Saxophonist Brandon Fu ’25 Communicates Soul and Feel to Audience Through Jazz Improvisation



As the pianist started to play the rhythmic introduction of “I’m Not So Sure” in the style of Roy Hargrove, saxophonist Brandon Fu ’25, tapping his foot, initiated a soulful melody as the audience enjoyed their brunch. The drums and the electric guitar added in, producing an upbeat jazz sound that permeated Paresky Commons.

During Family Weekend last week, Fu performed in two performances: in Grasshopper 2022 as a part of the band Indigo and once at the Academy Jazz Bands Brunch at Paresky Commons. Fu described the experience of performing with both groups this past weekend.

“In [Grasshopper] there was some infectious energy coming from the audience that made its way onto stage, and I feel that it was one of the most fun shows that I have ever been a part of… [The Jazz Band’s Brunch] was one of the best jazz brunches that our school has had in recent years… we had a really tight band, we were in tune with each other with our instruments… it was a great show to be a part of,” said Fu.

Improvising during the show at Grasshopper Night, Fu tried to make his performance interactive, focusing on the audience’s reactions and engaging them with his stage manners. He hopes that through his performance, the joy and enthusiasm he felt on stage was received by the audience.

“I tried to really explore the stage, do some corny dance moves, and try and make the audience smile, laugh, clap, cheer… A lot of people in jazz believe that their music comes first and the audience comes second… Especially in the context of the type of music that “Indigo” performed… we rely a lot on the energy of the audience to really push the song forward,” said Fu.

Fu further explained that his passion for the saxophone stems from a genuine passion, emphasized through music as a way to express emotions. Finding a love for jazz and funk music two years ago, Fu said he channels his expression and spreads energy to the audience through playing the saxophone.

“Sometimes when I’m having a really bad day, I can go into a practice room and scream into the saxophone… Even when I’m having an absolutely fantastic day, I can hold myself in a practice room and express that joy. It’s contagious too,” Fu said.

Currently, Fu plays the saxophone in the Phillips Academy Jazz Band and in a small chamber group. He also plays the clarinet in the Phillips Academy Thursday Band and the Symphony Orchestra. Throughout his musical journey, Fu has found inspiration from his fellow musicians both at and outside of Andover. He admires his peers, and appreciates their positive impact on him as a musician and person.

“I definitely developed a lot under the influence and direction of people within the [Andover] band department, like [Vincent Monaco, Instructor in Music], and [Peter Cirelli, Instructor in Music]. Also my peers. Specifically, I want to shout out Sebastian Altomare [’23], Jacob Kaiser [’24], Sinan Muratoglu [’24]. They’re all incredible influences on who I am as a player and who I am as a person,” said Fu.

In terms of his future in music, Fu is confident that the saxophone will continue to be a major part of his life, whether that be through gigs or becoming a jazz professor. He explained that there are also several areas that he hopes to improve on as a musician as he gains experience during and after Andover.

“I definitely say the biggest goal I have in terms of playing saxophone is to have what I hear in my head as what I want to play directly translate to the instrument. I know there is still some sort of technical ability gap and mental ability gap, and I want to close that gap and really just connect to the saxophone and make it my fifth limb,” said Fu.

In addition to performing at Grasshopper as part of the band Indigo, Bran-
don Fu ’24 also played at the Jazz Bands Brunch over Family weekend.