Category Archives: Music

A Few Things I’ve Learned About Livestreaming

“Thanks” to the pandemic, I’ve spent much more time figuring out how to deal with video and live streaming than I ever thought I would. It’s turned out to be a surprisingly rewarding experience. In no particular order, here are … Continue reading

Posted in Music, Science | 17 Comments

Negative Harmony: a primer

Ever since Five Pedals Deep, my trio record with Thomas Morgan and Ted Poor, came out in 2010, I’ve gotten a steady trickle of emails asking about a particular tune on it called Back Attya. If you listen to it … Continue reading

Posted in Music | 23 Comments

McCoy Tyner: dance, drums, beauty salons & fourths

The great McCoy Tyner, giant of jazz, huge influence on me and countless others, died a week ago, on March 6th 2020. Back in 2008, when I was 26, I had the privilege of interviewing him for French magazine Jazzman … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Creativity and Its Sources / Tom McCarthy’s Remainder

Reading Tom McCarthy’s novel Remainder, which I love, I’m reminded of a realization I had a while ago: pure creativity is closely related to dreams — a mysterious place where new visions are somehow born. You dream, and you see … Continue reading

Posted in Books, Music | 2 Comments

Sister Canons in the Goldberg Variations

In Bach’s Goldberg Variations, every third variation is a canon at an increasing interval. The first (Variation 3) is at the unison (the canonic voice repeats the leading voice verbatim), the second (Variation 6) is at the second (the response repeats … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

The question, when performing

The question, when performing, is: “Am I putting up with anything right now? Is there something that I’m unhappy with that I haven’t addressed?” For example, awkward posture, which looks uncomfortable, will make the audience uncomfortable too, because it shows … Continue reading

Posted in Music | 9 Comments

Natural Machines

  The Natural Machines album is out today, Saturday October 27th. I’m bringing the project to Le Poisson Rouge in New York on October 30th. The fine folks there asked me some smart questions ahead of the gig. Thanks to John … Continue reading

Posted in Music | 5 Comments

Short songs with absurdly long codas

Form-wise, the Beatles’ Hey Jude is unusual. For 3 minutes and 8 seconds, it’s a conventional song, with melody, varying harmony, A and B sections that repeat in a predictable pattern — what you’d expect from a pop song. Then, for … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Tagged , , | 16 Comments

The TRAPPIST-1 System: Listening to Planetary Orbits

(Cross-posted from WBGO.org. Thanks to Nate Chinen for inviting me to write this.) With most things, I’ve found, what’s most interesting isn’t the thing in itself, but rather how it relates to other things. In other words, everything is relative, … Continue reading

Posted in Music, Science | 3 Comments

Interview: Improvisation, Mountain Climbing & the Meaning of Life

I’ve got a little time off from touring so I’m cleaning house. While sorting through old papers I came across the interview below. Most of these answers still ring true to me today. It’s fun to hear from past iterations of … Continue reading

Posted in Music | 1 Comment

Doing It Bachwards: my unexpected Goldberg Variations

(Cross-posted from UCLA’s Ethnomusicological Review. Thanks to AJ Kluth for inviting me to write this piece for the journal.) As I look back over the last ten years and the peculiar journey with J.S. Bach that the time represents for me, … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Tagged , , , , | 18 Comments

Lee Konitz on Spontaneity, Originality, Drugs & Playing Sharp

Lee Konitz will be turning 87 in October, and his long and distinguished career as one of the most singular saxophonists in jazz needs no introduction (but if you need one, it’s here). He is known in particular for his … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Tagged , | 11 Comments

The New Logic, Objectification, & Bob Dylan

When I got back home to Brooklyn from tour a couple days ago, one of the things I did was buy Logic Pro X, a big update to a music production app I’ve used for a long time. To get a … Continue reading

Posted in Music | 3 Comments

Rhythm / Pitch Duality: hear rhythm become pitch before your ears

I just got home from a five-week tour in Europe and finally have some time to do what I call research. The way I see it, being a touring musician is a bit like being a scientist: you spend a … Continue reading

Posted in Music, Science | Tagged , | 106 Comments

Questions from the Atlas

I’m bringing my trio with Ted Poor and Ben Street to the Atlas in Washington DC tomorrow night (Wednesday, May 30th, 8pm). Brad Linde, who curates the jazz series at the Atlas and is also a saxophonist/bandleader of renown on … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Konitz Playlist

A few months ago, JazzTimes asked me to choose ten tracks from Lee Konitz’ recorded work that stand out to me in his career. Here’s what I came up with. Lee Konitz Playlist – Dan Tepfer Lee Konitz started recording in … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Tagged , | 6 Comments

All Kinds of Music-Making

The composer Anna Clyne and I got together yesterday evening to catch up, and since we were at my place, and there were microphones lying around, we decided to make a track. I met Anna at the University of Edinburgh … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

It’s also about the notes

I dropped by 5th Estate in Brooklyn tonight to play some sax at the jam session, and had a conversation there that brought up a nice memory: it was shortly after I started playing with Lee Konitz, in early 2007. … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Paul Motian, 1931 – 2011

I have a really clear memory of dropping in on a trio set with Paul Bley, Gary Peacock and Paul Motian while passing through New York when I was 17 or so. It was Motian who struck me the most: … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Tagged , | 4 Comments