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Jeff Coffin: “Through Imitation Comes Originality”


This interview delves into the musical odyssey of renowned saxophonist Jeff Coffin, tracing the origins of his sax career from a small town in Maine to his pivotal moments at the University of North Texas. Coffin shares his early influences, emphasizing a diverse musical palette ranging from Dave Brubeck to John Coltrane. Reflecting on his development as a musician, Coffin discusses the balance between structured learning and self-discovery, emphasizing the significance of LISTENING in a jazz saxophonist’s daily practice.

The interview explores Coffin’s values as both a human and a musician, highlighting compassion, love, gratitude, and a commitment to exploration. He provides valuable advice on developing the ear and improvisational skills, emphasizing the importance of imitation in fostering originality. Coffin compares the dynamics of live performances and studio sessions, expressing a preference for the spontaneity of live shows. He touches on the challenge of balancing personal and professional life, acknowledging the ongoing pursuit of equilibrium.

Coffin reflects on the evolution of jazz education, suggesting a broader exploration of music beyond jazz for aspiring musicians. He shares insights into his preferred gear and encourages musicians to choose equipment based on personal preference rather than emulation. The interview concludes with Coffin’s advice for aspiring jazz enthusiasts, emphasizing a devotion to music in its entirety and urging a comprehensive musical education.

In a candid discussion, Coffin addresses performance anxiety among jazz musicians, sharing experiences of self-doubt and emphasizing the sacred nature of the stage. He offers practical advice for handling criticism and navigating onstage moments with humility and preparedness. The interview closes with Coffin’s favorites, from jazz musicians and pieces to his appreciation for Barber’s Adagio for Strings, providing a comprehensive glimpse into the multifaceted world of Jeff Coffin’s musical journey.

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ISSN: 2792-8349

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International Journal of Music