Next in our series of interviews with some of Central Ohio’s finest jazz musicians is saxophonist Jordan Reed. Skilled on the soprano, alto, and tenor saxophones, Reed’s primary performing outlet is local “Indie-Jazz” sextet Radarhill. The group’s roots are in Athens, where Reed earned his Masters of Music in saxophone performance at Ohio University in 2014. Reed is currently working toward his DMA (Doctor of Musical Arts) in saxophone performance at The Ohio State University, and teaches saxophone at both OSU and Marietta College. It’s an exciting time for Radarhill – the band recently launched a crowdfunding campaign to record the follow-up to their excellent debut album, The Yeilds, and is getting ready for a December tour. Keep reading for details from Reed on his current projects and musical background:
When and why did you start playing music and jazz?
Jordan Reed (JR): I started my formal music education when I was in 6th grade, playing tenor saxophone in the middle school concert band, and I started playing jazz in 8th grade. My dad played tenor in our community’s jazz ensemble and I got a chance to sit in with the group a few times when I was younger. When my dad stopped playing in the group, the director called me and offered me the chair. For an oddly-shaped 12 year old with a bowl cut, that was a huge deal! Although I technically started playing music officially in 6th grade, there were always a ton of instruments around my house growing up, so there was always something to make noise on…not great noise most of the time.
Who are some of your main influences in your playing/performing?
JR: My biggest influences are the people who’ve encouraged me to be me, within reason. Family members, friends, and educators who always pushed me, or still push me, to learn something new about myself, my playing, someone else’s playing, etc. Those are the types of people who have the biggest impact on your playing whether you’re aware of it or not. They slowly but surely force you to be an individual. There are a lot of people in the music world who are doing the same thing as one another and it starts to seem disingenuous. I’ve learned that in order to do something that you feel proud of at the end of the day it has to be genuine. I think those are the people/performers that we remember the most, right? The genuine ones.
What is your fondest musical memory?
JR: My fondest musical memory changes quite a bit…only because I’m both indecisive and I get excited, quickly, when I remember something that I’ve forgotten and all of a sudden it’s the greatest thing ever, until I think about something else. For today (Monday, October 26th), it was my saxophone lesson this morning with my teacher, Dr. Torres. This is because of a few things, a) I learned a lot of new things, b) I felt challenged, c) I messed up and reminded myself that I’m a human being and not a robot who only plays right notes, d) I played a few things that I was proud of, and e) I realized that there’s always work that can be done; you’re never done learning! EVER! (…seriously, never)
What are you listening to today? What’s on your playlist?
JR: Recently I’ve been listening to A LOT of Pixel, Kneebody, M83, and Sufjan Stevens. Maybe it’s the weather?
What inspires you about the Columbus Jazz scene?
JR: The Columbus Jazz scene seems like, at least to me, a club. There are so many extremely talented musicians and it seems as though they all know each other somehow, and everybody is so supportive! Not only are the jazz musicians in Columbus friendly, but they’re versatile! Some of the best players hold full-time jobs where they teach/perform classical music and jazz as well, if not better! You can go see a classical saxophone recital one night and go see the exact same performers play a big band gig the next. The Columbus Jazz scene is great. I like it a lot.
What are you working on currently? Any new projects, exciting shows or releases?
JR: YES! A LOT! The big project that I’m involved with is Radarhill’s Kickstarter campaign for our second full-length album, Any Given Day. We’re recording the album this December at Oranjudio with Joey Gurwin and we’re trying to raise money to give everybody the best possible product that we can. Nick Weckman, our new trombone player, wrote us a 6 movement suite that we’ll be recording and the other members of the group wrote, and are still writing, some new music. The new stuff that the other guys have been bringing has been so much fun to play (they won’t say the same about my stuff, it’s all the same chord progression and 2 ideas over and over…..and over)! It’s been great noticing that we’re all sort of maturing as a group, both in our playing and in our writing. Visit our Kickstarter page for more information.
Where can local audiences see you play in the near future?
JR: People can see us perform around Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and in Milwaukee this upcoming December. We’re doing about a week’s worth of shows to promote the new album and to get some more exposure. Also, I’m currently working on repertoire for my upcoming DMA recital at The Ohio State University, which is at 8:00pm in Weigel Hall on Monday, November 30th. Classical saxophone AND Radarhill? Fun!