2015 Achieving Excellence

Saxophonist, biology major Schefkind first student to headline Jazz at Holmes

Senior Adam Schefkind rehearses with his band in advance of the Oct. 30 Jazz at Holmes concert.

Saxophonist Adam Schefkind, a student at Washington University in St. Louis, is not big on banter.

“You wouldn’t expect it from a performing musician, but I hate public speaking,” said Schefkind, a senior majoring in biology in Arts & Sciences. “I feel more comfortable expressing myself through my music.

Schefkind and his band performed at Jazz at Holmes at 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 30 in Holmes Lounge on the Danforth Campus. He was, according to William Lenihan, professor of the practice in music in Arts & Sciences and director of jazz performance, the first student to headline the venerable jazz series.

Lenihan, Schefkind’s mentor, said the kid plays like an old pro.

“Adam has a mature emotional sense about music — he really plays it like he means it,” Lenihan said. “On some level, he seems like a shy guy but can really converse musically with the people around him and communicate some pretty complicated and vivid ideas. That’s a profound musical action. It’s like doing high-level math and poetry at the same time.”

In addition to studying biology, Schefkind is minoring in public health and jazz studies, both in Arts & Sciences. He is applying to medical school and is considering a career in surgery. His two passions — medicine and music — demand both precision and creativity.​​​​​​​​

“Music gives you an ability to organize your thoughts better and an ability to express yourself,” Schefkind said. “And there is definitely a creativity component in science, especially if you are doing research or if you are coming up with an innovative idea. The two complement each other.”

Schefkind plays and listens to jazz across the region — he performs at restaurants and bars on campus and in St. Louis and attends shows at Jazz at the Bistro. His mother is a jazz singer and he grew up listening to iconic artists like Ella Fitzgerald and Sonny Rollins.

Today, he listens to modern jazz artists like Chris Potter and Seamus Blake. Schefkind and his band of professional musicians played both old and new during his show.

“People my age think of it as this old music — they imagine swing dancers or something,” Schefkind said. “But there is a great modern jazz that people my age would like if they would listen to it more.”

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