You may not think that the Dave Matthews Band and Jazz would have anything in common, but you’d be wrong. Jeff Coffin, three-time Grammy award winner with Bela Fleck & the Flecktones, has played saxophone with the Dave Matthews Band since 2008. He also has an impressive solo project, Jeff Coffin and the Mut’et, featuring an all-star group of musicians: Roy “Futureman” Wooten: drums (Bela Fleck & the Flectones, 5-time Grammy winner), Felix Pastorius: electric bass (Yellowjackets, son of bass legend Jaco Pastorius) Bill Fanning: trumpet and space trumpet (George Garzone, Maria Schneider, George Russell), Chris “The Pianimator” Walters: keys (JD Souther).
On the evening of Oct. 8, Coffin and his group came to the Ford Center to perform with the University’s premier jazz ensemble, The Mississippians. Under the direction of Michael Worthy the group was selected to perform at the 2012 National Conference of the Jazz Education Network.
Worthy said of the experience, “We really enjoyed getting to know Jeff’s musical personality through his compositions in preparation for this concert. Jeff and his bandmates were so open and willing to share their insights with us over the two days they were on campus; we have a lot of information to carry forward that will help us maximize our potential. I know that every student involved got something that will stick forever!”
The first set featured the collaboration of Coffin and The Mississippians. An energetic and spirited performance by all captivated the audience, leading to much applause and the occasional ‘woot woot.’
Appropriate for the location, the composition titled Sweet Magnolia echoed of the classic Summertime by George Gershwin. Coffin recounted writing the piece and sharing with a fellow musician from the north, who did not know the sweet smell of a magnolia blossom. After hearing the piece, I’m sure he could at least relate to the experience a bit better. Each member of The Mississippians had a solo, with Coffin bringing the show to an end in grand fashion.
After a brief intermission, Coffin returned with his group, The Mut’et. The talent on stage was astounding. The blend of the instruments, combined with the tension created through their unique style of pushing the boundaries of 4/4 time. Watching Roy “Futureman” Wooten in a drumming trance, while shards of wood and sweat fly in the air, brought a smile to your face before you realized it. The audience were literally on the edge of their seats.
By Sarah Beth Wiley, HottyToddy.com
Photos by Hugh Jones