Name: Carson Freeman
Location: Mississauga Ontario Canada
Profession: Professional Saxophonist
Years Playing: 24 Years
School/Major/Degree: Humber College Diploma in Music Performance
When did you first begin seriously studying your instrument?
After picking up the sax in the 9th grade, I started discovering it’s sounds by practicing it daily. From the beginning, I became a serious saxophone student. I took a year off before attending college where I had a consistent daily practice routine.
Who are your greatest influences?
My first teacher was a high school graduate that was in his first year of university studying music. His name is Jean-Yves Bégin. In college I studied with jazz saxophonist Pat Labarbera who had played with several famous jazz musicians including Buddy Rich, and Elvin Jones. Both of these teachers were hugely influential and helped me a lot. My biggest influences on the sax are Michael Brecker, John Coltrane, Jan Garbarek, and David Sanborn, but Michael Brecker changed my life. When I heard him play I wanted to pursue a career as a saxophonist.
Who or what gave you the confidence to pursue music as a career?
When we hear a great musician, we can have one of two thoughts; 1. That’s impossible, or 2. I can do that. I chose the latter and was inspired to play like the musicians that impressed me. Seeing and hearing pros gave me the confidence as a teenager to pursue music as a viable and enjoyable career option.
Do you think any other skills are needed aside from the ability to play your instrument well?
Applying the great qualities that we see in our favourite people to our own lives is invaluable. There are so many great saxophonists in the world, but the players working the most are not necessarily the best players. When I’m hiring a musician to play a gig with me, I’m looking for someone who is going to be a good “hang” on the bandstand, as well as someone who is a great player. Musicians love music therefore, it’s easy to work on. Being on time, rehearsed, tactful, ethical, resourceful and pleasant are qualities that will get you called back again and again, but may be harder to work on than learning a tune. Lastly, look good. Dress and groom yourself to look confident and professional. Always aim to play, look, and act like you’re a pro.
What are some of the things you did before your career as a performer became as successful as it is today?
After college the phone wasn’t ringing. Nobody knew who I was except for my college mates. I had a few non musical part time jobs. This was a bit discouraging, but I always viewed myself as a saxophonist. I used my spare time to work on applying the theories I learned in College to my sax playing, I worked on my flute & clarinet playing (in case I got asked to do a ‘doubling’ gig), and I practiced my sight reading. The first musical job I had was teaching sax, flute, and clarinet lessons. Around that same time, I started playing sax in a pop/rock cover band and started to create a reputation as a reliable saxophonist that doubled and could get along well on the bandstand. From there I gradually elevated to session work and corporate work in Toronto. From there, I was getting calls to play with bigger name acts that we’re coming to Toronto and needed a saxophonist.
What are some of your goals musically for the future?
My biggest goal is to find the time to record my own music. I’ve played and recorded with several artists but I haven’t put out much of my own music for the public to hear. Also, I’d like to expand the capacities of the saxophone’s tonal palette. I believe that the surface of capabilities on the saxophone has been merely scratched.
Have you ever come close to giving up?
Playing the sax is a lifelong developmental journey. There are always new sounds and techniques to explore as well as great artists to learn from. I’ve been discouraged at times, but I’ve never considered quitting and I’ve never thought that my goals were unachievable.
What are some of the things you enjoy most about your career as a performer/recording artist?
I love meeting other artists and complimenting their art. People first and music second! 🙂 I’ve travelled around the world and have seen people change while they were moved by the music that the different bands I was with performed. I love meeting new musicians, experiencing new cultures and cuisines, and hearing all of the sounds I’ve practiced amplified to a crowd of music fans.
Do you write music? Where do you get your inspiration?
I write often. My music is mainly inspired by catchy melodies I hear in my head, or solid grooves that move me. When my first dog died, I channelled those emotions into one of my first songs (Never Without You) that I play live. Inspiration is everywhere.
What was your lamest gig and how did you learn from it? What was the best and why?
My lamest gig was a performance of “straight ahead” jazz in a sports bar that wanted to hear blues and rock. We were getting heckled and decided during our set that we should cut our losses and pack it in. Before we could bow out with dignity, the bar owner fired us. I always get lots of info about a gig before agreeing to it after that experience.
The best performance I had was playing in a horn section for David Sanborn. Playing sax with a saxophonist is rare, so when you can play with a hero, it’s pretty cool!
Advice for a Young Musician:
Practice everyday for at least one hour. When you’re not practicing, listen to music, study music theories, read music publications, watch music videos, and hang out with other musicians. Understand what you are working on, why it’s important, and how it is developing your musical style. Never buy into the starving artist misconception. My wife and I are both musicians. We aren’t famous, but live successful, financially comfortable, happy lives doing what we love.
Hobbies outside of music:
I LOVE cooking. I appeared on a Canadian Reality TV cooking competition and won first place. I cook at a homeless shelter once a month, do live cooking demonstrations, and I teach cooking classes to kids on my time off.
JodyJazz Mouthpieces and Légère Reeds
New releases and projects:
Wait for my debut CD!
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