Commentary
12:00 pm
Fri April 19, 2013

A Musical Life: Geoffrey Deibel

Geoffrey Deibel maintains a multi-faceted career as performer, teacher, and researcher.
Geoffrey Deibel maintains a multi-faceted career as performer, teacher, and researcher.
Credit Courtesy photo

A Washington, D.C., native, Geoffrey Deibel is emerging as an important voice for the saxophone and contemporary music. Geoff's performances as soloist and chamber musician have taken him around the United States and across the globe. Geoff is a member of the critically acclaimed h2 quartet, a first prize winner at the Fischoff Competition and recent recipient of an Aaron Copland Fund Recording Grant. The group has been hailed by American Record Guide as "an ensemble to watch for years to come."

Geoff is also a seasoned orchestral performer, appearing with the New World Symphony (Miami) and Grant Park Symphony (among others), and has worked with conductors such as Roberto Abbado and HK Gruber. Geoff holds degrees in history and music from Northwestern University, and a doctoral degree from Michigan State University. He currently serves as Assistant Professor of Saxophone and Jazz Studies at Wichita State University.

My name is Geoff Deibel I am the visiting professor of Saxophone and Jazz Studies at Wichita State University. Next year I'll be dropping the visiting part of that and I'll also be the Director of Jazz Studies.

My development as a musician kind of occurred as a natural immersion in art and music. My parents were both musical and the record collection I grew up with was not huge but was filled with quality recordings.

I think I got used to the idea of musical eclecticism at an early age. I can remember sitting with my ear against the speaker listening to the Abby Road album over and over.

I took lessons from a fantastic saxophonist named Reginald Jackson who still plays in the Washington, D.C. area. If you've actually heard any of the saxophone quartet recordings on NPR that's always his quartet playing.

[He] taught me to be a musician first and a saxophonist second. He taught me how to make phrases. I can remember interrupting lessons so we could go down and listen to records of Pavarotti, and Charlie Parker.

All great art is something that embraces contradiction.

While I think it's important to have an identity as an artist, I think it's important to break boundaries as an artist. As soon as what you do as a musician can be boxed up really neatly and boxed up into some sort of identifiable genre it's time to look at it, reexamine it and see what you can do differently, something that's going to be exciting to others.