On a pair of new albums, saxophonist Andy Suzuki finds ways to combine his life's passions - jazz, math and astronomy. On the first release, Prime, Suzuki's love for number theory takes center stage. For this concept record, each song is inspired by a different prime number - 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13 and 17. For example, the song 'Good Things...' (based on 3) was written in 3/4 time with three beats per measure; each musical phrase lasts three measures and each phrase is repeated three times. "The challenge was to write songs that sounded natural and imaginative, not like sterile math projects. I've always been intrigued by the parallel between math and music. In math, prime numbers are unpredictable - they don't follow a pattern - and yet these irregular building blocks are used to create a uniform number line. Music is the complete opposite. It is an orderly system that's used to create freedom and emotion.' With his current project, The Wanderers, Suzuki explores the celestial. On this eight-song release, each song conjures a musical representation of each planet in our solar system. "I'm the type of person who likes to see things for myself so I bought a telescope a few years ago to look at the universe. Ever since, I've been fascinated by the heavens.' During his nearly 25-year career as a professional musician, Suzuki has played a wide range of genres, but he is primarily a jazzer who specializes in traditional, straight-ahead jazz, modern jazz and jazz fusion. He has performed with the legendary Dave Brubeck, "traded fours" with Al Jarreau on "Take Five," jammed on "Autumn Leaves" with Chick Corea and recorded in the studio with a long list of talented musicians. Born in Finland, Suzuki says his travels as a youngster helped open his ears to a world of music. After a year in Finland, his family spent a few years living in New York City, Philadelphia and New Jersey. He then moved to Japan for three years where he attended kindergarten and grade school and began taking organ lessons. "Living in Japan, I was surrounded by traditional Japanese music and that had a huge impact on me. My family also had a huge influence on shaping my musical tastes. My mother is Finnish and she passed along a deep appreciation for Finnish folk music while my father gave me his love for jazz and classical. All of these diverse experiences inspired my love of world music, which is something I try to incorporate into my playing and writing." When he was 16, Suzuki moved out of his parent's house and into an apartment 50 miles away so he could attend a high school with a renowned jazz program. During his senior year, he auditioned for the music program at Cal State Northridge and not only earned a scholarship, but also a spot in the school's advanced classes - a rare honor for a freshman. Shocking his family and friends, Suzuki dropped out of college after his first day. "I started out in the top class and felt like there really wasn't much room for me to grow. Besides, I wanted to play music, not sit around doing biology homework daydreaming about playing music." Instead of moving back in with his parents in Washington, Suzuki decided to stay in L.A. where he would stand or fall on his own. He struggled for several years - even living in his car for a few months - but he trusted in his talent and determination. He jammed with other musicians constantly and gigged when he could while working on his own music. "I didn't get a college diploma, but I still got an education," he says with a laugh. "All the hard times were worth it because they made me stronger, smarter and a better musician. I wanted a challenge and I got it." Suzuki's self-titled debut emerged in 1999. The double CD showcases acoustic songs on the first disc and music with an electronic bent on the second. The adventurous yet accessible release features Suzuki playing soprano, alto, and tenor saxophones as well as clarinet, bass clarinet and flute. Recording with L.A.'s top jazz players, Andy Suzuki includes a mix of 21 Suzuki-originals. Around the same time, Suzuki began performing and recording with hit-making smooth jazz artist David Benoit. The two met at sea when Suzuki was playing with the popular jazz ensemble Kilauea on a jazz cruise. "After our regular set, we were improvising without our keyboard player when David jumped on stage in the middle of a tune and started jamming with us. A few weeks after the cruise he needed someone to fill in on sax and called me. Since then, I've played on four of his albums and toured all over the world with him." Five years later, Suzuki followed with Blue Perspective, a quintet album filled with straight-ahead jazz. 'I wanted to record in a live, natural setting, so we gathered around a really nice stereo microphone, without headphones, and played a couple of takes of each tune.' The record features eight cuts in the improvisational spirit of Miles Davis and John Coltrane with Suzuki's trademark compositional twists and turns. The title tune, 'Blue Perspective', is an unusal 20 measure blues form, while 'Jury Duty' is a 12-tone melody that speeds up! 'While this old school method of recording was challenging, the emotional essence of the music was truthfully captured.' "One unifying theme that runs through all of the music I do is change. I don't ever like doing the same thing twice."
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