As jazz saxophonists we are always contending with the challenge of “originality.” Like most saxophone students, I started out practicing from method books and transcribed solos, but eventually realized that I was not going to stand out as a player, or feel creatively fulfilled, if I only practiced what everyone else was practicing. I had [read more…]
About Ethan Helm
New York-based saxophonist and composer Ethan Helm makes music on the boundaries of familiarity in jazz and other genres. His work pushes the jazz tradition to mysterious and surreal places, casting new light on swing, blues, and expression to bring beautiful and overlooked details into relief. Ethan leads the avant-garde quintet Wet Electric, which released its first album in November 2018, and co-leads the genre-hopping “Cowboys & Frenchmen,” with whom he has released two albums on the Outside in Music record label, garnering frequent radio play and a four-star review in Downbeat Magazine, as well as two U.S. tours. Helm composes and arranges for jazz ensembles (Michael Sarian’s Big Chabones, Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, Shrine Big Band), indie rock groups (Louis Weeks, Stranger in the Alps), classical ensembles (American Composers Orchestra), and dance (Kathleen Helm, Francesca Lee). He has performed at the Umbria Jazz Festival, the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, and throughout the United States and Canada with Ryan Truesdell’s Gil Evans Project and Brad Shepik’s Balkan Peppers. He was a featured presenter at the 2016 North American Saxophone Alliance Biennial Conference, performing his suite, “Paul Desmond’s Sound,” with the Texas Tech University Jazz Ensemble. Ethan grew up in a musical family in Southern California, holds degrees from Eastman School of Music (BM) and New York University (MM), and is pursuing a PhD at NYU, researching jazz applications of classical music theory.