Sarah Hughes is an alto saxophonist, composer, and music adventurer from Pasadena,
Maryland. Sarah is a free improviser who enjoys creating within and on top of many
genre frameworks. On the collegiate level, Sarah studied first with the brilliant
classical saxophonist Dale Underwood at the University of Maryland, College Park.
She also participated in the university’s jazz ensembles under the direction of Chris
Vadala. She received a bachelor’s degree in instrumental music education in 2008 and
directed elementary school band and strings programs for Prince George’s County Public
Schools for five years. In 2013 Sarah left the DMV to pursue a master’s degree in
jazz saxophone performance from the England Conservatory in Boston. There, she studied
with Jerry Bergonzi, Ran Blake, Anthony Coleman, and Donny McCaslin. She received
her degree in 2015 and returned to Maryland in 2016. She currently resides in Baltimore,
Maryland as a freelance musician and teaching artist.
During her time at the University of Maryland, Sarah served as music copyist for the University of Maryland Jazz Repertory Ensemble directed by Brad Linde. This ensemble later became the Brad Linde Ensemble, a Washington D.C.-based collective dedicated to exploring and expanding the styles of jazz that emerged in the 1950s including bebop, cool jazz, third stream, and free jazz. As a member of this ensemble, Sarah shared the stage with many artists who shaped Jazz with their compositions and presence: Freddie Redd, Grachan Moncur III, Andrew Cyrille, Joe Chambers, Butch Warren, and Teddy Charles among others. Sarah played in small group settings with groundbreaking artists Dan Tepfer, Allison Miller, Michael Formanek, Matt Wilson, and original Tristanoites Ted Brown and Lee Konitz. During this period of time Sarah was also an original member of the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra, which performed every Monday night at the historic club and played repertoire ranging from the works of Count Basie to Darcy James Argue. Additionally, from '09 to '10 Sarah made weekly trips to New York to study with Barry Harris in his Tuesday Jazz Workshops. Sarah also took several lessons with Konitz, who has always been her biggest inspiration.
After graduating from the New England Conservatory, Sarah has maintained musical partnerships with her teachers from the conservatory, and occasionally performs with pianists and NEC faculty members Ben Schwendener and Anthony Coleman. She has performed with Coleman in NEC's Jordan Hall for his faculty spotlight concert, at Roulette and The Stone in NYC, and recorded on Coleman’s chamber ensemble album, “You” in 2015. That year Sarah also traveled with pianist Amy K. Bormet’s ensemble “Ephemera” to play in Sweden’s first Women in Jazz Festival. In 2016 Sarah toured with the Lead Bubbles, an improvising trio formed at NEC, to venues in Richmond, Baltimore, DC, NYC, Montreal, and Toronto.