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Aaron Irwin

Saxophonist, multi-woodwind instrumentalist, and composer Aaron Irwin is from central IL. Recognized as a “lyrical alto saxophonist and a compelling original composer” (Steve Futterman, The New Yorker), Irwin is a sought-after commodity in both the jazz and commercial worlds. His latest recording (After) will be released on Adhyâropa Records in May of 2024 featuring longtime bandmates Mike Baggetta on guitar and Jeff Hirshfield on drums. He has eight other recordings as a leader with instrumentations spanning from trio to sextet. In addition to his own groups, Irwin has performed with many leading jazz voices in the New York music community including the Grammy-nominated, Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, Jamie Baum’s Septet +, Bob Sabin’s Tentet, The Mike Fahie Jazz Orchestra, the mixed wind group Weathervest, as well as pop artists Kristen Chenoweth, Rufus Wainwright, Josh Groban, Idina Menzel, and The Roots. Irwin maintaines a busy schedule as a freelance musician, performing in jazz clubs, concert halls, and Broadway theatres, working with many of New York’s finest musicians and bands.

Irwin holds a bachelor’s degree in music from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois and a master’s degree in music from the University of Miami in Miami, Florida. He is a dedicated educator with over 20 years of teaching experience, and is on faculty at the Packer Collegiate Institute in Brooklyn, New York, having served as adjunct saxophone professor at Towson University in Baltimore, Maryland from 2017-2023.

He lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn with his wife and two cats.


Album Review

Bobby Kapp: Synergy

Read "Synergy" reviewed by Jack Bowers

The subtitle of Synergy is “Bobby Kapp plays the music of Richard Sussman," which is true to some extent. To be more precise, drummer Kapp is at the heart of a septet, conducted by Scott Reeves, that features composer Sussman at the piano. So, while “Bobby Kapp plays" is technically correct, it does not represent the whole picture. What is more, this is a group with a rather unusual front line of violin, clarinet, tenor sax and French ...

Album Review

Mike Fahie Jazz Orchestra: Urban(e)

Read "Urban(e)" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

There's a rocky history surrounding jazz-classical hybrids. But, in truth, that has little to do with any potential incompatibility. Instead, it's usually misguided maneuvering and/or an excessive show of dominant traits from one side or the other that mars said unions. When done right a wedding of those worlds can truly birth brilliance. Just listen to Urban(e) for proof. Noted trombonist, composer, arranger and educator Mike Fahie's unabashed love for classical music and jazz is clear and ...

Album Review

Mike Fahie Jazz Orchestra: Urban(e)

Read "Urban(e)" reviewed by Jack Bowers

Most Western music, irrespective of its origin and premise, inhabits the same harmonic, chordal and rhythmic universe. So it should not be surprising that classical music, in the hands of a skilled arranger, can be readily recast in a jazz idiom, even one that is housed within a big-band framework. On Urban(e), trombonist Mike Fahie's New York-based Jazz Orchestra braves that challenge, quickening Fahie's translations of works by Frederic Chopin, Igor Stravinsky, Claude Debussy, Bela Bartok, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky and ...

Album Review

Aaron Irwin Quartet: A Room Forever

Read "A Room Forever" reviewed by Neri Pollastri

Quartetto dall'approccio molto cameristico questo messo assieme dal clarinettista e compositore statunitense, oggi di stanza a New York. Un camerismo che viene esaltato da un lato dalla formazione, priva di batteria, e dall'altro dalle ispirazioni extramusicali delle composizioni, che fanno riferimento ai racconti dello scrittore statunitense Breece D'J Pancake, morto suicida nel 1979 a soli ventisette anni. Non che le musiche di questo A Room Forever non abbiano un'autonomia rispetto ai racconti di Pancake da cui sono ispirate ...

Album Review

Aaron Irwin Quartet: A Room Forever

Read "A Room Forever" reviewed by Budd Kopman

Reedman Aaron Irwin is a very ambitious composer and on his latest, A Room Forever, shows how to plumb emotional depths with subtlety and grace. The inspiration for this music is the short stories by Breece Dexter John Pancake, sometimes written Breece D'J Pancake, the spelling of which comes from a typo in the Atlantic Magazine. Pancake lived to be only twenty- six and died by his own hand; his stories focus on his native West ...

Album Review

Vicious World: Plays the Music of Rufus Wainwright

Read "Plays the Music of Rufus Wainwright" reviewed by Andrew J. Sammut

Vicious World might have a field day on its tribute to the music of Rufus Wainwright, except the tunes are rarely that lighthearted. Let's just say the septet is moved to musical tears by the singer/songwriter's earnest melodies and bittersweet harmonies. Even that's putting it mildly. Anxious strings introduce Aaron Irwin's alto sax on the dejected “Going to a Town." “Natasha" pits the innocence of violin and clarinet against Matthew McDonald's bittersweet trombone, choreographing a beautiful, fragile ...

Album Review

Aaron Irwin: Blood and Thunder

Read "Blood and Thunder" reviewed by Dan McClenaghan

Blood and Thunder sounds like a title that Bob Dylan would give to one of his albums--a mixture of Blood on the Tracks (Columbia Records, 1975) and “Thunder on the Mountain," the opening cut on Modern Times (Columbia Records, 2006). But alto saxophonist Aaron Irwin--thirty years old, bespectacled and white shirt-and-tied in the mode of early Elvis Costello--is the musician behind this Fresh Sound New Talent outing.Having mentioned a couple of rock artists, it should be noted that ...

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Recent Listening: Aaron Irwin

Recent Listening: Aaron Irwin

Source: Rifftides by Doug Ramsey

Aaron Irwin Group, Blood and Thunder (Fresh Sound New Talent). In a tray card photograph, we see the 30-year-old alto saxophonist drinking a glass of milk and looking about eighteen. Irwin's compositions and arrangements have a concomitant freshness about them, and resourcefulness. His writing tends to make his quintet sound bigger. There is no piano; Ben Monder's guitar has the chording assignment. Chris Cheek's tenor sax adds a third melody voice. Both solo with economy and plenty of unexpected turns, ...

Wire Magazine (Stewart Smith)

Irwin and his fellow players constantly surprise and delight. Through their subtle application of leftfield approaches, they reveal the strain of Weird America running through the project.

International Clarinet Association (Joseph Howell)

Throughout his discography, his entire conception as a bandleader and improviser is very thoughtful and musical. His improvised solos rarely if ever rely on the familiar saxophonist habits of machine-gunned, patterned lines, staying faithful to the overall composition and mood of the material he is interpreting. His clarinet sound is beautiful and though one would not doubt his awareness of the legacies of such recent jazz clarinet personalities as Eddie Daniels and Don Byron, his approach is all his own. Perhaps being primarily a saxophonist and composer of more recent New York jazz trends has aided his having a different approach, with an outsider’s perspective. In any case, he has put in the time to develop a great ‘classical’ tone and facility on the clarinet and is no slouch on the instrument itself. Clarinet and jazz circles alike, today, often say they want to hear something new, something different. If that is truly the case, I strongly recommend listening to Aaron Irwin’s A Room Forever. It is not only different; it is beautiful.

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Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson


Adhyâropa Records



Self Produced


Music For Sextet

Self Produced



Greenleaf Music



Fresh Sound Records


A Room Forever

Self Produced


Recuerdo (after Edna St. Vincent Millay)

From: (After)
By Aaron Irwin

The Mark

From: A Room Forever
By Aaron Irwin



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