Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Nathanson, Roy (Jay)

Nathanson, Roy (Jay), saxophonist, composer, actor; b. Brooklyn, NY, 17 May 1951. His father, Arnold Nathanson (b. Sept 14, l9ll d. l997) was a saxophonist and his mother, Minna Nathanson (b. Jan. 27 1922 d. l981), was a pianist. His sister is Jill Nathanson (b. June 9, l954) and he had a brother (b. Feb 12, l949 died Jan 31 l975). Roy studied with Les Scott, 1975-1983, Joe Allard, off and on the same period and Jimmy Heath, l972-l974. He got a BA (Jazz Performance, Composition) from Empire State College, SUNY. His wife is Charna Meyers. His son is Gabriel William Nathanson (b. Nov. 23, l997).

Roy is the leader and principal composer of the Jazz Passengers, a six-piece group that Nathanson founded with Curtis Fowlkes in 1987. It has toured Europe extensively and played at major festivals throughout the world. The band has also recorded eight cds. Since the summer of 1995 The Jazz Passengers have toured Europe and America with Ms. Harry and have been occasionally joined by guest vocalist Elvis Costello. With this configuration, the "Passengers" have released two albums.  The band performed orchestral arrangements of their repertoire with Ms. Harry and the Buffalo Philharmonic orchestra in March 2001. As an independent composer Mr. Nathanson scored three pieces by monologuist David Cale.  Their work, "Deep in a Dream of You" premiered at the Goodman Theatre in 1990 and had its New York premiere at the Joseph Papp Public Theatre in April 1993. He has scored several works for P.B.S., and films by Jacob Burkhardt and Tamara Jenkins as well as numerous theater productions for playwright Ray Dobbins and others. He has written children's songs for the H.B.O. series 'Happily Ever After', ethnic adaptations of classic children's folk tales sung by Tone Loc, Sinbad and others. Several of his songs were featured in Karole Armitage's adaptation of 'Sheherazade' at the Florence Opera House, and songs that he has written or arranged have appeared in Robert Altman's film "Short Cuts" and Chantal Akerman's "Histoires D'Amerique".  He scored the animated film 'Joy Street' directed by Suzan Pitt which  premiered at the New York Fi lm Festival in October '95 and received numerous awards including the "Gold Apple Award" from the National Educational Media Network.  A film score album of his "Klezmer" based score for the l996 feature film "Camp Stories" featuring Elliot Gould and Jerry Stiller was released in fall l996 on "Knitting Factory Works". He has written the script and arranged the music for the radio play "A Regular Guy" premiered on the National Public Radio program the Next Big Thing in spring 2001. In 1997 he arranged a Serge Gainsbourg song for the Jazz Passengers and Deborah Harry for a Virgin France compilation in Fall 1997, and set a poem by Edgar Allen Poe which was released on a Poe compilation produced by Hal Willner also in the Fall 1997.As an actor he has performed in films by Chantal Akerman, Jim Jarmusch and Elaine May as well as a variety of downtown N.Y. theatre projects.  He was featured in a starring role in the children's film, 'Wasserman' directed by Peter Lilienthal. Nathanson has a longstanding duo with keyboardist Anthony Coleman and leads several small group configurations as well as the "Alphabet Lounge Big Band." His sideman credits include four years recording and touring with The Lounge Lizards, work with the Marc Ribot's Rootless Cosmopolitans, Charles Earland and The Shirelles. He has also performed in special projects including a saxophone quartet concert in Brussells with Steve Lacy and Ned Rothenberg in which each of the four musicians contributed an original composition. From 1991-2000, he was an Artist Consultant for Instrumental Music at P.S. 188, Queens, N.Y. teaching saxophone, clarinet, flute, recorder and band (3rd-5th Grade). He's done extensive individual teaching, workshop and guest lecturer experience to children and adults.

He has been serving an Annenberg residency at P.S. 203 for several years and has been teaching under the auspices of Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Little Fred (1990); The Fire at Keaton's Bar and Grille (2000)
As co-leader:
Jazz Passengers: Live In Spain, Individually Twisted, Broken Night/Red Light (with Curtis Fowlkes) (1987), Deranged and Decomposed (with Curtis Fowlkes (1988), Live At The Knitting Factory (1990), Implement Yourself (1990), Plain Old Joe (1993), Jazz Passengers In Love (with Curtis Fowlkes) (1994); Roy Nathanson and Anthony Coleman: I Could'a Been A Drum, The Coming Great Illenium (1992); The Camp Stories (soundtrack composed by Nathanson)
As sideperson:
The Lounge Lizards: Live in Tokyo/Big Heart, No Pain for Cakes, Voice of Chunk; Marc Ribo and the Rootless Cosmopolitans: Rootless Cosmopolitans;

1997 and 1996 Meet the Composer in schools grant, 1994 and 2000 New York Foundation for the Arts Music Fellowships, 1990 A. T. & T. Meet the Composer for  'Jazz Passengers in Egypt', 1990 N.E.A. InterArts grant with David Cale for 'Deep In A Dream Of You'.  1998 "Meet the Composer" Music/Choreography grant with Neta Pulvermacher.

1993 Bessie Award for Outstanding Creative Achievement for 'Deep In A Dream Of You', 1991 Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Original Score for 'Deep In A Dream Of You'.

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