Philadelphia-raised musician and composer Maxfield Gast has been widely recognized for his performance as a saxophonist and composer. Rooted in jazz saxophone, Gast is a multi instrumentalist, solo artist, and music producer, including composing and performing music for television, the big screen, and performing live around the globe.
As a bandleader, Gast has released several albums including Ogopogo, PhillyCAM Sessions, Side By Side, and Eat Your Beats, all on the Militia Hill label. Maxfield’s unique and eclectic sound found it’s way onto the airways, landing high on college radio charts, quickly leading to publishing and licensing deals to the likes of MTV, Comedy Central, ABC, Bighouse Publishing and Sony Classic Films. Gast is also a composer and performer for all 5 seasons of FX Network’s multi Emmy Award winning hit series Louie.
Maxfield has performed internationally in venues and festivals including New York’s Carnegie Hall and Jazz at Lincoln Center, Austin’s SXSW Festival, Bluesfest in Ottawa, New Orleans Jazz Festival, Vancouver Jazz Festival, Hultsfred Festival in Stockholm, Verizon Hall in Philadelphia's Kimmel Center, the Academy of Music and many other jazz festivals across the nation. Gast has worked with a wide variety of artists including Grammy Award winning band Cage the Elephant, Reggie Watts, multi Grammy winner Dana Leong, Bikithi Kumalo (Paul Simon), Louis CK, Grammy Award winner Scot Sax, Tri-state Indie Award-winning bands Work Drugs and Aaron & the Spell, American Music Award winning band The Bomb Squad, PEW Grant finalist Keith DeStefano and Puzzlebox, Grammy nominated Jeremy Grenhart and Ryan Shaw, studio band SweetPro, Eric Wortham (Adelle and Seal), Dave Manley (Jill Scott), Rick Feds, Naomi Shelton & The Gospel Queens, Doodlebug of Digable Planets, Sharon Little, Tim Motzer, George Stanford, American Idol finalists Brenna Gethers and Nicole Tranquillo, as well as countless other local and national artists . Maxfield has shared the stage with jazz greats like Betty Carter, Christian McBride, Kenny Barron, Grover Washington Jr. and Pieces of a Dream, Jeff Lee Johnson, Rodney Green, Bilal, Orrin Evans, the late Edgar Bateman Jr. and Truth, Bobby Watson, Ronnie Burrage and Band Burrage, Derek Hodge, Bootsie Barnes, Charlie Ellerbe and many other jazz artists across the US and abroad.
Located on the Avenue of the Arts in downtown Philadelphia, Maxfield is a musical accompanist at the University of the Arts School of Dance. At Uarts, Gast works directly with the dance instructors to develop and perform a live soundtracks for the dance class curriculum. Using a variety of instruments like percussion, EWI (electronic wind instrument), piano and saxophone, Gast creates a musical backdrop driven by improvisation and score/compositional development pairing with choreography. Class genres include modern and jazz dance, Horton, Graham, tap and improvisation. Gast has collaborated and performed with a variety of dance companies like Raphael Xavier & Olive Dance Theatre, Group Motion and Curt Haworth Movement, merging music and choreography for live performances both locally and across the nation.
Gast is a strong advocate for the Arts and with a degree in Music from Temple University, he teaches regularly in solo, small, and large group settings. Maxfield has been affiliated with the Philadelphia Community Arts Network, Limelight Performing Arts Center, Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz, and Temple University with students studies ranging from saxophone and other woodwinds to music production, audio engineering, composition, and music theory.
Founded in 2009 by Maxfield Gast, Militia Hill is a music production agency and record label located in the Philadelphia area. Its mission with production is to bring remarkable focus, clarity and originality to custom compositions as well as mixing, editing and voice over for radio, television and the big screen. As a record label, Militia Hill has hosted numerous full length albums, EPs and singles featuring a variety of local and national artists. Affiliations through the years have included Illadel Allstars, David Stoller and Samurai Hotel, Big House Publishing, Yessian Music, FX Network, Broad Street Pictures, Sony Classics, Mangos Inc, NPR (National Public Radio) and MTV.
“Rafael Navarro’s line of custom saxophone mouthpieces is as good as it gets. His mouthpieces are incredibly linear from top to bottom and excel in both live performance settings as well as recording in the studio. I can’t imagine playing without them.”
Gast plays a custom Navarro Maestra on tenor, alto, and soprano saxophones.
“My parents bought me my first Mark VI when I was 12 and I’m still playing that horn. Nothing plays like a Selmer. The substance of the tone along with the ease and comfort is home. From sopranino to low A bari and everything in between, they are all great. It is a privilege to be part of the Selmer family alongside saxophone giants like John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, and Dick Oatts. Selmer is my sound.”
“As a traveling musician, keeping my instruments as safe as possible is top priority. Colorado Case Company made custom covers to fit all my cases – the bari case even has cut-outs for the wheels and pull handle. They’re double-insulated which helps in extreme temperatures and are super durable and water-resistant, which puts my mind at ease. The outer pockets provide extra storage while the custom colors and embroidery unify the look of my gear.”
“There is nothing more personal to a musician than their instruments. When issues arise, I truly find comfort in knowing that my horns are in the hands of Aaron Barnard. Aaron is a master of the art, whether it be routine maintenance or a complete restoration, and his care and attention to detail are irreplaceable.”
