Jeff Crompton is an Atlanta native who began playing the saxophone at age 12. He received a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Georgia in 1980 and a Master of Music from Georgia State University in 1992. From 1982 to 2010 he taught band in the Fulton County (Georgia) school system. Since 1980 Jeff has performed as a free-lance musician in the Atlanta area, specializing in avant-garde jazz. Notable past musical associations include a stint with pianist/composer Michael J. Smith and eight years with the 4th Ward Afro-Klezmer Orchestra, for which he wrote much of the repertoire. He currently leads the Edgewood Saxophone Trio and Three Way Mirror, an unusual saxophone/tuba/congas trio. As a performer, he has appeared throughout the Southeast, in venues as varied as the Palm Court Café in New Orleans, the Atlanta and Pensacola Jazz Festivals, and the Word of South Festival in Tallahassee. Jeff has written music for over 30 years, at first mostly in the form of jazz “heads” designed to facilitate improvisation. Over the past ten years, he has become interested in composing more formal and complex pieces. He has written dozens of pieces for the 4th Ward Afro-Klezmer Orchestra and the Edgewood Saxophone Trio. His Toccata for Brass Quintet was premiered by the Midtown Brass Quintet at the 2014 International Tuba/Euphonium Conference, and was featured in their concerts that season. He composed the music for Billie Holiday on the Radio, a unique show which combines music and the poetry of Laurie Perry Vaughen. Billie Holiday on the radio has been performed several times in Atlanta and at the Word of South Festival in Tallahassee. Jeff also produces a concert series of out-of-the-mainstream music, Creative Music in Hapeville, in a suburb of Atlanta.
What sparked your interest in toy piano?
I had been intrigued with the possibilities of the toy piano as a “serious” instrument for years. Recordings of Cage’s Suite for Toy piano and of Margaret Leng Tan playing both “serious” and lighter music were enlightening to me. But earlier this year I produced a concert in which composer/percussionist Olivia Kieffer presented many of her toy piano compositions. Not only did I enjoy the compositions, but I was struck by the accomplished and sensitive playing of Amy O’Dell, and decided that night to write a piece for the instrument.
What do you hope to achieve artistically or educationally from your participation in the festival?
In a sense, I have already achieved what I set out to do – to write a multi-movement work for the toy piano which is different in character from most of the toy piano music I have previously heard. I wanted to write a more complex, challenging (technically and musically), even perhaps more austere piece than is common for the instrument. I hope that it will be accepted for the festival, and accepted into the repertoires of many toy piano artists. In addition, I have no doubt that hearing a wide range of toy piano performers and compositions will further inspire me as a composer to write for the instrument.
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