May 29, 2020

Noah Kaplan in the Spotlight

Noah Kaplan (by Peter Gannus)

What genre of music do you perform?

I perform mainly jazz and some classical, mostly 20th century, as well as a little bit of rock and Jewish music here and there.

When did you start performing?

I began performing professionally when I was in high school in Los Angeles.  I played in jazz and rock clubs, composed and performed a little music for television, and played club date gigs, like bar mitzvahs and cocktail parties.

What city and state are you based out of?

I live in Brooklyn, NY.

What about playing music makes you happy?

The feeling of release when improvising is exhilarating in a way I’ve never experienced elsewhere.  Likewise, the indescribable feeling of communion while playing with like-minded musicians is deeply satisfying.

What are your hopes for your future in live music?

I hope to play for receptive audiences and to create an emotional experience for them as intense as I’ve felt at great performances.  Jazz really does benefit from being heard live because of the immediacy of expression, and its endless possibilities for musical exploration and invention.  These are areas I want to exploit in creating a gripping experience for people.

Noah Kaplan Quartet DECENDANTS album cover

What other acts/musicians do you regularly play with?

My current regular projects include the Noah Kaplan Quartet with Joe Morris, Giacomo Merega and Jason Nazary, as well as Dollshot, a band that plays twisted arrangements of 20th century art songs as well as originals, co-lead by my wife Rosalie and I, and a trio with Giacomo and a shifting third member.  I am also composing a one-act opera with Blade Runner screenwriter/author Hampton Fancher that will be performed pretty soon.

What has been your favorite performance so far?

The first time my quartet performed was at The Stone in 2008.  We had all played together in separate contexts, but never as a unit, and from the very first improvised note, I could feel that something very special was happening.  There was an effortless communication and kinetic energy that I hadn’t ever quite felt before that, and that has continued to grow over the past three years.

Noah Kaplan by Peter Gannushkin

Who are some of your favorite musicians?

I have many favorites.  Because I am passionate about both jazz and classical music, I will pick a few figures from each who have been most influential for me.  John Coltrane, Stan Getz, Joe Maneri, Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Joe McPhee, Coleman Hawkins, Duke Ellington, to name a few favorite jazz players.  And of the great composers: Bach, Wagner, Schoenberg, Beethoven, Mozart, Josquin, Brahms, Berg, Babbitt, and lately Ives, among others.  I also like The Doors, Procol Harum, David Bowie and Tom Waits.

What is your favorite instrument to play? Why?

The saxophone.  I was drawn to it first as a kid, when I was eleven.  I loved the sound as well as the physical thing.  I used to set up my saxophone on a stand in my room and just look at it for a long time, admiring it the way one does a beautiful woman.  In terms of playing, the saxophone is unparalleled amongst the instruments for expressive possibilities.  My two other favorite instruments are the voice and the cello, and for me, the saxophone can sound like both at times, without having to sound like either.