Damian J Sanchez

A Miami native by way of Pinar del Rio, Cuba, Damian J Sanchez remembers the “Magic City” amidst the 1990s onslaught of Cuban refugees and enduring his teenage years in one of Miami’s roughest neighborhoods, Little Havana. His musical journey commenced at the age of 12. He began by learning music theory before picking up an instrument with Jon A. Hamm at Citrus Grove Middle School and later guitar, piano, oboe, and saxophone from Mr. Hamm and band director, Carlos A. Perez. “It was a different time then, we were so focused on the music that there was no room for learning how to ride a bike or drive a car”, reminisces Damian J. From humble beginnings the musical prodigy diligently practiced making it all the way to the Miami-Dade All County Honors Music Festival in 1995 on piano and subsequently on the oboe and saxophone in high school years to follow. He attended Miami Senior High School for the first two years and was very dedicated to the Million Dollar Band however the pursuit of new musical horizons transferred him from his alma mater to Southwest Miami Senior High School for his junior year and eventually Miami’s PAVAC (Performing Arts Visual Arts Center) for his senior year. In 1999 he was chosen as the principle oboist for the orchestra as part of the Florida All-State Music Ensemble. From there he received
an invitation to attend a double reed seminar at the University of Tampa where he was offered a full scholarship on the oboe and english horn. He also met Dr. Daniel F Ross who would later make him a part of one of the country’s most prestigious oboe studios located at Arkansas State University with him as his teacher and mentor. Sanchez was also recipient of several academic scholarships as well as being named a 1999 National Hispanic Scholar (HSF) and thus ensuring his collegiate studies for the first four years in Jonesboro, Arkansas. He received his Bachelor of Music: Instrumental Performance on Oboe in 2004 Cum Laude with Honors. Also he was offered full assistantships to study in either Memphis, Tennessee or New Orleans, Louisiana however Dr. Jack Cooper and Dr. Michelle Vigneau were inspirational in finding his current skill set as a woodwinds master and thus he decided on the University of Memphis- Rudi E Scheidt School of Music where he received his Master of Music: Instrumental Performance on Oboe and Jazz Studies emphasis on Woodwinds in 2006.
Damian J was by then performing on Beale Street on a regular basis with such groups as Freeworld, Memphis Jazz Orchestra, BB King Band, Orquesta Symbiosis, and countless others freelancing as a reedman in Memphis, Tennessee and its surrounding area. He also had developed his own sound as the Damian J Latin Jazz Quartet. In 2008 Sanchez was one of the quarter finalists for the Thelonius Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition after touring extensively following his graduate studies with the United States Air Force Band of the West Jazz Ensemble and being featured as a special guest soloist. He had also been on tour with the Inner City All Stars Brass Band famous for their performance on Showtime at the Apollo as well as for backing up Erykah Badu. In 2007 Damian J began performing on the riverboats of America in the tradition of Louis Armstrong and Jack Teagarden. Seeing the mighty Mississippi from its muddy banks brought jazz history to life for him. The Columbia Queen had Sanchez traveling up to Oregon and exploring the Columbia River system on old time paddle wheel steamboats up and down the Pacific Northwest. Apart from his musical advancements Sanchez also enjoyed being in front of the camera, acting in two independent short films and one full feature independent film made in Memphis and Nashville between 2006 and 2008. He also composed the entire score to Ariadne’s Thread filmed in and around Nashville, Tennessee in 2007.
The next big step in his musical career however came in 2009 when Damian J was selected to become a part of the Glenn Miller Orchestra following a lengthy audition process. He played tenor saxophone, clarinet, and flute as well as served as stage crew and road management with the orchestra from March 2009 until January 2012 touring the United States, Canada, and Japan extensively. He then returned to New Orleans, Louisiana and completed one more season aboard the American Queen riverboat in its 2012 re-inaugural season before returning to Miami in December 2012 to care for his debilitating mother stricken with chronic kidney disease and macular degeneration. He remained by her side until her passing in March 2016 and while in Miami established the Damian J Project, a new and singular voice dedicated to the preservation, development, and education of Jazz in the 305! It is Miami’s first and only open source musical collaboration performing in and around South Florida where the musicians are free to focus on specific time periods in jazz history or future. It is a network of musicians broken up into different ensembles each with a unique representation of jazz and one common denominator, Damian J.
The TRAD305 represents the beginnings of jazz from 1914 until the rise of swing. Our Swingin’ Sensations bring back the era of swing music and big band jazz. Los Havana Knights pay homage to the roots of Latin Jazz from its inception on the island of Cuba. Made from Scratch featuring Guti Talavera is where the modern electronic DJ turntable improvisatory master meets the vintage jazzman in a musical encounter for the future. Those are just a few of the recurring collaborations within the project. Prior to the project Sanchez freelanced in Miami with such local greats as Suenalo, Electric Piquete, The French Horn, and many others. Damian J has been included on several recordings for different musical groups in his past as well as been a backup musician for such celebrities as Jennifer Holliday, Kurt
Elling, Lionel Richie, Debby Boone, Tito Puente Jr., Willy Chirino, Chuck Mangione, and many others. Most recently in August 2017, the Damian J Project’s TRAD305 was featured in “Wake Up Miami!” a city of Miami, Miami-Dade County funded Summer Concert Series hosted by the Paxy Organization. In February 2017, the Damian J Project also traveled to Paris, France where he performed around the city of lights. A monumental performance in October 2016 at the historic North Beach Bandshell amphitheater in Miami Beach, Florida landed The TRAD305 back on the scene. He was featured with Made from Scratch at the 2016 Heineken Jazz Fest in San Juan, Puerto Rico. TRAD305 most recently won 1st place at Buskerfest Miami, a citywide competition showcasing Miami’s best talent on December 9th, 2016. Previous to that “The
TRAD” won the MiamiMade Concert Series “Best of Miami” on May 20th, 2016, a city wide competition. Back in July 2015 Damian J took The TRAD305 on tour performing in Portland, Oregon. A year prior to that in July 2014 Damian J toured Argentina collaborating with national rock sensation, Cyro y los Persas as well as recording with pianist Ray Pugliese. His experience lies in Broadway productions, musicals, and operas playing multiple woodwind combinations in several orchestras such as the Memphis Symphony. Sanchez plays oboe, english horn, all saxophones, all clarinets, flute, piccolo, recorder, bagpipes, bassoon, guitar, and piano as well as sings, composes, arranges and music engineers. In 2018 Damian J recorded an album with Americana/ Folk sensation Michael Weiskopf entitled Lost in Amerika: 9 ½ Stories which won various awards and performed for a sold out audience in September 2018 at East Hampton, New York’s Bay Street Theater. He has been on staff at the Kendall Conservatory of Music as Professor of Woodwinds, Classical Guitar and Piano exclusively on Mondays and Saturdays since November 2014 and handles all management, marketing, and directing for the Damian J Project. On December 3rd, 2016, the debut album, “Sessions 33 1/3” was released by Damian J Project and is currently available through e-order and live performance.

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