Theo, your AMMA mouthpiece is just the mouthpiece sax players have been waiting for. There is no need to look for vintage mouthpieces anymore. It's right in the tradition, and made with unrivaled expertise and craftsmanship. I believe the Amma sets a new standard in saxophone mouthpieces.Your mastery with saxophone mouthpieces has allowed me to fully express my own artistry as a musician!
Jeff Rupert's numerous recordings include those with Diane Schuur, Mel Torme, Maynard Ferguson, Benny Carteru0092s Grammy winning recording Harlem Renaissance, Sam Riveru0092s NJ blues band The Fins, Jeff Rupert + Dirty Martini, and broadcasts on NPR.Festivals Jeff has performed at include: Chicago Blues festival four times, the Montreux Jazz festival, the Montreux festival/Japan, the Lucerne Jazz festival, the Jamaica Jazz festival, The Aruba Jazz festival, Bishopstock in Devon, England, The Jubileums Blues festival in Hamar, Norway, The Pori Jazz Festival in Finland, the Guinness Jazz Festival in Cork, Ireland, as well as numerous other festivals throughout the world. Jeff is the Associate Professor of Music and Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Central Florida. More information is available at: http://music.ucf.edu/jazz/rupert.phpThis October Jeff joins the Kenny Drew, jr. Quartet at the Clearwater Jazz Holiday. Recently Jeff and Warner Bros. session musicians have rekindled their love of Brazilian music with Jeff Rupert + Dirty Martini. Their debut recording is Save your love for me.
Why did you choose to become a musician?
While it sounds like a cliche, I feel like it was a little bit of "it chose me, and I chose it". The bottom line is I feel like I chose to be a musician because there was nothing else I wanted to do.
What is your experience when you feel connected into the music?
It's usually an afterthought about soloing, and being connected with the rhythm section. I usually realize, "hey that was a lot of fun" right after the fact. The reality is jazz is social music, it’s not about the individual, but yet has everything to do with individuality. The sensation of "saying something" within a musical context is very gratifying.
What is your experience of when you don't feel connected to your music?
If that happens I feel like I need to step it up, and take it to the next level, connect somehow with the musicians and the vibe of the piece, or what it is we should be saying or doing in a musical context. I feel strongly that while music is a craft based art form, that the craft is merely a tool for artistic expression. Music is not a sport, there is no varsity band. It’s all about the artistic endeavor. I believe Stravinsky points out in his book "Poetics of Music", "that music is a chronological art form". Simply stated, music is art that happens in time. Embracing the "here and now" of music, and being in the moment is an important element with regard to connection in music.
Where does your inspiration comes from? What does it feel like?
Trying to play with a good sound and in time! In a very basic sense I feel like there are two choices in life, either to be a credit or debt to society. Everyone has some way of making the world a better place for us all. Sometimes we don't know or realize how our positive efforts can impact the world, but they do- all of the good things we do have an effect and are important in our time here. Trying to play beautiful music is extremely gratifying, and the effort to be a credit is inspirational in itself.
What is your experience while improvising? Does it relate to any spirituality you may practice in your life?
That's hard to put into words. Practicing is methodical, and full of intention but the experience of improvising, or performance can be vastly different. While I don't know much about the samurai swordsmen, a philosopher who was a jazz fan posed a question to me; He said that when the samurai reaches the highest level, he actually puts the sword down and never uses it again, (and as I understood the story, needed to prove his abilities no more). He asked me what would I do if I ever felt like I reached that point. As a practicing musician, I laughed, because the concept of getting to that point seems impossible, but his question had an effect on me. It made me ask some important personal questions, like what was my pursuit of technical ability for, and how is it serving my ultimate goal as a musician? This contemplation had a tremendous effect on the pursuance of my goals. I was enlightened to think about what is important to me in music, and specifically the content of improvisation.
If I take my wife to an art gallery for example, we talk about the mood of a collection, or pieces, or try to embrace the artistic endeavor. It would be odd to go to an art gallery and say that this or that artist has more chops than another. While music is a craft based art form, the artistic pursuance is the goal. Art is a subset of the humanities, and I believe the humanities are an expression of the human experience.
Where does your inspiration while composing come from? What is your experience of that inspiration like?
Some explain improvisation as being instant composition. I see composition as improvisation out of time. In short, it’s all the same inspiration, although when composing, aside from trying to create a mood, for me it’s important to create a meaningful vehicle for improvisation.
Do you have any fun stories of inspirational moments to share?
You know so many talented musicians, Theo and I'm sure they've all played in great halls and venues, and have great stories. I've played at a lot of amazing venues around the world, and am
gratified for these opportunities. There was one performance incident that moved me more than others. It was a nondescript gig subsidized by the city- we were hired to play a noontime concert at the bus station!
There were people coming and going, a lot of them listening while waiting for their bus. There were a couple of homeless men who listened the whole time. We kicked into a familiar tune, and both of them charged the stage, and were so moved that they started singing along with me playing the tenor. They weren't professional musicians, and weren't looking for any kind of spotlight- they were simply moved by the music, and they got it! They were both in the moment, and we were all connected, despite being strangers from different walks of life. On top of that one of the guys conveyed a sense of contentment that was moving. How lucky was I to be a part of that?