We had the good fortune of connecting with Jordan Ferrin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jordan, why did you pursue a creative career?
I’ve always had a constant imagination. It has always been generating images, sounds, ideas…. When I was young I could not control my imagination well, which resulted in many people thinking I was “uncontrollable.” Slowly but surely I started fitting into the norms of society, whether at school, home, or doing sports. The struggles of growing up neurodivergent–that’s what people say these days–are real, but there is another, beautifully creative side to it. There is something in music that kept me drawn to it as a creative outlet the most. There still is. I have had truly ecstatic experiences both listening to and performing music. But more than that, I have always wanted to help people, too. I had considered other careers whose purposes are to help. At this point in my life, however, I’m so entrenched in music-making and teaching that I feel I can help and GIVE the most through music.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
In college, I was all about jazz saxophone and composition. I was perhaps a little either of them at different times. That’s the thing with me; I go through phases of obsession with one thing or another. Once I started being serious about music as a music major, I became obsessive around certain aspects of my craft. Oddly, I’ve never felt these “obsessive” tendencies as overwhelming, or laced with stress. Over the years, I have learned to flow with everything I do almost naturally, whether it be teaching, performance, practicing, research, or composition. It’s similar to the Tao in Taoism. We are sometimes driven by forces that Western values like logic and even passion cannot completely support. You just…do something, without giving it a second thought, and though you may not know how to explain how “right” this feeling is…at least you can FEEL it. Thus, if you just allow the Tao–the infinite cosmos, God, whatever you want to call it–to act THROUGH you, then you flow with what you do without a second thought. That which is greater than you, yet of which you are a part, directs you, and the FEELING of it fitting into your life is what counts.
So throughout all of the hard work I HAVE put in, it never once felt truly hard or stressful in a negative sense.
This fact solidified and evolved unimaginably once I started traveling the world working as a cruise ship musician. The world had lessons for me no education could teach. The world showed me things I would never have considered if I’d stayed in the USA. The world became the progenitor for all I now do.
Yes: individual places like Stockholm, Istanbul, or Osaka offer amazing sights and experiences. But the more I traveled the more these sights and experiences TRANSCENDED themselves. More foundational truths and wisdom became known to me.
1. Every human being is the same. We all want health, meaning, satisfaction, and happiness in our lives. We are only different in how we pursue those things. Otherwise we are all the same.
2. Beauty is a culmination of all things perceived in the moment. The Sagrada Familia in Barcelona is as unbelievably breathtaking as it is detailed. Yet, the combination of all its parts–the effegies, the arches, the curves and patterns melding into each other, the spires…that is what beauty is. As you stare over a long, bright sandy beach, even individual grains of sand have beauty in their bits.
3. If we just step back and be fully aware in the moment, the world can give us feelings which transcend our “thinking” brains, connecting us in a much deeper way to our personal human experience in the Universe.
I had been writing new music since ship-contract #1. I have an EP of the earliest music from that time called Starting with Facets. But, that was just music. I needed to express MORE.
Eventually, my full-length album Tales of Transcendence was released in March 2022, along with a fully-fledged concept for my project. The Jordan Ferrin Storyband is about combining storytelling and jazz. In live shows I do actual storytelling. The band and I then play the music to both complement and finish each story. Each story is about an experience I had in the world.
I needed to combine the stories about the music with the music. Both stories and music have the power to connect us all, and so combining the two is my best way of expressing my worldly experiences. With this music and the stories that inspired them, I want to inspire people to interact with the world and their daily lives in the best possible way they can. In that sense, this music and its stories are not so much about me. They are about what the world gave to me. I want to give that back.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
The entirety of Southern California is rife with beauty, culture, and things to do. And HOW IS IT we are blessed with beaches, mountains, AND ETERNAL SUNSHINE? I’d first start where I live, Long Beach. I have lived in London, UK. Long Beach is like a miniature London: it has distinct districts with their own history, the world lives here, and you could live here for years and still not discover everything! I have some favorite spots for breakfast like Potholder Cafe, The Crooked Duck, or Holé Molé if you want an excellent breakfast burrito. Then we could grab coffee at the Library Cafe or Stereoscope in Belmont Shore, where we could both browse stores and hang at the beach. We’d have to have dinner either at The Attic, Bai Plu Thai and Sushi, Little Coyote (the pizza is ridiculously good), or Cha for Tea if you want a solid meal AND amazing boba. But then there’s El Torazo and La Sauz for incredible, authentic tacos. We could just do tacos.
Malibu and Santa Monica are next. Heading out to a much more laid-back atmosphere in the early morning is something else. And we have a choice! We could hike Solstice Canyon or at Malibu Creek State Park, then chill on the beach, or just…chill on the beach. Santa Monica for the obvious 3rd Street Promenade and all its flair and fun, the beach and the pier for ITS obvious flair and fun, and if we’re really feeling like walking south to Venice Beach, let’s do it.
Hollywood is a must. Westwood is a must. DTLA is a mu–in fact, Los Angeles is a must. Vibrato’s, Vitello’s The Baked Potato, ETA Highland Park, Mr. Musichead Gallery, and those are just some great jazz venues. There’s Griffith Park, among my favorites to visit any time of year. Descanso Gardens and the Huntington Library can’t be beat, either. And while museums have been on my “to-do” list, LACMA and the Getty never fail to amaze.
My hometown is Buena Park, in Orange County. Home of Knott’s Berry Farm. Could we get into both Knott’s AND Disneyland, just a few miles south? We could certainly try! If not, downtown Fullerton and the Orange Circle are some of my favorite Orange County spots. But also, we’d HAVE to go to Laguna Beach: for the sunshine, for the waves and the beach, and for the art galleries…. Laguna is its own full-day as it is!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Azamara Club Cruises was the company for which I worked as a cruise ship musician. I hit the jackpot with them. I made insurmountable human bonds, played many kinds of music, and I traveled the ENTIRE WORLD. There is no way I can possibly thank this company enough for giving me a lifetime’s worth of experience and wisdom. All I do and all I am is based in having experienced the world as I did. My mentors from Trinity Laban Conservatoire in London: Andrea Vicary, Hans Koller, Mark Lockheart, Julian Siegel, Bruno Heinen, Tom Challenger, Janet Munro, Mick Foster, Martin Speake, and many others. All of you have helped me shape my path forward in music after experiencing the world. I am in a wonderful place thanks to you.
And of course, my mom, who has ALWAYS been my rock, guide, and ultimate cheerleader; my dad, who is all of the above and also helped me get back to California from London during the pandemic (INFINITE thanks); and my brother and his wife, who inspire me to no end.
Other: You may find the Storyband Travel Blog at the link below. This blog has the full stories behind every piece of music recorded by the Jordan Ferrin Storyband, and many pictures as well: https://www.jordanferrinmusic.com/storyband-blog
(Images of Jordan) Dario Griffin. (Album Art) Andrea Sena.