SongVault Artist Profile
MASS -USA, United States
Soul / International
Born in the state of Virginia, soprano saxophonist Kingjames Bigelow, Jr.,- grew up in the city of Danville, just 45 minutes outside of Greensboro, North Carolina, just off the banks of the Dan river. Bigelow began playing the Clarinet and Tenor Saxophone at age nine, studying classical and symphonic music at Westmoreland Elementary School. His passion for different types of music led him to appreciate numerous gospel, blues, country, soul, funk, rock, and jazz musicians, including, the Sunday church gospel choir he heard on Sunday mornings at church; Mozart, Beethoven, BB king, Hank Williams, James Brown, Sly and the family Stone, Jimi Hendrix, Sidney Bechet, Miles Davis, Grover Washington, Jr. just to name a few. In his junior and senior high school years while playing in the concert band and marching band, he and a group of fellow classmates formed a soul-funk group called the Artistics, and began performing at nightclubs, colleges, dances, and stage shows throughout Virginia, North Carolina, and Washington D.C., becoming known as one of the hottest bands around that area, performing on shows with the likes of Bobby Blue Bland, Major Lance, James Brown, Cool &the gang and others.
After high school, Bigelow considered entering the military with dreams of becoming a commercial helicopter pilot, but on the suggestion of his music instructor Mr. Hickson, he continued his music studies, moved to Houston, Texas and entered Texas Southern University on a music scholarship, where his interest in jazz began. Performing with both the TSU jazz ensemble and The TSU Ocean of Soul marching Band, and being influenced by musicians such as, John Coltrane, Hank Mobley, James Moody, Duke Ellington, Sonny Rollins, and Arnett Cobb, he began searching and seeking what is known as the big Texas tenor sound in his own sound. After tiring of school, he left and began performing in many varying types of contemporary jazz funk groups, especially blues groups, which came natural for him, after having grown up in the south. Another style of music that had an influence on Bigelow was reggae, by way of Fred (Toots) Hibbert, the lead singer of the Jamaican band Toots and the Maytals, as kingjames recalls,`` I walked into a music store in Houston one afternoon, and the store had this music blasting, - After asking who’s music was playing they said Toots and the Maytals. “I loved the tight horn arrangements and that funky backbeat talked straight to my heart”. ``Call it irony or vibrational comma, two weeks later, I got a call to go on a national tour with Toots and the Maytals”. `` I learned so much from working with and watching Toots perform every night, priceless”. Kingjames decided to move back east to study at the Hartford Conservatory of Music, where he major in jazz and popular music, studying under renown saxophonist Jackie Mclean,after graduating, still not satisfied with his playing, he later attended and graduated with a BM&MM from The New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, wanting to concentrate more on orchestral writing- Kingjames majored in jazz performance, composition and orchestral arranging. This is where kingjames found his calling for soprano saxophone, studying under Jimmy Guiffre. (``It’s hard to explain but, it’s like the horn spoke to me”). Also, “I began getting a lot of work as a studio sideman during this time going back and forth from Boston to New York, I became more intrigued with that whole recording studio world.
Kingjames first hit the airwaves in 1989 playing on a song by Cathy Sledge a song called “Take Me to Love Again” by the New York producing team, The Characters. In 1990 Bigelow decided to take an important trip to Europe, with a group made up both American and European musicians, as part of a cultural exchange program. “Performing in places like Greece, France, and Switzerland was exciting, seeing how people positively responded to my sound over there; it opened my mind up to a whole new way of thinking about my approach to creating music. Always working to perfect his sound and music kingjames practiced, eight hours a day, every day from 1991 to January of 1994, in October of that same year kingjames made his debut concert, as a solo artist at Carnegie Hall in New York City, performing a program of classical, jazz, and popular music.
Bigelow says “I ‘ve been involved with a number of project efforts, my main objective now is to continue to write and record music, work hard on being the best musician I can be, and to continue to grow creatively, sounding my own voice, among the many voices that are out there, even though I love performing live and feeling that rush of taking a musical journey with an audience communicating through music is so wonderful, but for now, the goal is to keep the magic happening in the studio and continue to produce the best recordings that I can.”