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Jeff Oster

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Jeff Oster from 2015

Can you catch the readers up on the history of your involvement in music?

Ever since I started playing trumpet at the age of eight, I've spent my life traveling with my family as we moved a lot, and then continuing on as a professional musician. It's been the thread that has kept me sane, made me my best friends, opened doors and filled my soul. From my time in high school band, in Coral Gables Florida, to the Vegas lounge bands I've been in, to the times in the studio creating my albums, I have only been more and more rewarded by music. And I hope others have too!
MSJ: If you weren't involved in music what do you think you'd be doing?
Trying to find a way to be involved in music! Here are some of the paths I've considered: long haul truck driver. marine biologist. heart surgeon. boat captain. lobster fisherman. chef. financial planner (oh yes, I am doing that as we speak!).teacher. psychologist.
MSJ: Who would you see as your musical influences?
They vary widely and wildly - Pink Floyd, Steely Dan, Herb Alpert, Dead Can Dance, Alice Cooper, Yes, Fleetwood Mac, Bill Chase, Will Ackerman, Miles Davis, Tim Story, Holger Czukay, Nils Petter Molvaer, Chris Botti
MSJ: What's ahead for you?
I'd like to create more albums. I'd like to help raise my 17 year old boy and 13 year old daughter into good and decent human beings (so far, so good). I'd like to play more live shows. I'd like see NEXT win in the Grammys this year. I'd like to learn how to be a better trumpet player, and a true and decent man that adds something to this world. And, I'd like to have some sushi...
MSJ: I know artists hate to have their music pigeonholed or labeled, but how would you describe your music?
Miles Meets Pink Floyd. Ambient new age funk...and most of all, I'd describe it as “Jeff Oster.”
MSJ: Are there musicians with whom you would like to play with in the future?
I'd love to play with Nile Rodgers. I'd love to play live with Bernard Purdie and Chuck Rainey. It would be great to join David Crosby on a song or two. I'd love to record with an orchestra, and perform at The Hollywood Bowl.
MSJ: Do you think that illegal downloading of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians?
The more people that can hear my music, the better. I think that there are many young and not so young people that have never paid a dime for the music in their lives. And, if they don't pay, perhaps they'll tell a friend or ten about how they like my music. That kind of advertising is worth many dollars spent on advertising...

Me, knowing that every CD I see on the floor at a house, in a car or on a shelf, represents years of the artist’s life, and thousands of dollars, would do all I could to support musicians and other artists. I know this, and I, for one, would do all I could to help an artist create new music.


In a related question, how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them?

Please, share the best shows with your best friends! And, my last name is spelled “O S T E R...”
MSJ: If you were a superhero, what music person would be your arch nemesis and why?
I'd have to say that would have been Whit Sidener. He was the professor of music at the University of Miami when I auditioned there out of high school. After I'd gotten accepted in the classical music trumpet program, he auditioned me for the jazz program. After I played, he told me that if I went back and spent twelve more years practicing twelve hours a day, that I'd still not be good enough to be in the jazz program there.

While that has fueled me to keep on becoming a better player over the last 40 years, I'd still like to wrap him in my Spider-man web, and use my Mighty Thor hammer throwing strength to show him what a be boppin riff would feel like...on the moon.


If you were to put together your ultimate band (a band you'd like to hear or catch live), who would be in it and why?

Drums: Bernard Purdie and Keith Carlock

Bass: Chuck Rainey and Michael Manring

Guitar: Will Ackerman and George Benson

Vocals: Barbra Steisand, Aretha and Lady Gaga, Tony Bennet, Frank Sinatra

Saxophone: Phil Woods, Mindi Abair and John Coltrane

Trumpets: Miles Davis, Chris Botti and Bill Chase

Trombone: Jim Pugh 

The above, is just the tip of the iceberg. Why would they all be in the band? Why not?

MSJ: If you were in charge of assembling a music festival and wanted it to be the ultimate one from your point of view who would be playing?
It would cover many styles...Let's say it ran 24 hours - straight...I'd open at 9 am with Enya, and then Lucinda Williams, moving to Chris Botti and then to Damien Marley. From there, Willie Nelson, moving to Earth Wind and Fire, followed by Yes. As we moved towards the early evening, I'd add Nile Rodgers and Chic, then into Paul McCartney, followed by The Stones, then Pink Floyd. As we approached midnight, I'd add Jeff Oster, then Skrillex, Daft Punk, David Guetta and then Lady Gaga. I'd then wind things down with a chill set from Sigur

What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?

I quite like Florence and the Machine, as well as the new Kendrick Lamar. I love Kendrick's new album.
MSJ: Have you read any good books lately?
Haven't been reading much in terms of novels, I tend to focus a lot on Pema Chodron, or on older stuff like Jane Robert's SETH material...
MSJ: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?
I took my son to see Steely Dan not long ago. Beyond wonderful...

Do you have a musical "guilty pleasure?"

I suppose it would be listening to a playlist from might not be "hip,” but it takes me back to a time I cherish dearly.

MSJ: What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?
I guess it was when I was running a Top 40 band in LA, where we'd have all kinds of costumes, and basically had great fun with almost every pop song we played five nights a week. You know, I'd wear a wedding dress for Billy Idol's “White Wedding,” wear a diaper and beany copter cap and a bib for Weird Al's Michael Jackson “Eat It” parody, wear a Gumby hat upside down for ZZ Top’s “Legs”...and when I tried to book the band in one of the better LA clubs, was told: "We don't book circuses.” I kind of felt like I was trapped in the pod as it lowered on stage...
MSJ: If you could sit down to dinner with any three people, living or dead, for food and conversation, with whom would you be dining?

Miles Davis, Kenny G and Buddy Rich...just to watch the show...

But seriously - I think I'd like to go to Big Sur for breakfast, Chicago for lunch and NYC for dinner - with Miles, James Brown and Frank Sinatra....

MSJ: What would be on the menu?
Maine Lobster, pasta, Willie Mae's New Orleans chicken, Talisker scotch, Cohiba cigars and flan for dessert from Harry's in Mt. Holly, Vermont
MSJ: Are there any closing thoughts you would like to get out there?
Music is love. Pass it on. I hope you all get a chance to hear my new album NEXT. is where you can hear it. I'm really proud of this new music. Thank you for spending time with me!
MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2015  Volume 4 at
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