Born: January 10, 1963 Primary Instrument: Saxophone
She's a hundred pounds of rompin' stompin' sax. She's so hot her horn smokes. Her first CD, Tigress, (Warner Music Discovery) defines mood, zest, verve and sizzling straight-on jazz from the hip. Some elements of jazz never change, but Sonya Jason picks up the leftovers and moves them into her own dimension.
-- Jan Holland for Venice: The L.A. Arts and Entertainment Magazine
There is no doubt jazz has been a man's world for sometime. Be it due to a lack of credible women musicians or outright bigotry we may never know, but the tide is certainly turning toward more women being accepted into the jazz realm.
The biggest gains for women have been in the smooth and contemporary jazz arena. The imminently talented Sonya Jason is part of this new woman instrumentalist insurgence. Able to play with the verve and panache equal to smooth jazz's Walter Beasley, as she does on Tigress, yet also able to turn standards into vehicles of straight-ahead emotional singularity, as on The Supper Club, Jason's talents make her, conceivably, too good for radio.
Originally born in Wayne, Nebraska, she was playing piano by the age of four. At the age of ten she took up the saxophone. When the family moved to the Phoenix area she joined the Apollo High School band, considered, at the time, to be Arizona's leading jazz band. Two years of liberal arts study at Mills College in Oakland, and the experience of playing with the UC Berkeley big bands, led her to win the revered Phil Woods Scholarship at the Berklee College of Music. A summa cum laude graduate with a Bachelor's degree in Performance and Arranging, she originally moved back to Phoenix following graduation, then paid her dues in the Los Angeles music scene. Today Jason makes her home in the San Francisco Bay area, runs a thriving teaching studio, is offered more gigs than she can ever possibly accept, leads a number of jazz workshops every year and truly lives the life of a working musician.
With three recordings as a solo artist under her belt, Jason has worked on recordings with Sheila E., the Yellowjacket's bassist Jimmy Haslip, Pete Escovedo, Alphonso Johnson, Vinnie Colaiuta, Bill Cunliffe, Joyce Cooling, Grant Geissman and John Beasely to name only a few. Live she has appeared in more than 4,000 concerts with artists like The Brothers Johnson, Ray Anthony, Narada Michael Walden, Debbie Reynolds, Barry Manilow, Shirley MacClaine, Mary Tyler Moore, Rose Marie, Carol Channing, Mindi Abair, Dick Van Dyke and Nelson Braxton of the Braxton Brothers. In addition, Jason has appeared at more than 50 music festivals including the Golden Jubilee International Jazz Festival in Bangkok where she played for the King of Thailand.
As impressive as all of this is, when you note all of the great artists she's been paired with as the opening act you start to see how she is perceived within the musical community. Included in this list are Earth Wind and Fire, Ramsey Lewis, Smokey Robinson, Natalie Cole, Lionel Hampton, Lou Rawls, Pastor Shirley Caesar, Tom Scott, Stanley Clarke/George Duke Project, Sergio Mendez, Diane Schuur, Spyro Gyra, David Sanborn, Chuck Berry, Tower of Power, Jeff Lorber, Bobby Caldwell, Richard Marx, and on and on and on. Just one of her many honors was being asked, in 2005, by the Grammy Foundation to perform in Los Angeles with the Montclair Women's Big Band, Monica Mancini, Mindi Abair, and as opening act for Diane Schuur and Shirley Caeser in Mavericks of Music: Celebrating the Contributions of Trailblazing Women.
If this was all you were to know of Jason you'd know she's accomplished, but when Phil Woods, an artist for whom giving compliments comes only once in a blue moon, said of Jason, The lady can play! Emotion and fire well- tempered by a sensitive, warm approach. And she's funky as hell, well, you know the lady is special.
-- by Dr. Thomas Erdmann for Saxophone Journal
Awards:ASCAP Popular Music Award for Original Compositions Yamaha Corporation of America, selected as Roster Artist Arizona Commission on the Arts, selected as Roster Artist Downbeat Magazine Spotlights Deserving Young Musicians Phil Woods Scholarship to Berklee College of Music Phoenix Federation of Musicians Young Sounds of Arizona Program 18 Awards for Outstanding Musicianship from such institutions as the International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE)
�” Santa Barbara International Jazz Festival
“Sonya Jason has all the ingredients for success; a powerful and original musical voice, charisma, dedication, ambition, and professionalism. Clearly this is a woman on the move.”
