One of the most versatile exponents of the latest cadre of young jazz musicians to emerge in the post-“Young Lions” era, saxophonist, Ray Zepeda, differentiates himself not only by his diverse musical background but also by his life story – a sojourn that began in the shadows of oil wells and derricks in Taft, California, followed by his formative musical development in the beach cities of Los Angeles’s South Bay which led to a 5-year stint in the Boston area where he greatly broadened his musical perspective and started composing, only to return to the South Bay to establish himself in the Los Angeles jazz scene – a life that has not only encompassed alternating periods of focus on “classical” composition, jazz, and popular music, but also various professional pursuits which have included jobs as a music educator and cutlery salesman, and a successful project management career in the oil & gas industry. The economics of jazz notwithstanding, rest assured that Ray Zepeda has lived the jazz way, improvising a life, as it were, – exploiting every opening, pulling on every thread no matter how tenuous or impossibly thin, and approaching life with a humility that has allowed others to shine and benefit from his gifts – and, undeterred by numerous vicissitudes, has achieved his highest level of success during this, the most severe economic turndown in memory. This is not as much an artist’s story as it is a uniquely American one.
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