Internationally acclaimed saxophonist and composer Javier Arau made his national debut at age 14, conducting the Florida State University Wind Ensemble in a Washington, D.C. performance of his symphonic composition, Second Wind. By age 15, he had opened his own private music studio in his hometown of Sacramento, California, teaching saxophone, clarinet, and piano to local musicians, and writing theme and incidental music for local and syndicated radio. By the time Javier had graduated high school, he had significant experience as a composer and jazz saxophonist, having toured the world with various ensembles, including the Monterey High School All-Star Jazz Band, traded fours with Dizzy Gillespie on the main stage of the Monterey Jazz Festival, appeared as a guest artist on the Disney Channel’s Mickey Mouse Club, and more.
Javier enrolled at Lawrence University, in Appleton, Wisconsin, where he earned a Bachelor of Music degree in theory-composition and a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics. While at Lawrence, he intensively pursued four musical interests: classical composition (with Allen Gimbel), jazz composition (with Ken Schaphorst), jazz saxophone (with Tom Washatka and Woody Mankowski) and classical saxophone (with Steven Jordheim). As a member of the LU honors saxophone quartet, he won first place in the MTNA National Collegiate Chamber Music Competition. He also received Down Beat Student Music Awards in both jazz composition and jazz saxophone. At age 19, his transcription and analysis of Joe HendersonÕs Grammy award-winning solo on “Lush Life” was published in IAJE’s Jazz Educators Journal.
After Lawrence, Javier moved to Boston to study with saxophonists Jerry Bergonzi and George Garzone and composer/arranger Bob Brookmeyer at the New England Conservatory of Music. While at NEC, he received two more Down Beat Magazine awards for jazz composing and arranging. He received his Master of Music degree in jazz composition from NEC in May 2000, graduating with honors and distinction.
Other awards and honors Javier has received include the ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Award, an honorable mention for the IAJE Gil Evans Fellowship, and commissions and performances of his works from, among others, the legendary Benny Golson, David Garibaldi (Tower of Power), and the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra (Kent Nagano, dir.). His works for saxophone have been commissioned by Joe Luloff, Steven Jordheim, Janet Planet and Planet Sax, and more. He is an active member of the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop, directed by Jim McNeely, and has written for many genres, including works for jazz orchestra, symphony orchestra, concert band, jazz singers, sax quartet and ensemble, jazz septet, concert choir, microtonal ensemble, contemporary ensemble, electronica, musical theatre, and songs for children.
Arau is commissioned regularly by college and high school band programs throughout the country. Commissions have included works for the Lawrence University saxophone ensemble (Appleton, WI), the CSU-Sacramento band program, the Walt Clark middle school concert band (Loveland, CO), the Rio Americano high school wind ensemble (Sacramento, CA), and the NEC Jazz Composers Big Band (Boston, MA). Other professional work has included colla- borations in musical theater, cabaret, and children’s theater; and film collaborations with cinematographer Anastas Michos, screenwriter Malia Scotch-Marmo and actress Alexis Dziena. Current projects include writing new works for jazz orchestra, concert band, and saxophone ensemble. His Crab Canon for Infinite Saxophones was premiered at Lawrence University in May 2007. Javier’s song, “A Hero’s Light,” a tribute to the victims of 9-11, was most recently arranged for solo voice and concert band by famed composer Claude Pichaureau was showcased by France’s Coups de Vents as one of 2007′s most notable concert band compositions. Javier’s works continue to be performed in new music festivals and music camps across the country. Several of his big band compositions and arrangements are published by UNC Jazz Press.
As a saxophonist, Javier performs regularly in New York City, playing concert, jazz, and popular music. He is the house saxophonist at St. Bartholomew’s Church, one of Manhattan’s premier classical music centers, and he has performed at a variety of clubs and halls, including Merkin Hall, the Knitting Factory, Detour, the Triad, the Remote Lounge, Donnell Library, and Siberia Bar. Javier has performed with the Euphonique Saxophone Quartet, Dead Cat Bounce, the Javier Arau New Jazz Quartet, and many other ensembles.
His most recent projects include the Javier Arau Jazz Orchestra, an 18-piece big band featuring many of New York’s brightest players. Javier’s children’s music is also used in the New York City public school curriculum. His school assembly program, “Javier’s Jelly and Jam Session,” teaches concepts of language development, jazz and improvisation to inner-city elementary schools.
Active as an educator, Javier actively maintains a private saxophone and piano studio, and he enjoys teaching students of all ages and abilities. Arau was the sabbatical replacement for Steven Jordheim at Lawrence University in 2003 and 2007, when he held visiting lecturer positions teaching classical and jazz saxophone, saxophone quartet, and an interdisciplinary seminar on Schenkerian theory as applied to jazz improvisation. He also formerly taught advanced jazz theory and jazz ensembles at the New England Conservatory and has served as a guest clinician/composer/conductor at school band programs in California, Wisconsin, and Massachusetts. Arau has written several books on music theory and pedagogy and has served as a contributor to Jazz Educators Journal and Yankee Magazine.
Also an active author, Javier has been researching and developing ways to teach jazz harmony and to demystify the improvisational process. His most recent book, a practice manual for saxophonists, 365 Ways of Practicing Major Scales in Thirds, was published in January 2008 and is available in bookstores nationwide. Javier is currently writing a book for early improvisers, entitled Jazz Improvisation Made Easy: a player’s guide to essential jam session standards, and he has been invited to present his latest paper, Jazz Line and Augmented Scale Theory, at the 2008 International Jazz Composers Symposium in Tampa, Florida. His Augmented Scale Theory helps bridge the gap between the chromatic tendencies of modern jazz and the diatonic roots of traditional jazz harmony, enabling the improviser to play creatively over such challenging material as Coltrane’s “Giant Steps” and Wayne Shorter classics. For more information on Javier, his compositions, performances, and writing, visit www.javierarau.com.