Dan King discovered the saxophone while attending Northeastern University as an electrical engineering student in the year 2000, at the age of 24. In order to lighten the vigorous engineering workload, he took a Jazz History class as an elective. Even though he did poorly in the class, the final exam changed his life forever.
The teacher, Dr. Leonard Brown, was also a professional saxophone player and was playing in the annual John Coltrane Memorial Concert. For the final exam, the class had to go listen to the concert, and write about how the history of jazz influenced what was performed on stage. It was at that concert that Dan experienced live jazz for the first time.
The jazz bug bit him hard. He began buying jazz CDs and going to local jazz clubs four nights a week. His favorite club, Wally’s Cafe, often featured up and coming jazz stars such as Thelonious Monk competition winner Darren Barrett, and Joshua Redman’s band. Wally’s Cafe is where Dan decided he wanted to play the saxophone.
Without ever having played any instrument in the first 24 years of his life, Dan rented an alto saxophone, cracked open the case and could not put the sax down. The first two years that he played, he spent every free moment listening to his favorite jazz CDs, and used his sax to figure out what the masters were playing. It wasn’t until he came to Phoenix, Arizona, after graduating college that he began taking formal instruction.
He met his first teacher, and now his best friend Jerry Donato, at the Jazz club called Beelow’s, in downtown Tempe. Over a six month period Jerry taught him basic musical theory and how to read music. Within 3 short years of picking up the saxophone for the first time, Dan was playing professionally with his sax quartet “Saxability”.
Two of Dan’s performances of “Joe’s Thang”, and “Backyard Blues” was selected to be featured in an independent feature film called “Rigged”. It’s premiere screening was in LA in July of 2007. (www.RiggedTheFilm.com)
Dan has also played with Dave Henning, whose trio was nominated for “Best Piano Trio” from KJZZ’s annual poll of Phoenix jazz musicians. (www.DaveHenning.com)
The Sax Man, as he is affectionately known by, played with an urban funky band “Cousin Affect” for many years. During that time they won “Live Performer of the Year” from the Phoenix Music Awards, and a national song competition put on by Spin Magazine, and Midas which landed them into Spin magazine and on a western U.S tour.
Dan is also president of Phoenix-based Fastdogs-Fastfriends Greyhound Adoption, where he started the 2nd Chance at Life program in Arizona. This program matches retired greyhounds with inmates at the Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, AZ. A volunteer professional dog trainer teaches specially selected inmates how to become dog trainers so they have a marketable skill after they are released. The inmates provide the greyhounds 9 weeks of training while living in their cell with them, and in turn the greyhounds give back to the inmates the unconditional love they so desperately need. For many of them, they are receiving this love for the first times in their lives. Saving lives and healing spirits…that’s what this program is all about.
Dan and his wife Denise also lead a small group of individuals looking for scripture-based spiritual growth in their lives. His leadership was acknowledged by the pastor hand-picking them, and recording a video of their experiences as a small group leader to be broadcast to more than 8,000 members of his church’s congregation.
The Sax Man also writes a weekly blog titled “Crooked Halo” which is a humorous approach to spiritual growth through the eyes of a true geek.
Dan the Sax Man