�” Contemporary Jazz Review Magazine
“For those of you who appreciate people who play their butts off, Jason smashes all hot-saxdiva stereotypes with her sophisticated repertoire and dignified presentation.”
�” BUZZ Magazine, the Talk of Los Angeles
“Tigress is the perfect title for her debut, as she alternates between the cool sensuality of a cat and the fiery roar of its more ferocious counterpart.”
�” Jonathon Widran, JAZZIZ Magazine
“Sonya Jason is an explosive, technically flash alto/soprano saxophonist. Her band is bolstered by...musicians that aren’t afraid to step up the intensity. The result is some fiery, impassioned sax wailing and some thunderous ensemble arrangements.”
�” GAVIN Report
“Her aggressive but not harsh wailing, her musical intelligence and her innate sense of a song’s ebb-and-flow draws some of the best talent in town to accompany her.”
�” John Burnes, The Argonaut, Marina Del Rey CA
“...when she blew hot it was the great Gato Barbieri and his scorching sound that came to mind...but whether she’s playing the soprano, alto or the clarinet-like sopranino, Jason blows hot and cool with equal finesse.”
�” Jason McCloskey, Drama-Logue
“This is music for moderns who want more than emotional shallowness and ego-driven musicianship. Sonya Jason is the real thing.”
�” Bill Kohlhaase, Los Angeles Times
“Jason is a virtuoso on the soprano sax. Her long spiraling lines and affectation-free technique were a joy...she blew out some ferocious licks and wailed righteously.”
�” John Carmen, Daily Variety
“When people see and hear Sonya for the first time, they are blown away. She's one of the most dynamic and versatile sax players in the country.”
�” Ann Bertelsen, San Jose Mercury News
“Some elements of jazz never change, but Sonya Jason picks up the leftovers and moves them into her own dimension.”
�” Jan Holland, Venice: Los Angeles Arts and Entertainment Magazine
“I love her writing. She's writing real songs which is so rare these days. And I love her horn playing. It's melodic and moody with fire and passion. Sonya's something special.”
�” Bruce Malament, writer/arranger for Dionne Worwick and Barry White
“Sonya’s a burning player. She’s a bright person with lots of energy and a good business sense.”
�” David Goldblatt, keyboardist with Diana Ross, musical director for Dennis Miller show
“THIS CAT BLOWS! Sonya Jason blows away her rivals with a torrent of sizzling and slinky sax-work on her debut release from Warner Music Discovery. Tigress is an all original release, showcasing Sonya’s remarkable gift for composing and arranging, and making her the most versatile female recording artist recording today.”
�” Sid Birenbaum, Warner Music Discovery
The Supper Club
Tracks: Don't Get Around Much Anymore; Summertime; Secret Love ; Harlem Nocturne;Green Dolphin Street; When Sunny Gets Blue; Sugar; When I Fall In Love ; All Blues;In A Sentimental Mood.
Personnel: Sonya Jason: Alto and Soprano Saxophones. Julie Homi: Piano. Peter Horvath: Piano. Svetozar "Butsa" Necak: Acoustic Bass. Andrew Eberhard: Drums. Larry Blackshere:Vibraphone.
Warner Music Discovery
Tracks: Tigress; Exotica; Forbidden Love; Green Eyes; Just Take A Chance; Tryst (Secret Lover); Easy Love; Mystery Man; Cartoon Blues; Touch and Go; Escape To Dreamland.
