Jazz major clinches No. 1 saxophonist title

Junior jazz studies major Danny Janklow, a California native, was recently named top saxophone jazz soloist in North America and awarded $1,500.

Junior jazz studies major Danny Janklow, a California native, was recently named top saxophone jazz soloist in North America and awarded $1,500.

In December 2009, Danny Janklow, a junior jazz studies major, applied to compete in the North American Saxophone Alliance’s 2010 jazz performance competition. Artists from all over North America sent in samples of their work. Janklow and four other applicants were chosen to fly to Georgia, where they played before a panel of judges.

The five saxophonists played three songs, each with an accompanying rhythm section that consisted of a pianist, drummer and bass player. After he impressed the judges with a rendition of the required piece, “Alone Together” by Arthur Schwartz, Janklow was named the top saxophone jazz soloist in North America and awarded a $1,500 prize.

Janklow attributed his confidence and success to honesty.

“I feel like if I just present who I am in every situation, if you’re honest with yourself and other people, you can’t go wrong, regardless of who’s judging or listening. You’re always going to be successful in your own right if you’re yourself at all times. That’s what my confidence stems from,” Janklow said.

In addition to “Alone Together,” Janklow played Victor Young’s “My Foolish Heart” and Hank Mobley’s “This I Dig of You,” which he said reflects his affinity for swinging old-school-style jazz music from the genre’s most flourishing era.

When he was 12 years old, Janklow began playing the alto saxophone. Over time, he picked up the tenor saxophone, clarinet and flute, but the alto saxophone was where Janklow found his niche. Janklow said his favorite setting to play is in a quintet.

“I love playing with a rhythm section. I love playing and blending with a trumpet,” he said.

“Early on, I liked the sound of smooth jazz. It was something I was exposed to. I started learning about Charlie Parker, Cannonball Adderly, John Coltrane, Phil Woods – the early guys that really made an impact on the saxophone. That really helped me study jazz because I was so inspired by their spirit. The way they presented their music, it’s really beautiful,” he added.

As a junior at Agoura High School in California, Janklow was recruited by Temple Director of Jazz Studies Terell Stafford, who visited to clinic the jazz band there.

“When I first heard him, I was impressed with his mature concept, sound and attitude. I was thrilled when he made his decision to come to Temple,” Stafford said. “I have seen his growth as a person and player, and I am honored to play, hear and hang out with him any opportunity I get.”

Stafford’s visit was through the Essentially Ellington Program, an educational resource connecting mentors to young jazz musicians all over the country. Every year, the program sends extensive educational materials to high school bands all over the U.S. and Canada. Students and educators are granted access to teaching guides, monthly newsletters and scholarship opportunities. Students are given the opportunity to perform at annual competitions and a festival at New York’s Lincoln Center, an opportunity awarded to Janklow.

After the jazz clinic, Terell and Janklow kept in contact. When it came time to start applying for colleges, Terell helped Janklow earn a full scholarship to Temple.

“The education I’ve received here has far exceeded my expectations – musically, spiritually and personally. I’ve learned a lot about everything. I’m so grateful to be a part of the program. I’m always going to be proud to be a Temple student,” Janklow said.

Janklow plans to go to New York to become a professional musician after college.

“Music is my life. It’s a celebration of the human spirit,” Janklow said. “I’m very passionate about it. Nothing can really get me down when I know I have a way to express myself.”

Doanh Nghiem can be reached at doanhnghiem@temple.edu.

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