Artist Case Study
I created my artist case study on Bob Reynolds, a saxophonist, composer, and music educator. Bob writes in his bio that it’s a rare saxophonist who is as comfortable in a Rock arena as in an intimate jazz club. Bob Reynolds is a rare saxophonist. I reached out to Bob because he grew up in Jacksonville, Florida and we are both alumni of the same high school, Douglas Anderson. He’s an avid proponent of helping other young saxophonists navigate the world of the music industry and become better musicians especially through his vlog series on YouTube. Bob has worked with everyone from John Mayer, Usher, Snarky Puppy, Josh Groban, Willie Nelson and Nellie McKay. I admire the career path that Bob has chosen to follow because he is extremely versatile as a musician and refuses to be boxed in to one specific genre. Because of this attitude he has been able to perform at a high level in a multitude of different musical avenues. Besides being an incredible sideman he’s also a Grammy winning artist with 9 top selling solo albums to his credit. I conducted an email interview with Bob and he was happy to help and glad that I’m part of a class which addresses these issues for being a musician in 2019. Although he’s a busy fellow, he wanted to help and was not able to answer all of my questions but did provide me with numerous links to interviews and videos which answer these questions.
- What makes you and your work unique? As a saxophonist, Bob’s work is unique because he refuses to compromise with what he truly wants to say through his horn. Because of all of the diligent work he’s put in, he’s able to choose who he wants to work with and what kind of music he wants to play. He’s studied the from master recordings of jazz but did not stop there. His work in jazz informed his ability to step into any musical arena. He’s a proponent of keeping the spirit of jazz alive in the music he plays insofar as making sure that there’s always a conservation in the music driven by improvisation. He learned early on from his experiences in college and as a young player that playing in such a way that will just impress peers and teachers can possibly lead one down a path that boxes them into playing something that is in a way, ingenuine. Rather, Bob looks within to ask himself what kind of burning desire he has to play and what makes him pick up the horn repeatedly every day.
- Do you have a brand or artist statement? From his website “Reynolds’ records reflect his affinity for the jazz tradition at the same time as they display his skill with pop music. He makes the music he wants without compromise. For Reynolds, music is about communication with the listeners. One of his album titles, Somewhere in Between, suggests his ability to cross genres.” “Inventive. Unconventional. An instantly recognizable player with his own musical vision who still finds a way to fit in no matter what the situation. As a leader or a band member, Reynolds is focused on melody, connection, and emotion. Say it again: Bob Reynolds is a rare saxophonist.”
- Do you have a mission or vision? Bob’s mission is to inspire and help other musicians not only through his playing but through his vlog series. He is a passionate educator and in demand as a clinician. He co-founded an annual retreat for saxophonists and gives private mentoring online to students through his Virtual Studio. His vlog series shares pertinent insight on living in a large Metropolis such as Los Angeles being a musician and balancing his musical career with life and raising a family. He hopes to show that the path he’s laid out for himself is achievable through hard work and diligence.
- Do you have career goals laid out for the next 5-10 years? Ultimately, Bob wants to work and collaborate with guitarist Pat Metheny on a project whether it be his own album or one of Pat’s.
- What do you do and what are you doing? He’s geared towards maximizing his practice and ironing out as much as he can on the tenor saxophone. He realizes who he is as a musician and knows that he’s not the guy who gets called to play flute or clarinet because he wants to continue with his love for tenor. Bob is working as hard today in the practice room as he was when he first picked up the horn. He continues to expand his range of musical influences making sure to receive inspiration from as many genres as possible and views his taste based on a mood filter rather than a genre based filter. Bob wants to be able to do anything and everything so that he can choose and play with confidence.
- How are you connecting and building audiences and how do you market to them? First off, Bob is building his studio of musicians he teaches and his music serves as a platform to bring in more students anywhere from 15 and 16 year old students to people in their 50s and 60s learning to love playing the saxophone again. Bob has an incredible insight on how to make his music appreciated by a wide variety of audiences. Playing with John Mayer opened the door for him to be vunerable after studying jazz for so long he dispelled any preconceptions about having to play all the language of great jazz masters all the time so people would know that he could really play the saxophone. Rather, Bob is focused on playing with clear and concise melody with a great time feel which everyone can appreciate.
- Did you look at someone else’s career to make a path for your own and if so, what was it? Bob was actually initially interested in movie music. The saxophone fell into his lap because he wanted to play an instrument (any instrument) so he could make his own music for his home films like John Williams. He was gifted the saxophone by chance because his neighbor had one that their daughter used to play but never got touched anymore and so they said if Bob wants it, he could have it. For Bob, playing saxophone it was never about one particular person. He found a multitude of interests and people he admired and he was driven by wanting to be in that club. “Kenny G was my gateway drug. When I was thirteen and fourteen he was all over the radio and VH1. But soon I discovered Stan Getz and fell in love with his tone. Over the next few years the list got long: Sonny Stitt, Dexter Gordon, Cannonball Adderley, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Joe Henderson, Charlie Parker, Stanley Turrentine, Michael Brecker, Kenny Garrett, Branford Marsalis, Bob Mintzer, Kirk Whalum, Eric Alexander, Joe Lovano, George Garzone, Mark Turner, Seamus Blake…”
- How do you fund your work? For Bob, he knew that he would not make the majority of his revenue from solo albums. For him, his solo work was an investment in the longer-term picture. He knew that he would have to have other means of acquiring revnue such as being a sideman and playing with Snarky Puppy or John Mayer. Bob also funds a lot of his projects through his private lessons service and demand as a clinician.
- How did you initially get funding? Bob always felt ambivalence towards focusing entirely on his marketing campaign and social media presence. He understands the importance of it and there’s definitely a dichotomy between making sure that the product underneath (his music) is valuable and amazing in and of itself or else all the marketing in the world won’t hold water. His philosophy is to be so undeniably good at what he does that it can’t be ignored
- What networks or organizations do you belong to and which ones have helped you the most?
One of Bob’s most successful outlets has been through YouTube and the influence he’s had on other musicians and especially saxophone players. It has been a platform that has widely helped him expand his audience.