“Maxfield Gast: Ogopogo (2015, Militia Hill): Saxophonist from Philadelphia. I file him under ‘jazz-pop’ which is ever more off-base, but he likes synth-beats and EWI -- were it not for the saxes I'd move him to ‘techno.’ This is mostly electronica with commentary, including digressions on the differences between ‘serious" and ‘funny’ music. Of course, the world isn't that simple, nor, fortunately, is Gast's music. B+(**) [cd]”
Tom Hull - Village Voice
“Philadelphia’s Work Drugs celebrate two years as a group with their latest single Young Lungs proclaiming to be your favorite while indulging you to ‘drink up’ their pop arrogances. In excerpts from a Work Drugs’ 2 year anniversary release, Ben Louisiana and Tom Crystal state, ‘We were hoping to wait till 2013 to put this song up, but with the impending apocalypse we figured we'd put it out a few days early.’
El Segundo gets a shout out as does Los Angeles, as Ben and Tom bring Philly brotherly love and keyboard conceits to the western empire of angels and demons. ‘LAX is splitting the ozone, young lungs still burn.’ The metronome synths and unabashed lyrical gushing of self-assertions make this song more than a best-new-track, ‘asterisk in your story book.’ And if all this were not enough to ward off the bummer vibes of doomsday, Maxfield Gast takes it to the next level with his blaring sax tone that that stirs up new emotion while displacing point in time references of audio recognition.”
Sjimon Gompers - Impose Magazine
“Both Back and Model prominently feature another of Louie’s best assets – the music by Matt Kilmer and SweetPro. From the premiere’s opening standup, underscored by jazzy solo saxophone, to the garbage men sequence, with its upbeat combo sound, to the second episode’s relaxing French bossa nova throughline, Kilmer continues his fantastic work on the series, complimenting Louie’s easy feel while leaving plenty of space for C.K. to play with. It’s a partnership that got stronger throughout season three and it’s great to see this element back in fine form for season four. If Louie is as consistent this season as it’s been in the past, and these two episodes are an indication of where it’s headed, TV fans are in for another amazing, refreshing season of comedy.”
Kate Kulzick - soundonsight.org
“And that music might have been the best fake ’70s rock ever put to tape. Scarily accurate tributes to the stoner-approved sounds of Clapton, Floyd, Blue Öyster Cult, Van Halen, and Zep. A few times I had to snap my focus from the scene to the song to see if C.K. actually licensed a ’70s slammer. But nope, it was just Louie music director Matt Kilmer and his band, SweetPro, as always. They manage to outdo themselves more or less every week. Louie should have soundtracks out on CD. Let’s make it happen.”
Zach Dionne - grantland.com
“Maxfield Gast has played saxophone on recordings with Philly jazzbos (Puzzlebox), ska heads (Public Service!) and elegant world musicians (Bebek). None of those things prepare you for what a clear and concise ax man he is — possessing a richly snake-charming tone reminiscent of a sexier Paul Desmond whether on alto, soprano or tenor sax. Even when Gast expressed himself through taut improvisations on his wonky electro-funk debut Eat Your Beats, you didn't quite grasp what a cutting sense of dynamics and spirit he had. Side by Side, the first recording from his Trio (Brian Howell on upright bass, Mike Pietrusko on drums) remedies that. Filled with self-penned, self-produced tracks, Side by Side plays it cool and straight in calming post-bop fashion.”
A.D. Amorosi - Philadelphia City Paper
“これまでファンクやアシッド系ジャズ畑で活躍してきたサックス奏者Maxfield Gastが、録音した 本格的ジャズ・アルバム。 バラードでは、ポール・デスモンドのようなまろやかなトーンで、アップテンポになるとブラン フォード・マルサリスやケニー・ギャレットを彷彿させる畳みかけるフレーズがなかなか聴かせ ます。
“An authentic jazz album recorded saxophone player Maxfield Gast has been active with funk and acid based jazz field so far. I hear phrases reminiscent of Blanc Ford, Branford Marsalis, Kenny Garrett, in the mellow tones of Paul Desmond in the ballads.
Recommended for hardcore fans who have a passion for something new!”
Vento Azul, Japan
“Here’s a debut recording by someone who’s got A LOT of interesting ideas. Maxfield Gast plays the sax, EWI, trumpet and keyboards, and meets up with a funk-laced band (Mike Pietrusko/dr, Tyler Lynch/b, Adam Platt/p, Ben Wright/b Mike Shobe/tp) on a set of ten tunes that, while imbibing the hop hop groove, mixes eclectic elements that are quite impressive. Some of the tunes like Death Bear have some rich sax section sounds that are reminiscent of Ellington, while Micro Zenith has some operatic samplings that will grab your attention. There’s enough funk on tunes like Ham Radio to get you strutting your stuff as well, but it rises well above the normal gloss, with so many interesting ideas flying around.”
George Harris - Jazz Weekly
“This colorfully packaged CD belies the funkiness within. This horn-led funky electronic/jazz/drum&bass/chill amalgamation of groove and phat licks is tasty from start to finish. Although at 29 minutes, I have one complaint: it's a lot like Chinese food, in 20 minutes I want another helping. This is fun, this cool, this is hip. Maxfield Gast, you can eat my beats anytime.”
Noah Peterson - KPSU
“With a trumpet and saxophone as the lead instruments, Wu Li may be snap labeled as jazz or ska. But describing this Brooklyn-based group as jazz, ska or even funk is totally insufficient. They are all of these things, along with straight-up rock, electronica, Latin and R&B. In other words, Wu Li is unclassifiable, but not because their music is so out there it’s hard to understand. On the contrary, their music retains an impressive balance of being ‘out there’ while remaining accessible, experimental with multiple genres yet deeply rooted in tradition.
Throughout their self-entitled album, released in 2008, saxophonist Maxfield Gast maintains a clear, strong tone, dancing up and down the ranges of his horn and nailing high notes with such ease and beauty it’s hard to imagine a squeak ever coming from such an instrument.”
Becky Firesheets - Knocks from the Underground