Saxophonist Ben Schachter Pursues his Musical Vision
Schachter grew up in South Jersey, the son of jazz-loving parents who frequently took him to concerts in Philly. He took up the clarinet in grade school, then switched to sax as a teen before heading to the Berklee College of Music and the New England Conservatory.
After college he returned home to Philly where he played the odd gig and worked, for a time, in his father’s insurance business. But Schachter knew music was his calling. “Most musicians are oddballs in that sense—I knew by age 14 I wanted to be playing music my whole life.”
However, Schachter wasn’t content just to play his horn. He knew he wanted to compose and to lead his own group—an ambitious plan for a young musician with few contacts and no record deal.
“I have great respect for the kind of artistry that it takes to be a sideman,” Schachter says. “But it’s very different to lead your own group. There’s a certain amount of stubbornness that leads to this decision. You want to do things your way. When we look at the musicians who have inspired us so much, it’s been those who have persevered in trying to communicate their own musical vision.
“I feel as if I have that vision,” he adds. “So I might as well do whatever it takes—viable or not— to try to communicate that.”
As for being snapped up by the likes of Blue Note or Verve, Schachter says he wouldn’t mind—running his own label isn’t easy.
“But I’m not whining,” he says. “I made the choice to do this. I just want my own niche and the freedom to continue doing what I do.”