas tune! - on the CD? Why is this so different from your once and future release, "Stranger Things?" Donít you realize that youíre confusing everybody? Do you even care?

These are questions that have been asked woodwind specialist James Bazen since the release of his new big band CD, "Tonight Heís Mine," on Seaside Recordings (SSJB 146).To all these questions James Bazen answers "Itís like a disease. I canít help it!"

To understand, one must have a little background.

James Bazen got his Bachelor Of Music at Greensboro College, a small private school in North Carolina. At GC he majored in classical saxophone. Once he graduated he quickly realized that there are a total of maybe three major symphonic works that used saxophone! Not exactly great odds on making a living.

After this revelation Bazen spent some time in New Orleans. "I was one of those guys in the street with my case open," Bazen says, "playing my clarinet and sax for the tourists." Here he was exposed to the great traditions of blues, dixieland, and Cajun music.

He later endured one year of masterís studies at DePaul University in Chicago. There he majored in "jazz and commercial music."

Again, quickly realizing that one can only learn so much in an academic setting, he left DePaul and began attending performances of the great Chicago jazz musicians as well as frequenting jam sessions and starting his own bands in "the real world."

When Bazen moved to Washington, DC with his wife Sarah he tried various day gigs to make ends meet including managing a record store. "It was awful," Bazen says. "Working with various bands until 2 or 3 in the morning and then working at the store from 8 to 6ÖI was a zombie. In addition to being too tired to be creative, I hated working for corporate America. I just prefer to be my own boss." Which brings us to the presentÖ

In an effort to "be his own boss" Bazen started his own talent agency, Musicunlimited.com, and started booking his variety band and other acts. The business has done well enough that it has allowed him to finance his "jazz habit." (How do you make a million dollars in jazz? Start with two million!)

Now James Bazen produces his own records. This gives him the freedom to explore his talents both as a musician and arranger no matter where they lead. Consequently, "The Funky Little Drummer Boy" (which was written in the spirit of the season for the bandís weekly gig at Paisanos in Rockville, Maryland) is included on a CD of jazz standards and originals. BesidesÖItís kind of a neat arrangement.

Bazen laments "It would be wonderful if someone out there said, ĎHey, this guyís good. I should throw money at him so he can pursue his art without worrying about where the next check is coming from.í But, realistically, Iíll have to plug along the best that I can, producing recordings as I can afford them."

"One thing Iím grateful for is the support and love that my wife, Sarah, has given me. Without her I donít know what I would be doing. Sheís been an inspiration both musically (the design of the CD cover was her idea) and emotionally."