Personnel: Sonya Jason: Alto and Sopranino Saxophones, Flute. David Goldblatt: Keyboards. David Garfield: Keyboards. Bill Cunliffe: Acoustic Piano. Curtis Brengle: Keyboards. John Beasley: Keyboards. Bruce Malament: Keyboard. Mike O'Neill: Electric Guitar. Mike Miller: Acoustic and Electric Guitar. Ciro Hurtado: Acoustic Guitar. Jimmy Haslip: Electric Bass. John Pena: Electric Bass. Leroy Ball: Electric Bass. Vinnie Colaiuta: Drums. Chester Thompson: Drums. Joey Heredia: Drums. Luis Conte: Percussion. Kevin Ricard: Percussion. Jim Miller: Percussion. Louis Price: Lead vocal. Monalisa Young: Background vocal. Maxi Anderson: Background vocal. Walt Fowler: Flugelhorn.
Tracks: Wildflower; Soul Seduction; Tryst (Secret Lover); Afterglow; Forbidden Love; My Heart's Desire; Can't Say Good-bye; Alone Again; Europa.
Personnel: Sonya Jason: Alto and Sopranino Saxophones. Rick Lindroos: Keyboards and lead vocals. Tom Powers: Keyboards and background vocals. Eric Cortright: Keyboards. Chris Gough: Kurzweil Strings. Tracy Williams: Guitar. Donny Dean: Guitar. Jim Simmons: Electric bass. Bob Warren: Drums. Keith Johnson: Percussion. Ben Taylor: Percussion. Jeff Fields: Flugelhorn. Manny Simo: Lead vocal. Giselle Fox: Background vocals. Pam De Cosmo: Background vocals. Byron Hopkins: Tenor saxophone. Fred Boyd: Bass trombone. Jim Henry: Screech trumpet.
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Willing to teach:
What is Sonya Jason's educational background and teaching experience? Sonya has studied privately with ten different music teachers, beginning with nine years of classical piano lessons from the age of 4 and learning saxophone from the age of 10. By the time she graduated from college majoring in music performance and arranging, she had earned eighteen separate awards for outstanding musicianship from such institutions as the International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE). She won the Phil Woods Scholarship to Berklee College of Music in Boston, the top musical university in the country, and graduated summa cum laude in 1985 after passing tough proficiency exams on saxophone, flute, and clarinet. Sonya began teaching privately immediately upon graduation and was a staff instructor at Milano Music in Scottsdale and Phoenix AZ, Killeen Music in Burbank CA, Santa Monica Music in Santa Monica CA, and Manor Music in Pacifica CA. She has taught in the San Francisco Bay Area since April 1999. What is her teaching philosophy? 1) Most people are not studying to become professional musicians; the point of lessons is to enjoy learning to play music and gain a sense of accomplishment. 2)Mistakes are not bad; they simply indicate something to be learned. 3)Consistency over time produces results. How much does it cost? Beginning and Intermediate students pay $35 for a 30-minute weekly lesson. Advanced students pay $67 for a 60-minute weekly lesson. Payments are made once every twelve weeks on a tuition basis. An additional Registration and Materials Fee of $40-$60 is due once a year and covers all music books and sheet music. What days and times are available? Lessons may be scheduled Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday afternoons between 2pm and 8pm. You may choose the available time slot that is most convenient for you. Where do I go for lessons? Sonya teaches at her music studio located in Moss Beach, California, halfway between Pacifica and Half Moon Bay (approximately 6 miles from either city). How do I sign up? Call Sonya Jason at (650) 728-8002 today!
