Fresh Off The Heels Of His Recent GRAMMY Nomination, Renowned Saxophonist, Composer and Educator Jeff Coffin Announces the Release of His Fiery New Album Look For Water, Out On Ear Up Records on May 5, 2023
“Water is life. Without it, we don’t exist. Water can feed people and it can nourish and replenish. Water is our source of being. Look For Water means to find your source…it’s where you find bliss. It’s your holy place – your sacred space. I believe on this day we all found water together, through sound…” – Jeff Coffin
Ear Up Records is thrilled to announce the May 5, 2023 release of Look For Water, a celebration of wonder, hope and the vibrancy of New Orleans, from consummate saxophonist, composer and educator Jeff Coffin. The famed saxophonist presents Look For Water fresh off the heels of his GRAMMY-nominated album Between Dreaming and Joy (2022). Demonstrating the breadth of Coffin’s compositional prowess, Look For Water is in some ways an inversion of Between Dreaming and Joy. Coffin trades the mammoth and mighty ensemble of his last release for paired-down recordings in various, small instrumentations which effectively emphasize the tremendous interplay between ensemble members. Drummer Johnny Vidacovich, bassist James Singleton, tenor saxophonist Tony Dagradi and cellist Helen Gillet lend their stellar musicianship to Coffin’s 22nd release as a leader.
On a fateful day in 2021, just as New Orleans was unlocking from the Covid – imposed shutdown, cellist Helen Gillet arranged for a performance with Coffin at a large outdoor venue in NOLA called the Broadside Theatre. To add something different to the second set, Coffin asked drummer Johnny Vidacovich to join him for some duets. Bassist James Singleton and tenor saxophonist Tony Dagradi felt like a natural extension of this personnel because of their work with Vidacovich as founding members of the New Orleans supergroup Astral Project. Coffin notes “They have been playing together for 40+ years and their communication seems almost telepathic to me. There is no substitute for familiarity and these musicians are definitely family to each other.”
This 2021 evening at the Broadside Theater acted as the impetus for an impromptu recording session a couple days later. During a three-hour time constraint imposed by the group’s availability – Coffin was able to capture lightning in a bottle. A love letter to New Orleans in the truest of forms – a celebration of the distinct melodicism that contributes to the continual vibrancy, vivacity and urgency of the music of New Orleans. At the core of the album is the deep rhythmic acuity and soulfulness emanating from Vidacovich’s drum-set. The drummer imbues these recorded selections with his deeply-rooted knowledge of African rhythms, another pillar of the music of New Orleans.
On Look For Water, Coffin captures our ear with an arresting urgency, a melodicism that exudes a calm confidence – melding playfulness, soulfulness and spirituality. Some of the compositions featured here are based on the composer’s experiences in the majestic city of New Orleans. The chordless ensemble format affords Coffin the freedom of exploration between multiple sonorities at any given moment – which the saxophonist utilizes to the fullest, weaving masterfully-crafted stories with his horn.
The album begins on a playful note with “Toy Piano”. The short piece features Vidacovich playing a small red toy piano that was set up next to his drum kit during the recording session. Coffin notes “His humor shines through on everything he does and I felt that his beautiful intention and humor were a great way to start off the recording.” The title track “Look For Water” is a phrase that came to Coffin in a dream while he was in New Orleans. Coffin indicates “to me it signifies the importance of looking for the things that nurture us. Without water, we don’t survive. We don’t flourish. We don’t exist. I feel this way, metaphorically, about music as well. I feel like I ‘look for water’ every time I make music…I think most, if not all, musicians are looking for a sense of bliss, connection, communication, relevance, and purpose.”
Featuring a gorgeous, thematic drum solo from Vidacovich, “Sweet Magnolias” evokes the beauty of the flowers of the magnolia tree that have such a strong connection to the south and to New Orleans in particular. The album continues with two Coffin originals, both dedicated to the memory of two jazz greats who contributed to his musical upbringing. “Milford”, written in homage to the late genius percussionist Milford Graves, features Coffin in a duo context alongside Vidacovich. Coffin notes “Johnny’s playing on this tune and the entire record is sublime and deeply resonant in every way. I like to think he and Milford are cut from a similar spiritual and musical cloth.” “Yusef” is written in honor of saxophone titan Yusef Lateef. The piece feels like a natural extension of what Lateef’s music embraced. Coffin purchased Lateef’s main Mark VI tenor after his passing and composed this piece on that very saxophone. Coffin says “I recorded myself playing the tenor for the first time and this tune basically fell out of the horn. I like to think Yusef left a tune for me in the instrument. It’s always dedicated to his incredible spirit and the legacy he left behind.”
The album concludes with “Luminosity” featuring cellist Helen Gillet. Coffin notes “We included Helen Gillet and her incredible cello playing on this because she is such a deep and powerful link to that whole community to me… Her playing on this tune is so gorgeous and ethereal and you can really hear her history with Johnny, James, and Tony in the way they play together.” On the release as a whole, Coffin remarks “it felt like the tunes were a new wave of music rising up like the dawn of a new day. Bright, colorful, hopeful, expanding, full of wonder, and I really love the way this project turned out. Everyone is magical on it.”
01) Toy Piano (00:40)
02) Green Light For Billy Drewes (07:43)
03) New Dawn (06:45)
04) Look For Water (06:39)
05) Sweet Magnolias (05:11)
06) Half A Baton (05:38)
07) Milford (03:46)
08) Yusef (04:10)
09) Luminosity (11:36)