Dave Mathews Band Takes On Saxophonist Jeff Coffin

By Alison Murphy

Staff Writer

On Tuesday, August 19, 2008 LeRoi Moore, saxophonist of Dave Mathews Band for over 15 years, passed away. In late June, Moore was in an ATV accident and was recovering in his Los Angeles home when he died unexpectedly.

After the initial accident DMB did not feel it necessary to cancel the tour. Instead, they asked saxophone Jeff Coffin to sit in with them until Moore recovered. I had the pleasure of seeing Coffin play with DMB this past July at the first Rothbury Music Festival in Michigan. I thought this was going to be a once-in-a-lifetime-chance, but now that Moore is no longer with the band, what will they do? They have postponed two shows since his death, but Coffin will be sitting in for the rest of the summer tour.

Coffin was, by all means, a wise choice for a temporary replacement saxophonist. He is one of the most well rounded, traveled and diverse musicians alive today. Coffin is known for “rejecting all labels and categories other than ‘music’ and ‘musician.'” He has played with a wide variety of names including Phish, Garth Brooks, Yonder Mountain String Band, The Dixie Chicks, John Scofield, and the Wailers, but he is most famous for his work done with Bela Fleck and The Flecktones as well as his own side project the Mu’tet. Coffin’s playing is one-of-a-kind. He is always striving to make changes, to develop and to be unique. Coffin can basically play every woodwind, minus the double reeds, and his technique on all instruments he plays is supreme and flawless. His sound is perfect, his melodies are always creative, and his fingers never cease to amaze! Jeff Coffin comes through Asheville at least once a year. Unfortunately there are no upcoming local dates scheduled for him, the Flecktones or DMB. I did see him the last time he came through Asheville which in May of this year at the Asheville Music Jamboree. He played with Jeff Sipe and his Trio, but also got on stage with the Afromotive and led the children’s parade. Just this one occasion shows how versatile Jeff Coffin is-he jammed out with one band, played with a group he’s never been with and then improvised an entire parade!

This is going to be a new and interesting chapter in both Jeff Coffin’s and DMB’s careers. They all have something to learn from each other, so let’s hope this new collaboration will bring new light into the music world!