[ Jazz ]
Grammy Award-winning tenor saxophonist Wayne Escoffery began his professional career touring and recording with the Eric Reed Septet. In 2001, he joined the Lonnie Plaxico Group and Abdullah Ibrahim’s Ekaya and became a member of the Mingus Dynasty, the Mingus Orchestra, and the Grammy Award-winning Mingus Big Band. In 2004, he joined Ben Riley’s Monk Legacy Septet, an innovative piano-less group dedicated to carrying on the legacy of jazz great Thelonious Monk. Around that time, he toured with Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Music of the Masters, two groups of musicians hand-picked by Wynton Marsalis to perform the music of Dexter Gordon and Miles Davis.
In 2006 Wayne secured a position in Tom Harrell’s quintet. He has since made numerous recordings with the group and has co-produced four of Harrell’s releases including Prana Dance, Roman Nights, The Time of the Sun, and Number Five.
Born in London, Escoffery moved to the United States in 1983 and three years later settled in New Haven, where he studied at Neighborhood Music School and ACES Educational Center for the Arts, the city’s arts-focused magnet high school. He was also a student at the New York City-based Jazzmobile. During his senior year in high school, Escoffery attended the Artists Collective in Hartford. It was there that he met jazz legend Jackie McLean, the world-renowned alto saxophonist who founded that organization and the jazz program at The Hartt School, from which Escoffery graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in jazz performance.
Escoffery later attended the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance at the New England Conservatory, in Boston. Through the Institute, Escoffery toured with Herbie Hancock and studied with George Coleman, Jimmy Heath, Don Braden, Clark Terry, Ron Carter, Barry Harris, and Charlie Persip, among others. Since earning a master’s degree in 1999 from the New England Conservatory, Escoffery has performed, toured, and recorded with numerous internationally respected musicians and has become known for his muscular tone, impressive technique, and versatility. His most recent recording as a band leader, The Wayne Escoffery Quintet Live at Firehouse 12, which features Rachel Z on keyboards and Orrin Evans on piano, was released in 2014 on Sunnyside Records.
Escoffery is part of the Yale School of Music’s Jazz Initiative, where he is a lecturer in jazz improvisation and an ensemble coach.