WINNER! The 2007 ZMR Album of the Year!
Quotes About “True”
ALL MUSIC GUIDE
While his ambient-electronic approach to the trumpet and flugelhorn are perhaps not as commercial and in the pocket as 2000s hitmakers Rick Braun and Chris Botti, the Florida-bred Jeff Oster — years after abandoning his musical dreams in favor of success in the financial world — scored impressive breakthrough success in the new age world with his 2005 debut Released.
He owes some of that success to the internet; getting 40,000 downloads on MP3.com attracted the attention of legendary guitarist (and Windham Hill Records founder) Will Ackerman, who became an important collaborator. Released, which Oster described as “Chet Baker meets Dead Can Dance,” won the 2005 Album of the Year and Best Contemporary Instrumental Album awards at the NAR (New Age Reporter) Lifestyle Music Awards. The Oster/Ackerman composition “At Last” also won the Best New Age Song award at the 2005 Independent Music Awards.
Ackerman takes Oster to the next level as the producer of True, an exciting yet relaxing, spiritually inspiring, musically challenging work that blends graceful melodies with edgy electronic new age, otherworldly soundscapes, and artful touches of exotica.
On the opening track “Saturn Calling,” Oster’s dreamy flugelhorn melody sweeps over an extraterrestrial landscape that’s all at once fluid, grooving, and tribally organic. The same vibe continues but in a slightly more low key mode on “This Place” and “Serengeti” before Oster blends his best new age sensibilities (complete with Patrick Gorman’s sparse acoustic guitar) with a haunting classical/chamber music flavor on “Violet.” He and Ackerman vary the style from there, mixing spaciness and pop/soul with Tibetan throat chants on “Tibet,” going film score orchestral on “Sounds Like Sunshine,” and digging into a hip and soulful cool on “Once in a Blue Midnight.” Perhaps the most conventionally beautiful new agey piece is the completely organic “On One Knee,” a contemplative prayer-like song blending Oster’s horn, Ackerman’s trademark lonesome acoustic guitar, and Philip Aaberg’s lush piano harmonies.
Overall, Ackerman has the best description of the unique chapter Oster adds to the new age realm: “the elements are familiar, but the synthesis is unique.”
– Jonathan Widran – All Music Guide (Jan 29, 2008)
All That Cassini Jazz: Musician Uses Saturn’s True Voice to Make Beautiful Music, 04.23.08
Imagine being able to listen to the music of the ringed planet Saturn. Now you can! Musician Jeff Oster has turned the eerie sounds coming from the Cassini spacecraft into “Saturn Calling,” a beautiful, ambient, new age jazz piece. “Saturn Calling” won the 2008 Independent Music Award for Best New Age Song and is the first song heard on Oster’s latest album, “True.”
– Laura Woodmansee – NASA and JPL (Apr 23, 2008)
Local trumpet and flugelhorn player Jeff Oster doesn’t have to travel far for his upcoming gig. It’s right here in town at Rhythmix Cultural Works, tomorrow night at 8 p.m.
Oster describes his original ambient music as “Miles Davis meets Enya. It’s very relaxed and emotionally fulfilling music.” And it’s never the same twice.
Friday’s live concert at Rhythmix will feature a combination of live-track mixing via laptop by composer Lars Hidde. Oster will add acoustic instruments to that mix featuring Grammy nominated bassist Michael Manring, Carl Weingarten on guitar and Joe Venegoni on percussion. There will also be surprise guest artists.
Oster says, “One of the goals at Rhythmix is to create a place where I can, over the next three months, perform music that is newly created for each performance. No performance will be the same.”
Oster is a musician of many talents. His first important role model was his high school band teacher.
“I started with trumpet and flugelhorn and my high school teacher was so fantastic — a good, classical teacher. We marched in all of the tournament parades, like the Orange Bowl (he was living in Miami at the time). We even went to Europe.”
In 1979 he moved to Los Angeles to pursue his musical career. He worked as a studio musician and played all the musical genres — Latin, Big Band, jazz, funk, blues and classical.
He had gigs in Vegas, Atlantic City and Lake Tahoe. “I also worked as a limo driver and I got into ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) by pitching my original songs to a songwriter that I drove around. I always had my horn with me, so I could play him a few bars from any song,” he remembers.
By 1987 Oster realized that he wanted to perform and record only his own original music.
“Another limo driver buddy of mine convinced me to become a financial planner, so I did. I’ve kept very busy in the financial planning world, and it has allowed me the financial means to record my own music with some of the best musicians around.”
Oster has released three CDs: At Last in 2004, Released in 2005, and his latest CD, True, in 2007. Will Ackerman, guitarist and founder of Windham Hill Records, produced and played with Oster on Released and True.
