Primary Instrument: Clarinet
Andy Biskin is a clarinetist and composer with a broad range of interests. In addition to leading several ensembles in the New York area, he has composed scores for film, dance, and theater. Born and raised in Texas, Biskin studied music and anthropology at Yale and later worked as an assistant to folklorist Alan Lomax. His music, scored for the traditional New Orleans front line of clarinet, trumpet, and trombone, recalls early jazz and social music, but with sudden shifts in unexpected directions. Biskin's compositions have been compared to Raymond Scott, Charles Mingus, Charles Ives, Carla Bley, and Lawrence Welk.
Biskin's debut album Dogmental, on Gunther Schuller's GM Recordings label, received widespread critical acclaim. The record was featured twice on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross and has been used regularly between news stories on All Things Considered.
Ben Ratliff named Dogmental Album of the Week in the New York Times, and wrote It's hard to find gentle humor in jazz but the clarinetist Andy Biskin has perfect radar for it. Dogmental, his first album, is full of short pieces that break down into contrapuntal arrangements and short, pungent solos; it's a sweet-tempered album that doesn't take itself too seriously but has a lot of hidden virtues.... You can't say it's indicative of what jazz is up to or where it's going, but it's a little triumph nonetheless.