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Take Five with Jeff Lofton

Jeff Lofton By

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About Jeff Lofton

Jazz trumpeter and composer Jeff Lofton is a Grammy member and two time SXSW Austin Music Awards winner.

His creativity, musical integrity and talent has been well-received in both his 1950's Miles Davis tribute as well as his original material. In 2009 the City of Austin proclaimed January 15th "Jeff Lofton Day." He has performed at jazz venues such as Snug Harbor in New Orleans, and The Iridium, in NY, as well as regional central Texas performance venues. He has received ongoing positive press and regional and national attention such as All About Jazz, JazzTimes, and Downbeat magazines. In 2015 he was named an American Icon in Macy's national ad campaign supporting "Got Your 6" programs benefiting U.S. veterans and their families.

Jeff Lofton's reputation for professionalism as well as his approachable sound has made him one of the most sought after jazz performers in central Texas. Jeff has performed for members of the Texas legislature, for Austin city council's inauguration, for both the Governor and Lt. Governor of Texas.

Lofton studied composition at the University of South Carolina and moved to Austin in 2007 at the age of 40. Since then his career has grown from being mostly unknown, to a local favorite and to national and international recognition.

Instrument:

Trumpet.

Teachers and/or influences?

Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Clifford Brown, Freddie Hubbard, Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, and Thelonious Monk.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...

In high school after hearing Beethoven's 9th.

Your sound and approach to music.

I've worked on my tone for a long time and really think it's a unique sound. I'm always working on tying ideas together making a well developed solo that does not repeat itself. Constant creation and great melodic and rhythmic integrity are my goals.

Your teaching approach

Find out how the student learns and work within that confine and always stay positive.

Your dream band

I'd really like to work with Joey Alexander, Chris Potter, Vince Wilburn Jr., and Linda May Han Oh.

Road story: Your best or worst experience

BEST: Meeting Sonny Rollins and connecting with the Miles Davis family with Vince Wilburn Jr. and Erin Davis. WORST: Pianist missing the first set on my Snug Harbor performance with Jason Marsalis on drums.

Favorite venue

Stateside Theatre at the Paramount in Austin.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why?

Jericho because I got the record with Dr. James Polk, Ernie Durawa, Carolyn Wonderland and Murali Coryell.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?

I push the ideas of what the horn can do. I've been working on new techniques with single tonguing and using the no pressure system of playing and working on how to incorporate it into my solos. I'm also really into the development of melody in my playing so that pure technique is never the point but just an avenue to the music.

Did you know...

I co-produced two billboard charted hip hop recordings in 1999 and 2000. The Gutsmen Calling a Spade A Spade and Legend Make It Hot.

The first jazz album I bought was:

Miles Davis My Funny Valentine: Miles Davis in Concert (1965).

Music you are listening to now:

Ellington-Coltrane: In A Sentimental Mood
Horace Silver: Senor Blues
Kenny Burrell: Midnight Blue
Miles Davis: Miles In The Sky
Sun Ra: God Is More Than Love Can Ever Be

Desert Island picks:

Miles Davis: Kind Of Blue
Duke Ellington: Jazz Party
Art Ensemble Of Chicago: Third Decade
Leonard Bernstein: Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra: Mahler's Symphony. No.1
John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman

How would you describe the state of jazz today?

Jazz is alive and well.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?

New people coming to the music and jazz connecting with other musical forms is the key.

What is in the near future?

More recording both straight-ahead jazz and with my fusion group the JL Electric Thang, working on a performance of the Hayden Trumpet concerto, bringing my Miles Davis 1950's tribute to more cities.

What is your greatest fear when you perform?

Mute falling out. LOL!

What song would you like played at your funeral?

"Shana's Song"

What is your favorite song to whistle or sing in the shower?

"The Dry Cleaner from Des Moines" (Joni Mitchell's lyrics!)

If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a:

Physicist.

If I could have dinner with anyone from history, who would it be and why?

Duke Ellington because of the post meal jam session.

Other than Music, what do you enjoy as a pastime?

Speed Chess.
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