“My main goal was to make a record that truly embodies myself as an artist and a person,” says saxophonist/composer/music educator Mervin Toussaint when asked about his new record Lakay. “From the artwork to the compositions and performance of the work, I wanted to make sure that my work represents me in an honest way.”
A Settlement Music School Germantown Branch Coordinator, and former Settlement woodwind faculty, Toussaint has created a record incorporating jazz, RnB, neo-soul, and other contemporary styles, rooted in his musical upbringing in the Haitian Christian Church. Listing pacesetters in the greater jazz genre like Godwin Louis, Branford Marsalis, Ambrose Akinmisure, and Joel Ross, Toussaint’s inspirations encourage his musical philosophy as much as his sound and style. “While they have an immense respect for what has come before them, they are unwavering in their self-expression.” Says Toussaint. “Their musical voice is an amalgamation of their influences, filtered through their experience and musical tastes. I hope for my playing and composition to achieve a similar result.”
When Toussaint began his work on Lakay, he was a woodwind faculty member at our Mary Louise Curtis Branch and the woodwinds/musicianship teacher for Settlement Music Online; An experience that helped him reach new heights in his playing and writing. “As a teacher, you are constantly learning from your experiences in the classroom. I think that teaching sharpens my technique on saxophone, mainly I am constantly reminding myself about the fundamentals on music and performance. The more I teach, the better musician I become.”
“My music is shaped by my experiences and relationships,” remarks Toussaint. “I think that when we open ourselves up to others, we give people the opportunity to do the same. I hope that in my music, people can find relatable emotions and experiences in their own lives and connect to those feelings.”
Listen to the entirety of Lakay on all streaming platforms (like Spotify), visit Mervin’s website, and if you’re at our Germantown Branch, stop in and say hi!