Saxophonist Jim Spake lives and works in his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, where he has made his living in music since high school. After attending Berklee College of Music, where he studied with David Liebman, Bill Pierce, and Steve Grossman, Jim returned to Memphis and began gigging with local jazz & R&B groups. While still in his early twenties, he toured with Levon Helm, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Brenda Lee and in the 80s Spake became more active in Memphis’s recording studios — everything from jingles to album sessions. Over the years he’s backed touring artists such as Ray Charles, Tony Bennett, The Four Tops, Mose Allison, Chuck Berry, Ben E. King, and Johnny Mathis.
Memphis’s rich musical history continues to draw producers and artists here to record – perhaps to capture some of the “magic.” In recent decades, Jim’s saxophone work is an integral part of the mix. Sessions with Alex Chilton, John Hiatt, Al Green, Toots Hibbert, Cat Power, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Adam Levy, and Ike Turner occasionally lead him back out on the road.
From ’93 to ’01, the Sweet Soul Music International Soul Festival in Porretta Terme, Italy was an annual opportunity for Spake to work with such Soul/R&B icons as Lavern Baker, Otis Clay, Ann Peebles, Dan Penn, Rufus & Carla Thomas, Mavis Staples, Solomon Burke, and Irma Thomas. The 90′s also found Jim touring with Bruce Willis’s Accelerators.
Spake was selected by the Memphis chapter NARAS for the Premier Woodwind Player Award eight times between 1987 and 2001. In 2002 he was inducted into its Hall of Fame.