Jamie Saft ’94 in Jazz Journal: ‘It’s either good music, or it’s not’

Jamie Saft ’94, an alumnus of the Tufts/NEC dual degree program, discusses his wide-ranging musical influences and the diversity of his NEC education.

Jamie Saft. Photo by Michael Bloom Photography.
Jamie Saft. Photo by Michael Bloom Photography.

“‘I was deeply shaped by my education, of course. I was fortunate to have amazing teachers throughout my musical life.‘


”[Saft] did indeed study with Paul Bley, but also ‘so many great masters of music. [Radical saxophonist] Joe Maneri was one of my greatest teachers there. Others included [bassist] Cecil McBee, who played on many of my favourite records, and Geri Allen, whose playing I enjoyed greatly.’

But what Saft seems to have enjoyed more was the opportunity to create a musical hinterland without boundaries. ’I improvised on a [György] Ligeti piece for the composer himself during a concert and received incredible positivity from him about what we were doing. I was also able to study Ives, Bartók and Schoenberg there. I studied Turkish music, klezmer, Indian music. I went to concerts as often as possible. In my second year I heard Naked City [John Zorn’s unhinged post-jazz group with Fred Frith, Bill Frisell, Wayne Horvitz and Joey Baron] and that concert showed me the limitless possibilities in music. And I continued to enjoy live shows by my popular music heroes, Dylan, Morris Day and The Time, ZZ Top. All of this shaped my music.’”

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