Jim Bozzi lives a dual life. By day, he meticulously fills prescriptions as a pharmacist at Long Island Jewish Medical Center. By night, he swaps his white coat for head-to-toe black and delivers awe-inspiring saxophone performances for enthusiastic crowds.
Jim first discovered his passion in the third grade, when he and his fellow classmates were taught how to read music. When he was given the opportunity to pick an instrument, he chose the sax—and absolutely fell in love with it.
Jim went on to play throughout elementary, junior high and high school. He especially enjoyed being a part of the jazz band, and he developed an infatuation with jazz music. He recalled going to a jazz club with a friend during his senior year of high school to hear saxophonist Stan Getz—who he cites as his biggest musical influence.
Now nearing retirement age, the saxophone is still very much a treasured part of Jim’s life. (He owns three: a soprano, alto and tenor.)
“After a bad day at work, where I’m all stressed out, I’ll go home and play,” he said. “It’s good therapy, it’s a good release. Even listening to music after a crazy day is good, but playing is even better.”
Jim enjoys playing a wide variety of music for an audience and has performed with multiple bands over the years. He was part of the wedding-oriented house band at Terrace on the Park, where he mainly played top 40 hits. He was in an '80s band, jamming to pieces from Michael Jackson and Madonna. And he’s currently in an oldies band (namely doing songs form the '50s and '60s), which recently performed at Empire Casino in Yonkers.
And while he enthusiastically performs many musical genres (and also plays the clarinet and flute), performing jazz is still his favorite.
“Jazz is improvisation, and you feed off of what other people in the band are playing,” he explains. “I don’t play exactly what the sax player did on the original recording. I improvise. Sometimes you can pick up, like, the way the bass player makes the song feel, and you can play something that mimics what he’s doing. Or if the keyboard player is playing different chords that you wouldn’t normally hear in a song, you can feed off of that. Or sometimes it’s just the rhythm from the drums that will give you an idea to put in your melody. That’s why I love performing jazz so much: it’s never the same.”
Once he retires from Northwell Health, Jim plans to perform more regularly with a band. “It makes me feel good that everyone’s having such a good time while I’m playing,” he said. “And just being able to express myself, it’s very rewarding.”
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