My personal mantra –and life goal– going back to my post-grad school existence, is somehow, some way eradicating the barriers between art and life; not merely living an artistic life or making time for creation, but celebrating art and life by being productive, focused, and positive (for myself and others, particularly other creative individuals, which is a large part of the impetus behind Virginia Center for Literary Arts).
Jamie Saft, in addition to making tons of music that has enriched my (and our) world, has long been both hero and inspiration because of his seemingly indefatigable energy and sense of mission; everything blends –the work, the passion required to savor not just the final product but the entire process, which of course includes food, drink, friends, the acknowledgment of heroes living and dead, and never doubting the path we find ourselves on– and I can think of few better examples of someone becoming a MASTER by ensuring that life and art are always connecting and vibrating at the highest levels.

I’d heartily recommend this incredible interview for anyone seeking inspiration, but especially those who create.

Some key takeaways, below.

As a musician, I think it’s critical to always be open and in a space where one can continue to learn new things. Each of these heroes of music has vast troves of knowledge, experience, and wisdom to impart. They fight every single day for great music and positivity. It is our duty to learn from these masters – to listen, to be humble, to consider other ideas.


I have no real fixed schedule. Some days I’m in the recording studio here at my home. Other days I’m on tour in foreign lands. Many days I’m traveling here in the US playing shows and recording all around the country. I could be working with a Jazz or instrumental group, a loud Rock or Reggae group, producing for a vocalist, writing songs, or producing film scores and music for television. My day starts with vast amounts of espresso and then proceeds to MUSIC – in whatever form it takes that day. Sometimes it appears in a few different forms in the same day. I specifically try not to differentiate too much between tasks. Each situation is part of the musical whole. I don’t have to try to make them blend as they are all the same. The technical aspects may differ but the end result should be the same: great, transformative music. 

The greatest music suspends time and crystalizes something mystical in a particular moment in time…It’s a full body experience. It is a meditative ecstatic state. Our everyday problems temporarily wash away and we are fully immersed in the mystical. Bob Dylan once said of this “I find the religiosity and philosophy in the music.” Sound transcends spoken language and vaults us towards the mystical.

I’ve had the good fortune to speak in detail with Jamie about his process and journey, and I’ve written about some of his (many, many) recordings, HERE, and especially HERE.

Considering this was first written in 2011 (!), I consider the body of work Saft has continued to amass and can only nod my head in approval (and mild disbelief) and repeat: what he said:

Zelig-like, Jamie Saft has been an indefatigable fixture in the downtown NYC music scene. Equal parts MVP and unsung hero, his presence—as player, producer and composer—is at once daunting and exhilarating. Anyone familiar with John Zorn’Tzadik label will already be quite familiar with his work, but if any musician is inadequately described by labels and geography, it’s Saft. Granted, Tzadik’s mission statement is the promotion of music without boundaries or agenda, resulting in albums that shift comfortably between genres like jazz, classical and so-called world music. Still, even in the Tzadik stable, Saft has been all-world in terms of his reach and aspiration these last ten years and change.

New Zion Trio

Sean Murphy and Jamie Saft in conversation:

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