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Meet saxophone guru Anders Svanoe, from the music department

October 1, 2012

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Name:  Anders Svanoe

Occupation: I teach saxophone, saxophone ensemble, and the jazz combo at Beloit College. I also run an online website,, that specializes in used saxophone gear and accessories. On the weekends I play gigs/concerts with a number of local jazz and Latin-jazz groups.  

Hometown/current residence: I grew up in Madison, Wis. I lived for four years in Decorah, Iowa while getting my undergraduate degree and then moved back to Madison in 1991 to finish graduate school. I also spent quite a bit of time in Bergen, Norway during the summers when I was young.

You may have seen me: Playing drums with the Beloit College Jazz Combo.

What is your favorite song to perform on the sax? "Mean Greens" by tenor saxophonist Eddie Harris.

What are a few of your favorite things? Bebop saxophone players, old Volvos, World War I and II British and American airplanes, Indian Food, older audio gear, and LPs.

What three items go in your desert island backpack? I can't live without my iPhone, a Selmer Mark VI saxophone, or the "Charlie Parker Omnibook."

What’s on your desert island jukebox? Every Police record. Maybe a couple Eddie Harris records from the 1960s on Atlantic. The Charlie Parker Dials. Any Mongo Santamaria record on Atlantic Records.

Any do-over requests to lodge with the universe? Explain. I wish I would have spent more time talking with my grandparents, great uncles, and aunts when I was younger. I have so many unanswered questions.

Favorite meal? Chicken Sikar at Himal Chuli on State Street in Madison. Second place—the Sunday brunch at Maharaja.  

What can’t you live without? My amazing wife, my kids, and my parents. 

Any advice? Follow your heart. Respect your elders. Be modest. Travel and see the world.  The solution is usually right under your nose. The grass isn't greener on the other side—work with what you've got—and stick to it. Be decisive.  

What do you do in your free time? I've just recently gotten back into modeling and building model airplanes in 1:48 scale.  I also love to read and spend time with my family. 

If you could be reincarnated, what person/thing would you like to be? Airplane pilot, for sure. Maybe flying as a bush pilot in Alaska. Or restoring vintage airplanes.

Who are your top-three fantasy dinner party guests?  Jackson Pollock, Lenny Bruce, and Charlie Parker.

What gets you up in the morning?  The smell of coffee.

Who are your heroes? My parents and teachers who showed me the way to success.

Beatles or Stones? Neither, actually. I can't stand Mick Jagger. I'm more of a Led Zeppelin or Hendrix guy.  

What’s your favorite hidden gem here in the area? The Rock River is amazing!

What’s the number one thing on your bucket list? Go to India.

Proudest moment? Recording two CDs for ECM Records in Munich, Germany in 2004. One of those records achieved "core collection" status in "The Penguin Guide To Jazz." Also having my book on Sonny Red published through the Jazz Institute at Rutgers University.  

If you were auditioning for American Idol, what song would you sing?  "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da" by the Police.  Although I can't sing as high as Sting!

What are you most looking forward to? Watching my two sons grow up.

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