3x GRAMMY-Winning Saxophonist, Composer, and Educator Jeff Coffin (Dave Matthews Band) Announces The Release of His Star-Studded New Album Only The Horizon, Out July 19, 2024, On Ear Up Records

Ear Up Records is excited to proudly announce the July 19, 2024 release of the star-studded new album Only The Horizon from renowned saxophonist, composer, and educator Jeff Coffin (Dave Matthews Band). This highly anticipated collection of original compositions showcases Coffin’s extraordinary compositional vision and arranging prowess, blending traditional African rhythms with contemporary composition. Only The Horizon features Coffin on saxes, clarinets, flutes, and other assorted instruments alongside the West African group Yeli Ensemble, and includes an appearance by some legendary musicians from Charleston, SC who embrace the Gullah Geechee tradition. This confluence of tradition and innovation prominently features over 40 iconic musicians, including Carter Beauford, Victor Wooten, Béla Fleck, MonoNeon, Bill Evans, Keb’ Mo’, Nir Felder, Nate Smith, Keith Carlock, Derico Watson, Tony Hall, Viktor Krauss, Stefan Lessard, Alana Rocklin, Jay White, Jon Cowherd, Leo Genovese, Buddy Strong, Emmanuel Echem, Rod McGaha, Rashawn Ross, Ray Mason, Cory Wong, Ezra Kessler, Rory ‘R.A.P.’ Ferreira, Roy ‘Futureman’ Wooten, and Ryoko Suzuki.

“In a conversation about art and music, someone said to me (Jeff), ‘There is only the horizon.’ I thought for a long time about what they meant and I came to realize it can reference the past as well as the future – which is what I have tried to do with this recording.” Coffin’s vision for “Only The Horizon” encompasses the rich traditions of West African music and rhythms, represented by the Yeli Ensemble, and contemporary original music performed by some of the world’s top artists. 

Coffin meticulously selected the musicians for each track, resulting in an album of immense musical diversity and prowess. “There are too many highlights to list fully here but a few from my studio really stick out,” Coffin recalls. “Having the great Daru Jones on drums and hearing his groove and pocket up close. Truly an awe-inspiring musician! To witness Keb’ Mo’ carve his guitar parts from thin air in a way I have never witnessed before was at once befuddling and stunning. To have my dear friend Mars Williams lay down a tenor sax solo in what was one of his last recordings was such a gift.”

Working with the Yeli Ensemble and Gullah Geechee musicians added unique layers to the album. “To hear Yeli Ensemble bring their magic time and again and in particular, percussionist Ibro Dioubate, was a dream come true,” Coffin says. “To witness what Matt White and Quentin Baxter brought from the Gullah Geechee culture in Charleston, SC, was amazing on every level – There is deep love, profound gratitude, and old and new friendships in these recordings.” Coffin expresses.

The album begins with the bright funk-infused refrains of Coffin’s “Here We Go”. An infectious, driving, tight-pocketed groove is provided by the assembly of rhythmic masters making up the rhythm section – Victor Wooten, Daru Jones, Ibrahima Dioubate, and Leo Genovese. Coffin and Genovese drive this vehicle to outer space with stellar melodic lines that are both exploratory and lyrical. Dave Matthews Band-mate Rashawn Ross plays trumpet on the melody and Nashville legend Rod McGaha plays the trumpet solo at the end. 

Yesterday’s Dream” features Coffin on flute, bass flute, and electro-sax, as well as tenor and bari sax. Groove masters MonoNeon (bass) and Cory Wong (guitar) join in on the fun. Yeli Ensemble augments the track with rhythm and texture from four African percussion instruments, the djembe, the dundun, the kinkini, and the samban. Note: Jeff’s dad makes an appearance from the last voicemail he left Jeff before his passing in 2017.Pharaoh Rise”, a tribute to the great Pharaoh Sanders, features Rory ‘R.A.P’ Ferreira on spoken word vocals. A repeated, mantric melody line glides over a grooving triple-meter – the percussion of the Yeli Ensemble and Daru Jones’ rhythmic comping forming an energy that is sure to bring the listener to their feet. This also features the deep bass groove of NOLA legend Tony Hall!

A Hat For My Beard” features Coffin alongside his long-time collaborator Béla Fleck whose banjo arpeggiations sit tightly within the pocket created by Jones, bassist Jay White, and the Yeli Ensemble. Fleck and Coffin communicate on a level that can only be described as ethereal over the rhythm section’s driving backbeat.

Bom Bom” features drummer Keith Carlock (Steely Dan), guitarist Nir Felder, and a stunning trades section with Coffin on flute and Mars Williams on tenor. This was likely Mars’ last recording session before he passed in late 2023. Leo Genovese adds a fantastic texture to the solo section with harmonic refrains with the unmistakable sound of the Fender Rhodes. Felder brings a tremendous amount of energy to the piece with a powerful, angular guitar solo. The West African rhythms of Yeli Ensemble really drive this tune.

The title track “Only the Horizon” features an entirely new rhythm section with the great pianist Jon Cowherd (Brian Blade), bassist Alana Rocklin (Sound Tribe Sector 9), and drummer Derico Watson (Victor Wooten Band). A driving Afro-Cuban rhythm propels the flute melody forward, underscored by the vivacious sound of the Yeli Ensemble. Coffin offers a transcendent solo on soprano saxophone. 

Picking Pockets” features Coffin alongside his Dave Matthews Band-mates Carter Beauford, Stefan Lessard, and Buddy Strong, as well as the great Bill Evans on soprano saxophone and Ibrahima Dioubate & Mohamed ‘Fassa’ Dioubate on West African percussion. The sparse melody played by Coffin and harmonized by Evans gives way to an open solo section, featuring the tremendous melodic facility of Strong and Coffin and eventually features Evans on the outro with a searing solo trading with Coffin on Flute and Strong on keys. 

The album concludes with a beautiful composition called “Yeli Geechee” a soulful track featuring tremendous moments of interplay between Coffin with iconic guitarist Keb’ Mo’, legendary Nashville bassist Viktor Krauss, and drummer Nate Smith. This track also features Ibrahima Dioubate on percussion and musicians from the Gullah Geechee community including members of the multi-Grammy winning group Ranky Tanky, as well as Jeff’s wife Ryoko on harmonium! 

Boasting a catalog of compositions that redefine genre, and the bounds of musical technicality, a roster of the world’s top musicians, and an infectiously positive spirit indicative of Coffin himself and all of his work – Only The Horizon cements Coffin’s stature as one of the preeminent musical minds of our time. The esteemed composer and bandleader offers, “I really feel Only The Horizon is the finest thing I’ve ever done, both because it is all original music, because of the contributions of all the great musicians (more than 40) who participated in it, and because of the spirit and inspiration that I feel everyone generated throughout the sessions.”

Coffin envisions touring to promote Only The Horizon, and balancing his commitments with Dave Matthews Band. “These are compositions that I loved playing and certainly would enjoy doing some dates later in the year,” he says. “It’s tricky to make it all work but I’ll do my best!”

# #

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *