Seven Questions with Trumpeter Josh Evans

1)   If you could only own one CD, what would it be?josh-evans-2

Absolutely Art Blakey “Free for All”, the intensity on this recording is beyond belief. All I have to say about this is Art Blakey, Wayne Shorter, Freddie Hubbard, Curtis Fuller, Cedar Walton, And Reggie Workman WOOOOOO!!! It’s also interesting that this band recorded a few other tunes on that day that never got released, some with a singer. It would be amazing to hear that. 

In all honesty it’s not fair to ask me to name just one recording, I’m a dedicated student of this music and for sure have checked out just about every single musician you could ever possibly name, current and classic. 

So that being said there are quite a bit of recordings that are very special to me. Jackie McLean “Bout Soul” features the absolute two biggest influences on my playing, Jackie McLean and Rashied Ali. I knew Mr. Mclean since I was a little kid, even before I really played the trumpet, and I was very fortunate to perform with him quite a bit and to get a lot of lessons with him. Rashied was a good friend and I played in his band the last 3+ years of his life. He took me to 20 or so countries and before one of these tours (probably 2008) he smiled at me and said “josh, I have something for you that you are going like” he went back in his building and emerged with a cd. “Bout Soul”, I listened to this recording all the way to wherever it was in Europe we were going first. It really messed my head up!! I remember going past his seat with my headphones on and saying to Rashied, What the @$&! Is this, this is amazing. Rashied, Jackie, and another guy who gave me quite a bit of work when I was in need of it, Grachaan Moncur!! Wow!! Such an amazing record, so open. There’s much more to this story but I don’t think there is enough space here to tell it.

And one more, In this time of violence, hostility, gigs that don’t pay ANY money and crowded, noisy subways, musicians are in need of tranquillity and peace. And the record that gives me the most peace, (actually I’m listening to this as I write this) is Shirley Horn’s “May the music never end” absolutely the most beautiful recording I have ever heard. Nothing can calm me down as much as this does. Such and elegant lady, her phrasing is a very big influence on my playing.

2)   What’s your favorite non-jazz tune?

“A Change is Gonna Come,” the Sam Cooke version.

3)  What would you want to be if you weren’t a musician?

Anything where I would be rich! I could really use two, tree million dollars.

4)  What would you NOT want to be?

Broke, homeless, sick and alone

5)  If you were about to have your last meal, what would it be?

If it was my last meal I don’t think it would really matter. Anything really, I’d probably drink a bottle of Lagavulin with a side order of Heineken and fade away into the abyss 

6)  What living musician do you admire most? Why?

Mccoy Tyner, he changed the concept of the piano when he was still very young. But he did it the right way. He was a childhood friend of Richie Powell who was Bud Powell’s younger brother. To me, the modern music of today comes through Bud and Monk and their associates like Elmo Hope, Sadik Hakim and Tadd Dameron. and then through people like Sonny Clark Walter Davis Jr. and Bobby Timmons. Mccoy was very schooled in that type of playing so much that he changed it up completely with those open chords, those strong left handed Root-fifth bombs and moving chords around in anyway he saw fit to create and release tension. One of my greatest musical experiences was playing “Fly With The Wind” with Mccoy and Gary Bartz. I still have yet to hear that sound come out of any piano or player. When he hit that first chord, the heavens opened up!!

7) What’s the last book you read? 

The last book I finished was “Seize the Time” by Bobby Seale. I have read the majority of other books for research on different topics since then but haven’t finished them


NBJP: How old were you when you first played in front of an audience (beyond your family) and what did you play? 

FH: I was approximately 12 years old when I first started playing in public. And that took place at The Presbyterian Church of Teaneck where my mother introduced me to learning about God and religion. I performed hymnals and classical oriented pieces written for trumpet. Later on in life my repertoire expanded into Negro spirituals.

NBJP: What’s your favorite non-jazz tune?

FH: I don’t have a favorite non-jazz tune. I enjoy too much music in general to have a favorite.

NBJP: You are a musician, is there another art in which you’d like to be accomplished?

FH: As a teenager I was a good drawer of superheroes/cartoon characters. But that was another time. I don’t have an interest in being an accomplished drawer/painter type of artist.

NBJP: What’s your favorite (G-rated) non-musical pastime?

FH: I really enjoyed deep sea fishing with my now deceased father and brother when I was a kid! I equally enjoyed being a quite excellent baseball player as well! Baseball was a huge love for me when I was practicing to become an accomplished professional musician.

NBJP: What’s the worst (non musical) job you ever had?

FH:  The worst job I ever had was a janitorial job cleaning banks, churches, and schools.

