Weiskopf Walt(er David)

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Weiskopf Walt(er David)

Weiskopf Walt(er David) ,soprano and tenor saxophone, composer, brother of Joel Weiskopf; b. Fort Gordon, Ga., July 30,1959. He was born when his father, a doctor, was a captain in the Army. Soon his family moved to Syracuse, N.Y., where he grew up with his younger brother Joel. They had a piano at home and their father played often, mostly Classical music: Chopin, Grieg, and others. Weiskopf took piano lessons for a few months at age five; he started playing clarinet in fourth grade. Later, became interested in jazz and switched to alto saxophone. At first he was mainly aware of big bands—Woody Herman, Stan Kenton, Basie, Ellington—but then he heard Miles Davis’s My Funny Valentine and it became his favorite album. Later, he got some Charlie Parker records, as well as Stan Getz, Dexter Gordon, and Coltrane; at about 15 he began transcribing solos. At 16 he landed a gig in a local big band in Syracuse, and was thrilled sitting next to J. R. Monterose, who became a mentor. In 1980 he took a Bachelor’s degree from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., where he studied saxophone with Ramon Ricker. He moved to N.Y.C, in fall of 1980. He became friendly with Ralph LaLama and altoist Andy Fusco, both of whom were playing with the Buddy Rich band. When LaLama left the band, Weiskopf was invited to take his place on tenor. He stayed for two years and the tenor became his main instrument. He joined the Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orch. on second tenor in 1983, after the group relocated to N.Y. from Los Angeles; he has recorded four CDs with the Orch. as well as three with Akiyoshi’s small group. In the late 1980s, during his tenure with the Akiyoshi Band, he began working with and writing for his own rehearsal quartet that included pianist Joel Weiskopf, bassist Jay Anderson, and drummer Jeff Hirshfield; the first of his CDs as a leader was recorded in 1989. He studied under clarinetist Leon Russianoff in 1988-89 and earned an MA in clarinet performance from Queens Coll. of the City Univ. of N.Y. During his years in N.Y., Weiskopf has been featured with drummer/composer Roland Vazquez, pianist Renee Rosnes, drummer Eliot Zigmund, the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, and the Andy La Verne group (1998). He joined drummer Rick Hollander’s quartet in 1996. Weiskopf has performed with the American Ballet Theatre Orch., the American Composer’s Orch., and the Concordia Chamber Orch.; he performed the Aaron Copland Concerto for clarinet as guest soloist with the Gotham Chamber Orch. in N.Y.C. (1994) and received performance grants from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1989,1991, and 1994 to fund live performances of his music in N.Y.C. Since 1991 he has been a regular fixture at Jamey Aebersold’s Summer Jazz Workshops and is currently is on the faculty at Jersey City State Coll. in N.J. and the New School in N.Y.


Exact Science (1989); Mindwalking (1990); Simplicity (1992); World Away (1995); Song for My Mother (1997).

—Lewis Porter