Desert Island Jazz
Erik Jekabson (2010)

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It seems impossible that Bay Area native Erik Jekabson can have so much experience and yet still be comfortably on the right side of 40 years old.

Growing up in Berkeley, Erik's first instrument was the recorder, from which he transitioned to both clarinet and trumpet. He tells stories about traveling the halls of Berkeley High School while listening on his Walkman to the likes of trumpeter Clifford Brown and John Coltrane's "Blue Train" recording. Naturally, he was a member of the legendary Berkeley High jazz band; less naturally, he was also a member of the Monterey Jazz Festival High School All-Star Big Band, with which he toured Japan in 1991.

That same year, Erik began his studies at Oberlin Conservatory in Ohio. As a member of Oberlin's touring band promoting the conservatory, he had his first taste of New Orleans, the city to which he relocated on his early graduation, only three years later.

The litany of brass players from New Orleans is long and continues today (from semi-mythical figures like Buddy Bolden, through the under-recorded Freddie Keppard and the Jovian Louis Armstrong to the likes of Terence Blanchard and Erik's contemporary Nicholas Payton), which makes it rather the "New York, New York" of jazz trumpet: if you can make it there, you'll make it anywhere.

Erik did make it there, playing with the Kermit Ruffins, Al Belleto and New Orleans All-Star Big Bands. He also made it "anywhere", playing with Woody Herman, touring France with organist Eddie Louiss, and fetching up in New York City four years later, where he played all over, somehow finding time to tour with John Mayer.

Back in the Bay Area in 2003, Erik enrolled in the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, graduating with a master's degree in composition. He not only leads his own bands but also plays nicely with others such as the Realistic Orchestra, Mitch Marcus Quintet +13 and the Contemporary Jazz Orchestra. He also teaches jazz at colleges, schools and The Jazzschool.

His first recording as a leader, "Intersection", came out while he was a New Yorker, and the release of his second, "Crescent Boulevard", is imminent. Check it out!
Pick Artist Album Song Label
# 1 Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers Live at Birdland, Vol. 2 Wee Dot Blue Note
# 2 Duke Ellington and His Orchestra The Great Paris Concert Tutti for Cootie Atlantic
# 3 Duke Ellington and His Orchestra The Great Paris Concert Star-Crossed Lovers Atlantic
# 4 Miles Davis and Gil Evans Porgy and Bess My Man's Gone Now Columbia
# 5 Miles Davis Nefertiti Fall Columbia
# 6 John Coltrane Transition Transition Impulse
# 7 Mark Turner Yam Yam Cubism Criss Cross
# 8 Radiohead Hail to the Thief! Scatterbrain EMI
Book Ernest Hemingway, "For Whom the Bell Tolls"
Luxury Item A tennis racquet and ball
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