Jazz and more Jazz! Alto-saxophonist Joseph Hellon is a 35 year member on the East African jazz scene and a professional jazz tuitor. An intellectual man blessed with a strong personality and flare,Joseph Hellon has become a household name across East Africa and across the globe for his unique approach to music.
From humble begginings in rural Kenya,Joseph Hellon loved music from a tender age,influenced by his parents who sang church hymns especially his mother who was actively involved in the church choir.Knowing his family heritage,he knew there was something significant about music."I created meaning in everything i heard ,took up English lessons,studied music and i was always at choir practice",he says.By the age of 10,Hellon was teaching Jazz at his local church with support from his parents who had obviously seen amazing potential in him.
While in High school at Nairobi's Starehe Boys' centre,Joseph Hellon joined the school band and immediately took up playing the saxophone.This is where the initial phase of his career was shaped and inspired.At this point,he started listening to jazz artistes such the Legendary Kenny G and the group Take 5.Armed with his saxophone and passion,Hellon released his debut jazz album,a first in Kenya,entitled 'Zamar'.Following unprecedented success,he released 'Ekkaleo' and 'Bizkuti" and 'Bizkuti Live'.To cement his status as the master of Jazz music,in 2009 Joseph Hellon was part of "Tusker Project Fame" as The Director of music, sharing his expertise and extensive knowledge of music to young budding musicians.The him,this was an opening for his career on the East African scene earning him the much deserved attention and mainstream publicity.
His favorite standards come from the Great American Song Form period: Cole Porter, Harold Arlen, Richard Rodgers, Arthur Schwartz, and their contemporaries.Contemporary composers of song that he admires are Michel LeGrand, John Mandel, and working-musician George Cables, among others.His passion for music,primarily jazz is evident in his clear opinion on musicians today or 'radicals' so to speak,who he feels have not fully explored the possibilities of playing music by legendary composers arguing that they are not relevant in present times!Joseph Hellon's originals are written in a structure with similar chordal and melodic fashion.
He says Jazz is an African idea!Afro music is not structured,it is uninhibited and can be improvised.African rythms are composed on a pentatonic scale just like Jazz music. Currently,Joseph Hellon is working on massive tours across the globe,after a successful Pepsi endorsement,Oscar Nomination,recording deals and key movie roles!So far so good!