Classical Tahoe

Summit Notes: Jason Hainsworth

Jason Hainsworth

Brubeck Jazz Summit Assistant Director and Saxophone Instructor

Brubeck Jazz Summit: We’ve started each Summit Notes interviews with the esteemed musicians and Brubeck Jazz Summit faculty with an inquiry on their introduction to jazz.

Family has played an outsized role.

Brandon Roberston’s mother was a gospel singer who enrolled him in creative arts after school programs. Simon Rowe credits hearing his grandfather’s ” Louis Armstrong’s Greatest Hits” record as a formidable moment for his trajectory in jazz.

Jason’s introduction to the saxophone also has a family origin story, one as casual as any. When we asked him about it, he said, “I first started playing the sax in the 4th grade. My older brother used to play it and stopped, so I took it up.”

Brubeck Jazz Summit: Jason’s career as a saxophonist, composer, recording artist, and educator, including his current position with the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, included educational cornerstones: a Masters degree in Jazz Studies from Florida State University, a Bachelor’s degree in Music Studies from William Paterson University while performing along the east coast, and a Music Study Program at the University of New Orleans with legendary jazz educators Ellis Marsalis and saxophonist Victor Goines.

Brubeck Jazz Summit: Jason’s career as a saxophonist, composer, recording artist, and educator, including his current position with the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, included educational cornerstones: a Masters degree in Jazz Studies from Florida State University, a Bachelor’s degree in Music Studies from William Paterson University while performing along the east coast, and a Music Study Program at the University of New Orleans with legendary jazz educators Ellis Marsalis and saxophonist Victor Goines.

Before his college studies, Jason was a student at the prestigious High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in his native Houston, Texas. You may also remember from last week’s interview that Simon Rowe is also an alumnus of HSPVA and Classical Tahoe & Brubeck Jazz Summit’s Patron Experience Manager, Sarah Wells, also spent time in the Bayou City with a position at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

With that, this week, we start the interview with Jason by talking Texas.

Brubeck Jazz Summit: Can you provide a little insight into the sound and style of Texas jazz. Do you often get back to Houston? Where do you like to eat, visit and listen to music?

Jason Hainsworth: I love the MFA in Houston! I used to gig at the museum all the time when I lived there and even in High School. To me, the sound of Texas is deeply rooted in the Blues. The jazz musicians from Houston all could REALLY play the blues and weren’t afraid of playing slow, “down home” blues.

Arnett Cobb, Illinois Jacquet, Don Wilkerson, and Billy Harper are all Houston tenor sax legends that I looked up to and listened to as a kid. James Clay, Dewey Redman, and Ornette Coleman are also saxophonists from Texas that I also really looked up to.

I usually get back to Houston once or twice a year. I usually lay low when I go back home and the city has changed so much from when I was a kid I wouldn’t know where to go to consistently hear good music. My nephew, Jalen Baker, is a great jazz vibraphonist who lives in Houston right now so I try to always hear him play whenever I’m in town. I love Taco Cabana!!! I also love my mother’s cooking!!!

Images: The James Turrell ‘light tunnel’ @ MFAH and The Original Taco Cabana
(Regrettably not pictured: Jason’s mom’s home cooking)

Brubeck Jazz Summit: Tell us more about your instructor style.

Jason Hainsworth:
My teaching style is based on individualized study that focuses on what each student needs to get their respective “next level”.

Each student comes from a different place musically. Therefore, it’s my job to meet the student where they are at, and give them the tools to progress forward.

Brubeck Jazz Summit:
What’s a typical day look like for you now that SFCM campus is closed due to Covid-19?

Jason Hainsworth: Right now, I’m teaching class via Zoom from my home. It’s not bad but I’m still trying to find a balance of work and practice/creative time for myself. Now that I think about it, I’ve been trying to figure this same thing out for almost 20 years now!

When I was younger I used to hate to practice. However, the older I’ve become, I now use it as a form of meditation and relaxation in a strange way. I now look forward to playing long tones or playing difficult lines. I enjoy the process much more now because it takes my mind away from reality for a few hours.

Brubeck Jazz Summit: What specifically gives you a thrill when listening to jazz performances?

Jason Hainsworth:
There’s nothing better than hearing a great jazz band performing live after they’ve been on the road for awhile. By then, they’ve worked out all the “kinks” and are really letting loose musically.

Brubeck Jazz Summit: What are you reading, watching, podcasting, listening to, etc, by way of entertainment?

Jason Hainsworth: I read a ton of news articles everyday. I love the Washington Post, New York Times, and San Francisco Chronicle. I also enjoy listening to sports podcasts when I workout. I’m a pretty big gamer also so I play a ton of games on my PS4. I’m also constantly listening to new and old music, trying to find and discover inspiration for my own music.

Some of my go to albums are Atomic Basie (Count Basie), Coltrane Jazz (John Coltrane), Crazy People Music (Branford Marsalis), Live at the Keystone (Freddie Hubbard), and E.S.P. (Miles Davis).

Brubeck Jazz Summit: Jason, thank you for your time and thoughtful responses – we look forward to seeing you as soon as it is safe and responsible to do so!

Brubeck Jazz Summit:
In addition to the album suggestions Jason mentioned above, put THIRD WARD STORIES by Jason Hainsworth in your rotation.

The album is “a musical biography for this Houston-bred, thoroughly grounded member of the rich Texas Tenor tradition, his paean to the neighborhood he grew up in and the musical memories embedded in the soil of that ‘hood. (Origin Records)” Purchase Here and pair with your favorite tacos.

Stay in Touch with Jason through Social Media:

FB: @JasonHainsworthMusic
IG: @JasonHainsworthJazz
Youtube: Jason Hainsworth
Official Website: jasonhainsworthmusic.com

Follow Brubeck Jazz Summit on Instagram @BrubeckJazzSummit

Brubeck Jazz Summit:
Finally, for your listening pleasure, A Brubeck Jazz Summit Directors Duo: Simon Rowe and Jason Hainsworth performing Beatrice (Sam Rivers) at San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

Interview from April 14, 2020
Media, Video and Photography is from jasonhainsworthmusic.com 
Read more about Jason’s accomplishments and performance history here.