Jeff Sackmann is a composer, saxophonist, and bandleader with an embarrasing affection for bubblegum pop.
In an effort to create serious music for his 15-piece jazz orchestra, Oy Christina!, he has combined baroque fugue with Justin Timberlake, introduced serialism to Eminem, and spiced up dance mixes with Coltrane changes. For his trio Single White Female, among others, he has written several dozen pieces for small jazz ensemble that occasionally bridge the gap between chamber music and traditional combo playing.
As a saxophonist, Jeff spent several months performing with Clyde Stubblefield, the original funky drummer. He plays with a variety of rock bands in New York City and spent three years as the music director for the swing band Little Red and the Howlers.
Hailing originally from Spokane,Washington, he spent his undergraduate years at New York University, did graduate work in English Literature at the University of Wisconsin-Madison,and studied music at Berklee.
Bang for the buck
I spent the last couple of days with an odd dilemma. I've been looking forward to the Kronos Quartet's concert tomorrow night at Zankel Hall, featuring a Michael Gordon premiere, ever since the season schedule came out. But, contrary to my fervid hopes, the concert never went on Carnegie's Student Rush Ticket list, so I would (gasp!) actually have to pay full price. In this case, that's a modest $35 for the good seats, $28 for the not-as-good ones.
It's a bit ridiculous, now that I think about it, but I can't remember the last time I spent that much for a concert ticket. Maybe my tab topped $35 at the Blue Note when I went to see the Charlie Haden Liberation Music Orchestra several months ago, but that's the best I can do. See, I've gotten hooked on day-of obstructed view seats, community rush, student rush, and just about any other way to keep my concertgoing expenditures under $10 or $12 per night.
Put another way: I've been seeing some of the best classical and new-music performances New York, each one for less than it would cost me to walk down the street and see "V for Vendetta" tonight. By myself. No popcorn. So, of course, I knocked some sense into myself and not only bought my ticket for tomorrow night, but sprung for a full-price ticket for Kronos's performance on April 7th, as well.
Having regained my senses and my priorities, I tried to remember times I've opted out of similarly appealing performances due to frugality. There have certainly been plenty of nights I've stayed home when I might've enjoyed a concert, but rarely have I said no to a "must-see." Maybe, were I awash in greenbacks, I would've splurged recently for the Vienna Philharmonic, or maybe one of those $192 orchestra seats for Simon Rattle and Berlin; I might've checked out Anthony Braxton's new group at Iridium last week, and I suppose if I were really riding high, I wouldn't be going to Zankel tomorrow, I'd be spending the week in L.A. for the Minimalist Jukebox festival. But for the most part, a cheap bastard like myself can see great stuff in New York just about every night of the week.
Armed with a student ID, one can get $10 tickets to a substantial number of Carnegie Hall performances, as well as most everything programmed by Miller Theater or the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Any Lincoln Center Presents events are doable for $20. The Kimmel Center in Philadelphia offers $10 community rush for anybody--on consecutive days a couple weeks back I saw both the Boston Symphony and Mavis Staples that way. The Met even has a limited student program--well, that triggered my memory: I parted with $35 for An American Tragedy. American Tragedy, indeed.
Just about every smaller organization has some sort of student discount, as well. Off the top of my head: Speculum Musicae's recent performance at Merkin was free for students, as is most everything at Julliard. Roulette is $12, and you don't need a discount at Tonic or The Stone, where admission is usually ten bucks a set. Even where I'm relying on a student discount, the full-bore ticket prices (should it ever--egads!--come to that) are in the $20 range.
Amazing, then: for the price of a front-row ticket to Wicked, one can spend a month going to four concerts a week. (Actually, I got my front-row ticket to Wicked via the lottery for $25, but that's neither here nor there.) And while $100-$150/month isn't chump change, it's a hell of a deal for the (cliche alert) smorgasbord of musical variety it buys you.
Even if you do occasionally have to break the bank for a $35 ticket.