Staff Sgt. Geoff Vidal
Born and raised on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Staff Sgt. Geoff Vidal was steeped in the big band traditions of the 1940’s and 50’s from the age of 15 while playing in a local big band (born out of the National Guard!). He earned a bachelor’s degree in jazz performance from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he was awarded multiple Downbeat Student Music Awards. He moved to New Orleans in 2003 where he lived until Hurricane Katrina sent him back up north, this time to New York City, where he remained for 10 years, freelancing and leading his own groups. In 2012, Staff Sgt. Vidal took first place in the first Detroit Jazz Festival Saxophone Competition, ultimately winning a spot at the festival that summer. Staff Sgt. Vidal enlisted in the U.S. Army after winning an audition to become a member of the West Point Band.
Teachers include Lynn Klock, Jeff Holmes, Adam Kolker, my wife, and the Buddha.
I’d like to think that my playing is comprised of many different influences rather than a distinct few. I recognized early on that depending on the situation, you’re playing changes, and you have to be able adapt and adjust on the fly.
When did you join the Army?
Currently, I am co-leading a jazz quartet with my West Point Band-mate Sgt. 1st Class Derrick James. We are playing locally in the Hudson Valley and are developing our original compositions while continuing to honor the great jazz traditions.
What are you working on now?
I do a lot of arranging for the Benny Havens Band, which is a great way to hone my writing chops. I am also the NCOIC of the Cadet Jazz Forum, coaching a jazz ensemble of cadets and area high school students. I’m always working on various solo transcriptions of the masters, as well as trying to build technique on my other horns (clarinet and flute).
I knew I wanted to be a musician when…
I knew I wanted to be a professional musician after suffering a terrible sports injury in high school. While I was laid up on crutches for months, I always had my saxophone, and from that moment, the road ahead was clear.
An Army performance highlight:
My favorite Army performance highlight was opening up for Jay Leno with the Benny Havens Band in a sold out Eisenhower Hall. What a rush!