Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Spaulding, James Ralph
His musical training started early, as he came from a musical family in his place of birth Indiana (his father was a professional musician who played the guitar and led his own big band, traveling throughout the country). While attending grade school, he began playing a bugle, taught himself to play trumpet, and (with the help of a friend who taught him the fingering), the saxophone. At the age of 10, James made his professional debut playing saxophone in and around Indianapolis with a group of his peers, in a rhythm & blues band which they organized. After entering high school, he studied clarinet and flute, and was the drum major of the high school band. He left high school at the end of one year and joined the army. From 1954 to 1957, he played in service bands. After his discharge, he settled in Chicago where he performed in clubs leading his own group, and had a stay with the Sun Ra Orchestra. He also furthered his flute studies there at the Chicago Cosmopolitan School of Music.
In 1962, he arrived in New York City and made his first recording as sideman on a Freddie Hubbard album entitled Hub Tones on the Blue Note label. He also played with Randy Weston and Max Roach. In 1963, he met and married his wife, Jean Wheeler. They have three daughters, Gemma, his step daughter and their two daughters, Gina and Yvonne. In the late 60s, the family moved to New Jersey where James attended school under the GI Bill at Livingston College, Rutgers University; where he taught flute as an adjunct professor. While attending Livingston, he became a member of the Ellington Orchestra, but subsequently left the band and returned to complete his studies. His original music, a suite entitled "A Song of Courage" was performed by him with full orchestra and choir at the Voorhees Chapel at the Rutgers University campus, from funds awarded him by the National Endowment for the Arts. In 1975, he received a Bachelor's Degree in Music.
Spaulding has been a member of the Freddie Hubbard Quintet, The
Sun Ra Arkestra, The Duke Ellington Big Band under the leadership of Mercer Ellington, The David Murray Octet & Big Band, and had a short stay with the World Saxophone Quartet, to name a few. On July 30,2001, he performed at the Saxophone Summit Harlem Celebration, marking the opening of Former President Bill Clinton's new office on 125th Street. In 2002, February, 22, he was one of the Judges at the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition. During his forty-five year plus career span, the range of his performance experiences extends nationally and internationally, from the concert stage, to jazz clubs, colleges, street fairs and at such influential venues as the Montpellier and Saalfelden, Austria Jazz Festivals.
James Spaulding plays the Legacy of Duke Ellington (1976) Storyville label; Gotstabe' A Better Way (1990) Muse; Brilliant Comers (1988) Muse; Songs of Courage (1992) Muse; Blues Nexus (1994) Muse; The Smile of the Snake (1997) High Note; Blues Up & Over (2001) Speetones Music; Round To It (2002) Speetones Music; Down With It (2006) Future & Marge
Freddie Hubbard: Hub Tones (1962) Blue Note Records
He has been recorded on over 100 albums, with legendary musicians ranging rrom Louis Armstrong to Sun Ra
For many years he was among the busier sideman and his unique alto saxophone style can be heard on recordings now considered classics. He appeared on the Blue Note label with artists such as Wayne Shorter, Duke Pearson, Grant Green, Hank Mobley, Stanley Turrentine, Horace Silver, Sam Rivers and McCoy Tyner. He can also be heard on Atlantic records with Max Roach and Richard Davis. (see discography on website)
Jazz Reference Books: The Encyclopedia of Jazz in the Seventies
by Leonard Feather and Ira Gitler; The New Grove Dictionary of
Jazz edited by Barry Keinfeld; The Illustrated Encyclopedia of
Jazz by Brian Case and Stan Britt; A Blue Note Label A
Discography by Cuscuna and Michel Ruppli; and others, to name a few.
Cadence Magazine, Vol. 14, email@example.com ; HotHouse Magazine, May 2007, p32; allaboutjazz.com (Clifford Allen, February 11,2004) Radio Interviews: WBAI (Louis Reyes Rivera, 99.5 FM) WKCR (89.9 FM - 2 interviews); WLIB (M. Hotep Gary Bird, 11.90 FM)