A couple of years ago, saxophonist Jazmin Ghent’s musical career took a bold step forward. Taking part in the “Smooth Jazz Cruise 2014 Opening Act Competition,” Ghent and other competitors had the luxury of trying to impress accomplished jazz artists such as Boney James, Marcus Miller, and Brian Culbertson.
“It was these people that I grew up listening to. I was completely out of my mind,” Ghent said. “It was surreal.”
You can bet that the adrenaline juice was running pretty high at that time for those looking to strut their to stuff in front of some of the world’s most notable smooth jazz musicians. Ghent, part of the 2018 Long Beach Jazz Festival lineup of artists, admitted during an interview that she did indeed come down with a bad case of the nerves.
“I remember before I opened, Brian Culbertson told me….he was like ‘have fun, make sure you have fun. If you have fun, they will have fun,’ talking about the audience. So that was when I decided I really wanted to pursue this and perform and just write and compose music.”
Ghent, who grew up in Alabama and now lives in Florida, may not have participated in that music competition had it not been for her mother awarding her with a new saxophone as a college graduation gift. Ghent decided to bring her new toy with her aboard the cruise, and the next thing she knew she had beat out 22 other individuals during that talent competition, thanks to her rendition of the classic “Summertime.”
Ghent’s musical career has hit overdrive since. Her adventure on the high seas has matriculated into a journey of achievement and glowing recognition. Today, she could be described as a musical phenomenon, even though she has been playing music fluidly from her days performing as a pianist during Sunday School of her church.
She was named as the Smooth Jazz Network’s Best New Artist of 2017. She’s recorded and released two albums “Boss and “Chocolate Sunshine,” with a third (The Story of Jaz) on the way. If one were to put Ghent’s music in a box, you probably wouldn’t be able to find one. Ghent’s music encompasses a little bit of everything: jazz, some gospel and you could throw in a dash of hip-hop as well.
“I like everything,” Ghent said. “I like it all.”
Ghent, who earned her undergraduate degree from Florida State and received her master’s degree from Tennessee State University, credits her parents and her faith in God for where she is today. It was the persistent prodding of her mother and father, both of whom are ardent jazz buffs, that pushed Ghent into the music world in the first place.
“My parents love jazz music,” Ghent said. “My mother loves the saxophone. I grew up with hundreds of jazz CDs, so I feel like it’s kind of in me. You know how it is; if your parents tell you that you’re going to do something, you’re going to do it.”