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Texas-born and Brooklyn-based saxophonist, composer, and arranger Sylvester Uzoma Onyejiaka II, aka Sly5thAve, is a gifted performer known for his soulful original songs and for crafting sophisticated jazz and classical-influenced instrumental covers of pop and R&B songs. Born in Austin, Texas to a Nigerian father and Detroit-born mother, Sly5thAve grew up listening to a vibrant array of sounds, including West African music, jazz, and classic soul. Picking up the saxophone at age 11, he developed quickly and eventually added drums and piano to his repertoire. After high school, he honed his skills studying music at the University of North Texas, where he played in various ensembles including the prestigious One O'Clock Lab Band.
Upon graduating, he relocated to the East Coast, where he found work with such luminaries as James Carter, Wynton Marsalis, Maceo Parker, Gladys Knight, and others. During this period, he also mentored with arranger, trumpeter, and songwriter Philip Lassiter (a longtime collaborator with Fred Hammond and Kirk Franklin). It was while working with Lassiter that he caught the attention of Prince, who eventually brought him on board as a member of his New Power Generation horn section. As a solo artist, Sly5thAve debuted in 2014 with Akuma, a jazz-centric exploration of his Nigerian roots. He then formed the ClubCasa Chamber Orchestra with other Brooklyn musicians, doing jazz-oriented reworkings of songs by Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Rihanna, and others. In 2017, he delivered the hip-hop-influenced Invisible Man: An Orchestral Tribute to Dr. Dre. ~ Matt Collar
- Austin, TX
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