Colin Stetson

Some things, they say, are meant to be, and certainly it sometimes looks that way for Colin Stetson, whose recorded output, not to mention studio and live collaborations – with, among others, Lou Reed, LCD Soundsystem, The National, Chemical Brothers, Bon Iver and Bill Laswell – has proven as prolific as it’s praiseworthy. There’s the story of how, though he began playing alto saxophone aged nine, his formal studies only started at 15, when he quickly learned the tricky art of circular breathing in a single afternoon. There’s another about how one day, before his lesson even began, he stunned Donald Sinta, his renowned University of Michigan professor, with a warm-up technique so mind-bending the teacher simply walked out, returning a week later, relieved, to declare, “See, I can do it too!” Then there’s the time he ended up working with Tom Waits. “I literally moved to San Francisco,” Stetson recalls, with no little amazement, “because I wanted to be closer to where he was in the hopes I might cross paths with him. A year and a half later, he called me out of the blue.”