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