Often described as Miles Davis meets Pink Floyd, trumpet/flugelhorn artist Jeff Oster has just released his fourth album this spring. Jeff’s sound is a unique combination of his parents’ influences of 30s and 40s lyrical standards and his own passion for progressive rock, with some jazz/funk thrown in for good measure.
As a child, his father would sing the standards as Jeff would play his trumpet. His horn became his voice, singing the lyrics. And as his taste in music developed, Jeff began to add his love of progressive and jazz/funk music into his own songs – mixing the groove and the haunting sound of his horn with people walking or talking, the sounds of nature, and more.
After years of playing jazz and funk music in Los Angeles clubs in the evenings and driving a limo during the day to make ends meet, Jeff chose an unusual path for a musician – he became a financial planner at the urging of a friend. As his business career grew, this lifestyle afforded him the luxury to approach his music with a comfort that other musicians may not have. “I have the freedom to play music exactly the way I want to play it,” explains Jeff. “And I get to play with the people I always dreamed of playing it with.”
In 2002, Jeff’s music transformed into what it is today with the simple purchase of a Sony Vaio computer. Creating a combination of electronic synth loops, ambient sounds, and his own flugelhorn, Jeff developed the unique sound that he has become famous for: layered soundscapes with a lead melody and horn arrangements that perfectly harmonize with the rest of the song. When Jeff uploaded his new ambient-style sounds to mp3.com, he quickly topped the ambient charts there, and knew he was on to something fresh and different.
Encouraged by his online success, Jeff decided to create his first album, and followed his dreams by reaching out to one of his heroes, Grammy-winning guitarist and producer Will Ackerman, founder of Windham Hill Records. Jeff has now recorded three albums with Will: Released (2005), True (2007), and now next (2015). He also released Surrender (2011) (co-produced by Jeff and Bryan Carrigan).
His albums have featured well-known contributors such as Bruce Swedien, mixing engineer for Michael Jackson’s Thriller, guitarist Nile Rodgers, iconic bassist Chuck Rainey, legendary drummers Bernard Purdie and Keith Carlock, and Grammy-nominated artists such as pianist Philip Aaberg and bassist Michael Manring. Jeff’s music has earned numerous awards – such as ZMR Album of the Year (3x winner), multiple #1 albums on NPR’s Echoes, and 2x winner of Best New Age Song in the Independent Music Awards. His music receives steady airplay on Sirius/XM,Music Choice, and a variety of other programs worldwide.
With his newest album, next, Jeff brings his horn front and center – you’ll hear his unmistakable tone floating over these 12 new tracks like never before. For Jeff, this album is about rebirth and change, and tells the story of what’s next for him, both as
a musician and in his life. “next is about claiming who I am, and who I’ve always wanted to be,” says Jeff. “It’s why I live. It takes strength and power to step out into the unknown. Not everyone opens the door and takes the risk to try something new, something you’ve dreamed of for years. And with uncertainty comes the joy of freedom. This album represents my moment to truly make a statement…to claim my place as a musician with something important to share.”
With next, Jeff creates a new genre – New Age Ambient Funk – and along for the ride are guitarist Nile Rodgers (Chic, Daft Punk, David Bowie, Madonna) on the title track, and includes five songs created during an epic session with the duo of drummer Bernard “Pretty” Purdie and bassist Chuck Rainey – musicians that he has admired and respected for his entire musical career.
Bernard and Chuck are featured on five tracks, including Jeff’s first cover song, I Can’t Make You Love Me, inspired by Bonnie Raitt’s amazing performance – a song that has always resonated with him, expressing the deep feelings of pain and joy, as well as the openness and vulnerability that occur when you open your heart to love. You can almost hear Jeff’s horn singing the words…
“Bonnie poured her heart and soul into this song, and I did the same with my horn. If she could sing like a horn player plays, to me, this is what it would sound like,” describes Jeff. “My performance embodies the voice of my heart, without words, and that is what my horn playing is all about.
If you want to know who I truly am inside, listen to my horn.”