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Wayne Escoffery Honored In New Haven

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Articulate, well-mannered and courtly, Wayne Escoffery, one of today's finest, most exciting jazz saxophonists, speaks softly and creates passionate but never ego-driven music.

Matinee idol handsome and a regal 6-foot-4 presence—non-musical attributes that have landed him modeling and acting gigs including bit parts on TV commercials for Grey Goose vodka and Mitsubishi cars—the London-born musician of West Indian heritage has been content to do his forceful, expressive speaking through his horn.

A summa cum laude graduate of The Hartt School where he was a protégé and friend of Hartford jazz great Jackie McLean, the coolly intellectual saxophone savant has industriously focused on creating his own musical voice.

Whether as the consummate, first-call sideman with such premier groups as The Mingus Big Band and the Tom Harrell Quintet, or with his own hard-swinging, soulful bands and acclaimed recordings, Escoffery has focused on expressing his art, not in exploring his biography.

Now, however, the 37-year-old artist is having occasion to reflect deeply upon none other than himself, concentrating on his own life's dramatic story line thanks to two immediately upcoming events that put the focus directly on him and his own personal biography.

First, Escoffery, who grew up in New Haven, returns to the Elm City today to be honored by his alma mater, ACES Educational Center for the Arts, a prestigious New Haven high school magnet program and one of the early formative influences that helped send him on his path to success as a jazz artist.

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