Musical collective
The way of Jeff Coffin

Image Credits: Jeff Coffin © Jeff Coffin

August 28, 2017
Former member of Bela Fleck & the Flecktones and now saxophonist with Dave Matthews Band and Mu’tet, the Grammy winner Jeff Coffin is living a very busy period divided between the publication of the new album Next Time Yellow, touring with Viridian Trio and the Ear Up Records
> Ivano Rossato

You had a busy July with the Viridian Trio project and the release of Next Time Yellow.
It all started of in my 24×24 feet studio, where we do a lot of jam sessions, we just explore music, try things and see what happens. And when I recorded Next Time Yellow I decided to take a day to do my music, so I called up some of my favorite players, we set up two studio sessions that day, just to see what I could get. And I really liked what I got! So I augmented the recordings adding some overdub, did little bit of editing here and there, and I thought “Ok I’m getting to put it out”. Talkin about the Viridian Trio, the opportunity came to me to go to Tuva (Mongolia). They said “We can only pay for a trio”. So I called two good friends of mine, Felix Pastorius (bass) and Jordan Perlson (drums). We’ll probably record in September after we come back from Tuva and release with my label Ear Up Records.

Next Time Yellow doesn’t sound “sax and band”; is it your musical philosophy?
You get it, that’s kinda my philosophy in general! A lot of my other records are not “saxophone centric” necessarily. I write the music which is the big part of it, and I feel that my contribution is important as the other contribution as well. And because of that, I try to give people as much room as I possibly can in the recording. I look for musicians with personality, a willingness to explore, a confidence. And all these elements I hear in their sound. Also it’s important the way they leave space for a dialogue with everyone else, their willing to be part of a collective.
What is the future for record industry?
The record industry made huge mistakes years ago in not embracing the technology. They tried to stop it and all they did is to piss people off! When I rent a movie from iTunes I have 24h to watch it and then it’s gone. Where is this technology with music? So it’s kind of like Pandora’s box and now it’s open! And you can’t close it. As an artist, as a label owner, as a composer, as a educator this is the stuff I have to deal with. The thing that bothers me about the streaming services is that someone is getting rich, and it’s not the artist. I think that we, as artists, have to be entrepreneurs also, and it doesn’t mean I want to have my clothing line or a cologne or anything! But taking matter into your own hands is not a bad idea.
What do you suggest to a young musician who wants to be a professional?
The “Big 5 Fundamentals” are: Listening, that is the most important thing… as a human being, period. If you rearrange the letters of “listen” you obtain “silent”, isn’t that great? Tone & Dynamics is your identity. Articulation is about clarity of an idea, an intention, a vision. Pretty much always, in the world, we are surrounded by rhythms that are not in time, so we have to learn Rhythm & Time. The last thing is Harmony, the relationship between tones. All these are the roots of Music, and talking about relationship between people, of Life too!
What is the role of the artist?
We have a responsibility. Philosophically, politically and socially, I think what’s happening in this country and other countries is an aberration. I think that humanity is getting lost. So part of my responsibility is to try to inspire, to lead by example. It’s the idea that this is all connected up, I think is very important in realizing that we do have a social responsibility to other people, to humanity, to the earth, to generations that came before us and that will come after.

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