It seems apparent that musical talent runs in families, and saxophonists are a perfect example. John and Ravi Coltrane, Jackie and René McLean, and Dewey and Joshua Redman are the most prominent examples.
Gerry Niewood's name may not be as well known as those of the senior titans mentioned above, but more people may have heard his sound.
Niewood was for many years the saxophonist in Chuck Mangione's commercial blockbuster of a jazz band. He was a disciplined, organized player with a faultless technique. No wonder his son Adam picked up the family business.
The younger Niewood made a strong impression in September when he played a program of standards and jazz favorites with local standouts Basil Ronzitti, Tony Steffanelli, and Joe Dorris.
On Saturday he'll return to town with his own band and a book full of original compositions that reflect Niewood's broad musical interests.
"My dad had a huge record collection with this really great old-school stereo," the voluble Niewood said by phone from his Manhattan apartment.
While that library of music was an invaluable resource to a young musician, it was limited.
"Anything my dad liked was in his collection, and what he didn't like wasn't in there and you didn't hear it."
So Niewood found current influences such as the M-Base school on his own.
"My dad never checked out [altoist Greg] Osby. My dad's approach was from Charlie Parker, Phil Woods and Cannonball Adderley. Osby's approach to rhythm is so advanced in the way that he plays with time."
For similar reasons, Niewood is attracted to the music of the Icelandic singer and composer Bjork.
"She's really cool. I like the way she writes, and she has this flowing, seamless thing. Stuff doesn't have to be in even meter, but her phrasing is completely natural and really flows."
It's a feeling Niewood hopes to get with his current quartet.
Percussionist Rohin Khemani plays both standard drum kit and and Indian tabla drums.
"I met him my freshman year in Berklee in 1995, but he didn't play tablas then. He was really into Tony Williams," Niewood said.
Bassist Nathan Peck lived in Pittsburgh. His brother, Alex, still lives there and will drive up to play drums. Guitarist Jesse Lewis, originally from Boston, lived in New Orleans for eight years, and according to Niewood, "definitely has that thing. He'll take it out, but he's got that down-home thing. He's going to be a superstar."
Like a lot of musicians his age, Niewood uses the Internet to expand his musical universe. Yet he's a recent convert.
"Believe it or not, I never had my own computer until I was married. Joe Lovano once told me, 'The difference between my generation and yours is that I grew up in the real world.'
"I know what he means, but I still buy records. I go into a record store, and if they have a sale bin, I'll walk out with 20 discs. I'm constantly thirsty for what I haven't heard."
Saxophonist Adam Niewood
and his Rabble Rousers will appear on Friday around 10 p.m. at Scotty's Jazz & Cigar Bar, 301 German St. For details, call 459-3800.