Derek Brown — “All Figured Out” (2020) & “Symbiosis” with Jeff Coffin (Ear Up Records, 2021)

Cite this article as:

Derek Brown. (April 16, 2021). Derek Brown — “All Figured Out” (2020) & “Symbiosis” with Jeff Coffin (Ear Up Records, 2021). International Journal of Music. Accessed July 13, 2024.

As a saxophonist deeply engrossed in the world of music, the past few years have been a whirlwind of exploration and collaboration, pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone and delving into uncharted territories. The release of two albums, “Symbiosis” with Jeff Coffin and “All Figured Out” with the Holland Concert Jazz Orchestra, marked significant milestones in my artistic journey. In this reflection, I aim to delve into the creative process and the evolution of my musical expression.


“Symbiosis,” a collaborative effort with the esteemed saxophonist Jeff Coffin, stands as a testament to the unexpected beauty that can arise when two musical minds converge. Jeff has been a saxophone hero of mine, and the opportunity to work alongside him was a dream come true. The genesis of this collaboration took root in chance encounters at music trade shows and jazz conferences. Our paths kept crossing until the idea of recording together materialized.

The collaborative process was an enriching experience that unfolded organically. Our initial meeting led to the creation of three videos, with “The Jackalope” gaining particular popularity. Years later, during my Fifty Fifty tour, Jeff suggested a more extensive collaboration. Nervous about relinquishing my solitary musical journey, I ventured to his Nashville studio in November 2019. Over four intense days, we wrote and recorded the entire album, embracing an acoustic approach akin to my solo work. The experience compelled me to break free from the confines of solo saxophone, challenging me to explore new realms of creativity.

In “Symbiosis,” the roles of rhythm section players seamlessly shift between us. This dynamic interplay allowed me to step outside my accustomed role and reinvigorate my approach to music. Collaborating with Jeff Coffin not only pushed my creative boundaries but also emphasized the transformative power of engaging with other musicians.

All Figured Out

“All Figured Out,” my summer release in 2020, presented an entirely different musical landscape. This album, recorded with the Holland Concert Jazz Orchestra, was a culmination of diverse influences and an ode to my perpetual quest for a grander sonic palette.

The collaboration with the Holland Concert Jazz Orchestra was serendipitous, sparked by a connection with the director of Hope College. The concept of integrating my beatbox techniques into big band arrangements prompted me to compose music that complemented my unique style. The orchestra, comprising various instruments and even featuring a Brazilian drumming group, presented an expansive canvas for experimentation.

Recorded in February 2020, “All Figured Out” emerged as a personal favorite. The diverse instrumentation, ranging from strings to an electric guitar, allowed me to weave a rich tapestry of sound. Breaking away from the constraints of solo saxophone, I reveled in the opportunity to explore epic pop music influences. The orchestra and I embarked on a musical journey that was both challenging and immensely satisfying.

Conclusions: Embracing Evolution

Reflecting on these two albums, I am reminded of the importance of challenging oneself and embracing evolution in the creative process. “Symbiosis” underscored the beauty of collaboration, urging me to step outside the solitary realm of solo saxophone. Jeff Coffin’s influence and our harmonious exchange opened new avenues for exploration.

“All Figured Out,” on the other hand, epitomized the joy of orchestrating a diverse ensemble, breaking away from the confines of solo performance. The album became a testament to the boundless possibilities that unfold when one dares to dream beyond established comfort zones.

As I contemplate future endeavors, the lessons learned from these albums linger. The necessity of preaching to oneself, keeping challenges alive, and constantly seeking new avenues for creative expression resonate deeply. The allure of orchestral compositions and the prospect of entirely improvised concerts now dance on the periphery of my musical aspirations.

In conclusion, the journey through “Symbiosis” and “All Figured Out” has been transformative, a symphony of growth and exploration. As I navigate the musical frontiers that lie ahead, the echoes of collaboration and diversity will undoubtedly shape my path, propelling me toward new horizons in the ever-evolving landscape of my musical expression.

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