Sopot Jazz Festival 2018 - an interview with Lauren Sevian

Marta Jundziłł

When and why have you chosen baritone as your main instrument?

When I was in my senior year of high school I started to switch over, and then completely switched over in college. It felt to me that the baritone saxophone fit me perfectly, it was my true voice.

When you were a teenage girl, practising saxophone in the school, have you ever imagined, that one day you’ll become a professional sax player?

I always hoped I would, initially I thought I would be a full time teacher but then I was encouraged to go to music conservatory. I did know when I was 16 this is what I wanted to do as a career, to be a performer.

Roxy Coss, a great sax player, recently told me that women are under- hired as jazz musicians. Why is it like that? What do you think about this disproportion?

I think there are several reasons, but the main thing I’ve discovered over the years is that some men aren’t comfortable working around other women-they feel like they can’t act like themselves. I think its sad really because at the end of the day we’re just people, and as musicians, we’re all trying to achieve the same thing.

Wheter we like it or not, jazz world still belongs to men. What is your strategy against women’s discrimination in a jazz education and later, in proffesional life as a musicians?

I try to be proactive in what I do and how I represent myself. Currently I’m directing an all female high school big band at Jazz at Lincoln Center. I believe that this mentality of the “boys club” starts very young and in the classroom. If these young women continue to see women playing and teaching that will encourage them to continue on as well. Its also important to put more women who can play in higher positions of power at universities. I also emphasize to be always working on your craft as an artist, because at the end of the day, no one can take that away from you.

Do you feel that during last years there’s been a change in a men’s attitude to women in jazz world? What has been changed?

I do feel as if there has been a significant shift, I’m definitely seeing more and more female instrumentalists performing as leaders at major jazz festivals
and holding residencies. I’m also seeing more all female projects being promoted.

Recently as LSAT you’ve won Made In New York Jazz Competition. It is a very modern, high- tech competition. What do you think about this formula?

Will the first prize help you with your future plans? What are they? What the first prize means to you, actually? I think winning any kind of competition is very helpful in terms of exposure, and getting yourself out there as a name. Its an honor to win any competition. Its also helpful in terms of making new connections and playing with new musicians.

Your last recording „Bliss” was based on your own compositions. Help journalists and tell us, how will you describe the style of your tunes?

Modern yet straight ahead jazz. There are elements of swing, hard bop, contemporary, and hip hop influences in my music as well.

It took almost ten years to release your second album. Why so long?

I had some major life changes and personal reasons for waiting so long. It also takes me a very long time to compose material, there were a couple years when I was barely writing.

On the „Bliss” you’ve invited Alexa Tarantino (the former member of LSAT). Please tell me about your cooperation and friendship.

Alexa and I became really good friends while we were doing this show with the Diva Orchestra (same show where Roxy and I became friends!) And we all clicked musically and personally. I’ve always liked the sound of alto/bari together, and we always have so much fun playing together, so we decided to form LSAT (our initials together). She’s become one of my best friends.

I’ve seen on your facebook account that you are a jogger. Why do you like this sport? Does jogging has something in common with playing sax?

Running gives me another kind of outlet as far as stress release goes, and I enjoy anything challenging. There are certainly parallels between running and music, you have to have discipline to engage in either. Being fit and healthy also enables me to perform better, and aids me while I’m on the road. There may not always be a gym where I’m going, but you can go running anywhere.