“For years I played along with Will Ackerman’s guitar. I also knew he was one of the best producers, so one day I sent him an e-mail saying that I was a trumpet and flugelhorn player, and would he be interested in producing for me, and maybe even playing with me? So I met him and recorded in Vermont, and Released became CD of the Year and Best Contemporary CD of 2005,” as voted by the broadcasters of NewAgeReporter.com.
Hear some of Oster’s award-winning ambient music Friday night at Rhythmix.
Oster invites audiences to bring a pillow to sit on if you prefer that to chairs. He will make space for both.
Rhythmix Cultural Works is located at 2513 Blanding Ave. He’s performing there June 20, July 18 and Aug. 22.
– Nanette Bradley Deetz – Alameda Sun (Jun 19, 2008)
I think you can imagine just how good a collection of music can be when you’ve got talent like Grammy Award winner Will Ackerman producing and playing guitar, Philip Aaberg on piano and synth, Michael Manring on fretless bass, cellist Eugene Friesen, and legendary engineer Bruce Swedien (Michael Jackson, Count Basie, Duke Ellington) mixing. That’s just the support team!
Out front and on top of it all is the mind-blowing beauty and passion of Jeff Oster’s chilled flugelhorn and trumpet work. What an incredible musical excursion you are in for when you taste Jeff’s masterful second solo release TRUE.
The first radio single, “Serengeti” will absolutely enthrall you, and it’s only one of ten stunning tracks on this TRUE. Jeff is a musician who started playing his music 30 years ago, and 20 years ago set the music aside for that “lucrative day job.” Thank goodness those years as limo driver, stand-up comic, and financial planner have given Jeff the resources to revive his musical dreams.
Producer Will Ackerman states “in all of [the numerous, often utterly brilliant recordings from horn players] there has never been anyone who incorporates so many influences or blurs genres or traditions as gracefully as Jeff Oster does. The elements are familiar, but the synthesis is unique. This is a milestone recording.”
I couldn’t say it any more succinctly, nor could I agree more. I can honestly tell you that TRUE is an absolutely breathtaking album. Jeff Oster’s time has come!
– Scott O’Brien – Smooth Jazz.com (Feb 1, 2008)
NEW AGE REPORTER – BILL BINKELMAN
Trumpet/flugelhorn player Jeff Oster blossoms into a real artistic force in contemporary instrumental music with True. Once again produced by Will Ackerman, Oster has also again surrounded himself with some amazing talent (e.g. T. Bone Wolk and Michael Manring on bass, Philip Aaberg on keyboards, and Eugene Friesen on cello, to name just a few). Oster expands his musical palette even broader this time around, with elements of jazz fusion, world beat, electronica, and new age sprinkled throughout the album. No matter which genre, everything the man touches turns to gold, due in no small part to his composing talent (he wrote or co-wrote every song). It might sound like hyperbole, but we may be witnessing the emergence of the next instrumental superstar.
I don’t have the space to detail all ten tracks and do them justice, yet I’m confounded about which to leave out. Saturn Calling features actual radio emissions from the titular planet and starts out appropriately spacy before a thumping bass beat, trap kit drums, and cascading synths, as well as Oster’s own echoed flugelhorn, convey a feeling of cruising the cosmos, switching from billowy floating to dramatic rhythmic passages. This Place comes creeping in via Aaberg’s evocative echoed piano as well as shimmering keyboards and shuffling trippy beats from Jan Pulsford (who contributes elsewhere on the CD, too). Oster’s flugelhorn and muted trumpet evokes vast spaciousness yet also a forlorn sense of isolation. It’s one of the best tracks Oster has ever recorded.
Despite its title, Serengeti, (owing to the presence of Ugandan vocalist Samite who sings in his native tongue of the importance of this special region), is less “worldly,” and more a bouncy midtempo tune with a funky rhythm and a rolling melody that feels as if one was flying low over the African landscape. During the vocal passage, world beat percussion finally lends some ethnic feel to the piece. Sounds Like Sunshine has a big bold sound, cheerful and upbeat, and an infectious midtempo rhythm. Once in a Blue Moonlight (another tune co-written by the talented Pulsford) pulses with a sensual rockish/funky beat featuring some snazzy wordless vocals by Melissa Kaplan (her voice reminds me of Harriet Wheeler, vocalist for The Sundays) and she really cuts loose later in the track.
There’s so much more I could write about: the pensive somber ballad, On One Knee, co-wrtten by Ackerman, the enchanting mystical world fusion number From the Dreamtime, and the tear-the-roof-off rollicking jazz-meets-world beat album closer, Mumbai. Jeff Oster (and all the talented artists who contributed to this disc) really raised the bar on this one. Brimming with the sheer love of making music (all types, moods, and tempos) True is a celebration of passion, artistry, soul and engineering/production wizardry. This being only his second full-length release, one is left to ponder the heights Oster (and company) may reach.