NBJP: If you could live anywhere in the world where would that be?

FH:  If I could live anywhere in the world, I would want to live in Sardegna because that’s where my wife is from and it’s suppose to be really beautiful there!!!

NBJP: Finish this sentence –   I own too many _______________

FH: I own too many clothes that I don’t even wear anymore

PLUS ONE: When did you know that you wanted to be a professional jazz musician?

FH: I knew by my junior year in high school that I was going to become a professional musician because my high school director planted the seed in my mind to begin thinking about it when I was a sophomore.

Seven Questions with Saxophonist, Mark Gross

Mark gross laughNBJP:   If you were about to have your last meal–what would it be?

MG: Having just been in Jerusalem, touring the Old City, my mind goes to me being in the room where the Last Supper occurred. I would want it to be about why am I having my last meal and what I have done with my life. It’s the Christian thang in me. 🙂 

NBJP:  You are a musician—is there another art in which you’d like to be accomplished?

MG: No. I have wanted to be a musician since I can remember. I’ve played alto saxophone since I was six years old.

NBJP:       What’s your favorite city to perform in?

MG: From a list of so many I would say Antibes, France / Juan-Les Pain. Magnificent views, food & people. It’s like being in paradise.

NBJP:        What’s one thing other than milk or water we’d ALWAYS find in your refrigerator?

MG: You will always find a bag of coffee beans. I love coffee. 

NBJP:      What’s your favorite (“G” rated) guilty pleasure?

MG: I go to Cafe Lalo on the Upper West Side and have a slice of strawberry banana chocolate cake and a cappuccino. Yummy!!!!

NBJP:      When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

MG: I am living that childhood dream.

NBJP:       If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?

MG: I would change eating habits. I would learn to cook very healthy delicious meals and not eat at restaurants so often. Well, I’d still eat at these restaurants but at least I could cook the same meals at home if I wanted to. Could you imagine saying to yourself, tonight I either have salmon crusted with ginger, scallions, with a little teriyaki sauce, or a nicely marinated London broil grilled to perfection, or some zucchini stuffed with pumpkin. Be right back, going to the kitchen to make a sandwich.

PLUS ONE: When did you first know you wanted to be a professional jazz musician?

MG: I knew from the time I was in high school. I went to the Baltimore School for the Arts. After high school I went to Berklee College of Music. One of my best friends, jazz saxophonist Javon Jackson was one of my colleagues during that time. He gave me a copy of Cannonball Adderley’s Japanese Concerts cd. I heard Cannonball’s version of ‘Easy to Love’, and that solidified my want and desire. In fact my words were, “I want to do that!!!”



What’s the worst (non musical) job you ever had?rosena smiling cropped

RHJ:  Telemarketer

NBJP: What musician has influenced you the most (thus far)?

RHJ: I can’t pin point one musician.  I have been inspired and influenced by many styles of music and musicians. Classical, Gospel, Negro spirituals, jazz, show tunes, country, pop, R&B. The list of musicians is long and at different times of my life some were stronger depending upon what my heart and ears were drawn to, but not just one. If I had to choose though, it would be Donald Fabisiak.  My first voice teacher. He was awonderful pianist, played several other instruments and passionate about music.  He was kind, patient and he believed in me.

NBJP: Please complete this sentence:   I own too many____

RHJ: Well…I just finished my spring cleaning.  So I feel I have the right amount of everything now.  I gave away a lot of clothes.

NBJP: If you could only own one CD, what would it be?

RHJ: Going Home (Jason Jackson)

NBJP: What’s one liquid (other than water) we’d ALWAYS find in your refrigerator?

RHJ: Orange juice

NBJP: You are a musician, is there another art in which you’d like to be accomplished?


NBJP: If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?

RHJ:  I would live in the now more often than thinking about the future

PLUS ONE: When did you know you wanted to be a professional  musician?

RHJ: I saw a live performance of the opera Rigoletto.


NBJP: How old were you when you first played in front of an audience (beyond your family)?Jason Jackson

JJ: I was around 8

NBJP: If you could only own one CD what would it be?

JJ: The trombone master JJ Johnson, Art Tatum’s Capitol  recording of Willow Weep for Me, Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue, Coltrane Blue Train…..oops, too many and I’m only getting started….

NBJP: You are a musician, is there another art in which you’d like to be accomplished?

JJ:  I like to draw. 

NBJP: What’s your favorite (G-rated) non-musical pastime?

JJ:  recording engineer

NBJP: Who’s your favorite non-jazz composer?

JJ: Beethoven, Ravel

NBJP: What inspires you creatively?

