Jeff Ball

Jeff Ball

BandWorldNew Age

This isn't our ancestor's flute music. This is American wood-flute music for the modern age."

Biography

Jeff was born and raised in Rockville, Maryland, and is still a resident of that state. He comes primarily from a Scotch-Irish heritage with "according to family legend, a few drops of Indian blood, just enough to help me play wood-flute." Jeff grew up listening to both pop music and smooth jazz, but after he went to a powwow and heard a Native American flute player, “I couldn't get enough of it.” Ball got his first flute in 1992. “I knew some Indian groups in Virginia and they introduced me to a Choctaw flute player named Windtamer who gave me some valuable tips early on. I read everything I could get my hands on about the Native American culture and history. At Indian gatherings I listened to the stories; I joined them in sweat lodges; and I got some sage advice from a Chippewa medicine man."

Over the years Ball has become one of the genre’s most influential flutists and is known for stretching wood-flute playing to new limits. His albums encompass a wide variety of styles, ranging from new age to smooth jazz to rock. In addition to listening albums, Jeff has recorded soundtracks, holiday music, and music for mediation. This diverse sound is achieved through the use of solo flute, full band and most recently pairing the flute with an interesting percussion instrument called the Hang. Also spreading Ball's reputation is an instruction book that he wrote. First published in 1994, Trailhead of the American Courting Flute remains the genre’s foremost instructional primer.

At first Jeff performed solo shows, but after a few years his brother Randy showed up and began sitting in on bass. He was soon joined by other musicians Ted Natale, on percussion, and Greg Dillon, on guitar. They formed the Jeff Ball Band as you know it today. In the past few years they have performed at many festivals, powwows and outdoor concerts. They regularly incorporate Native American dancers into their shows. In addition, the band has performed on stage with R. Carlos Nakai, Mary Youngblood, Bill Miller, Arvel Bird, and Robert Mirabal.

"We don't play traditional American Indian songs," Jeff says. "When the Indians first started making flutes hundreds of years ago, they were only used by young men for courting. They would go out into the woods and listen to the wind in the trees or the birds singing; and each flute-player came up with his own music to play for the woman of his choice. That individuality is the tradition I am following. There is no point in copying what others are doing. We want to create a new path in our genre. This isn't our ancestor's flute music. This is American wood-flute music for the modern age."

Discography

Reverence (CD) - Released in 1998
Cedar Moon (CD) - Released in 2000
Windtamer (CD) - Released in 2001
Prairie Runner (CD) - Released in 2002
Songs of Winter (CD) - Released in 2003
Return to Balance (CD) - Released in 2005
The Shape of Light (CD) - Released in 2006
Ghost Town (CD) - Released in 2009