Walt Weiskopf

Walt Weiskopf (born July 30, 1959 in Augusta, Georgia) is an American jazz saxophonist, multi-instrumentalist, composer, author, and educator. He has released 16 CDs as a leader and performed on countless other albums as a sideman, having worked with artists such as Buddy Rich, Frank Sinatra, and Steely Dan.[1] Author and journalist Cicily Janus regards Weiskopf as "one of the best unknown musicians in the modern scene",[2] and JazzTimes Magazine considers him to be underrated and "a highly potent tenor saxophonist who demonstrates a strong Trane-Rollins influence".[3]

Walt Weiskopf
Walt Weiskopf performing on stage
Walt Weiskopf performing on stage
Background information
Birth nameWalter Weiskopf
Born(1959-07-30)July 30, 1959
Augusta, Georgia, USA
GenresAvant-garde jazz, hard bop, post-bop, modal jazz, free jazz
Occupation(s)Musician, composer, author
InstrumentsTenor, soprano, and alto saxophone, clarinet
Years active1981–present
LabelsCriss Cross, Posi-Tone

Early lifeEdit

Weiskopf was born in Augusta, Georgia and grew up outside of Syracuse, New York. He took up his first instrument, the clarinet, at age 10 and began his saxophone studies four years later. He studied at the Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester from 1977–80. After earning his BA in Music Performance he moved to New York City in September 1980.

Professional careerEdit

Weiskopf began his New York career performing with the Buddy Rich Big Band in 1981 at the age of 21,[4] and began a 14-year stint with the Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra two years later.[5] Since then he has released 16 recordings as a leader, and holds numerous credits as a sideman.[6][7]

It was 1988 when Weiskopf decided to attend Queens College of the City of New York, where he spent 2 years studying with clarinetist Leon Russianoff, later earning a Master of Arts degree in clarinet performance. Over the next two decades he went on to perform with a number of notable orchestras including the American Ballet Theatre Orchestra, the American Composers Orchestra, and the Gotham Chamber Orchestra.[8]

In 2002, Weiskopf became a part of the popular music group Steely Dan, and was featured on the title track of their 2003 album Everything Must Go. A few years later in 2006, he began to tour and perform with the Donald Fagen Band, as well as with the Dukes of September Rhythm Revue in 2010.[9]

In addition to performing, Weiskopf has taught at a number of different universities, as well as authored several books on jazz improvisation. Weiskopf was an Adjunct Professor at New Jersey City University in Jersey City, New Jersey from 1996–2000. From 2001 to 2009, Weiskopf was a visiting associate professor at the Eastman School of Music, and taught part-time at Temple University in Philadelphia from 2010 to 2012. He is currently an Coordinator of Jazz Studies at New Jersey City University in Jersey City, New Jersey.

In 1991 and 1993 respectively, Weiskopf co-authored Coltrane: A Player's Guide To His Harmony and The Augmented Scale in Jazz (pub. J. Aebersold) with Ramon Ricker, and completed Intervalic Improvisation (pub. Aebersold) in 1994. Weiskopf's fourth book, Around The Horn, was released in 2001 and Beyond The Horn, a sequel, co-authored with his former student Ed RosenBerg, was released in 2006. His most recent book, Understanding the Diminished Scale, was released in 2013.[10]


Weiskopf has received three performance grants from the National Endowment for the Arts.[11] He also was awarded funding for the creation and recording of his 2004 sextet recording Sight to Sound (Criss Cross Jazz) from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and Chamber Music America.[12] This suite of ten movements was inspired by the work of visual artists Dalí, Picasso, Van Gogh, Miró, and others.


As leader
As Sideman


  • 1991 Coltrane: A Player's Guide (Pub. J. Aebersold – co-authored by Ramon Ricker) ASIN B000PIFI54
  • 1993 The Augmented Scale in Jazz (Pub. J. Aebersold) – Co-authored by Ramon Ricker) ISBN 978-1562240318
  • 1995 Intervalic Improvisation (Pub. J. Aebersold))
  • 2000 Around The Horn: 21 Modal Scales and Arpeggios Every Jazz Musician Needs To Know (Pub. J. Aebersold)) ISBN 978-1562240301
  • 2006 Beyond The Horn: Challenging Exercises & Etudes for Modern Improvisation (Pub. J. Aebersold) – Co-authored by Ed RosenBerg) ISBN 978-1562240493
  • 2010 Intervallic Improvisation – The Modern Sound: A Step Beyond Linear Improvisation (Pub. J. Aebersold)) ISBN 978-1562242596
  • 2010 Giant Steps: A Player's Guide To Coltrane's Harmony for ALL Instrumentalists (Pub. J. Aebersold) – co-authored by Ramon Ricker) ISBN 978-1562240530
  • 2013 Understanding the Diminished Scale: A Guide for the Modern Player (Pub. J. Aebersold)) ASIN 1562242881
  • 2016 16 Moderately Challenging Jazz Solos (Pub. J. Aebersold))


  1. ^ "Walt Weiskopf: Overdrive". PopMatters.com. Retrieved January 23, 2015.
  2. ^ Janus, Cicily (July 13, 2010). The New Face of Jazz: An Intimate Look at Today's Living Legends and the Artists of Tomorrow. Clarkson Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony. pp. 305–306.
  3. ^ Joyce, Mike. "Who's Overrated? Who's Underrated?". JazzTimes. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  4. ^ Akeny, Jason. "Walt Weiskopf Biography". AllMusic.
  5. ^ "Walt Weiskopf". AllAboutJazz.com. All About Jazz. Retrieved September 15, 2014.
  6. ^ "Walt Weiskopf – Overdrive". SomethingElseReviews.com. Retrieved January 25, 2015.
  7. ^ "Walt Weiskopf Nonet Siren". JazzTimes. Retrieved January 25, 2015.
  8. ^ "Walt Weiskopf". Last.fm. Retrieved January 25, 2015.
  9. ^ "Saxophonist Walt Weiskopf talks Steely Dan tour, new album". axs.com. Retrieved September 15, 2014.
  10. ^ "Walt Weiskopf". www.Amazon.com. Amazon. Retrieved September 15, 2014.
  11. ^ "The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra keeps an essential American sound alive". Isthmus. Retrieved January 25, 2015.
  12. ^ "Walt Weiskopf Discography". AllMusic.

External linksEdit