David Arteaga, Saxophone


Captivated by the transformational power of sound from his earliest years, David began music lessons that the tender age of 7 on clarinet. In the early years of high school he worked as a clerk at the Academy of Musical Arts in his hometown of Montclair, New Jersey to fund his musical education. During this time he steadily developed a growing passion for masterpieces of the “serious” literature, most especially the string quartets of Beethoven and the New Viennese School. His wind quintet earned him acceptance as a student of composition at the New England Conservatory, where he studied composition under Robert Ceely, and crossed paths with many towering figures of music including Robert McKinley, Jackie Byard and Gunther Schuller among others. Singing baritone in the acclaimed New England Conservatory Chorus under Lorna Cooke deVaron, he had the opportunity to sing with the Boston Symphony in Symphony Hall under the baton of Seiji Ozawa, as well as with the Boston Pops under the stern eye of Maestro Fiedler. Though studying composition, most of his friends at Conservatory were in the jazz program, and the influence of great American improvisational music took firm root and began to grow. 

Yearning for a broader educational experience, David chose to leave NEC after one year, and following a year hiatus from school to regroup and make applications, entered the University of California Santa Cruz as a dual-major in mathematics and music composition. His musical mentor David Cope introduced him to the broad and vast possibilities of composition inspired by the likes of Ian Xenakis, Edgar Vareze, and some of the most innovative voices in improvisational music at that time. But it was only after living for year in the Haight-Ashbury District of San Francisco, heading down 2 or 3 times a week to the legendary Keystone Korner to hear the likes of Art Blakey, Anthony Braxton, Dexter Gordon, Max Roach and so many others, that a serious course into jazz was set. Even as a child he always wanted to play the saxophone, and finally in his early 20s he got a hold of his first clunky old Buesher alto, quickly upgrading to a nice Selmer tenor, and began to practice diligently. In San Francisco he studied with Richard Davis and Rach Cztar, two amazing saxophonists of the San Francisco Saxophone Quartet.

The returned to Boston seemed inevitable, the Hub being such a vibrant laboratory and melting pot for so many styles of music, especially jazz. David has been active on the jazz scene here for decades. In 2007 he cofounded a 10-piece band which he called No Static, dedicated to the performance of the music of Steely Dan. It is no coincidence that Chris Potter, David’s strongest jazz influence, did a stint with this long-lived and amazing “pop” music group. Over the period of 8 years he managed the band, acting as musical director, horn-section leader, arranger, and business manager, playing sold-out rooms in all of the major area venues including Ryles, Johnny D’s, the Acton Jazz Café, the Regattabar and more. It was a good run but after 8 years it became clear the general-business mentality that held sway in this outfit ran counter to the “ethics of jazz”, to borrow a phrase from Herbie Hancock. Returning his full focus to his true passion of composition and improvisation, the past several years have been especially productive. In 2014 David started the Lilypad Sunday-Nite Jazz Jam Session in Inman Square Cambridge, an ongoing event that has steadily built into a vibrant artistic and social scene serving all lovers of jazz in the Boston area, players and listeners alike. It was in the context of this jazz jam that his current quartet has coalesced; his just-released David Arteaga Quartet CD project Picture is a an album of all original tunes that groove and sing, featuring the incomparable rhythm section of Plamen Karadonev, Dave Fox, and Max Ridley, the regular house-band for the Lilypad Jazz Jam.