Roy Nathanson has had a varied career as a saxophonist, composer, bandleader, poet, actor and teacher. During the thirty years Nathanson has led the Jazz Passengers, the band has recorded 10 CDs and toured extensively. As primary composer for the band, Nathanson has written songs for a variety of singers including Elvis Costello, Deborah Harry, Jeff Buckley, Jimmy Scott and Mavis Staples. Nathanson also leads Sotto Voce, a band that investigates various relationships between text and music in performances and recordings. His radio play, You’re The Fool, was performed and commissioned on NPR and his meditation on time, The Rock Concert, was commissioned by the Science Museum of the University of Wisconsin. His first book of poetry Subway Moon is on Buddy’s Knife Editions and his poems have appeared in Natural Bridge, 5AM, the Brooklyn Rail and other publications. His non-profit organization, Subway Moon, connects teenage songwriter/musicians around the world with his Sotto Voce band in professional performances. He has also collaborated in theatre and film with David Cale, Chantal Akerman, Peter Sollett and Ray Dobbins through composition, co-writing and acting.
Nathanson has received two New York Foundation for the Arts composing awards, a Chamber Music America Award in composition and grants from the Rockefeller Foundation and NPR. He was a recipient of a Bessie Award and a Joseph Jefferson Award in Chicago. He has been featured in the NY Times, Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, The Brooklyn Rail, The Guardian, The London Independent and various other international publications. He has been a guest lecturer/teacher at University of California, Berkley, Hampshire College, New England College MFA program and has run the music department at New York City’s Institute for Collaborative Education for 12 years. Nathanson’s archives have recently been bought by NYU’s Fales Library for their permanent collection.
Teaching and Research Interests
improvised music, jazz studies and history, experimental and eccentric American music, world music, songwriting, film and theatre scoring, poetry, performance art, acting, social activism in arts education and performance, semiotics of music