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James Spaulding

James Spaulding

Cross-generational part-nerships seem rare these days. But just such a relationship has been fruitful for veteran reedman James Spaulding. His 11-year hook-up with David Murray finds him playing a valuable role in Murray’s octet. On the wings of his latest Escapade, (HighNote), Spaulding is playing a series of collaborative gigs between the David Murray Octet and the superb Urban Bush Women dance troupe. “David is incredible with the stuff he’s writing and involved with,” Spaulding enthuses. “He likes the way I’m able to go in and out of the chords like he does; it’s just another extension. When I think back on Sun Ra, I think about those extensions related to David’s approach, the way he gets into his tenor and bass clarinet.”

David Murray, Sun Ra, Freddie Hubbard, Max Roach, Milt Jackson: a handful of the many fertile bandstands that have welcomed Spaulding. A true MVP sideman, the Indianapolis-bred Spaulding has carved out a richly varied musical experience with his accomplished alto sax and flute playing, a currently rare doubling duo since soprano sax is most players’ second axe of choice. Fortunately, he came along at a time when instruments were plentiful in schools and, though steered to the clarinet by the band director, he also picked up the flute out of pure curiosity. Years later he came under the flute tutelage of Professor Emil Eck, late of the Chicago Symphony. “He corrected me on a lot of bad habits I had developed,” Spaulding chuckles.

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