We had the good fortune of connecting with Jeff Pifher and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Jeff, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I started begging my parents to get me a saxophone when I was in first grade. At that time, I was too small to even get my fingers around the instrument properly. My dad would play jazz on the stereo every weekend for hours. No cell phones, computers, or TV. Just music. Even though live music was not always so easy to find where I grew up, they took me to concerts all of the time. I was told that if I still wanted to play saxophone when I got to third grade they would rent one for me. I still wanted to play. I brought my new saxophone to school for show-and-tell and made a couple of sounds on it. My school music teacher recognized my passion for it so she passed on the word to the band instructor. Still only in third grade I was put in the fourth grade band and given private lessons from the band instructor during school hours. My teachers allowed me to miss parts of their classes so that I could play in the band and take lessons. I also started taking lessons with a private instructor not during school hours. I studied with this instructor, Phil Perry, into my college years. When people ask me why did you choose music or why did you choose the saxophone, my answer is simply “it chose me”. I don’t really remember a time when I didn’t want to play music and more specifically the saxophone. It’s so deep inside me that I am inclined to say I was born this way. There is so much that can be said and still more to say through music. I get the most satisfaction when I am able to communicate what I hear in my head to a listener; even it that listener is only me at times. I have been fortunate to have come in contact and surround myself with so many talented creatives along the way. It is always inspiring to hear my peers and what they are contributing. They are another reason why I continue to pursue an artistic career. Teaching is another great source of satisfaction for me. Music is a real challenge on so many levels. It certainly does not come easily to me. I enjoy helping others going through that same struggle and try to make it a bit easier as so many of my mentors and teachers have done for me. So many life skills can be taught and so many lessons learned through the experience of music.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Recently I have been recording and performing with my band called Socrates’ Trial. We play mostly my original music. I like to compose what I call “cinematic jazz”. It’s a combination of film score elements such as soaring melodies played alongside orchestra with long improvised solos by all members of the band; a tradition firmly rooted in jazz. It’s not what most people think of when they hear the word “jazz”. But then again, the genre of jazz has come to encompass so many different elements now. It has become more difficult to say what is jazz and what is not. I have been fortunate to be able to play with such great musicians and people as those in this band. I compose specifically for them and their strengths. I leave much of the music open for interpretation and am often awestruck by their unique contributions to the music. We have released four albums in two years all comprised of my original music. This past year I released a documentary about the band and our music. As of now, we have been made an official selection by over 60 film festivals and won a dozen “Best Documentary” awards. I am hoping to keep the momentum moving forward with the release of a short film featuring my original music in an entirely new format for me and this group.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
One of my favorite places in Los Angeles is the Getty Center. When I first moved here, I worked at the Getty Center in the customer services department. I learned a lot about people. Everyday I would arrive early in the mornings, look out at the city from the elevated buildings offering expansive views and think “this is the nicest place I will probably every work.” So many priceless works of art and beautiful views all in one location. I would definitely have this can’t miss attraction on my list. I would take in a performance at Disney Hall, see live jazz at one of the clubs such as Sam First, Catalina’s, and until recently Bluewhale. Scenic drives on the Pacific Coast Highway that include stops at Santa Monica and Malibu piers as well as Zuma Beach would make the list. People watching at a cafe in Beverly Hills, playing pool at a tavern or pub in a historic building downtown, and eating brunch at a place like Perch atop a high rise would keep us busy. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
So many people deserve this shoutout! First and foremost my parents have supported me and afforded me countless opportunities to further my passion and career. I draw my main inspiration from them. Always hard working, genuine, compassionate, and helping others they lead by example. Many of my teachers and mentors share those same qualities. Phil Perry, Craig Ketels, Butch Eversole, Steve Barta, Jeff Campbell, Clay Jenkins, Walt Weiskopf, Gary Keller, and Gary Herbig are just a few of those many great musicians and educators. I believe my peers deserve much of this shoutout. Their commitment to excellence, dedication, creativity, and willingness to share with others help me everyday to continue striving to be a better musician and person. It is through them that I have learned what it takes to get better at your craft, how to stay motivated, and the courage to pursue not what is easy but what is right.

Website: www.jeffpifher.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/jeffpifhermusic

Youtube: www.youtube.com/user/JeffPifher

Image Credits
Nicholas Casillas Merlin Showalter Julie Shuford

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