Wayne Escoffery

Jazz journalists use the term “Young Lions” to describe the long list straight-ahead, acoustic oriented jazz improvisers born in the ’60s, 1970s and ’80s. Wayne Escoffery, a London native, is one of the many Young Lions that started his catalog building in the early 2000s. Escoffery is a tenor player who can play post-bop or hard bop. His influences include Joe Henderson, Joe Gordon, Dexter Gordon and John Coltrane. Escoffery plays the soprano as a secondary instrument. His most prominent influences on the soprano are Shorter and Coltrane. Escoffery is a straight-ahead performer who is faithful to the Young Lion spirit, regardless of whether he plays the soprano or the tenor. He is an American citizen, but he was born in Great Britain. However, he spent his entire life in the northeastern United States. Escoffery was just 11 years old when he moved from the U.K. to New Haven, CT with his mother in 1986. That year, he joined the New Haven Trinity Boys Choir, and it was also in 1986 that he began studying the tenor sax with saxophonist/clarinetist Malcolm Dickinson. When he was 16 years old, Escoffery quit the New Haven Trinity Boys Choir and began to play jazz saxophone. Escoffery met Jackie McLean in his teens. Escoffery describes McLean as a mentor and major inspiration in his life. Escoffery studied extensively with McLean at West Hartford’s Hartt School. He attended the New England Conservatory, Boston, and received a Masters degree in 1999. Then he moved to New York City in the next year at age 25. His visibility in jazz continued to grow. In the 2000s, Escoffery was a member of Tom Harrell’s quintet and played with the Charles Mingus ghost group. He also toured with Ben Riley’s Monk Legacy Septet, a Thelonious Monk tribute. In the 2000s Escoffery supported his fair share of jazz vocalists such as Mary Stallings (Laverne Butler), Carolyn Leonhart, Cynthia Scott, Nancie Banks, and Carolyn Leonhart. Escoffery’s debut album, Times Change, was recorded by the German Nagel-Hayer record label in 2001. Intuition was recorded by Nagel-Heyer in 2003. Veneration was Escoffery’s first album live. It was recorded for the Savant label in 2006. A studio session for Savant Hopes and Dreams was recorded in 2007.

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