Jeff Ryan is one the most essential young voices in contemporary jazz today. From his uniquely relatable emotive tone to his explosive performance and stage presence, it’s no question why he is a staple across the country in the jazz festival scene.  Jeff has held consistent radio successes with 5 Billboard #1s, the 2020 Billboard Artist of the Year and Song of the Year in 2021 with his track “Sentimental Soul.” In 2018, his first year on the scene, he was awarded the JazzTrax Breakout Artist of 2018 and the Smooth Jazz Network Debut Artist of 2018.

One of Jeff’s primary goals has always been in connecting to the audience through music and performance. From his first radio single, “Up and Up”, to now, he has shown how his soul-drenched sound and delivery is key to the future of smooth jazz. “I know what relates to people, from the bottom to the top of the horn, there’s a lot of variety to dig deep into peoples spirit and get them feeling the groove,” said Ryan. Jeff spent his teen years “cutting his teeth” with traveling soul bands and weekly performances at rowdy bars with a not-so-legal ID. “It was a lot of fun playing those early bar shows,” said Jeff, “I had to stay on the down low about my age, but the nightly experience performing for engaging crowds really helped pave the way to the performer I am today.

He has performed as a featured solo artist coast to coast in the largest jazz festivals in the country.  He has also been performing alongside performer/producer Greg Manning, where they have performed across the country and internationally at festivals such as the Mallorca and Algarve Smooth Jazz Festivals.

“Throughout my years as a performer, I have learned one of my strengths is being able to relate to people. Every time I am on stage, my goal is to inject emotion and passion into my playing as if I am communicating to each person individually,” Ryan says. “If anything will keep me going strong and moving forward in this genre, it is the fact my sound is relatable to people, especially those who love this genre of music. I love connecting with the audience, keeping things spontaneous and seeing the way everyone responds. When I am up there baring my soul and speaking to the crowd through music, I embrace those moments. The expression is always worth it.”

Ryan was influenced by smooth/urban icons like Richard Elliot, Gerald Albright, Dave Koz and Grover Washington to jazz legends Michael Brecker, Cannonball Adderley, Charlie Parker and Dexter Gordon. Some of his other influences include Jeff Lorber, Norman Brown, Rick Braun, Wes Montgomery, Lee Ritenour, Earl Klugh and Jonathan Butler. Taking the baton from his mentors, he has shown with his consistent quality and feel, he is not just a saxophonist, but an essential artist in contemporary jazz.

Jeff plays Sax Dakota’s SDT-XG-505 saxophone.