Gates, James B., Jr.
Director of Jazz, Instructor
Location: Davis Hall, Room 114
James “Saxsmo” Gates is one of Richmond’s premier musicians. As a saxophonist, Saxsmo has a flaming passion that is evident in every note played. Undeniable passion along with his bell-like tone quality ignites a fire that is sure to light the hearts and souls of all true jazz enthusiasts.
Saxsmo is a Richmond native and graduated from John F. Kennedy High School in 1978. He attended Virginia State University and later transferred under a full scholarship to the prestigious Berklee College of Music. He received his Bachelor of Music degree from Berklee in 1984. Also with a full scholarship he received his Masters in Jazz Studies at North Carolina Central University 2011. Saxsmo is now the Director/Coordinator of the Dr. Billy Taylor Jazz Studies Program at Virginia State University. Gates has played and traveled extensively in the United States and abroad performing with such notable artists as Joe Kennedy, Jr., Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry, Walter Davis, Jr., Walter Bishop, Jr., The Temptations, Dianne Reeves, Jimmy Cobb, Hod O’Brien, Larry Willis, Roberta Flack, Marvin Gaye, Larry Carlton, Billy Kilson, Jeff Lorber, Alex Bugnon and The Main Ingredients.
Saxsmo credits the forefathers and Masters of Jazz for his musical foundation and passes it along every chance he gets by serving as a teacher and instructor of jazz.
Saxsmo released his first CD in August 1993 entitled “Yes I Can” and has release his newest CD “C’Mon Over To My House”. Saxsmo’s Brand New Exciting Recording called “It’s Time” on the 804jazz Label featuring the great Fred Wesley has not only made the Smoothjazz.com Top 50 Indie Charts #45 and was also Nominated for this year 2009 Grammy Awards for Best Contemporary Jazz Album of the Year # 43
Saxsmo’s present recording was released January 1, 2013 call “Gates Wide Open” with many of his best friends such as Fred Wesley, Freddie Fox, and Walter Beasley. Nominated twice for this year 2013 Grammy Awards for Best Arranger and Best Soloist (# 18 on the Smooth Indie Charts). 804Jazz Release of the Recorded Single and Video “Together We Can Make It” September 8, 2017 Nationally and International!