Jake Baxendale is an alto saxophonist and composer based in Wellington, New Zealand. Raised in remote Golden Bay, he demonstrates in his life and music a freedom of expression, a love of nature and a community orientated mindset that is heavily influenced by this environment.
He graduated in 2011 with a Bachelor and Post Graduate Diploma in jazz performance from the NZSM, and cut his teeth with John Rae’s eclectic large group “The Troubles”, playing a weekly residency and gaining invaluable experience on the bandstand. The same year The Jac recorded their debut album “Nerve”, featuring compositions by Jake and Callum Allardice.
In 2013 the pair moved to Berlin to experience jazz in another city, and it was here that Jake met Luke Sweeting, a jazz pianist from Sydney, and formed the group Antipodes, aiming to develop a trans-Pacific sound that incorporates their shared European experience. Jake also had the opportunity to perform with the Berlin Big Band and record with the Jazz Musik Institut’s large ensemble.
On his return to NZ in 2014 Jake released “Nerve” with The Jac on the Rattle label, toured NZ and Australia with both The Jac and Antipodes, and began performing and touring with the Rodger Fox Big Band, The Wellington Mingus Ensemble and the Richter City Rebels, performing on the latter’s debut album “We Do It Like That”.
In 2015 The Jac’s album “Nerve” was nominated for a Best Jazz Album award, and on the momentum of this critical success the group secured several high profile jazz festival performances and funding for a second album, “The Green Hour”, released in October.
Also in 2015 Jake recorded two albums with the Rodger Fox Big Band, “Concerti” and “The Rodger Fox Big Band Plays New Zealand” and Antipodes toured Australia and NZ again in September/October. After such a busy performing schedule, Jake decided to return to focus on study of the saxophone and composition, receiving the Edwin Carr scholarship to study composition in 2016 in New York City with Darcy James Argue, Dave Douglas, Miguel Zenon and Jon Irabagon.
In 2017 Jake debuted a new work commissioned by CNZ for The Jac and Korean traditional/fusion group Black String at the Wellington Jazz Festival, followed by performances in Korea at the Jarasum International Jazz Festival, Bukchon Traditional Music Festival and various jazz clubs.
In Wellington Jake performs regularly at venues throughout the city, and teaches private lessons in saxophone, flute, clarinet, composition and jazz improvisation.