Jenna Nome - Alto & Tenor Saxophones
A long and winding road of life brought me to this wonderful group of talented musicians. I grew up in a family with an extensive musical heritage and music was always an integral part of my life. My great grandfather was Antonio Giamatteo, who was a clarinet virtuoso from Italy. He recorded over 2,000 recordings for the Thomas Edison Studios in New York in the early 1900’s and has several recordings in the Library of Congress. My grandfather, James Matte (last name shortened from Giamatteo) was also a musician/composer who wrote the song “Kitten on the Keys” which was popular in the 1940's. It was his arrangement of Hoagy Carmichael’s "Stardust" that became well known and is still popular today. My mom was a pianist and had been accepted at Juliard School of Music but chose to raise a family instead. She taught piano lessons when I was an infant and kept my crib close by. I listened to scales and arpeggios for hours. I started taking lessons from my mom when I was 3 years old. By the time I reached age 5 my parents realized I had the gift of “perfect pitch” and sent me to the Hartt School of Music to study piano. When I was 8 years old, I expanded my horizons and began studying the clarinet. A few years later, my Aunt Betty (who was an accomplished violinist and vaudeville performer and had an amazing ear for music) bought me a beautiful Buffet clarinet that I still use today. I became active in the youth orchestras at the Hartt School and attended the Hartt Summer Youth Music Program for several years. I was very fortunate to study with members of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra including Billy Goldstein, Ken Lagace and Stanley "Moose" Aronson who played sax with the Glenn Miller Band. I received a Selmer Mark VI Alto Saxophone for my 10th birthday which I also still use today. I took a couple of sax lessons in elementary school, but mostly taught myself the sax. I borrowed my sister's flute to learn Van Morrison's "Moondance" for a band that I played in with friends from Jr. High School, and fell in love with the pure tones. I put down my sax and clarinet and mostly played the flute through my college years. I had the exciting opportunity to be part of a duo that opened for Arlo Guthrie at the "Shaboo" in Willimantic, CT in the early 1980's. In the late 1980's I played with a 10 piece '50s band called "The Heartspinners". I purchased a Yamaha Tenor Sax to play with that group. Through the 1990's and early 2000's my instruments gathered dust. I occasionally "sat in" with pianist Jeff Weiselberg who was performing at a lot of local clubs and weddings, and also played with a few local Connecticut bands here and there.
In 2006 my mom passed away, but before she did, she had my clarinet and saxes refurbished and begged me to start playing again. I honored her wishes and started practicing my instruments once again. I joined the Glen Hansen Orchestra on my saxes which was a 20 piece Big Band and played with them for several years. In 2008 my whole life changed when I decided to correct my gender to female and I began a journey to express my true self. It was a rough road for me because many of my musician friends had a hard time "getting their arms around" the change. All of a sudden it seemed like nobody wanted to play with me, and people would say things like, "audiences aren't ready for someone like you". I felt it wouldn't be as much of a problem as they thought so decided to find a way to play by myself. I purchased a complete sound system and hundreds of background jazz tracks, and began to put on my own performances playing my saxes, clarinet and flute for private events and cocktail parties. There are a few video clips on my personal music page on Facebook called "Jenna Nome Music" if you'd like to check them out. I had a lot of fun performing with that system and played at places like the Basketball Hall of Fame, large corporate events and private parties.
In December 2013, I volunteered to play my flute in the healing center set up for the families and first responders of the Newtown tragedy. I played every day for a week at the center including Christmas Day and was honored to be the only live musician allowed to play for these hurting souls. I played for people one on one and in small groups as they entered and exited the center. That was by far the most rewarding experience I have ever had playing music. I felt like I was really making a difference in their lives during their most difficult of times.
I enjoyed doing my own solo performances for a few years but found myself longing to play with other musicians. In November of 2016 I was honored to be asked by CT Secretary of State Denise Merrill to perform in the State Senate Chamber on my saxes during Connecticut's Electoral College voting for President and Vice-President of the United States. Also, in April of 2016 I got a message from Dave McNamara's aunt Carolyn that he was looking to put together a Pink Floyd tribute band and was looking for a sax player. I had met Dave's Aunt when I played my flute at a funeral for Dave's uncle. Pink Floyd was my favorite band for so many years, so I thought, "how cool would that be!". I called the number right away and spoke with Dave. After a few minutes on the phone we realized we had actually met at his cousin's house when we were kids. We got together and hit it off right away. We decided if we were going to do this project right we would have to be very patient and take our time filling the other band slots so that we could get the right person in each position. The perfect candidate would not only have to be talented and have a love for Pink Floyd, but would have to gel with us personally and musically, and that included being able to embrace the idea of having a transgender individual in the band. It took a year to find the 3 additional members that make up the core of the band, and another year to put together all of the music. We've worked very hard as a group to get to where we are today. We rehearse for 4-5 hours at a time and our rehearsals are very focused, detail oriented and productive. I'm proud to be part of this group of talented musicians. There is so much love and camaraderie between the band members. We know we have something really special here and we want to share it with everyone!