Ever since she can remember Alexis has always wanted to play the saxophone. Her influences when growing up in Newcastle upon Tyne in the 1980s were bands such as Huey Lewis and the News and Duran Duran as they featured saxophone solos on many of their songs.
Alexis began to learn the clarinet aged ten when she started middle school in 1993. She thought this would be a good starting point for eventually learning the sax as they are similar instruments. Three years later she swaps her clarinet for an alto saxophone and within six months of learning her new instrument she had passed her grade 3 examination with merit. When Alexis started at Ponteland Community High School in 1997, she had more opportunities to play her saxophone both in the school ensembles and with the Northumberland County Music Service. At fourteen she became a member of the county’s Junior Concert Band and then at fifteen became a member of the county’s senior Concert Band for the next four years.
Alexis’ love of jazz began with her A level Music lessons when her class was taught the development of jazz from 1915-1945. She was exposed to the music of Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Count Basie and couldn’t get enough of what she had heard. She started composing tunes in this style that was new to her and was also integrating what she was learning into her playing, especially when she became a member of the Northumberland County Youth Jazz Orchestra at the age of seventeen. With this band she had the opportunity to perform at the Boosey and Hawkes Concert Band Festival, participate in a workshop led by members of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and perform at Disneyland, Paris. Alexis also became a founding member of the youth jazz orchestra of the north east, Jambone, and had the privilege of performing at Newcastle City Hall in front of the Queen for her Golden Jubilee in 2002. She was also chosen as one of the representatives from the band to meet the Queen after the concert!
At eighteen Alexis made the move from Newcastle to Leeds to study Music at the city’s university. However she found the course to be very academic and she felt there were hardly any opportunities to perform and improve her playing. During her time at the university she applied for and successfully gained a place on the Jazz Studies course at Leeds College of Music, which she commenced in 2003. Her time at the college re-ignited her love of jazz and she was playing with different ensembles practically every day. Under the guidance of tutors such as Joel Purnell, Pete Sklaroff, Jamie Taylor, Omar Puente, Trevor Vincent and Graham Hearn, she completed her studies, now as a tenor sax player, passing with honours in 2006.
Nowadays Alexis teaches saxophone and clarinet in the north east with over eight years teaching experience.