story by Jeremy Kohn
Seth Ebersole has musicanship in his blood. His mother plays the piano and organ, while his father was director of the Fleetwood High School band in Pennsylvania. Ebersole himself, was drawn to the saxophone and the music of jazz at an early age.
Even though music was always present in Ebersole’s life, he realized in high school that he was a small fish in a big pond of musicians.
“I knew around that time I was going to become a musician — so I started to take it a little more seriously,” Ebersole said. “My senior year of high school something spooked me into practicing more — so I started practicing five hours a day.”
Now more determined, Ebersole devoted his schooling to learn more about jazz. He earned an undergraduate degree from Temple University in jazz performance and a Master’s Degree from Michigan State University in jazz saxophone.
Ebersole cites saxophonist Branford Marsalis, as a huge inspiration.
“As an artist, as a saxophonist, as an improvisor . . . there is a big influence there . . . as a matter of fact, I did my graduate lecture recital on the music of Branford Marsalis.”
Along with his bandmates, Ebersole will perform an original suite of music called “In Absentia” at the Robin Theatre on Friday, June 14.
With “In Absentia”, Ebersole wanted to compose a piece which would evoke different feelings.
“Visual artists talk a lot about how the important thing about art is the process of creating — not the end result,” he said. “I kind of approached composing these tunes like that . . . a lot of times you set up to write a tune . . . you have something in mind with this I just had a feeling.”
An example of of one of the feelings Ebersole composed is a piece called “Fly over”.
“it’s kind of a tongue and cheek about how many times in our lives we ignore little things we think are not that important,” he said. “I think if we slowed down . . . we would notice well . . . maybe those things aren’t so unimportant after all.
Ebersole attributes this feeling and the creation of “In Absentia” to a a song called “Absent” which appeared on his debut album “Sometimes I’m Happy.”
The jazz saxophonist described his unique process of composing his music.
“I generally don’t write music at the saxophone — I write it at the piano,” Ebersole said. “Sometimes, I will go to write something on the piano and its easy on the piano and it will be really hard on saxophone.”
Ebersole’s jazz band consists of musicians throughout the state. Bassist Liany Mateo is from Lansing, drummer Madison George lives in Kalamazoo, and guitarist David Dunham is from Detroit.
“There is a high degree of improvisation in this music . . . they are three vastly different players . . . so everyone has a slightly different perspective of the music,” Ebersole said.
This will be Ebersole’s third appearance at the Robin Theatre.
“The Robin Theatre feels like a very inviting and intimate space, which is exactly what we want for this.”
Seth Ebersole and his band with perform the suite “In Absentia” at the Robin Theatre on Friday, june 14 from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 at the door and $10 for students. For tickets and more information visit the Robin Theatre.