Ben Schachter, straight ahead

It’s a tough gig, straight-ahead jazz. To wit: on a Sunday night not so very long ago, I stopped in at a Thai eatery on Adams Avenue to check out the talent. It was just me, the owner, and two couples in the house listening to a pair of wizened old birds alternate tenor and alto sax with the occasional flute solo to pre-recorded tracks. They were as good as anybody you’d hear in New York City, that place still being the gold standard of all things jazz, but the little Thai restaurant was empty and the tip jar, well, let’s not go there.

“I’m teaching part-time at a community college,” says tenor saxist Ben Schachter, who relocated recently to San Diego from Philadelphia with his wife. “That’s how people in my line of work generally make a living and pay their bills,” he says, meaning modern-day jazz musicians. “By teaching.” Schachter was a professor at Temple University and later at the Berklee College of Music, he says, “as opposed to having to wait for the phone to ring every day.”

I ask who he is compared to most often and he says “I had three influences: John Coltrane, John Coltrane, and John Coltrane.” Schachter moved here a little over a year ago and the word got around quickly that a new hired gun was in town. “I took a lot of gigs, and I did a lot of sessions with pianist Mike Wofford, bassist Mark Dresser, and pianist Joshua White.”

Past Event

Ben Schachter's Re:Trio

  • Thursday, October 3, 2013, 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.
  • 98 Bottles, 2400 Kettner Boulevard, San Diego
  • 21+ / $12 - $15

For his next showcase gig, Schachter will be importing his rhythm section from New York, “and John Swana’s coming,” he says, “but he’s not playing trumpet on this gig. Instead, he’s going to be playing an EVI, meaning an electric valve instrument.” Schachter’s San Diego future? “I’d like to form my own thing again and do some writing and some recording.”

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