Exclusive with Will Holton, Buffalo’s Premier Saxophonist

“The First Day of Christmas Holiday Smooth Jazz Concert” Marks a Decade of Showcasing Extraordinary Local Talent!

This  Saturday December 1, Buffalo’s evening, premier saxophonist, Will Holton, will celebrate his I 0th year of showcas­ing extraordinary local talent when he hosts “The First Day of Christmas Holiday Smooth Jazz. Concert” at the Tralf Music Hall. Showtime is 8p.m. Doors open at 7.

Buffalo born and raised, Holton first picked up the sax at age 18. It was a kind of ‘love at first note.’ He ini­tially learned how to play in church. Plans to join the mil­itary after high school were put on the back burner.The rest is history, The extraordinarily talented young musician reflected on his career during a recent interview.   One of his most vivid memories? Standing at the top of the escalator at the Tralf Music Hall and playing solo at 19 while concertgoers waited to go inside …

Q: What should people expect at the show on Saturday?

A:Holiday cheer, high energy, soulful melodies in an awe­some atmosphere! Perform­ing will be world renown gui­tarist Tim Bowman, smooth as silk vocalist Wilcox from Rochester, NY, Buffalo Music Hall of Fame Inductee from Taylor Made Jazz – Brian freeman, The Buffalo Performing Arts Vo­cal Symphony under the di­rection of Karen Saxon and yours truly of course. Hosted by The Doctor James Corne­lius from Power 96.5 FM .

Q: You have produced the Christmas Show and other shows for nearly IO years, what do you attribute to the success of this event and other events each year?

A: Over the past IO years, I have had the pleasure of pre­senting over 20 concerts and a host of smaller events from Jon B., Alex Bugnon, Melisa Morgan, “Jazz Legend” Roy Ayers and Smooth Jazz icon Najee. My concerts the Love Cadenza, Soulful Christmas, Christmas to Remember and Night of Stars have been a platform provider to many of the rising artists in the re­gion and this brings me joy. Launching my debut album titled “Always” was a piv­otal point in my musical life. It was at the moment I felt a surge of accomplishment. Ten years before I did my first concert I performed in many smokey bars, small clubs, hotels, and later casi­nos as I cemented myself as a local artist.

One thing is certain about Buffalo NY music lovers, they are “real listeners” and if they like you they will come out -even in the coldest weather! So I would have to say having a “good product” is definitely a start. Branding is the other part, investing in yourself. It’s a continual process.Whether its the promotions team hit­ting the streets, purchasing billboards or radio spots, you have to invest in yourself.

I’m so thankful to have the support of the local news both print and television including Buffalo News writer Mary Kunz Goldman (my first time in the paper, 2004).The local radio has been very support­ive throughout the years as well. In 2007, 93.7 WBLK promotions director Kole Porter and program director Chris Reynolds gave me my first opportunity to open up for a national act “singer from incognito” – Maysa Leak and also “American Idol” Ruben Studdard. This was followed up by a great article by Buf­falo News reporter Brian Con­nelly. Ten years later since the release of 2 records, 3 nation­ally published songs, 3 pro­duced records for clients and 20+ concerts … all I can say is thanks to the artists, my band­mates, WNY & CNY and all the media outlets especially the continual support from the Buffalo News “Gusto” editor Toni Ruberto and owner of Challenger Community News Al-Nisa Banks.

Success … I don’t really pay attention to that. I’m thankful but I desire more than a suc­cessful show or a successful album. I desire a successful career.I know it sounds cliche but hard work does pay off. Try not to ever become com­placent. Don’t be detoured.

Q: You’ve helped many musi­cians over the years in many ways. Who have you helped and what has that experience been like?

A: As I have helped others they have helped me. That’s the way I look at it – as a branding liaison or musical guide. Tim Webb, Deshawn DRay Jackson, Delvin Payton and others have had their first secular performances through my band. Drummer Daniel Powell (dp on drums) started playing in my band when he was just 15 years old (now 34), Rod Bonner (RB3) was 14 years old (now 27) these guys have worked hard to create their own brands but before they started touring the world with Najee, Mar­sha Ambrosia, Eric Benet and Will Downing we played many nights of small intimate rooms.

I watched out for them being underage professional musicians. The talent they possessed then was so unique and now legendary around the nation. I was fortunate to be a connector. That’s my gift. To­gether we produced my first record, aided me in my first worldwide publishing place­ments and so much more. I’m ever grateful to them and I know they feel the same. I worked for almost a decade for my friend/ Multi-Platinum recording artist saxophonist -Najee as his brand developer, launching him on vari­ous social media platforms (myspace, youtube, facebook etc). I also designed web­sites (5), promotions, album photos, and video press kits -1 have done the same for art­ists here in Buffalo. Branding is a passion of mine.

Q:How would you character­ize the state of jazz today and where does smooth jazz.fit in? A: Jazz is being fused now more than ever with pop, hip-hop, rock, r&b, and soul. Snarky Puppy, Corey Henry & The Funk Apostles, Robert Glasper are prime examples. Their musical DNA comes from Herbie Hancock, Jazz Crusaders and Miles Davis (post-bop works). As far as smooth jazz, its a very small contributor to yearly sales. It’s hard to say where it fits in but I do believe creation will con­tinue. I do not consider myself a smooth jazz artist. J n the words of the legendary Duke Ellington “Its all Music.”

Q: What have you learned playing before audiences?A: As a performer I have learned ·’play your heart out” whether its for 50 or 5,000. Every artist has great night and not so great nights. Know your audience and cater to them. Thank God for the blessings of expansion.

Q: What music do you listen to and what attracts you to an art­ist?

A:My music choice is slightly different than what people may think … saxophonist Michael Brecker is my favorite. His musi­cal versatility from Funk, R&B and Straight Ahead music was just unparalleled. l also like saxophonists James Carter, Bob Berg, Chris Potter, and Ernie Watts. All are versatile players. When you listen to these giants you can hear the relationship. The connection. VERSATILITY, education, consistency are key to success.

Q:Any advice to young artists coming up?

A: Create your own opportunity. Don’t wait to be called for work! Invest in yourself.
Have the vision and execute!
Event: The First Day of Christmas
Date : Saturday December I, 2018
Time: 8pm
Where: TralfMusic Hall 622 Main Street, Buffalo – NY Tickets Available: Doris Records, Ticketmaster and Tralf Box Office
Reserved Tickets Prices : – $20 to $40