Primary Instrument: Sax, alto
Roy Nathanson has a varied career as a saxophonist, composer, band-leader, actor and teacher. He is leader and principal composer of the Jazz Passengers, a six piece group that he founded with Curtis Fowlkes in 1987. They have toured Europe many times and played at major festivals in Finland, Germany, Italy, France and Switzerland•as wll as the J.V.C. Festival in New York, the De Maurier Festival In Canada and in clubs and concerts throughout the U.S. and Canada. The band has also recorded eight albums. In 1994, the band released an original vocal album, Jazz Passengers In Love which was produced by Hal Willner and Huge Dwyer for which Mr. Nathanson, composed a variety of songs. A number of guest vocalists were featured, including Jimmy Scoff, John Kelly, Freedy Johnston, Bernard Fowler, Jeff Buckley and Deborah Harry who is now functioning as a full time member of the band. Since the summer of 1995 The Jazz Passengers, have toured Europe and America with Ms. Harry, and an occasional guest appearance by Vocalist Elvis Costello. With this configuration, the Passengers have released two albums. Individually Twisted (with Ms. Harry and Mr. Costello), and Live In Spain featuring Ms. Harry. The band performed orchestral arrangements of their repertoire with Ms. Harry and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra in March 2001.
Mr. Nathanson also co-leads a due with keyboardist, composer Anthony Coleman with whom he has also toured the U.S. and Europe. Their third album I Could've Been A Drum was released on John Zorn's Tzadik label.
As an independent composer he has scored the work of monologuist David Cole. Their work, Deep in a Dream of You premiered at Chicago's Goodman Theatre in 1990 and had its New York premiere at the Joseph Popp Public Theatre in April 1993. This was their third collaboration. He has scored several works for PBS, and films by Jacob Burkhardt and Tamara Jenkins as well as numerous theater productions for playwright Roy Dobbins and others. He has written children's songs for the HBO series Happily Ever After. Several of his songs will be featured in Karole Armitage's adaptation of Sheherazade at the Florence Opera House, and songs that he has written or arranged have appeared in Robert Altman's film Short Cuts and Chantal Akerman's Histoires D'Amerique. He scored the animated film Jay Street directed by Suzan Pitt which premiered at the New York Film Festival in October '95. A film scene album of his Klezmer based scene for the 1996 feature film Camp Stories featuring MIN Gould and Jerry Stiller was released on Knitting Factory Works.
In 1997 he arranged a Serge Gainsbourg song for the Jazz Passengers and Deborah Harry for a Virgin France compilation, and set a poem by Edgar Allen Poe which was released on a Poe compilation produced by Hal Willner.
Mr. Nathanson received two Meet the Composer grants in 1996 and 1997 to create a new work with children. The work Dreams of Someday was co-written by the children of P.S. 188 in Queens and performed by their chorus and band trained by Mr. Nathanson. It was also performed as part of the Texaco Jazz Festival in June 1997.
The Fire at Keaton's Bar & Grill, was Mr. Nathanson's CD released under his own name by Six Degrees Records in March 2000. It is a story of a fire in a mythical bar and features performance by many of the collaborators he has worked with in his career, including Charles Earland, Ms. Harry, and Mr. Costello. It has been performed at Arts at St. Ann's in New York City and at the Royal Festival Hall in London.
As an actor he has performed in films by Chantal Akerman, Jim Jarmusch and Elaine May as well as a variety of downtown N.Y. theatre projects. He was featured in a starring role in the children's film Wasserman directed by Peter Lilienthal.
His sideman credits include four years recording and touring with The Lounge Lizards, work with Marc Ribot's Rootless Cosmopolitans, Charles Earland and The Shirelles. He has also perfomred in special projects including a recent saxophone quartet concert in Brussels with Steve Lacy and Ned Rothenberg in which each of the four musicians contributed an original composition.
- The Coming Great Millenium (1992, label: Knitting Factory Works)
- Lobster and Friend (1993, label: Knitting Factory)
- I Could've Been a Drum (1997, Tzadik)
- Fire at Keaton's Bar and Grill (2000, label: Six Degrees)
- Sotto Voce (2006, label: Aum Fidelity)
- Little Fred (label: Tablehead)
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