Born: 1960 Primary Instrument: Saxophone
Saxophonist, composer and author Walt Weiskopf began his New York career performing with the Buddy Rich Big Band in 1981 at the age of 21. Since then, he has made an impressive mark as both a leader and sideman with 12 critically-acclaimed CDs and countless sideman credits, including performing and recording with Frank Sinatra, Steely Dan, Donald Fagen and Steve Smith's Jazz Legacy. A dynamic player with enormous technical prowess, Walt is equally well-regarded as a composer and his CDs contain predominantly original work. His five books on advanced topics in improvisation are among the most respected in the field. He lives in New Jersey and is an Associate Professor at the Eastman School of Music.
In 1983, Walt began a fourteen-year association with jazz pianist and arranger Toshiko Akiyoshi, making seven recordings and touring the United States, Japan and Europe several times with her orchestra. During this time, he began recording his own material.
Tenor saxophonist, Weiskopf was born in Augusta, Georgia and grew up in Syracuse, New York. An Eastman alumnus, earning a bachelor of music degree in 1980, Weiskopf joined the Eastman faculty in fall 2002. While a student at Eastman, he studied saxophone with Ramon Ricker who, 10 years later, teamed up with Weiskopf to write Coltrane: A Player's Guide to His Harmony and The Augmented Scale in Jazz (both are published by Jamey Aebersold). Downbeat's Trent Kynaston called Coltrane the best treatise I have seen on the study of Coltrane substitutions. Walt completed two more books; Intervalic Improvisation in 1994 and Around the Horn in 2000.
In the fall of 1980 Weiskopf moved to New York City, and joined the Buddy Rich band just six months later at the age of 21. Weiskopf's association with Toshiko Akiyoshi began in 1983, when Akiyoshi relocated to New York from Los Angeles. During his tenure with the Akiyoshi Band, Weiskopf began working with and writing for his own quartet. He recorded his first CD, Exact Science for Iris Records in 1989. Since then Walt has released eleven more recordings, most of them for the Dutch independent jazz label Criss Cross Jazz.
Weiskopf studied under clarinetist Leon Russianoff in 1988-89, and earned a master of arts degree in clarinet performance from Queens College of the City University of New York. He has performed with the American Ballet Theatre Orchestra, the American Composer's Orchestra, and the Concordia Chamber Orchestra. In 1994 he performed the Aaron Copland Concerto for Clarinet as guest soloist with the Gotham Chamber Orchestra in New York City.
Weiskopf received performance grants from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1989, 1991, and 1994 to fund live performances of his music in New York City. Walt was awarded a New Works: Creation and Presentation grant from Chamber Music America/Doris Duke in 2003.