How Jake Baxendale prepares to improvise by Sam Hollis
American saxophonist Lee Konitz once said, “That’s my way of preparation – to not be prepared. And that takes a lot of preparation.”
Such is the philosophy of Jake Baxendale, a Pōneke saxophonist known for his work with the Richter City Rebels, cutting-edge jazz ensemble The Jac, and his own namesake quartet. His latest offering, Striking Moments, will land at Lovebite on the 11th of November.
A one-off performance presented by the Wellington Jazz Cooperative, Striking Moments will see Baxendale address the paradox Konitz proposes: how can one practise and prepare for improvisation while simultaneously aspiring to spontaneity, newness, and the unexpected? He will be joined by a brand-new band featuring trumpeter Jack Harré, bassist Phoebe Johnson, and drummer Rick Cranson.
Baxendale has been a regular face on New Zealand’s jazz scene for a decade. Post his graduation from the New Zealand School of Music – Te Kōkī, he spent much of his time developing as a composer and ensemble player but eventually grew eager to delve deeper into the art of improvisation. He enrolled at the University of Auckland to study with master saxophonist Roger Manins, and soon the wheels started to turn.
“My Master’s thesis dealt mostly with ways of practising for, and within, improvisation,” Baxendale says, revealing that the show’s title, Striking Moments, was a concept he explored during his tenure.
“It’s my name for those instances of pure inspiration that sometimes happen. I was trying to find a way to make more of those happen, to recognise, explore, and develop those moments.”