More than a Clinician, she is an effective and versatile Music Coach. Each presentation is customized to inform and inspire its unique audience, whether it be a class of kindergartners exposed to instrumental music for the first time, a high school jazz band gaining confidence with soloing, or a garage band looking to make the move toward professional engagements. Just 60 to 90 minutes with Sonya will make a difference in reaching a new level of musical insight and ability. "Great Sound. Great Playing. Knowledgeable. Witty. Motivational. A great clinic and a wonderful treat for students to hear first hand from a successful working pro. Sonya brings the total package." -Dr. Jeff Eaton, Jazz Band Brass Coach, Mills High School, Burlingame CA Sonya Jason is an experienced clinician. Sponsored by the Arizona Commission on the Arts and the American Federation of Musicians, she traveled throughout Arizona in the 1980's presenting clinics and concerts at schools and small town centers. Her performances inspired school children in seven cities throughout Mexico as part of the Cervantino International Music and Arts Festival of 1990. This tour included a program entitled, "Encuentro con los Artistas," which provided a dialogue with teachers, students, cultural promoters and journalists. In the 1990's, Sonya was chosen as a Roster Artist for the Yamaha Corporation of America and was sponsored to speak at the International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE) Conference as well as numerous schools in the Los Angeles area. During her tours of Japan, she evaluated school band performances and conducted woodwind master classes with young Japanese musicians. In the new millennium, Sonya has been sharing her expertise with students in the San Francisco Bay Area. Performance clinics and music workshops have been presented at The Jazzschool in Berkeley, Will C. Wood High School in Vallejo, Mills High School in Burlingame, Tierra Linda Middle School in San Carlos, Cunha Intermediate School in Half Moon Bay, El Granada Elementary School and others. She is also called upon to travel throughout the US to perform and conduct clinics at music festivals, such as the 2006 Lamberton Jazz Festival in Minnesota, featuring 32 school bands annually from the Midwestern region. For K-4 elementary school children: Demonstration of woodwind instruments -- saxophone, flute, clarinet. Includes short performance with CD accompaniment. Backstage with a full band -- demonstration of horns, keyboards, guitar, bass, drums, percussion (size of group flexible). Live concert presentation includes explanation of various styles of music. For 5th and 6th grade beginning band students: Master classes of like instruments -- basic technique including breath support, embouchure, posture, and articulation. Backstage with a full band including live concert demonstration of various styles of music. For 7th and 8th grade intermediate band students: Master classes of like instruments -- instrumental techniques such as good tone production, intonation, projection, dynamics, and smooth fingering. Full band rehearsal coaching -- emphasizing listening, balance, dynamics, precise articulation, musical expressiveness, and reading rhythms. Jazz Band rehearsal coaching -- techniques to swing harder, articulate with a jazz style, balance with lead players, and begin to improvise solos. For high school advanced band students: Master classes for saxophone students -- coaching with contest or audition pieces and advanced performance techniques. Jazz Band rehearsal coaching -- locking in the "feel," projection and style of lead playing, musical intensity and dynamics, improvisational ideas. Rehearsal and concert performance with Sonya Jason as guest artist. For amateur bands or musicians seeking to become working professionals: Clarifying musical and business goals. Polishing the act. Promoting yourself and getting gigs. Handling business in a professional manner. What's the music business really like? All presentations include an opportunity to ask questions and get honest answers. "Sonya Jason presented a clinic to my middle school jazz band students and truly inspired them! They marveled at her playing and were impressed to hear her talents as demonstrated through her CDs. She willingly shared her ideas (in the language a middle schooler can understand!) and freely played improvised examples. Her comments were encouraging and helpful as she listened to blues solos rendered by the students. They opened up and were not intimidated! This was a very positive experience for my students!" -- Sara Lomax, Director of Music, Tierra Linda Middle School, San Carlos CA "A really great blend of theory and performance -- such a nice presentation! The kids got a lot out of it. We want to have her back again and again." -- Ken Crowell, Band Director, Mills High School, Burlingame CA "Sonya has such a great way of communicating with the students; just the right balance of technical jargon and playing examples. It was a treat to see them so enthralled with her presentation. They haven't stopped talking about it." -- Dr. Jeff Eaton, Jazz Band Brass Coach, Mills High School, Burlingame CA "Sonya Jason did a masterful job of engaging nearly a hundred of my middle school music students with her superb musical knowledge and instrument demonstrations. Discipline was not an issue because the kids in both jazz band and concert band were genuinely interested in what she had to say. I hope to have Ms. Jason as a regular guest at our arts magnet school." -- Doug Miner, Music Teacher/Visual and Performing Arts Chairperson, Bayside Middle School for the Arts and Creative Technology, San Mateo CA "We appreciated having Sonya Jason with us this year at the Lamberton Jazz Festival! We continue to hear great comments from schools with appreciation for her work with their students. Sonya is not only a fabulous musician, but a wonderful educator as well! She's very upbeat and knows how to tap into the needs of students and groups alike. We look forward to having her visit us again very soon!" -- Donna Larson, Lamberton Jazz Festival Coordinator and Director of Bands, Red Rock Central Schools, Lamberton, MN