“I think the key to my success has always been diversity. I enjoy the variety. I’ve kept my fingers in a lot of different pies. I’ve always enjoyed playing a lot of different kinds of music. I love playing jazz as well as more contemporary stuff. I love playing rock, R&B and pop. I also love playing African and Brazilian music. I even like playing experimental stuff. It’s all equally valid,” he said.
I first heard Aaron Heick play alto saxophone when he was a member of the Berklee College of Music elite Recording Band under the direction of Herb Pomeroy. His sound and ability on the horn left an impression on me that I still remember almost 25 years later. Only recently while reading some album credits did I come across his name since my days at Berklee. With a little internet searching, I found a small amount of information on Aaron. Miles Davis’ band member Adam Holzman’s site had the most info on Aaron and Adam was kind enough to put me in touch with Aaron for this interview.
Aaron, some of your greatest exposure has come from working with pop, rock and R&B artists. Cyndi Lauper, Carly Simon and Chaka Khan are three I can think of right now. They are three very diverse pop artists, each very unique. Are you mostly a pop/rock sax?
I think that is a fairly accurate description of ONE side of my career..
You toured with Chaka Khan for eight years or so. What was that experience like?
She’s just one of the most incredible singers I’ve ever heard in my life. When you hear a great musician up close, in person and over and over, that’s when your appreciation grows deeper. She has it all. She’s gifted with an amazing voice – an amazing instrument. It’s almost freakish what she’s able to do with it. On top of that, she just has amazing musical instincts. She really lives in the moment in the true spirit of a jazz musician. She doesn’t just fall back on a couple licks that she has. She’s truly creating something new all the time. Even after having played with her for years, she would do something that would turn my head.
What kind of venues did you play while touring with her? Did you play in larger concert halls or in more intimate settings?
A little of everything. We played the Blue Note in New York and Japan a few times. There were a lot of theaters and arenas and a lot of festivals which were pretty big venues. I think the largest thing we did was for about 80,000 people. It was in Johannesburg, South Africa. We played in a big soccer stadium for Nelson Mandella’s 80th birthday. It was pretty incredible.
….YOU CAN READ THIS COMPLETE INTERVIEW IN MAY/JUNE 2005 ISSUE OF SAXOPHONE JOURNAL. Contact dornpub.com for subscription information.
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© 2005 by Dorn Publications, Inc.
May/June 2005, Volume 29, No. 5