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Joseph Herbst

Composer, arranger, copyist, and saxophonist Joseph Herbst uses music as a medium for storytelling, often as part of collaborative projects, in order to push ourselves to see the world in different ways while strengthening our sense of community. Though adept in a variety of styles, Joseph’s musical signature is shaped by his years at Michigan State University, combining his classical saxophone studies with internationally acclaimed saxophonist, Joe Lulloff, his arranging & composition studies with and music supervision for Etienne Charles, and his jazz saxophone and composition studies with Diego Rivera. Since 2018, Joseph has been leading multiple projects, starting with “This is Our Environment” and the Joseph Herbst Sextet, an evolving project that brings together original music, spoken word, and environmental justice in order to challenge our understanding of the environment to push us towards a more just and equitable society founded on a sense of community. Joseph also leads his own big band, performing original compositions and arrangements in themed shows, including “Coltrane Celebration” featuring the words and writings of Coltrane performed alongside music inspired by the life of Coltrane and “This Magical World” featuring music inspired by Bill Watterson’s Calvin & Hobbes accompanied by coloring books designed by Michael Cole.

When not leading his own projects, Joseph is working avidly as a composer, arranger, saxophonist, and copyist. Joseph’s arrangements have been performed by many world-class musicians, including Etienne Charles, Rodney Whitaker, Mark Whitfield, and Harvey Mason, as well as commissions by Rodney Whitaker for the Dr. Phillips Jazz Orchestra, Michael Dease, the UNT Jazz Trombone Ensemble, and the Sencalar/Glassman Quintet. Currently residing in Asheville, NC, Joseph is one of the most in demand saxophonists, clarinetists, and flutists in the region. With a goal of assisting bandleaders, Joseph works regularly as a copyist, most notably with Etienne Charles.

In bios, many artists discuss their influences. I believe that the most unique influences on my music are those which are outside of music, those which deeply affect my life.

Star Trek is my standard for composing and arranging. The stories I experience while watching Star Trek have such a deep and profound impact on me that I wish to recreate those experiences through my music. Many episodes place us in moral dilemmas that are more often than not left partially unanswered, challenging the viewer to think deeper both about personal and societal experiences and issues.

Airplane is hands down the greatest movie ever created. Perhaps it’s more of an influence on my life and personality than on my music, but nonetheless, if you’ve talked with me, you’ve heard me talk about Airplane. I could go into many deeper discussions around the beauty of this movie, but ask me that at one of my gigs. All you really need to know is that it is the greatest movie ever made.

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Album Review

Joseph Herbst: This is Our Environment

Read "This is Our Environment" reviewed by Josh Deakin

Joseph Herbst has released something truly original with This Is Our Environment. The record itself is a complex intertwining of jazz and spoken word that blends together for a beautiful product. The instrumentals keep the spoken word element alive and flowing throughout the record and offers a channel for Herbst to speak out on some important topics. The spoken word comes out as a slam poetry accompaniment to the coffeehouse instrumentals. The verses are powerful, often politically charged ...

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Saxophonist Joseph Herbst Blends Speech And Song To Highlight The Intersectionality Of Environmental And Social Justice With 'This Is Our Environment'

Saxophonist Joseph Herbst Blends Speech And Song To Highlight The Intersectionality Of Environmental And Social Justice With 'This Is Our Environment'

Source: Outside in Music

Joseph Herbst is a saxophonist and composer, but more than that, he is an activist who uses his artistry to speak up alongside the people, places, and causes whose voices are often overlooked. This Is Our Environment, Herbst’s debut album, uses this artistry to do exactly that as, via through-composed sextet music rooted in jazz elements and master-crafted spoken word poetry, he weaves a tapestry of musical allegories, stories, and images that champion the causes of environmental and social justice ...

Primary Instrument




Willing to teach

Beginner to advanced


I am available for lessons for saxophone, clarinet, improvising, and composing & arranging. Rates are $30 half hour and $50 per hour.


Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

This is Our...

Next Level


They Say There Are Beautiful Trees

From: This is Our Environment
By Joseph Herbst


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