Leader of the sax pack

Ace American saxophonist and composer Kim Waters, one of the musical attractions at this year’s Standard Bank Joy of Jazz at Newtown, wants to experience the true African vibe. He may even take some ideas back with him for a new album next year.

Waters, who celebrates his 20th year in music, is making his second visit to these climes. He said in a telephone interview: ‘I have been to South Africa once, going to Cape Town. I have never performed here but I’m looking forward to coming out and it will be a great thing to be sharing my music with your country.”

Asked what audiences can expect, Waters said: ‘We are going to mix the music up with contemporary jazz, songs that were hits for us as well as showcasing the traditional overlays of our solos and hits that I am sure most people are familiar with.”

Kim maintains a hectic schedule juggling such diverse projects as The Sax Pack (with fellow saxophonists Jeff Kashiwa and Steve Cole) and his Streetwize and Tha’ Hot Club CDs which are known for their clever re-workings of the hottest hip hop, R&B and reggae hits on the radio.

His recent release is Love Stories, a collection of love inspired anthems that explore the deep range of emotions love can evoke.

On it, a special highlight is his version of Michael Jackson’s This is It, which was his way of paying homage to the King of Pop. ‘I’m a Michael Jackson fan,” he confesses. ‘Most of his songs are well covered by other artists and when I heard this one I knew I wanted to record it on my album.”

Kim attributes his musical longevity to a number of factors: ‘I think it is a matter of constantly trying to develop new ideas. Music is a never ending process. We continue to learn and I try to incorporate new things in my music, and also do things I think people will enjoy. I try to stay true to the people and to dedicate myself to making great records.”

Music is all Kim Waters has ever done and he recalls how he first began mastering the saxophone at the tender age of 12. ‘I knew in my heart that I wanted to be a musician. I worked hard, I practised, and I did everything to stay in the business. I studied from the greats and I think this helped my career. It’s truly a blessing to do what you want in life and to have fun and make a career out of it.”

Kim has worked with icons of the music business. Born into a musical family, Waters admits his inspiration has come from such jazz luminaries as Duke Ellington, Herbie Hancock, George Duke, George Benson, Cannonball and Grover Washington.

A career highlight, he reveals, was spending two weeks of his life with Isaac Hayes when he sang on Kim’s sixth CD. ‘I had a chance to spend time with him and pretty much lived with him. I shared a lot of stories about the music business and what to do and what not to do. He taught me how to stay successful and that really helped ground me in my career.”

- Kim Waters performs at the Market Theatre as part of Standard Bank Joy of Jazz on Friday, August 27 and Saturday, August 28.

—Information supplied by Standard Bank Joy of Jazz

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