James Spaulding, Jazz Sax and Flute Master, Famous Musician and Indianapolis Native

James Spaulding, a master of the saxophone and the flute, is renowned in the savvy universe of American Jazz as one of its all-time top players.

When it comes to famous people from Indianapolis, most specifically musicians from Indianapolis, players and composers of all genres are well-represented. Spaulding’s style relegates him to the “modernist” category of Jazz, but his roots are undeniably classical.

During the latter half of the 1950s, James Spaulding worked in the Circle City with the likes of Freddie Hubbard, Paul Parker, Walt Miller and Larry Ridley. These early connections, coupled with his outstanding abilities as a first-class musician, earned Spaulding a firm, well-deserved footing in that important generation’s contributions to Jazz.

After that early period of his blossoming career, Spaulding moved from Indianapolis to Chicago, and lead his own Jazz group, performed at various major clubs and in the Sun Ra Orchestra. In 1961, he returned to Naptown to do studio work and lead more groups, but by 1963, Spaulding found himself in New York City, working with some of the finest Jazz musicians on the planet, including the Ellington Orchestra. James Spaulding also worked extensively in New York as a sideman for the famous Blue Note Records company.

Here’s a stellar video featuring James and Jean Spaulding in San Francisco, performing “Gotstabe a Better Way.”


James Spaulding’s first recording, from the year 1975, was titled “The Legacy of Duke Ellington. Since that time, this fine musician from Indy has gone on to perform internationally, compose extensively, play on more than 100 now-sought-after recordings and taught music and performance over the course of his long career.

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1937, James Spaulding is still performing and touring, to the delight of his many fans. Spaulding’s career is poignantly described in the Indianapolis musician’s own eloquent words:

Music has been the life force by which I have been able to express my emotions and culture. Through music, I have gained a pride and sense of contribution to the world’s societies. Music has enabled me to recreate meaningful, human and emotional experiences and to express life in all its utterance, through the medium of sound.”

Visit the official James Spaulding website

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