I am a composer and improviser based in Connecticut who plays saxophones, clarinets and flutes. I grew up studying classical and jazz performance practices, always searching out music that challenged my expectations and made me wrap my head around the question of, “what the **** is happening here?” I continue to find myself searching out musical situations that make me ask that question today.  

My higher education included a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education/Jazz Saxophone from Western Connecticut State University in 2012, a Master’s degree in Jazz Composition/Arranging from the University of North Texas in 2014 and studies in the Contemporary Improvisation doctoral program at New England Conservatory from 2016-2019. I have been fortunate to have a wealth of inspiring teachers over the years, the most significant being Tom Scavone and John Mills at Canton High School, Dan Goble and Jamie Begian at WCSU, Rich DeRosa at UNT, and Joe Morris at NEC. Teaching has been an essential part of my musical work and continues to be so; I have taught private lessons since 2008 and have held positions at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts high school and Stafford Public Schools.

My current work revolves around the dynamic practice of free music and is heavily influenced by Joe Morris’ body of work. His seminal book, Perpetual Frontier: The Properties of Free Music is a great resource for anyone interested in getting into the music. In 2021, I started a small record label, Phonoemulsion Records, to document the ongoing work that I have been fortunate to make with several different musicians around Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts. The first 3 duo releases, with Grant Beale, Silvain Castellano and Michael Larocca are set to drop in September and there are many more on the way.     

Thanks for visiting my website. I hope you enjoy the music! – Dan O’Brien


dan o'brien - phonoemulsion records