Berklee Today: Tips from a Road-Tested Bebopper

By 
Mark Small
December 25, 2011
Greg Abate
Photo By Francesco Scipioni

Rhode Island-based saxophonist, flutist, and jazz composer Greg Abate '71 has enjoyed a busy career as a jazz sideman and headliner for more than three decades. He averages 150 nights a year on the road playing in several European countries and throughout the United States. Abate plays modern and hard bop, and in 1991—after years of touring with the Ray Charles Orchestra and then the Artie Shaw Orchestra—launched his solo career.

His auspicious recorded debut, Live at Birdland, features Rufus Reid (bass), James Williams (piano), and Kenny Washington (drums). Evolution, from 2004, garnered four Grammy nominations. He has released a dozen discs to date, including his latest, Wave Street Sessions, coproduced by Dr. Herb Wong (visit gregabate.com for a full discography).

In addition to performing, Abate gives clinics around the world and is an adjunct professor of jazz studies at Rhode Island College. He endorses Conn-Selmer woodwind instruments. Below he shares insights gained from performing, teaching, and recording.

Did your work with some of the greats in jazz help get your solo career off the ground?

I've gotten to play with a lot of the great cats that brought the music to where it is today, and that really set the wheel in motion for me. I've played with James Moody, Kenny Barron, George Mraz, Dave Liebman, Richie Cole, Mickey Roker, Red Rodney, Bob Cranshaw, Barry Harris, Nick Brignola, and so many more...

Read more about Greg Abate in Berklee Today.