JJ:  Nature, love, music, life

NBJP: What word or phrase do you overuse?

JJ: Nice

PLUS ONE: When did you know that you wanted to be a professional jazz musician?

JJ:  I knew I wanted to be a musician by the time I was  about 11

Seven Questions with Vocalist, Jackie Jones

 NBJP: What’s the worst (non-musical) job you ever had?

JJ:-working in a hotel gift shop. They wanted me to stand up the entire time. I quit after 3 days. Lol. 🙂 

NBJP: If you could only own one CD, what would it be?

JJ:-Bobby McFerrin (Vocabularies)

NBJP :If you were about to have your last meal, what would it be?

JJ-a big plate of my Grandmother’s Special homemade biscuits w butter and grape jelly. 

NBJP: What musician influenced you the most?

JJ:- I have to name two….NANCY WILSON.and PHYLLIS HYMAN

NBJP: What’s your favorite non-musical pastime?

JJ:-enjoying being a FOODIE ……and Swing Dancing.

Swing dancing

NBJP: What quality do you like least about yourself?

JJ- very thinned skin; sensitive….will cry at the drop of a hat. 

NBJP: What’s your favorite non-jazz tune?

JJ-Blackbird (Beatles-Paul McCartney). I have at least 20 versions of this on my iPhone

PLUS ONE:  When did you decide you were going to become a professional musician?

JJ:-I dont think I ever really “decided”. However; I was studying to become a doctor, but when people started paying me to sing I thought I would test the waters a little more. 

Seven Questions with Saxophonist Brett McDonald

Brett McDonald headshotNBJP: Other than the instrument you play, instrument would you like to be able to play?

BMcD: I’d really like to play the guitar – the whole string family of instruments has been difficult for me to comprehend and learn, and every time I pick up a guitar I end up giving up shortly thereafter. Playing that instrument comes with this whole aesthetic of just rocking out, and I really enjoy that idea of being able to turn up without any physical effort involved to increase the volume.

NBJP:      How old were you when you first played in front of an audience (beyond your family)?

BMcD: I think I was about eleven years old – I played “The Pink Panther” for my elementary school talent contest. Its an entertaining story – I didn’t know the piece well enough to compensate for the nerves, so ultimately I got lost and found myself improvising to make up for it. Then I made my way back to the melody. I guess I was playing jazz before I even knew what it was!

NBJP:      What’s your favorite city to play in?

BMcD: I still have a strong affinity for performing in Denton, TX. Its the city where The University of North Texas is located, and you find hundreds of music students who really have a deep and meaningful appreciation for the artform – and are wholly engaged in the music in the moment. I think that is something very rare among live music scenes around the world.

NBJP:     What musician influenced you the most?

BMcD: When I was  in school, I definitely tried to avoid the main direct influences of Charlie Parker and John Coltrane that all the other saxophone students have. I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the years that I worshiped Michael Brecker, but in terms of direct influence, trumpeter Clifford Brown really takes the cake. His lyricism, virtuosity, integrity and honesty are all things I wish to bring out in my own performances.

NBJP:  What’s your favorite jazz tune?

BMcD: I adore playing the standard “There Will Never Be Another You”, by Harry Warren and Mack Gordon. It covers all the diatonic harmony of the scale, and allows for a lot of freedom in terms of substitutions and alterations. It is just such a flexible song with a recognizable form that when you play with it’s boundaries, the tune still remains intact.

NBJP:  What’s your favorite (non-musical) (G-rated) pastime? 

BMcD: I’m an avid alpine scrambler whenever I’m near mountains. Its essentially a mix between climbing and hiking, where all the challenging passages can be climbed without ropes, but by no means are they leisurely hikes. I like the sport because you get a huge sense of accomplishment when you reach the top, but more than that, the whole experience is a great metaphor for living a fulfilling life. Setting goals and working towards them, but enjoying the journey to get there – which is the most important part anyways. It passes the time, and when you get to see the surrounding peaks, you can’t help but feel proud of yourself for having come so far.

NBJP:  If you could only own one CD, what would it be?

BMcD: A tough question, but I’d probably go with Kind of Blue by Miles Davis. It is one of those timeless classics that never gets old. 

PLUS ONE: When did you know you wanted to be a professional jazz musician?

BMcD: This is another tough question – I wouldn’t necessarily pigeonhole myself as a “jazz musician”, as I perform and feel comfortable in several different genres and styles, but I can say that around junior year of my Jazz Studies degree at North Texas I started writing my own music, and the confidence and fulfillment I derived from that led me to believe that I could really make this passion of mine into a career.