The first time I met one of Milwaukee’s musical forces was in a coffee shop after he just came from biking fifteen miles from work. He looked at me and smiled while shaking my hand gracefully. Instantly feeling comfortable with this kind stranger, he introduced himself to me as Jay Anderson.
Anderson is a Milwaukee native and currently resides in the Riverwest neighborhood. Anderson is a talented saxophonist that works with over 20 different Milwaukee bands such as New Age Narcissism, New Boyz Club, The Aluar Pearls to the Stomata Jazz Trio, Klassik, Webster X and Lex Allen and many more including his recent band Foreign Goods. These bands dabble in multiple different genres including hip hop, jazz, psychedelic, latin, and folk rock but never surrender their own musical influences making these collaborations quiet a dynamic sound.
It all started for Anderson when he was in fourth grade at Hartford Elementary School. Jay was drawn to the saxophone when a police officer, who was also an instrumentalist, was introducing and playing a line of different instruments for the students. Jay was hooked on the sax from that moment on.
With his instrument in hand he started exploring music and often pays respects to greats such as Ravi Shankar, John Coltrane, and Ms. Amy Winehouse, who he also salutes for her stage presence and musical ability. For Anderson, he connects his music not only to dancing but to his spirituality, so in respect to never categorizing himself musically besides psychedelic, he creates an ethereal environment for himself and everyone that cares to share in it with him. This created high hopes for Anderson to start a new musical revolution within Milwaukee.
“We totally got lost in being cerebral with our music and so you don’t see enough young people going places to actually dance. You totally see people getting super hammered and then doing the bump and grind which is totally respectable however you don’t see anyone going to see for the lack of a better word acoustically inspired dance music,” Anderson said. “So I really want everyone to dance and to go home singing the lyrics, I want them to be exhausted, I want them to come to the show, I just want to do everything.”
Anderson touched on staying very positive and for musicians to remember the seriousness of their work because of the critical spot where Milwaukee could really push the city forward musically. There is a city-wide resurgence where people are coming back out to see and appreciate live music for what it is which Anderson does not only acknowledge but strives to keep forging ahead.
“I just want to embrace our new brothers and sisters in our communities and for everyone to be chill. My thing is so much bigger than music, I really want a sociocultural engrained revolution in a super small area like if I could turn Riverwest into Haight Ashbury then I could die super happy that’s pretty much the point,” Anderson said, “I want to be John Coltrane and Andy Warhol and Malcom X at the same time and then turn Riverwest into Haight Ashbury and then I would retire and then I’ll go move to Jamaica and not talk to anyone ever again I’ll just live on a mountain, and turn off my phone and I’ll just probably fake my death to be honest.”
So if you share a strong sense of community and art you will find comfort among Anderson and whomever he is performing with but you will also get a glimpse of the beauty this city has to share.
Make sure to catch Jay live on Thursday, September 24 at 9:00 p.m. at Mad Planet with his band Foreign Goods and other Milwaukee artists Bo Triplex & His Beautiful Band and King Courteen.