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Q&A: Jamaica Plain Saxophone Quartet, and Catch Them Live This Friday

Last updated on January 13, 2020

There aren’t a lot of musical groups that only have saxophonists, yet alone that utilize Jamaica Plain in their namesake. This Friday, you can hear such a group, the Jamaica Plain Saxophone Quartet perform live at Turtle Swamp Brewing.

The Jamaica Plain Saxophone Quartet (photo by Kim Pang)

The musically adroit foursome are Sean Mix, Andy Wilds, Scott Chamberlin, and David Stevens. The group fielded questions from Jamaica Plain News about what they perform, whether they’re all from Jamaica Plain, and more.

Q: How long have you been playing together?
JPSQ: We have been playing together since fall 2017, when we had our first gig performing outside Boston City Hall for Hub Week. Since then we have performed at schools, colleges, churches, retirement communities, restaurants, weddings, JP PorchFest, Jamaica Pond, and countless times out at the Public Garden.

Q: What kind of music do you perform?
JPSQ: That’s actually a tricky question because there are really two sides to our group. We are all classically-trained musicians and love to perform “contemporary classical” music — that is, repertoire written for saxophone quartet in the present or not too long ago. To give you an idea, the oldest of the four works on the program for our concert at Turtle Swamp on Friday was written in 1992 (the others were written in 2006, 2007, and 2013). With that being said, we are equally comfortable playing more “commercial” music, including jazz, latin, and pop music from across the gamut (think everything from “My Girl” by the Temptations to “Blank Space” by Taylor Swift). The music we perform is determined entirely by the audience for whom we’re performing, and we have a lot of fun coming up with our various programs.

Q: Do you have a concert schedule?
JPSQ: Right now, we play gigs as they come along. For example, in December, we played at two events for Harvard, two retirement community concerts, and made three appearances at the Boston Public Market. We haven’t established a traditional “concert season” for our contemporary classical series (which has included a concert at MIT in September and our upcoming show at Turtle Swamp), but we plan to do that beginning in fall 2020.

The Jamaica Plain Saxophone Quarter all play saxophones, but shockingly, not all members live in JP. (Photo by Kim Pang)

Q: What kind of saxophones do each of you play?
JPSQ: We all actually play any and all kinds of saxophones, including sopranino, soprano, alto, tenor, baritone, and bass. Our quartet uses the standard instrumentation of soprano (Sean Mix), alto (Andy Wilds), tenor (Scott Chamberlin), and baritone (David Stevens), but we like to switch it up sometimes too! On our concert at MIT last September, we played one piece written for two tenors (Sean and Scott) and two baritones (David and Andy).

Q: Do you four play in other groups? If so, what?
JPSQ: We are all freelance musicians and play frequently with other ensembles in the area. Recent appearances by JPSQ members have included the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra, the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra, Symphony New Hampshire, the Celebrity Series of Boston’s Concert for One, the Metropolitan Wind Symphony, and countless other small ensemble and solo engagements.

Q: Do you all live in JP?
JPSQ: At one time or another, yes, we have all lived in JP. Currently, one of us lives in Forest Hills, two others live in South Huntington, and the other (unfortunate soul) lives in Allston. Our first year of rehearsals were in a triple decker a couple of blocks from Green Street Station and now we rehearse over in South Huntington.

Q: Anything else you’d like people to know?
JPSQ: We’re proud to have Jamaica Plain in our name and always look to represent the community well in our performances! One of our big goals for the future is to perform even more in JP. We love interacting with our audiences and our community, so please don’t hesitate to reach out!

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