Josh Plotner is a New York-based composer, arranger, and saxophonist/woodwind player originally from Chicago. While he began his musical career focusing on jazz, he has since branched out into musical theatre, classical, rock, Latin (especially South American), and pop music, as well as many other genres. He has played on a previously unrecorded Stephen Sondheim song from "Assassins" (The Flag Song), played with Meghan Trainor while she was at No. 1 on the charts, and had many other collaborations with incredible artists, including: Esperanza Spalding, Valerie Simpson, Terri Lyne Carrington, Susana Baca, Jeff Coffin, Roy Hanes, Rufus Reid, Tia Fuller, Ted Nash, Maurice Hines, Elliot Mason, dozens of Broadway singers, and many others.
At the beginning of his career, Josh focused mostly on jazz and classical music. Soon he picked up flute and clarinet, trying to treat each instrument as his primary focus. By his senior year in high school, he was playing in two orchestras, a nationally competitive classical saxophone quartet, three big bands, two jazz combos, a symphonic band, a woodwind sextet, and musical pit orchestras in addition to his lessons. This foundation allowed Josh to become extremely versatile at a high level.
After high school, feeling the need to specialize, Josh decided to focus solely on jazz, but that didn't last for long. In college, Josh discovered not only did he have a passion for the many kinds of music that he played; he also had a passion for learning languages (including French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Mandarin, Japanese, and Korean). In many ways, it was the same passion manifesting itself in another way. Once he arrived at Berklee College of Music, he found himself at the most international school in America, and was highly influenced by the friends he made there. In only three years he graduated from Berklee Magna Cum Laude with a double major in Performance and Jazz Composition.
Josh lives in New York and is subbing off-Broadway as well as playing in many bands. Recently he has begun playing many world instruments, and his collection is constantly growing. He has created a home studio and has used it to record for many film scores, commercials, and a wide range of albums. Josh continues to write and arrange music, and often works as an arranger for cruise ship singers on Royal Caribbean Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises. He has also begun a YouTube Channel of original multitrack arrangements featuring many of the instruments that he plays.
I'm often asked about how I'm able to keep up my abilities playing so many instruments in so many different genres. It always strikes me as an odd question. I always find that with each new instrument, and each new song, I learn something that informs the rest of my musicianship. I never find that I'm losing abilities—only adding to ones I already have. New perspectives consistently help me address old problems.
It's not commonly known that the "Jack of All Trades" figure of speech was originally a couplet:
"Jack of all trades, master of none,
though oftentimes better than master of one."
That being said, it can never hurt to try to be a master of all trades and a jack of none...