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Miles Osland

To look at saxophonist Miles Osland’s resume, one would think he’s a prisoner of academia-a professorial type who dotes on life within the halls of ivy. And that’s an easy assumption, for Osland enjoys his day gig as a professor within the School of Music at the University of Kentucky. And he’s also written more than 40 articles on the saxophone and improvisational technique, as well as six books, including a two-volume tome called Scale Anthology.

“All that is true,” he says, “but I’m a performer first and foremost. All of my degrees are in performance. It wasn’t until my graduate teaching assistantship at the Eastman School of Music that I got into teaching, and I worked 25 hours a week. But I’ve never changed my focus as a performer. I’m 37 now and performing more than ever.”

Having both the university and the performing life, however, is what he calls the best of both worlds: “I pinch myself every once in a while. I get to teach great students with my day gig and I have my creative freedom to perform. The University allows me the flexibility to handle this.”

And Osland’s latest release, Old Speckled Hen at Snapes Malting, on the Open Loop label, is what he terms his most satisfying endeavor. “It’s totally creative and artistic, fairly mainstream and very versatile,” he said. “It left me realizing that this is what jazz is all about-making a true statement with no holds barred.”

Working with Osland are Bill Anschell on piano, Woody Williams, drums and Neil Starkey on bass. Osland focuses on the tenor, with forays into flute. “I started on flute, and I’m still a closet flute player. I think my next recording may be all flute; I find myself getting more and more interested in it.”

Osland looks forward to more travels abroad, especially Europe. Travel, he says, is how he obtains much of his creative inspiration. “The English Suite,” which includes the title tune on his new recording, was written after his musical travels in England, with the assistance of a 1996 NEA jazz composer’s fellowship. “I see myself really delving into more composition,” he said. “I’m not very prolific, but when inspired, I’m pretty productive!”

Originally Published