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While many other kids his age were homing in on the vocals of R&B, Anthony Lofton’s ears were tuned elsewhere.
“For me, I always listen to the music aspect,” Lofton said of his focusing on the expertly crafted instrumentation that backed up so many great vocalists, rather than the vocals themselves.
It is this musical focus that has guided his artistic pursuit and was live on display at Mediums art gallery on Kavanaugh last Friday as the release of his first solo album, “Sensational,” was celebrated by a intimate crowd of the invited, made up largely of family and friends.
The album is composed of 10 songs, each of which was written and performed entirely (except for drum parts on some tracks and a guitar part on one track) by Lofton.
His tenor and soprano saxophone playing is the focus of the album and was the focus of his Mediums performance as well.
“If I have my eyes closed, it probably sounds pretty good to me,” Lofton said as he fielded questions before he performed selections from the album. His eyes were indeed closed for a large part of the night’s music. From the high notes on “Feelin’ It,” which elicited audience applause, to the more somber sounds he achieved on sections of other songs, he was definitely “feeling it,” as the song title says.
Born in Fort Sill, Okla., he first mastered piano and keyboard at the age of 7, moved on to recorder in third grade and clarinet in fourth grade. As to be expected of many clarinet players, the transition to saxophone was inevitable.
It was in Arkansas, while attending North Little Rock High School, that this move took place. Soon Lofton was making All State jazz band every year and was named High School Jazz Solo Artist of the Year two years in a row.
He attended the University of Arkansas on a music scholarship and majored in computer engineering. At the UA, his musical pursuits really diversified.
Before graduating in 2005, Lofton played in jazz bands, Motown cover bands, and rock bands. One of his unique musical experiments would have to be “video game band” the Oneups.
“I always wanted to remake old video games songs which had bad instrumentation,” he said of the project, which lasted for several volumes. “It’s dying out, though, because they are doing that now with games.”
Once video games developed CD-quality sound miles beyond the 16-bit games whose songs the band remade, the project began to seem slightly redundant, Lofton said. But fresh and exciting opportunities were still ahead for him.
A major Indian producer was looking for music for the soundtrack to his upcoming film, “Rainbow Raani,” about a band called the Rainbows. Lofton was just the man to lay down some sax on the recordings. Apparently the results were pleasing — Lofton says he hears that the soundtrack is played in India quite often.
It is his solo music, however, that truly lets him shine.
“The general gist of the album is me,” he told the crowd gathered to celebrate his music. “The names don’t really justify how I feel when I write the song.”
On his next album, though, names will be a crucial part: inspiration. The song titles will be small and based for the most part around one-word themes from which Lofton will compose a song.
Five songs already are written for this next album and the songs on his current solo album have been written for years. With this much material, Lofton has the hopeful outlook that he’ll have enough for many more albums.