Austin-based jazz trumpeter, composer and bandleader Jeff Lofton
opened TEDX Austin 2012 with Graham Reynolds
jazz trumpeter - Best Jazz Band '10-'11 Austin Music Awards / Austin Chronicle Music Poll- was recently featured in the Austin American-Statesman as a rising music star in their 2010 Out and About 500: Music list, noting his "jump start" to the local jazz scene with "ubiquitous presence and articulate advocacy."
"Listen up Miles Davis fans…" from the Austin American-Statesman and "… channels Miles Davis…" from the Daily Texan were some of the early reviews when Lofton arrived in Austin in 2007 from South Carolina. Mostly unknown to the local jazz scene, word-of-mouth drew people to hear his unique sound at small bars in East Austin. Soon his shows were being described as "...crazy good and crazy crowded." (Joe Gross, Austin American-Statesman). Since then Lofton’s been honored with an official “Jeff Lofton Day” in Austin and performed at many events, such as the Mayor’s inauguration. His original, “Shana’s Song,” was included on “Austin Music Vol. 8” produced by the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Lofton started 2010 buoyed by accolades for his new album, "Jazz To The People," recorded with the Jeff Lofton Quartet and released in late 2009. The Austin Chronicle named the straight-ahead, bebop album, with nine original compositions, one of the Top 9 Austin Albums of 2009. "Jazz to the People" was also chosen for the Top Albums of 2009: DJ Picks list at KUT 90.5 FM, Austin's NPR-affiliate. In May 2010 Lofton presented an evening featuring "Jazz to the People," at One World Theatre. In November 2010 he took the same show to New York to the Iridium Jazz Club, famous for it's Monday nights honoring the Les Paul Trio.
In March of 2010 "Jeff Lofton's 1950s Miles Davis Tribute" drew a large crowd at One World Theatre, though competing with opening night of SXSW in nearby downtown Austin. The show was soon booked at the Iridium Jazz Club in New York. Previously the show launched a jazz series in collaboration with the University of Texas’ Blanton Museum's hosting of the "Birth of the Cool" exhibit in 2008, and was booked at Scat Jazz Lounge for it’s Fort Worth debut.
In 2010 in the tradition of Miles Davis, Lofton expanded his sound with a new group, the Jeff Lofton Electric Thang, described as jazz-funk, rock fusion. The group’s first album, “Chasing the Voodoo Down - Live at the Cactus Cafe” releases on May 14, 2011 at the Cactus Cafe in Austin. The Jeff Lofton Electric Thang also debuted a “Bitches Brew” Tribute and performed at Antone’s, Momo’s, Lambert’s and Speakeasy in Austin. KGSR DJ and Esquire writer Andy Langer called Lofton “an Austin jazz giant” at the band’s first television appearance on his News 8 music series from the Long Center.
In Austin Lofton stays busy with gigs such as his weekly residency on Thursdays in the lounge at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, which celebrates a one-year anniversary in March, and a new Wednesday night residency at Maria Maria, Carlos Santana’s restaurant. He also enjoys eclectic opportunities to perform such as the first TEDx Austin conference where he played solo in the famous freight elevator, taking people up to the conference at the original Austin City Limits studio. Recently Lofton's quintet performed at Austin City Hall for the Live from the Plaza concert series.
In April the Jeff Lofton Quartet played at the Jam for Justice, a fundraiser festival for the non-profit Crime Victims First, on which Lofton serves as a board member. Lofton also donated a performance for the auction and served as a table host for Christy and Turk Pipkin's Nobelity Project Musician's and Artists Dinner honoring Willie Nelson.
Lofton's trio performs for patients confined to health care centers on behalf of the non-profit Symphony of Soul. His original, "Herbie's Time," is included on the non-profit's compilation CD "Sugar and Spice." Lofton contributes performances and CDs for many benefits and private events such as the Paramount Theatre's Gala, the Derrick Johnson Foundation Gala Benefit and the Breast Cancer Research Center annual brunch.
Lofton performed at regional festivals such as the Jazz at St. James Festival in Austin, which featured jazz legends Curtis Fuller and David "Fathead" Newman in 2008. In 2009 the Jeff Lofton Quartet, featuring legendary jazz vocalist Donna Hightower, opened for Javon Jackson featuring Louis Hayes at the Jazz at St. James Festival. In 2010 the Jeff Lofton Quartet headlined at the San Antonio Arts and Jazz Festival and performed at the Fredericksberg Food and Wine Festival.
Lofton debuted his first jazz CD,"Jazz Therapy," in 2005, with the Jeff Lofton Quartet. The self-produced CD mixes old style be-bop with modern forms of jazz in the tradition of Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and John Coltrane. Jazz Therapy includes Roland Haynes on piano, Reggie Sullivan on bass and Kenneth Salters on drums.
Born in Germany to American parents, Lofton grew up in Columbia, South Carolina, where he studied music at the University of South Carolina. Playing trumpet for over thirty years, Lofton has spent time on the road sitting in at Chicago clubs and playing gigs in New York City. In Texas he has performed with Dr. James Polk, Butch Miles, Rene Sandoval, Alex Coke, the late Tony Campise, and many others. Lofton has produced hip-hop and R&B artists such as Legend and the Gutsman, and recorded with hip-hop/rock ensemble Deja Voodoo.