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Erica Lindsay

Erica Lindsay, tenor saxophonist and composer, currently leads her own quartet featuring Francesca Tanksley on piano, and co-leads a quartet with pianist Sumi Tonooka that features Bob Braye and Rufus Reid. Two new recordings with these ensembles respectively are, “Yes – Live at the Rosendale Cafe” and the soon to be released, “Initiation”. She also currently performs with the Oliver Lake Big Band, the Baikida Carroll Quintet, the Howard Johnson, Hojo5 Quintet, the Jeff Siegel Quartet and the San Francisco-based group, Trace Elements. Her most recent recordings with these ensembles are, “Cloth” (Oliver Lake Big Band), “Magical Spaces” and “Live in Europe” (Jeff Siegel Quartet), “Marionettes on a High Wire,” (Baikida Carroll Quintet), and “Parallel Universe” (Trace Elements). Lindsay is presently working on releasing two duo projects: one with percussionist Ricky Carter (“Soulcatcher”) and the other with drummer Bob Braye (“Oceans”).

Royal Stokes, writing for the Jazz Times has called her “a player of enormous gifts and a composer and arranger of striking originality”. Nat Hentoff states, “Erica Lindsay plays with such an emotional spontaneity that she is very much in the tradition of those jazz makers who were so evidently taking joy in surprising themselves each night, each song, each bar. She has a distinctive clarity and fullness of sound as well as an acute sense of dynamics. Her compositions are also characterized by an invigorating clarity of form and direction”. Bob Margolis for the Kingston Freeman says “Her profound, soul-searching technique straddles Coltrane’s spirituality and Joe Henderson’s fiery versatility, making hers a name to watch”.

Lindsays parents were educators who moved to Europe in the sixties, raising their family in various European cities. She began her compositional studies at the age of fifteen with Mal Waldron in Munich, where she spent her high school years. She deepened her experience of the music through her exposure to jazz expatriates Mal Waldron, Dexter Gordon, Slide Hampton, Jimmy Griffiths, Jimmie Woode, and Benny Bailey as well as the continuing flow of visiting jazz greats. Upon graduating from high school she continued her studies at Berklee College of Music in Boston.

When she returned to Europe, Lindsay focused on her compositional work, writing and arranging for various big bands and composing for the many different smaller groups she performed with. She was involved in the vibrant, free-jazz scene that existed then in Europe and was an original member and composer of the Unique Munich Saxophone Choir. During this period she formed her first quintet and also did guest performances with Frank Zappa and Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers.

In 1980 Lindsay moved to New York City. Referred by her saxophone teacher at Berklee, Andy McGee, she began performing and touring with Melba Liston & Co. During this time she performed with many jazz legends; Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Williams, Al Grey, Britt Woodman, Mary Lou Williams and others. After leaving Melba Liston’s group in 1984, Lindsay performed with other leaders such as Mc Coy Tyner, Clifford Jordon, Reggie Workman, Ted Curson, George Gruntz and Amira Baraka .. at Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher, Merkin Hall, La Mama Theatre and other jazz venues. Lindsay at this time also became involved in performance art, and has collaborated with poet/playwright Carl Hancock-Rux, poets Janine Vega, Janice King, Mikhail Horowitz and painter Nancy Ostrowski. She composed the book for two off-broadway plays, Carl Hancock-Rux’s “Song of Sad Young Men,” and John Carter’s “Feed the Beast,” and has written for television and modern dance. While living in New York City she also received a degree in psychology from NYU. She now resides in the Woodstock area and is on the music faculty at Bard College.