– Bill Binkelman – New Age Reporter (Aug 10, 2007)
ECHOES – JOHN DILIBERTO
It was exactly two years ago that Jeff Oster’s debut album, Released, was picked as an Echoes CD of the Month. For his second album, the fluegelhorn and trumpet player expands and goes beyond the themes of that album. Co-produced again with guitarist and Windham Hill founder, Will Ackerman, True maintains many of the characteristics of Released with sophisticated electronic looping, harmonized and multi-tracked fluegelhorn lines and textured, ambient arrangements.
The opening track “Saturn Calling” sets the pace with a quietly heroic, surging groove that alternates with pensive, wind blown fluegelhorn cries. After the ambient loops and textures of his first album, you can hear Oster’s jazz fusion and progressive rock tendencies leaking out. From the opening track, you can hear the jazz voicings in his harmonized trumpet lines, but the loops and delayed U2/The Edge guitar sets a mood you won’t find in jazz.
There are some gorgeous arrangements like “Violet,” which features Patrick Gorman (sounding remarkably like Will Ackerman) on acoustic guitar, while also playing electric guitar textures. With swirling cello from Eugene Friesen and one of those open plains piano breaks by Philip Aaberg it’s a plangent elegy topped by Oster’s yearning horn.
A couple of tracks take the smooth jazz slide, notably “Serengeti” with its cool lounge rhythm, but it’s redeemed by one of Samite’s transcendent vocal choirs. I would not have put the funky “Once In A Blue Moonlight,” with its R&B wordless testifying vocal from Melissa R. Kaplan, on this album, but a trio with Ackerman and Aaberg, the ruminative “On One Knee,” gently gets the album back on track.
With its illusory edges and blurring of electric and acoustic textures, much of which is provided by sound designer Brian Carrigan, True is deftly sequenced. It accommodates dark film noir moods on “This Place” along with the jubilant, uplifting “Mumbai,” a triumphant ode with a surging drum loop, Kaplan’s wailing wordless vocals and Oster’s clarion fluegelhorn cries sounding the charge.
Jeff Oster has been true to the promise of his debut album and True is our Echoes CD of the Month for September.
© 2007 John Diliberto
– John Diliberto – Echoes (Sep 3, 2007)
Jeff Oster’s “True” is music of incredible sincerity. You can simply sit down, listen to this album and feel alone with the artist and his experience. And he doesn’t make false pretenses. Jeff Oster is entirely here in the present moment. The musician expresses his innermost feelings and emotions with ease and clarity. “True” is a very integral project and it possesses a huge inner power. But, at the same time, Jeff Oster’s music has the innocence of a child’s look.
All the compositions of this album are perfect. Many remarkable musicians also took part in the recording of this project. They enriched album’s music by many delightful nuances. But all other artist’s playing simply emphasizes Jeff Oster’s refined performance.
Listen to “True” and discover how wonderful a trumpet and flugelhorn can sound. You are sure to have never heard such powerful and unique music before.
– Serge Kozlovsky – Serge Kozlovsky (Jan 24, 2008)
Melody and pulse spin outward in a fusion of vibrant musical dialogue that soars through spatial imagination and passion to create astonishing dimensional compositions. Jeff Oster’s new CD True is the brilliant formation of this congruent expedition.
Oster’s musical expression of flugelhorn and trumpet opened up an original sphere in the New Age/ World-Jazz genre last year, with his debut CD entitled Released. A CD infused with harmonious structure and moving, fluid sound captivated fans and critics alike. True embarks on a deeper exploration of Oster’s innovative musical style, with an accompaniment of premiere musicians and co-writers. The line-up includes phenomenal musician and producer Will Ackerman, of Windham Hill, who produced True.
World-class musicians include Keith Carlock, drums; T. Bone Wolk, guitar and bass; Philip Aaberg on piano, synthesizer; and Michael Manring, bass. In addition, Oster also enlisted the incomparable vocal talents of Melissa R. Kaplan, Ugandan artist Samite and Noah Wilding.
True conveys multiple music configurations, yet seamlessly arrives in a cohesive expression. The album’s tracks stratify from cosmos to world ethos with varying intensity, intonation and beat. Saturn Calling, the leading track, incorporates the sounds of Saturn’s auroras recorded by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. The orchestral feel of the piece has the majesty of an Olympic flourish, with an ethereal wind softly echoing from the auroras.
The second track teams Oster with Jan Pulsford (Cyndi Lauper and Chico Freeman) on This Place, to create a melodic flowing tune with an interesting beat that sustains the structure.
