Interview: Camille Thurman on super groups and this month at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola

Camille Thurman

News | Feb, 8th 2016

This month, Dizzy’s Club Coca-Colafavorite Camille Thurman will be hosting the Late Night Session every Thursday and Saturday night. We sat down with the talented saxophonist and vocalist—a runner-up in the 2013 International Sarah Vaughan Vocal Competition and two-time recipient of the ASCAP Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composers award—to learn about her time travel dreams, her all-time favorite jazz line-ups, and the mystical relationship between music and nature.

Jazz at Lincoln Center: What’s your most memorable performance?

Camille Thurman: Performing with the great Jon Hendricks of Hendricks, Lambert and Ross. I was floating the whole time because here I was scatting with one of the legends and each moment and phrase he sang had me on the edge. I was making music with Jon and I felt at home instantly.

JALC: You studied geological & environmental sciences in college. Does nature inspire your music? 

CT: Nature does inspire my music. When I was a child I used to listen to the radio and visualize the pitch of songs to the nature I would see around me at different times of the day or seasons; the sky and its color, the trees, the sun. Geological processes that occur in nature are similar to things we experience in life and music is about life; there are ebbs and flows, earthquakes, moments of calmness or eruptions in nature.

JALC: What’s the most fulfilling part of your job?

CT: The most fulfilling part of doing what I love is being greeted by audience members after a show and them telling me I touched their heart through my performance. Some people even approached me and said I made them cry tears of joy. That's what makes it so worth it!

JALC: Which acts this month at Jazz at Lincoln Center are you most excited to see?

CT: Freddy Coleat Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, the Christian McBride Big Bandin Rose Theater, and the Music of Dexter Gordon: A Celebrationat Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola.

JALC: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

CT: Sometimes it's okay to say no. You can't do everything. Some opportunities come and they're great and you may be 100% prepared for them but if it's not the right time or you feel in your heart that it is not where you need to be at that moment.

JALC: If you could live in any era of jazz, which would it be and why?

CT: I would live in the mid-50s to the mid-60s. I would love to have seen Sarah Vaughan, the Miles Davis Quintet, John Coltrane, Dexter Gordon, Nina Simone, and Ella Fitzgerald perform. To experience their sound in person, in a live setting, would be amazing! 

JALC: Is there an album that changed your life or had a big impact on you?

CT: Dexter Gordon's Gowas the first jazz album I ever heard and his sound inspired me to want to play the tenor saxophone. I was a teenager playing the tenor and was trying to figure out if this was something I wanted to do. When I heard his sound I heard strength, freedom, confidence, joy, and someone that was bigger than life. He inspired me and I knew from the moment I heard him I wanted to chase after playing like that! 

JALC: If you could form a supergroup of five musicians (alive or dead), who would be in it?

CT: Ahmad Jamal, Buster Williams, Lenny White, Sarah Vaughan, and George Coleman.

Camille will be hosting the Late Night Session every Thursday and Saturday this February at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola; doors open at 11:15pm. Artists include:

Mathis Picard – Feb 11 & 13

Dan Chmielinski – Feb 18 & 20

Sammy Miller & the Congregation Big Band – Feb 25 & 27 (Feb 27 is Late Night Dance Session)

Lucas Pino – March 3 & 5

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