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Saxophonist Carol Sudhalter can’t stop singing the praises of senior members of the jazz community including octogenarians David Amram, Rudy Lawless, Sarah McLawler, Roy Haynes and Barry Harris. ‘I can’t think of anyone in that age range who’s not playing something meaningful. They have the mastery and depth of thought to say something that has some meaning, with tasty, well-chosen notes and phrases.” A milestone birthday coming up in a few months may have heightened Sudhalter’s interest in learning from the older set. “Longevity is lasting longer now, so how do you absorb the notion of living to 90 or 100 unless you have role models? You see them going about their gigs as if it’s no big deal – thinking about chords, practicing breathing – it’s very inspiring, watching what they do. Having these role models is what’s going to keep me going.” Sudhalter’s habit of thinking ahead and her aptitude for what she calls “Plan B thinking” may be what led her to form the Astoria Jazz Band in 1986. In those days the only big band in Queens was a nostalgia band, she says. “What they were playing was beautiful, but not what I wanted. I decided Queens needed another big band, so I started one.” Describing her saxes, Sudhalter says, “The baritone is such a lyrical instrument; I love to play it, especially in big bands. Tenor has a more male than female quality; baritone is more female. I call my baritone ‘Betty.'” Catch Carol (and Betty) and the Astoria Big Band at the Steinway Reformed Church on Nov. 3.
by Elzy Kolb, Hot House Magazine, November 2012