Photo: Jaxon Williams and Wesley Ferreira

The Jâca duo explores and expands the vast potential of a rare combination of instruments on their aptly-named album BREAKTHROUGH, a wonderful blend of European and American folk traditions. Comprised of Canadian clarinetist Wesley Ferreira and American guitarist Jaxon Williams, this spirited duo tackles a diverse range of new works by living composers – including themselves.

Today, Jâca is our featured ensemble on “The Inside Story,” a blog series exploring the inner workings and personalities of our composers and performers. Read on to learn about their use of meditation in performance preparation, and what the adage “it’s a marathon, not a sprint,” means to them…

What inspires you to write/arrange music?

There is not much existing music for Clarinet and Guitar compared to other more common ensembles. When we first started playing together, we quickly burned through the most commonly played music for clarinet and guitar and were left wanting more. Since then, we have worked to commission and premiere various new works for the ensemble, we’ve made arrangements, and we have even begun composing our own music, all in an effort to provide more music for clarinet and guitar. We hope to be an inspiration for future musicians who want to play in this ensemble, and a source they can look to for fresh new music.

What advice do you have for young musicians?

We live by the adage “it’s a marathon, not a sprint,” and have always found that to be true as musicians. Young musicians spend a lot of time honing their craft and getting better, and they know it takes time to build your skillset, but can get impatient or frustrated when it comes time to build their performance careers. The best advice we can provide as a duo is to take it slow and steady and to never stop building. Many of us musicians were hit hard by the pandemic and lost a lot of steam, but it’s those who kept pushing ahead who are now seeing success post-pandemic. Whether it’s a global pandemic or personal challenges, those who keep going and are ready to adapt and change will see the success they want.

How have your influences changed as you grow as a musician?

Growing up, we looked up to many of the top soloists of our respective instruments. Now, as we work as a duo, we are continually inspired by our colleagues and friends who also perform in chamber music ensembles. In this era of such an explosion of creativity, we are also inspired and influenced by groups who are forging ahead into new territory, and doing new and interesting things. We work to do the same with our instruments and our ensembles.

How do you prepare for a performance?

First off, there’s no substitute for personal practice and group rehearsal. We make sure we have our performances as prepared as possible so we can go out on stage with everything totally ready. Additionally, we have both become increasingly interested in meditation as a way to prepare for performance. It’s a fantastic way to center yourself, turn off chatter in the brain, and get to a state of focus.

Where and when are you at your most creative?

As a duo, we have to manage many aspects of being musicians, and not all of them are creative! It can be easy to get caught up in the bustle of administrative work, promotional work, and even just practicing and performing the music you have already put together. We try to make a point to regularly get together for one week and do a “creative retreat,” where we can foster an environment of pure creativity. We try to find a remote place with little connection to the real world where we can really dive deep in our most creative state. We bring our raw ideas related to music, performance, and even strategic direction, and always come out with valuable new material and insights that help shape our future as a duo.

What are your other passions besides music?

While music does consume a big part of our lives, we have a lot of hobbies and passions in addition to music. Wesley enjoys spending time with his wife and 3 children, attending their performances and sporting events, and as a Canadian he is an avid hockey fan. He’s also a coffee connoisseur and loves a good top notch brew. Jaxon loves staying active and is an avid runner. He also loves getting creative in the kitchen and whipping up an improvised meal from whatever’s in the fridge and pantry!

Explore Jâca’s Latest Release

BREAKTHROUGH - album cover


BREAKTHROUGH is available now from Navona Records. Click here to visit the catalog page and explore this album.