School of Music

Tim O'Dell

Artist Faculty in Saxophone
Tim O'Dell

Office Location

Corthell Hall



Academic Degrees

  • Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Saxophone Performance and Pedagogy from the University of Iowa (1999)
  • Master of Music degree with Honors in Jazz Studies from the New England Conservatory of Music (1992)
  • Bachelor of Music degree with Honors in Saxophone Performance with a Jazz Emphasis from the University of Iowa (1990)


Composer/Saxophonist/Educator Tim O'Dell has been called "The composer of Chicago" (Beyond Coltrane) and "A fine, new voice on alto - loose and swinging and broadly expressive" (Cadence). Born in Oregon in 1966 and raised in the Midwest, Tim relocated to the East Coast in 2001 from the Chicago scene. In Chicago, O’Dell records for Southport Records and has performed at the Jazz Showcase, the Hot House, the Chicago Cultural Center and the Velvet Lounge with many of the city’s finest musicians.

O’Dell’s three Southport albums as a leader - Dreams of Pangaea (for jazz orchestra, 2009), Ancient Pines (duets with bassist Tatsu Aoki, 2005) and Before My Life (for jazz sextet, 2001) - feature all original music by Tim and have received glowing, national acclaim. "Unexpectedly grand" (Chicago Sun Times) and "A perfect album" (Beyond Coltrane). A new, live Chicago album is forthcoming featuring the legendary, late tenor saxophonist Fred Anderson joined by O'Dell and Chicago stalwarts Tatsu Aoki and drummer Avreeayl Ra.

In 2012 the Tim O'Dell/Matt Langley Quartet, a New England group that performs all original compositions by Langley and O'Dell, released The Catalyst. “Quality of music is excellent . . . stunningly beautiful” (All About Jazz/New York). The 2013 trio album, At War’s End, features Tim's unique saxophone improvisations with the creative gifts of Tatsu Aoki and Boston drummer Luther Gray. O'Dell is currently performing with and composiing for his latest project - Makrokosmos Orchestra. A New York City-centered 14 member ensemble, Makrokosmos Orchestra is dedicated to performing and recording O'Dell's, and co-leader Richard Nelson's, pan-stylistic compositions while featuring this unique ensemble's prodigious improvisational and creative gifts. “O’Dell designs hypnotic concepts that capture the imagination” (All About Jazz).

A versatile, published composer, Tim O’Dell’s copious works range from string quartet to piano to voice to diverse chamber music to large jazz ensemble. Tim’s music has been broadcast worldwide and he has been invited to appear in Brazil, Japan, Switzerland, Portugal and Greece. “This is the sound of expanding American art” (All About Jazz). O'Dell has received project grants and awards from the Maine Arts Commission, Augustana College Research Foundation and Quad City Arts; and he has commissioned and premiered significant works himself - including 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.

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