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One of the few full-time soprano saxophonists in jazz, Jane Ira Bloom is also recognized as one of the most accomplished. While not an avant-gardist per se, Bloom works on the forward edge of the mainstream. Compositionally her music draws heavily on traditional jazz precepts of swing and tonality/modality, yet her concept of form and structure is quite personal. As an improviser she's not stunningly original, but the whole of her music is greater than the sum of its parts; overall her music bears the stamp of an individual thinker.
Bloom began playing music around the age of 12. She attended Yale University as an undergraduate, Yale School of Music for graduate study, and studied privately at Berklee College of Music with Joe Viola. She moved to New York in the late '70s and studied with a former Miles Davis sideman, the saxophonist George Coleman. Bloom formed her own label (Outline) and began recording her own albums; pianist Fred Hersch was a frequent collaborator. In 1982 Enja released Mighty Lights, Bloom's first album for a label other than her own. In the late '80s she recorded a pair of albums for Columbia, on which she dabbled -- somewhat tentatively, it can be argued -- in electronics. Most of her recorded work since has been for the Arabesque label.
Bloom has won several awards for her music, including a 2001 Jazz Journalists Award and the Downbeat Magazine Critics Poll. Bloom's interest in space exploration helped her earn a commission from NASA's Art Program, and she has also had an asteroid named for her by the International Astronomical Union. Among the musicians who have worked in Bloom-led bands are flügelhornist Kenny Wheeler, bassist Charlie Haden, drummer Bobby Previte, and trombonist Julian Priester. Bloom is also involved with a collaborative world music group, Atlantic/Pacific Waves, with Chinese pipa player Min Xiao-Fen, Korean komungo player Jin Hi Kim, and jazz bassist Mark Dresser. Bloom has also composed for dance and television.
Jane Ira Bloom (born 1955) is an American jazz soprano saxophonist and composer.
Bloom was born in Boston, Massachusetts. She began as a pianist and drummer, later switching to the alto saxophone, and eventually settling on the soprano saxophone as her primary instrument. She first began playing the saxophone seriously while at Yale University, from which she received a liberal arts degree and a master's degree in music.
Following Yale, Bloom relocated to New York City. She has worked with Mark Dresser, Bobby Previte, Kenny Wheeler, Charlie Haden, Bob Brookmeyer, Julian Priester, Jay Clayton, Fred Hersch, Jin Hi Kim, and Min Xiao-Fen.
She is noted for her use of live electronics, using a foot pedal to trigger various electronic effects that alter the sound of her saxophone, at times creating the illusion of an orchestra of soprano saxophones.
She was the first musician to be commissioned by the NASA Art Program; in 1989 she created three original musical compositions: Most Distant Galaxy, for soprano saxophone and live electronics, prepared tape, bass, drums, and electroacoustic percussion; Fire & Imagination, for soprano saxophone, improvisors, and chamber orchestra; and Beyond the Sky, for wind ensemble.
The asteroid 6083 Janeirabloom was named after her.
In 2007, she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in music composition.
Recent collaborations include live performances and recordings with the underground New York orchestra M'Lumbo.
Bloom is presently a core faculty member at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City's Greenwich Village.