Saxophonist ERIC BARBER (b. 1972) has been recognized as part of a generation of artists whose artistic voice and output defy categorization. Barber has developed a unique approach to the saxophone, integrating influences from jazz, Balkan and Indian music with a personal vocabulary of extended saxophone techniques.
His versatility, unique approach to the saxophone and artistic fearlessness have made him a regular collaborator with some of the most innovative and unconventional figures in new music today, including Nels Cline, Mark Dresser, Vinny Golia, Wayne Horvitz, Art Jarvinen, Steuart Liebig, Poovalur Srinivasan, Wadada Leo Smith, Miroslav Tadic, Tom Varner, and Glen Velez. Eric grew up in Eugene and majored in music at the University of Oregon. He moved in 1997 to attend graduate school at California Institute of the Arts, and immediately became immersed in the thriving Los Angeles jazz and world music scenes.
Since moving from Los Angeles to Seattle in 2004, Eric has been sought after in Northwest creative music. Earshot Jazz presented a feature article on Eric in their April 2006 magazine, and he recently gave the world premiere of pianist/composer Wayne Horvitz’s These Hills of Glory, for string quartet and improviser. He leads his own avant-jazz trio and improvising chamber quartet, as well as performing in French hornist Tom Varner’s jazz and chamber projects. Eric has performed throughout the U.S. and Canada, most notably at the Knitting Factory New York, Vancouver International Jazz Festival, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Getty Center, and Skirball Cultural Center. Recording credits include the Capitol, Cryptogramophone, Nine Winds, pfMENTUM, Phlogiston, Recondite, and Virgin labels.
His first commercial release, the solo saxophone CD Maybeck Constructions (pfMENTUM CD 015), received positive reviews from around the globe. Sonic, metric, rhythmic, and melodic concepts are unified into cohesive pieces that have compositional structure yet allow for deep improvisatory exploration from performance to performance. Exploring the full sonic capabilities of his saxophones, Eric fuses complex rhythmic structures and multiphonics with a keen ear and compositional sensibility.
Eric is currently a freelance performer and educator, and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music from the University of Oregon and a Master of Fine Arts in Jazz Studies from California Institute of the Arts. He lives in Shoreline, Washington with his wife Joy and two children, Ezra and Simone.
“Putting a remarkable edge on this particular adventure is the phenomenal saxophone work of Eric Barber, whose huge soul, mature tone and pyrotechnical facility bring these compositions to their full, barely restrained potential.” – John Gilbreath, Seattle Sound Magazine
"tastefully wild" -- Los Angeles Times
"Eric Barber's soprano sax work is particularly thrilling" -- Dan Warburton, THE WIRE (UK)
"Saxophonist Eric Barber refuses to be tied down to a single style...The fact that Barber can handle just about any musical style put in front of him is evidenced by the artists he's played with over the years" -- Greg Prato, All Music Guide
“His adventurousness and ability to shift gears are what really grab my ears…Barber's compositions are intense and thought-provoking. His playing is as varied and skilled as his composing, and he really brings these pieces to life here. Top it off with the perfect setting, and you have a truly exceptional album” -- Jon Worley, Aiding and Abetting
“Eric Barber takes us to a place where creativity, experimentation, and originality rule. Many sounds flow from this talented artist. At times the music and musings are complex yet it follows his original approach to composition. He unearths sonic treasures mixed in with more common sounds for the pleasure of the listener." -- The CRITICAL REVIEW Service