Photo of James Saxsmo GatesThank you first for supporting me and my musical efforts. This journey has been extremely important to me. Beginning with my CD “C'mon Over To My House”.  Prior to its release, my mom passed away, but before she went home, she gently whispered to me “finish what you started.” A few years later my father took ill and made his transition.  Again, prior to my next CD's release, “It's Time,” he said to me, “I need you to play my saxophone (A 1948 King Super 20, tenor sax) to always remember me.” Pop loved his horn so much. His sax was him. So, “It's Time” was recorded in remembrance of my dear Pop.  

In 2011, I graduated from North Carolina Central University (NCCU) (Magna Cum Laude) with a Master's Degree in Jazz Studies. I know that through God all things are possible and that now I need to take things to another level which brings me to “Gates Wide Open!” I did not do this alone or without the support of many gifted people.  First and above all, I thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  He is the only reason I exist on this planet today.  His voice and words live and burn in me from the inside out.  He challenges me to shut my mouth, be quiet, listen to Him, stay focused, don't look back and to keep moving forward.  I paid attention to these things and because I did, I am a living witness that if you listen to God and obey His will, happiness is endless.  

I thank God for giving me another chance to get it right. Special thanks are extended to my producers, Hannon D. Lane (Winlane Music Publishing, BMI) and Bill McGee, (CEO of 804 Jazz) for their tireless efforts and continuous support and encouragement. I also want to give thanks to a very talented young man who is very important to me and this project, Brandon Lane.  Brandon is my former student from Lee Davis High School in Mechanicsville, VA. I have seen him grow so much musically and now his writing, engineering, production, and performance skills are awesome. He is also the gifted son of my dear friends  Hannon and Ruth Lane. Thanks again to the 804 Jazz family for giving me the opportunity to allow God to share through me the gift of music. For that, I am sincerely and deeply grateful.

I extend a very special thanks to the incomparable Fred Wesley and my two colleagues, Walter Beasley and Freddie Fox.  I look forward to touring and performing with you in promotion of this project.

I want to thank Dr. Ira Wiggins, Director of the NCCU Jazz Studies Program, my personal friend Branford Marsalis and the entire Jazz Studies faculty and staff.  To all of my NCCU (Durham, NC) musician friends and Richmond, Virginia musician friends (The 804Jazz Allstars) who participated on this project. Thank you for the patience, time, love and the support you so freely gave to me, “Saxsmo.”

A huge thank you is extended to Virginia State University, Dr. Keith T. Miller, Dr. Weldon Hill, The Billy Taylor Jazz Studies Program, the VSU Music Department, Jennifer Williams, the staff of WVST Radio, and the entire VSU family for their support.

Thank you with much love to my dear friends Robert Payne, B. J. Brown and the entire Richmond Jazz Society.  Your unyielding support is greatly appreciated.

To my family, and all of my friends across this country and the globe including my “best friend”  Billy Kilson, thank you for your support and encouragement.  You are the best!

Because of Jazz Giants such as my father, James “Boo” Gates, Sr., Joseph Kennedy, Jr., John Peyton, Tuscan Jasper, Watler Bishop, Jr., Walter Davis, Jr., Alan Dawson, Art Blakey, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie “Yardbird” Parker, Julian “Cannonball” Adderly, Oscar Peterson, Stanley Turrentine, and Ella Fitzgerald, dedication, commitment, creativity and love for jazz burns heavily throughout my entire body every second of every day.  I thank you for that Jazz.

Special thanks to SmoothJazz.Com, (Sandy, Jamie, Scott, and Donna) and to all the radio stations and internet stations around the world that play my music. To BK Music and Plan 9 Music in Richmond, VA., to Mitch Malone, Al Green, Jay Lang and Moose at WHOV.

Last but not at all least; this enormous recording project is dedicated to one of my former students from Lee Davis High School, the late Mario Rivadeneira.  Mario had been accepted to Berklee College of Music when in the summer of 2010 he was suddenly called home to be with The Lord.  Because his honesty and dedication showed in his personality as well as his playing, his love for jazz will always be a very special part of my life.  I love you much Mario.

(Liner Notes - GATES WIDE OPEN - January 2013)