Leri Odumosu: A Saxophone Superstar


Credit: Joel Hartshorn

WAHS Band competes at competition in Nashville. Odumosu can be found at the far-right in the front row.

Annabelle Mackey, Staff Writer

Jazz trumpeter Miles Davis once said that he imagines he’s playing the guitar on trumpet. For Leri Odumosu, star freshman saxophone player, he draws many similarities to Miles Davis by emulating the trumpet. Davis is Odumosu’s favorite jazz musician and a major inspiration for his playing. “I really like how laid-back he is and how his solos aren’t bebop with a bunch of 16th and 32nd notes,” he said.

Odumosu has been playing saxophone for the past two and a half years, since seventh grade, but his passion for his playing really started in eighth grade Jazz Band at Henley Middle School, where he started to involve himself in the world of improvisation after gaining inspiration from fellow tenor saxophone player, Thomas Lambert. In his words, “To be entirely honest, it [improvising] was mostly about getting better than Thomas [Lambert], or at least trying to get better than Thomas. He just really seemed like he had it together in eighth grade, so I really wanted to emulate that.”

Dedicated to his musicianship, Odumosu is now a member of the WAHS Marching, Symphonic, and Jazz Bands. Outside of these numerous rehearsals, Odumosu practices eight hours a week on his personal time and has a specific practice routine involving a warm up consisting of a few scales and specific goal to be accomplished that practice session. 

“I think Leri’s one of the hardest working saxophone players at a young age. He’s got a really great ear and he is willing to take risks, which is really, really key,” said Joel Hartshorn, WAHS Band Director, “He also listens a lot to musicians and constantly tries to develop skills not only as a jazz musician, but as a classical musician, and I can hear it as his constant work ethic because he pretty much practices here every day.” 

Throughout the school day, you can find Odumosu playing his instrument in the band room, whether it be during lunch, Warrior Period, or band rehearsals. In recognition of  his musical dedication, Odumosu was selected by his bandmates as the recipient of the Outstanding Freshman award.   

While praised for his talent by his peers, Odumosu believes he still has a long way to go in improving his sound. According to Odumosu, he doesn’t “really have a very good tone.” However, his main goal at the moment is to improve his improvisation by taking on solos in the WAHS Jazz Band and building on his passion on the instrument that according to him, is easy. 

“Kind of feel bad for saying this, but it’s really, really easy to get a handle on. On a lot of other instruments, you have to practice before you can make a good sound. The saxophone is the same, but at least you can play notes just by picking it up; and the fingering is just so, so easy and so straightforward than a lot of other instruments,” he said, “ I think that’s probably my favorite then, that it’s so approachable.”

Odumosu also favors the versatility of the instrument. “We can play soft and loud at the same time.” The concept of versatility is something that Odumosu would like to expand on in his music practice, as he plans on eventually learning every instrument. Specializing in alto saxophone, Odumosu has also been experimenting with a variety of other saxophone and reed instruments, ranging from bari-sax to soprano, and even the clarinet.

Odumosu’s musical journey has also impacted his personal growth, particularly time management. “I know it’s made me a lot more conscious about how much time I take up every day because I used to just waste time every day, but now I have to think and say, ‘Oh, if I do this, then I won’t have as much time to practice,’” he said.

Regarding his goals, Odumosu has many plans for improving his musicality and continuing with his hobby. “I want to play more harmonically complex solos instead of just relying on the same up-and-down scale pattern. Get a better tone, obviously. I kind of want to start playing classical music a little bit since I feel like it’s good to go into two things instead of just one.”

Odumosu is permanently relocating to Baltimore this summer. While he is leaving the WAHS community, Odumosu will continue to commit himself to his musical talents and jazz appreciation. “I think he’ll be able to be involved in just about any jazz group that he wants to be in. How far he wants to take it, either professionally or as a hobby, is really up to him, but he definitely has the right work ethic. He seems to have the passion for it [sax] to make it something he could do as a lifelong skill,” said Hartshorn.