Wayne Escoffery: Saxophonist/Composer/Teacher
23 February 1975, London, England. Born into a musical household, in his earliest years Escoffery heard his guitarist father play reggae and listened to R&B from his mother’s record collection. In 1986, his family emigrated to the USA, settling in New Haven, Connecticut. There, he sang in the school choir and also studied tenor saxophone. These studies included spells with the Neighborhood Music School and the Educational Center for the Arts, New Haven, and the Artists Collective in Hartford, Connecticut. There, he met Jackie McLean from whom Escoffery received a scholarship to attend the Hartt School. While attending Hartt, from where he graduated with a degree in Jazz Performance, Escoffery met and played with artists such as Curtis Fuller, Al ‘Toots’ Heath, Eddie Henderson and Claude Williams. Escoffery then moved on to the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance at Boston’s New England Conservatory. While there he played in Herbie Hancock’s group and by the time he graduated in 1999, he had studied and/or played with artists such as Don Braden, Ron Carter, George Coleman, Barry Harris, Jimmy Heath, Charlie Persip and Clark Terry.
Settling in New York City, Escoffery quickly established himself on the local music scene, playing with many leading jazz musicians as well as some contemporary singers: Carl Allen, Nancie Banks, Bruce Barth, Laverne Butler, Bill Charlap, Jimmy Cobb, Tom Harrell, Abdullah Ibrahim, Carolyn Leonhart (whom he married), the Charles Mingus Big Band, Ralph Peterson, Lonnie Plaxico, Eric Reed, Rufus Reid, Ben Riley, and Mary Stallings. Escoffery also leads his own small groups in which his sidemen have included Joe Locke, Hans Glawischnig and Lewis Nash. Strikingly gifted, Escoffery has established a secure reputation for his technical skill and especially for his very effective and intelligent improvising.
Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin