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Take Five with Saxophonist Anthony Bruno

Meet Anthony Bruno

Anthony Bruno Chicago-based saxophonist has dedicated his life to music as a performer, educator, and creator. Born into a musical family, playing music has been a hallmark of his existence. Rooted in jazz but drawn to pop, rock and R&B, Anthony writes and plays unapologetically from the soul. Since 2020, he has had a burgeoning career as a solo artist including 12 record and single releases of his own including his latest album release entitled Cefalù, which Features a stellar lineup of Chicago’s finest talent, including drummer

” data-original-title title>James Russell Sims, guitarist

” data-original-title title>Cole Runge, keyboardist

” data-original-title title>Andrew Lawrence, and bassist

” data-original-title title>Vinny Kabat.

Throughout his illustrious career, Bruno has collaborated with a myriad of musical luminaries, including Wynton Marsalis, The Temptations, and Larry Carlton, among others. His extensive festival performances and residencies at iconic venues like Andy’s Jazz Club and Dorian’s have solidified his reputation as a captivating live performer.


The tenor saxophone is the instrument I love the most and have spent the most time with. I’ve also played and recorded on alto and soprano throughout the years and appreciate them for their timbral contrast to the tenor. I started playing drums when I was 14 to start a punk band and continue to play them whenever I can. I’ve played flute and clarinet throughout my career and enjoy hearing melodies with the sound of those instruments. During the pandemic I played almost exclusively clarinet. We’re talking all day clarinet. I’ve recorded and played bass for years and really love teaching jazz bass. I recorded bass on a very slow psychedelic/trippy Bb blues that I had a lot of fun with on a tune called “Las Plantas Azul” off the self-titled Faraway Plants record.

Teachers and/or influences?

Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins


” data-original-title title>Sonny Rollins is a huge influence for me as a player. I love the grit of his tone, his rhythmic freedom and fancifulness, and quite frankly his openness to show his human side, his personality, and his humor. I also admire the spirit of

Michael Brecker
Michael Brecker

saxophone, tenor
1949 – 2007

” data-original-title title>Michael Brecker. He is an absolute warrior on the saxophone, yet so thoughtful and warm at the same time. R&B, Punk, Country, Salsa, take up most of my listening space and are all influences for me. I would say I’ve learned a little something about music with every musician I’ve ever gotten to play with. There’s so many nuances to making music.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when…

Since I can first remember. My dad was a musician so I grew up around festivals, bar gigs, rehearsals, practice, band meetings, etc. I always knew I wanted to do this with my life.

Your sound and approach to music.

I love how music is a way to connect to the world. When I’m playing, I feel myself vibrating at a frequency connected to the people, plants, animals, and environment around me. Making music is a way to feel into the moment in time and be present in a really special way. I feel like it’s allowing my emotions to vibrate on the outside instead of the inside.

I like to sing through the instrument. I like a vocal and melodic quality in music and want to connect the sound ideas in my head through the instrument. I like my sound to be full and robust, how I’d like to imagine a full and resonant voice.

For composition, I love music that has some groove to it and some emotional connection. I want to be able to sing my songs after I write them.

Your teaching approach

My first priority is to get my students to fall in love with music and get excited and enthused about music. If they can develop a self drive and dedication to the music, they will lead their own way to growth and development as a musician. I like to show them all the amazing things in music making and allow them to be their own leaders and advocates for their learning. This way they really take ownership over the learning process and truly dedicate themselves to it.

Your dream band

My dream band isn’t a specific group of people per se, but a situation when everyone in the band is vibrating at the same frequency and making music in a free and spontaneous way that feels joyful and abundant. I’ve been blessed to play with so many amazing musicians, it’s often like a dream.