Serengeti traverses a soft jazzy timbre and then leads into a verbal passage by Ugandan vocalist Samite in his native language. The lyrical spoken words impart the ancient pattern of life in the Serengeti and the importance for humankind to recognize a land vital to all. Oster continues his channel of compositions with a beautiful arrangement entitled Violet, which he co-wrote with hard-rock drummer Patrick Gorman. Gorman performs an alluring mellifluous electric guitar lead that harmonizes with Oster’s gentle flugelhorn in a parallel, melodic dance. An interesting departure for Gorman however; this musician demonstrates his adeptness as a consummate multi-faceted artist.
Ackerman unites with Oster on undoubtedly one of the most beautiful tunes on True, with On One Knee. Ackerman reigns unparalleled in an acoustic guitar voice, performing with a resonance that eloquently blends with Oster’s phrasing. These two artists, along with pianist Philip Aaberg, compose a compelling sonnet of love.
The additional tracks on True forge an arena of sound influences from Tibet, India and Aboriginal, with a few pieces that relay an upbeat yet flowing score. This current CD is not so much a departure from Oster’s previous release, but an expansion of technique and approach on the flugelhorn and trumpet to cross musical genres.
Oster’s unique style has garnered wide appeal. When asked about his methods for composing the tracks on True and the album’s concept, he replied, “There was no plan. The work culminated from looping sounds that built a foundation. My horn parts were secondary and then the process evolved from the initial elemental ideas. The title True is a pure representation of who I am. No matter where I am in the world, I can communicate with my horn better than I ever could with words.”
Oster has achieved an incredibly brilliant album that stands unique in its artistry. The persuasive resonance of this music is sure to attain a wide veneration.
– Patrice Raplee – Seattle Spotlight (Aug 4, 2007)
NEW AGE REPORTER – R J LANNAN
Flugelmeister Jeff Oster has spun out a new album called True. His first two recordings At Lastand Released were quite successful and with those albums and his flugelhorn he established a signature sound of refined beauty and multi-layered ambience. There is never an oompah-pah in this contemporary artist’s repertoire. True is different from his first release At Last. This one is lighter and more aerial. At Last was more organically grounded. True is a travelogue of sorts with a lot of movement. Musically Jeff does not stay in one place or on one continent for that matter. When you travel by Jeff Oster it no longer takes eighty days to go around the world. In fact you can travel to the stars and beyond instantly.
You can hear a scream in space. This scream is the sound of light as the aurora of Saturn paints cosmic pictures in the heavens. This eerie sound is incorporated in the opening track Saturn Calling. The pulsating quavers integrate into the song like a cosmic carrot that says we can exceed our earthily grasp. It applies to all aspects of our lives.
Violet is my favorite on the album. This blossoming song with its echoing horn, drowsy piano and gentle guitar is a call to stop and smell the…well, the violets. We have to take time to make time in our lives for the things that are really important. It does not matter whether you are stooping down to catch a glimpse of tiny purple flowers in the backyard or holding the delicate hand of your lover and admiring a violet sky at sunset. Take the time.
With a tip of the hat to Sammy Rose, Jeff’s daughter, we get the dazzling cut Sounds Like Sunshine. We borrow from a child’s imagination to feel the warm rays of the sun touching soft skin, bright illumination that highlights all the discoveries waiting to be found around us, and the daily promise that life will begin again on the morrow.
True has that magical touch by producer/guitarist Will Ackerman that is quite distinctive. Of course, Jeff’s entire album is shaped by the Imaginary Road Studios and the list of usual suspects, T. Bone Wolk, Eugene Friesen, Philip Aaberg, Michael Manring and vocalists Samite and Melissa R. Kaplan. The best song on True is called On One Knee. It is a romantic ballad that overlooks the nervousness of the moment and celebrates the joy of a positive response.
Our journey with Jeff continues to exotic places such as Mumbai, Tibet and the Serengeti and the music makes the trip exciting and fun. I like to put this album in the CD player of my truck and, as we say around here, burn up the roads. For a contemporary musical journey, you must be “True”. It may take you to just the place you want to be.
– R J Lannan – New Age Reporter (Aug 10, 2007)
Jeff Oster – Flugelhorn, Trumpet, Loop Programming, Synthesizer
Keith Carlock – Drums
T. Bone Wolk – Electric Guitar, Bass
Philip Aaberg – Piano, Synthesizer
Michael Manring – Fretless Bass
Jan Pulsford – Logic Pro Keys, Beats and Programming
Samite – Vocals, Mbira
Patrick Gorman – Guitar
Eugene Friesen – Cello
Bryan Carrigan – Guitar, Sound Design
Derrik Jordan – Djembe, Cuica, Guiro
Melissa R. Kaplan – Vocals
Noah Wilding – Vocals
Will Ackerman – Guitar
Recorded by: Corin Nelsen, Bill Esses, Dexter Brown and Bryan Carrigan
Mixed by: Bruce Swedien
Additional mixing:Bryan Carrigan, Corin Nelsen and Jeff Oster
Mastered by Bob Ludwig at Gateway Mastering
Produced by Will Ackerman