Celebrated saxophonist and composer Tim O’Dell has been called “the composer of Chicago” (Beyond Coltrane) and “A fine, new voice on alto – loose, swinging and broadly expressive” (Cadence).

Celebrated saxophonist and composer Tim O’Dell has been called “the composer of Chicago” (Beyond Coltrane) and “A fine, new voice on alto – loose, swinging and broadly expressive” (Cadence).

Tim O’Dell

Celebrated saxophonist and composer Tim O’Dell has been called “the composer of Chicago” (Beyond Coltrane) and “A fine, new voice on alto – loose, swinging and broadly expressive” (Cadence). Born in Oregon and raised in the Midwest, Tim relocated to the East Coast in 2001 from the Chicago scene. A thoroughly unique voice with a warm yet modern tone, O’Dell sensitively fuses new harmonies and structures with expansive, lyrical melodies, rich, captivating rhythms and striking arrangements. “Quality of music is excellent . . . stunningly beautiful” (All About Jazz/New York)

O’Dell is composing and practicing for his current New York City-based project, the Makrokosmos Orchestra. Since 2015, this remarkable, 15-member ensemble has been premiering O’Dell’s, and co-leader Richard Nelson’s, singular compositions in NYC. Tim’s Makrokosmos creations draw upon the vast landscapes of world, classical and American music while featuring the stellar ensembles’ distinct, creative talents. A studio album of O’Dell’s newest Makrokosmos Orchestra works is slated for 2024.

The Makrokosmos Orchestra: Christine Correa (voice), Michel Gentile (flutes), Alan Brady (bass/Bb clarinets), Tim O’Dell (alto/soprano saxes), Adam Kolker (tenor sax/Bb clarinet), Marshall Sealy (horn), John Carlson (trumpet), Jacob Varmus (cornet/trumpet), David Chamberlain (euphonium), Dale Turk (bass trombone), Arcoiris Sandoval (keys/laptop), Richard Nelson (guitar), Ken Filiano (bass), Rob Garcia (drums), Rex Benincasa (percussion)

In Chicago O’Dell has performed at the Jazz Showcase, HotHouse, Chicago Cultural Center, Green Mill, Velvet Lounge and the Museum of Contemporary Art – among other venues and festivals – with many of Chicago’s finest musicians. The Fred Anderson Quartet Live, Vol. IV album features the iconic, late tenor saxophonist joined by O’Dell and renowned Chicago stalwarts – bassist Tatsu Aoki and drummer Avreeayl Ra. Tim’s albums on Chicago’s Southport Records label – Dreams of Pangaea (for jazz orchestra conducted by John Rapson), Ancient Pines (with Aoki and Ryan Shultz) and Before My Life (for jazz sextet) – contain all original music by O’Dell and have received glowing, national acclaim. “Unexpectedly grand” (Chicago Sun Times) and “A perfect album” (Beyond Coltrane)

The Catalyst, by the Tim O’Dell/Matt Langley Quartet, culminates nine years of New England performances and features Matt’s and Tim’s sculpted, interactive compositions. O’Dell’s At War’s End album combines his wide-open alto, c-melody and soprano saxophone improvisations with artful interaction by Tatsu Aoki and first-call Boston drummer Luther Gray. O’Dell’s current New England/Boston group, Boundless, also features Luther as well as Tim’s writing. “O’Dell designs hypnotic concepts that capture the imagination” (All About Jazz)

A versatile, published composer, Tim O’Dell’s copious works range from solo piano to voice to diverse chamber works to large ensembles. His music has been broadcast worldwide and he has been invited to perform in Switzerland, Japan, Portugal, Brazil and Greece. O’Dell has been awarded project grants by the Maine Arts Commission, the University of Southern Maine, Quad City Arts and Augustana College, and has commissioned and premiered such works as Gunther Schuller’s Sonata for Alto Saxophone and Piano and Andy Laster’s Valori Plastici which Tim premiered in Manhattan with horn player R.J. Kelley and pianist Mick Rossi. “This is the sound of expanding American art” (All About Jazz)

A boundless saxophonist and improvisor, O’Dell has played professionally throughout the United States in myriad genres – symphony orchestras, classical chamber ensembles, blues, soul, polka, bluegrass, country, funk, rock (old to new), R&B, hip-hop, and salsa bands, all styles of jazz, as a concert soloist and on NPR’s JazzSet hosted by Branford Marsalis. In addition to Tim’s numerous albums, he has been featured on nationally acclaimed releases by Richard Nelson, Elijah Levi and Tatsu Aoki and appears on dozens of studio recordings. “A thinking man’s player and composer” (Jazz Times)

Additionally, Tim O’Dell has had the pleasure of performing with Danilo Perez, Tim Hagans, Ed Wilkerson Jr., Kevin Norton, Quinsin Nachoff, Louis Bellson, Steve Grismore, Muhal Richard Abrams, George Russell, Matt Pavolka, Wycliffe Gordon, Scott Neumann, the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra and The Temptations. “The saxophonist is great” (Cadence)

O’Dell earned his Master’s in Jazz Studies from the New England Conservatory and Doctorate in Saxophone from the University of Iowa. He studied composition with Jimmy Giuffre, William Thomas McKinley and Donald Martin Jenni, and saxophone with Kenneth Radnofsky, Ronald Tyree and George Garzone.

An empathetic and effective educator, Tim teaches an array of music courses in the University of Maine System and maintains a vibrant virtual lesson studio. From 1993 to 2001, O’Dell was Director of Jazz Studies and saxophone professor at Augustana College in Illinois. Prior he was a graduate teaching assistant at the University of Iowa (Jazz Studies and Saxophone) and at the New England Conservatory (Founder/Director of the Jazz Composers’ Ensemble).

Tim lives in Brunswick, Maine with his wife and son.

For booking information and lessons (for all ages and abilities) in saxophone, piano, flute, composition and improvisation:



Phone Number

(207) 208-7265

Tim O'Dell Music

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