Road story: Your best or worst experience

My band was supposed to do an outdoor festival and it was one of the hottest days on record in Chicago so at the last minute they found a local venue to host the show. The venue was a small bar with a single air conditioner unit, the kind that’s inserted onto the wall. This bar was packed and with that single unit AC it was probably hotter in the venue than it was outside, if you can imagine that. Well, it was the sweatiest and hottest I had probably ever been in my life and I was absolutely soaking wet, drenched by the end. I was drinking pedialyte at the bar to stay afloat trying so hard not to pass out. What was crazier is that we had another hit an hour later at Andy’s Jazz Club playing the late set, so we drove soaking wet in the car to the venue and played another set. Definitely the most exhausted I had ever been playing my saxophone.

Favorite venue

Dorian’s has been a home for me and my band for quite some time. It feels like I’m in my grandma’s basement and I love that. The vibe is so slick and I always feel in a good space to make music. The sound crew does a great job capturing the sound of my band and the bar staff is pretty rad, too.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why?

I really love the single, “Celestial Affair.” I don’t have a favorite, but that one always hits differently.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?

I’m offering my humanity. Music is a community and I’m offering whatever positivity and human connection that I can to the world at large.

Did you know…

I love languages and think etymology is so cool.

The first jazz album I bought was:

The first CD I bought was Chet Baker Plays and Sings. I’m obsessed with that record and have probably listened to it over a thousand times. I could probably sing that entire record.

Music you are listening to now:

Pedro Martins
Pedro Martins


” data-original-title title>Pedro Martins: Rádio Mistério

Hermeto Pascoal
Hermeto Pascoal


” data-original-title title>Hermeto Pascoal: Pra você, Ilza
” data-original-title title>Eslabon Armado: DESVELADO

Frank Sinatra
Frank Sinatra

1915 – 1998

” data-original-title title>Frank Sinatra: Watertown
Sonny Rollins: Here’s To The People

Desert Island picks:

Frank Sinatra: No One Cares La Sonora Santanera: 20 Exitos
Sonny Rollins: Way Out West
So much salsa and R&B—I’d probably need some compilation records!

How would you describe the state of jazz today?

Jazz is constantly evolving and I love hearing people’s most raw and authentic connection with the music. I think people feel more freedom than ever to express themselves uniquely. Jazz is so broad in terms of sound and concepts, but if the spirit of the music is alive and present, then I vibe with it.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?

Young people need to continue to resonate with and involve themselves in the music. I think elementary and high schools are the most important place for getting students involved with playing instruments and being in bands, etc. but young people really need to take it upon themselves to create their own music, start their own bands, and keep the music thriving.

What is in the near future?

We are going back into the studio this summer to record our third album with this current band. I’m really excited about these tunes because we’ve been playing them the past year weekly at various venues throughout Chicago. We’ve also got some cool outdoor gigs coming up and I love playing outdoors. I have a new single coming out this fall, At the Zoo, where I had the chance to play key bass, synths, chords, flute, etc. with a couple of friends and I had so much fun in the studio with this one.

What is your greatest fear when you perform?

My greatest fear is the band not getting on the same frequency together in order to make the most resonant music.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

I’d probably want something upbeat or “Please Be Kind”—always loved singing that song.

What is your favorite song to whistle or sing in the shower?

Probably something made up about whatever I’m joyful about in that moment. I like improvised songs.

By Day:

I am the Music Department Chair at the Chicago High School for the Arts (ChiArts). I help sculpt the music education of promising young Chicago musicians.

If I weren’t a jazz musician, I would be a:

A pilot!

If I could have dinner with anyone from history, who would it be and why?

Frank Sinatra.

If I could go back in time and relive an experience, what would it be?

The ’60s into the ’70s. It’s a fascinating time for music and I’d love to see what the world was like then.

What’s the song or piece of music you wish you could hear again for the first time?

“Tenor Madness” by Sonny Rollins and

John Coltrane
John Coltrane

1926 – 1967

” data-original-title title>John Coltrane. Both of those solos knocked me off my feet!

If you could be any animal, what would it be?

I’d be an elephant because they’re my favorite animal and they are truly majestic. Strong, smart, family-oriented, and thoughtful.


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