I'm a saxophonist, composer, and educator based in Los Angeles, California. I've worked with artists including Spoon, Duncan Thum (composer of Chef's Table Series), Johanna Samuels, Efa Etoroma Jr., Jeff Bernat, David Tranchina and others. I can provide quality creative woodwind arrangements or solos for your recording with fast turnaround time.
My background is in jazz and improvised music. I specialize in saxophone (tenor, alto, soprano) and also flute and clarinet. I've worked in a variety of styles and can provide full horn arrangements or solo parts with the above instruments. I have a MFA in Jazz Reeds from CalArts and Bachelor's in Music from the Eastman School of Music.
I'd love to hear about your project. Click the 'Contact' button above to get in touch.
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Interview with Ted Taforo
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: Spoon's Hot Thoughts. I was hired to take a saxophone solo that then got turned into the basis for a whole new arrangement. Very grateful for how well everyone listened together to find something new, had no idea that it would turn out that way. I learned a lot about the openness of truly creative listening, and the importance of being ready for anything!
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Depends, theses days that line is getting blurrier and blurrier as we quarantine indefinitely... As a wind player air and the physical resonance of a room is important to me. As a composer and music listener electronics are also important. There doesn't need to be a delineation between one or the other or a preference necessarily. Whatever works the best for the project at hand.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: I'm working on finishing a solo album for Future Gods, a label based in Los Angeles. I'm also recording an album with an avant garde slide guitarist, and have been doing a few horn arrangements lately for pop and rock recordings.
Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
A: Efa Etoroma Jr. amazing drummer and producer, great listener, great time and orchestration sense.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: I promise to work together to discover the best creative result for the project.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: Finding a fresh approach to a project. Music is kind of like algebra, there's a possible solution that will work the best in the moment that you'll eventually reach. How you get to that solution is different every time. How efficiently and gracefully you can discover what will work is the constant practice. I find that good communication with the artist and listening to what's already there in the recording helps this process along tremendously.
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: Usually how much I charge or can you provide a " " (insert artist) vibe/solo for this track? My answer is yes (unless I don't play the instrument that they're asking for like trumpet for instance) and then it's time to listen and see what we can discover...
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: I think a big misconception is that horn players don't necessarily think compositionally. To really understand how this instrument (saxophone) functions in music there's an incredible amount of history to be constantly uncovering and investigating. Along with that there's a lot of physical instrumental considerations like keeping your playing skills up on the variety of instruments (different saxophones, flute, clarinets). Each requires different physical (embouchure, technique), mental (reading, transpositions), and aural (improvisational tendencies of each instrument) demands to be informed and ready to play. If you aren't actively involved in all of these aspects of self maintenance while also thinking about what the music is made up of in the moment (how your part fits with everything else, how you can elevate what's already there, where you need to get out of the way etc.) it's much harder to provide a quality product.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: When do you need it done by? What do you have in mind for the saxophone/horns role in this project?
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Be open to different directions that a saxophone solo or horn arrangement could provide for your project. Horns can function as a full orchestra, a ripping solo, a percussive almost sample like touch in the background, melodic support, textural/noise for ambience, and so much more. The musician you hire may have something unique about their personality and/or musicianship that could bring new light to the project.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: Tenor saxophone, blank staff paper, water, laptop, mic.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: About 15 years.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Jazz informed.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: Jon Bap, because there's lots of room in that music for the unexpected.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Keep your ears fresh, if you decide something is done too soon you may have wasted the opportunity to find the best possible solution. I find the best way to do this is to always be listening to different music in my daily life so that when it's time to record for someone I have many possible ideas and reference points to draw from for the project.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: Jazz, pop, film music.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: Harmony, creative ideas, and a rich horn tone.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: I will discuss ideas for the project with the artist. Then play through with the recording to get some ideas (recording these initial ideas as well as they're being improvised) and then flesh out the arrangement based on that initial improvisation. I'll bounce a sample recording of the isolated horn(s) and a bounce of the horn with the original track for reference so the artist can hear where it's going. After discussing revisions, will make any necessary adjustments. When the artist is satisfied with the parts I'll then bounce each track with f/x and dry along with the final version of my parts with the track for reference.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: I use Ableton and record through an MXL ribbon microphone.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: Mike Rocha, Efa Etoroma Jr., Alekos Syropoulos, Kaytranada, Thelonious Monk, Brian Eno, Sun Ra, Mozart.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: My most common work is to provide improvised saxophone solos, or saxophone/woodwind arrangements for projects.