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Mikayla Gilbreath

Primary Instrument: Sax, alto

Born: March 15, 1993    

Mikayla Gilbreath

Mikayla Gilbreath (17) began playing saxophone in September, 2005, and therefore still considers herself to be a novice. But her progress as a jazz musician has been nothing less than remarkable. Despite her young age and scant experience, she is currently Lead Alto Saxophonist for the nationally recognized “DVHS Performance Jazz Ensemble.” The band is widely considered to be one of the best high school jazz bands in America.

In August 2008, Mikayla was admitted to Glendale College where she presently studies Saxophone and Jazz Improvisation....
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”'On sonnyrollins.com,' [Jazz Journalists Association President, Howard] Mandel continues, 'You can see Mikayla Gilbreath, a 13-year-old saxophonist from Tempe, Arizona.' On one of the podcasts, Gilbreath, who first heard Sonny’s music in her grade school... is seen meeting Sonny backstage. ...And she tells how she became committed to the jazz life. ...'I heard Sonny Rollins, and I just loved it. I loved the way it sounded and I just -- I wanted to play jazz instead of just music.' ...Mandel asked her if there was anything odd about having been 'drawn to the music of someone whose background is so different from hers.' ...Wisely, the 13-year-old answered, 'You know, I really don’t think it matters. It’s the music that kind of brought us together. It wasn’t the fact that I was white and he was black, or that he was old and I was young. It was just--it was the music that we both loved.'” Nat Hentoff, JazzTimes Magazine, “Bridging Generations,” September, 2007.

“It is remarkable to learn that such a young girl, only 14 years old, who plays the alto saxophone for only two years now, reached such a high level in playing. Only few kids from that age can refer to the great master in jazz, Sonny Rollins, who has said about hearing Mikayla playing... 'Bravo, very nice! She's got talent.'” The article went on to label Gilbreath as the “young US 'Candy Dulfer.'” Hans Koert, Keep Swinging Jazz Blog, The Netherlands, November 12, 2007. The article is available in both Dutch and English.

“Given such an open and welcoming environment, it's no surprise that The Jazz Network has attracted such familiar names as David Benoit, Alex Bugnon, Onaje Allan Gumbs and Lenny White to its member roster, and earned accolades from the likes of fellow members Billy Cobham, Will Downing, Alphonse Mouzon and Buster Williams.

“Yet it's not only established artists who hang out together over this electronic backyard fence [The Jazz Network]. There are plenty of tomorrow's aspiring stars as well, such as 15-year-old jazz saxophonist and journalist Mikayla Gilbreath. 'I heard Sonny Rollins,' she says, explaining her passion, 'and I just loved it. I loved the way it sounded, and I wanted to play jazz instead of just music.' Has anyone of any age ever put it better? Jazz instead of just music.” Alan Kurtz, Jazz.com, June 29, 2008.

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1962 Selmer-Paris Mark VI alto saxophone, Yamaha YTS-875 EXS Custom tenor saxophone, Cannonball SC5-HS curved soprano saxophone, Yamaha YCL-650 clarinet and Yamaha YFL-574 flute.

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