This is a recording that may have escaped the notice of many musicians, especially flutists. Ed Joffe may not be a household name; he is more what you might call a musician’s musician. As such he is worthy of attention from anyone even remotely interested in woodwind doubling. Joffe is a performer who has spent a lifetime performing, studying and teaching the intricacies involved in gaining mastery over the flute along with the clarinet and saxophone.
I was deeply saddened by the passing of Chris Vadala, our expert on this subject, as he was also a personal friend since my days at the University of Maryland. But I was also concerned about how we would replace him, as this is an important topic. So I was particularly pleased when David Pietro introduced me to Ed Joffe
Edward Joffe has been a vital part of the New York music scene for forty years as a multiple woodwind performer on all saxophones, clarinets and flutes. He holds advanced degrees from Queens College (M.S. in Music Education), The Juilliard School (M.M in Performance) and The Graduate Center of the City College of New York (D.M.A. in Performance). His musical mentors have included Joe Allard, Tom Nyfenger, Eddie Daniels, Ron Reuben, Peter Simenauer, Joseph Rabbai, Paul Dunkel, Michael Parloff, Keith Underwood, Bob Mover, Bob Porcelli and Sandra Miller.
Dr. Joffe has performed in every type of musical situation and taught from elementary school through graduate school. He works in Broadway shows, records in multiple genres and performs solo recitals frequently throughout the New York area.
Most importantly, from 1992 to 2014, Dr. Joffe was Director of Woodwinds & Jazz Studies at New Jersey City University, in Jersey City where he developed and taught a Masters Degree course in Woodwind Doubling. It is our intention to bring you a version of that course as we develop our subscription series on techniques and genres. We will also shortly provide a review of Dr. Joffe‘s groundbreaking text on the subject, Woodwind Doubling: Saxophone, Clarinet, Flute.
In the meantime, Ed Joffe has issued a recording that lays out the all the performance qualities he writes about. According to renowned musician/author Bill Kirchner:
Contrasts reflects all of Ed Joffe’s many years of experience as a performer, educator, conductor, and musical thinker. It exhibits his eclectic musical interests, as well as his deep awareness of many of the best musicians in New York City. All of these players get put to the test here in multifarious ways, and all deliver first-rate performances.
“While we get to hear him play at a virtuoso level on virtually all of his instruments, he has generously chosen to share the spotlight with a number of other great players. But that is perhaps the best indication of who Ed Joffe is—a musician totally in service of the music. His concept is to play music of the highest caliber, whether it features him as a soloist or a section player or both. The idea of a “look Ma, no hands” dazzler doesn’t interest him.
So whatever your musical tastes, prepare to have your listening “chops” challenged. You are about to take a unique musical journey.”
These are not idle claims. This recording represents the highest level of quality in woodwind performance, primarily in jazz but also across a variety of genres. Joffe himself leads a saxophone section on Journeys, What’s New and Big Brother, appears as flute soloist on Bordel 1900, and Concert d’aujourd’hui, clarinetist on the title work, Contrasts, a three-movement piece for clarinet, violin and piano by Béla Bartók, as well as the tribute to Buddy DeFranco, It’s About Buddy. Elsewhere he is heard on soprano saxophone, bass clarinet . . . Overall it is nothing less than a tour de force, a demonstration of the growing trend which expects doublers to achieve the highest level of achievement on all their instruments.
That is not to say that this is some kind of educational demo disk. There is some great music here, to be enjoyed on many levels: classical players will appreciate the Bartók and other woodwind selections, big band lovers will be impressed by this saxophone section and there is Piazzolla, William Walton, Antonio Carlos Jobim. . . but not breadth without depth. This music is beautifully played by all concerned and required listening for woodwind doublers.
Selections: 1. Journeys 2. Variations On An Autumn Theme 3. The Dome Cathedral 4. Bordel 1900 5-7. Contrasts 8. Dindi 9. Oblivion 10. It’s About Buddy 11. Concert d’aujourd’hui 12. Mariner Men 13. What’s New 14. Big Bruiser
Saxophones/Woodwinds: Ed Joffe—lead soprano/alto saxophones, flute/alto flute, clarinet/bass clarinet; Lawrence Feldman—alto saxophone, flute/alto flute/bass flute; Bob Malach–tenor saxophone, alto flute; Dan Willis– tenor saxophone, alto flute; Roger Rosenberg—baritone saxophone, alto flute; Tom Ranier, piano/clarinet; Jeanne Wilson, piccolo
Brass: Mike Davis, trombone; Richie Vitale, trumpet/flugelhorn;
Rhythm Section: Allen Farnham, piano; Andy Eulau, bass; Tim Horner, drums; Larry Saltzman, guitar; Howard Alden, guitar; Scott Kuney, guitar; Larry Spivack, vibraphone; James Saporito, snare drum; Memo Acevedo, Latin percussion; Carolyn Leonhart, vocals; Cameron Grant, piano;
Strings: Kurt Nikkanen, Mike Roth, Derek Ratzenboeck, violins; Liuh-Wen Ting, Sue Pray, violas; Fred Zlotkin, cello; Ron Wasserman, bass; Sara Cutler, harp
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