Sarah Hanahan is a jazz saxophonist studying performance at the Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz within the Hartt School of Music (University of Hartford). Now a resident of Hartford, Connecticut but originally from Marlborough, Massachusetts, Sarah grew up listening to a wide variety of music, but always had a special love for jazz. Her father, who plays drums and percussion, introduced Sarah to music and gave Sarah her first saxophone at the age of 8. Sarah played lead alto sax for the Marlborough High School jazz band. As a high school senior, Sarah was lead alto for the New England Conservatory Prep Jazz Orchestra under the direction of Ken Schaporst, who taught her much about the history and tradition of big band music. She also studied with tenor saxophone great, Jerry Bergonzi.
In 2015, Sarah was awarded a full scholarship to study jazz performance at the McLean Institute. Her college professors include well-known jazz saxophone performers Javon Jackson and Abraham Burton. The McLean Institute has also afforded Sarah the opportunity to receive instruction from and perform with accomplished jazz musicians such as bassist Nat Reeves and trombonist Steve Davis.
In addition to her heavy gigging schedule, Sarah recently appeared as a guest artist at the Caramoor Jazz Festival. The Sarah Hanahan Quintet also opened the Hartford Bushnell Park 2018 Monday Night Jazz Series finale for Helen Sung. She fronts her own quartet / quintet, and plays in a duo with jazz guitarist Jeremy Galloway, a close friend and McLean classmate.
Sarah was also awarded the great opportunity to participate in Ravinia Steans Music Institute Jazz Program this past summer, which was awarded to just 15 jazz fellows. Fellows traveled to Chicago to spend the week studying with Billy Childs, Rufus Reid, and Tim Hagans. During that week they focused on writing new compositions and expanding their knowledge of harmony, all while meeting other great musicians from around the country.
Besides her love and appreciation of many jazz artists including Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Miles Davis and too many others to list, she is a huge fan of the Beatles, the Dave Matthews Band, and many groups who specialize in vocal harmonies (Beach Boys, CS&N, America, Manhattan Transfer, New York Voices). She enjoys jazz vocalists such as Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn and Billie Holliday, but loves Nancy Wilson the most!
Sarah’s main horn is the Yanagisawa A-991 alto sax. She also plays soprano sax and flute, and works on piano and drums in her spare time.