Article IN 'THE Sax' MAGAZINE June 2017, japan
ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF INTERVIEW:
Yuki: Hello Jack! Please tell us about your opportunity to start playing the saxophone and how/where you grew up.
Jack:I grew up outside of Chicago in Illinois, neither of my parents were musicians but they always encouraged me! I began playing later in life than most of my peers, when I was 12 because I found an alto saxophone that my father had bought back in the 80’s. He thought it would get him more dates haha. It was an old Vito alto.
Yuki: What attracted you to the saxophone?
Jack: I was in private school before I entered public high school and they had a great band program. I was inspired to get into music as a result and the saxophone was what was lying around the house! I was incredibly fortunate to have John Wojciehowski, a very well known tenor player, as a band director and he pushed me to get better and focus on jazz. After high school I received a scholarship to study jazz performance at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music in Ohio.
Yuki: The environment in so important and thats great you had such good opportunities when you were young. When did you start working on saxophones and not just performing?
Jack: Really since the very beginning I was always fascinated with the horn beyond just the sounds I could get out of it. I always wanted to hang out at the repair shop and ask questions about how and why things worked mechanically. When I was in Cincinnati I got a part time job working at a band instrument repair shop which trained me in the fundamentals of repair for two years and I became even more passionate about learning more as a result. I guess it was here that I got really serious about it, when I moved to Boston to start my masters degree at the New England Conservatory. It was a real honor to go there and especially to study with Jerry Bergonzi, he has been my hero since I first switched to tenor! I was also very fortunate to get a job working at the legendary Rayburn music, where the famous Emilio Lyons was a repairman. Working there was an opportunity to meet a lot of my heros and get to know the Boston saxophone community including Billy Pierce who has become a good friend and mentor. I was also introduced to Ernie Sola though the job at Rayburns, and when I first saw his work as a saxophone repairman I knew I wanted to apprentice with him.
Yuki: I have seen so many great repairman’s work, like Ishimori and Yanigisawa and I remember being very impressed with Ernie when I was in Boston. His work was perfect.
Jack: Exactly. His story is a sad one, when I met him he was already ill with cancer and I am so incredibly fortunate to have had the time I did with him. It was that experience and his passing that made me decide to repair saxophones as a career, I felt it was the least I could do to try and uphold his standards and to do my best to continue his work. He was only 51 when he died. So when I graduated, instead of following my classmates to New York, I decided to stay and start a business here.
Yuki: Well, it seems you’re doing just that and business is going very good for you. Boston is really a town that has a lot of history with instrument repair and manufacturing. It seems that that besides the Yamaha and Ishimori saxophones you sell there are many vintage horns here as well. It was great to see the famous classical saxophone professor Ken Radnofsky here earlier playing a vintage Selmer that you had restored.
Jack: It is an honor to get to work on so many historic and beautiful horns. When I work on vintage saxophones, my intent is to respect the tradition of saxophone manufacturing and restore these pieces of history to the standards of that the original makers wanted. There are many modern materials out there to choose from as a repairman, but I prefer the old school approach. It just feels right to me. Ive been fortunate enough to see many original saxophones which still have all the factories materials on them and those are my templates. I want my work to look invisible and have no ego. Another part of my job is the relationship with the player and fine tuning the instruments on an individual level, that relationship is my favorite part of my job.
Yuki: I know you can play at a high level too, which lets you test the instruments beyond what most normal repair technicians can. What would you be doing if you weren't fixing saxophones for a living?
Jack: Haha, well I think I would still like to be doing a trade for a living. Anything that lets me work with my hands. Im also very interested in high end audio and photography. But the shop is my real passion, even more than playing. I want it to be a community center for saxophonists, I have a great sound system here and a solid espresso machine. Its nice to have a place where people can hang while they are trying horns or getting a repair done and catch up. Again, I'm so grateful to the people I've met through my business and am proud of the items I chosen to sell. I choose only what I think is the very best and would rather have far less options for inventory but of the absolute highest quality, like Ishimori, Rigotti and Ted Klum.
Thanks again for everything you’ve done Yuki, and of course the great opportunity to be a part of your magazine!
Yuki: Of course! Thanks for your story and having me at your wonderful shop today.