Performer Profiles: Adrian Cunningham

What/who are your musical influences?
If I HAD to pick a top five-
Sidney Bechet
Eddie Daniels
Lester Young
Artie Shaw
Louis Armstrong
But the list is so long! Ask me again next week..

What have been your musical highlights/accomplishments over the last year?
Having released an album through Arbors records that is doing really well. It was such an enjoyable project start to finish.
Joining Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks as the leader of the sax section. An incredible butt-kicking education for me!!
Having played with Wynton Marsalis last December.
And generally being able to travel the world performing festivals with this great music..

Where do you see Traditional Jazz in today’s musical landscape? Its’ influences & importance?
There is such a resurgence of swing/traditional music in the dance scene-especially in Europe. I think this is so important- bringing the music back to its original design-for dancing! The future looks good..

What separates the North Carolina Jazz Festival from other festivals that you have participated in?
There is a real sense of community at the festival- amongst the performers, with the volunteers and organizers, and also with the patrons. I think one of the strengths of this music is the personal connection it has with its audience. Also the musicians are well chosen to fit this environment-a minimum of egos! Everyone is a team player.

What similarities does the NCJF have with other festivals that you have participated in?
A passion and dedication to bringing traditional and mainstream jazz to ears both old and new.
What has been your most memorable moment performing on stage?
Not sure if this is an appropriate answer- but I worked a few times playing sax on stage at a strip club in Sydney! (Don’t worry, I had my clothes on). I would be up there on stage playing while the girls did their thing. The funniest part was this the girls were putting dollar bills down MY pants! It’s a tough life..

Anything else you would like to add?
I’m a man of minimal words-just give me a sax and I’ll do the talking!
Looking forward to 2016