Jake Schepps is an uncommon musician, banjoist, and composer creating music for the traditional American string band that is anything but traditional. Think bluegrass steeped in jazz, adorned with global influences, classical composition, and nuanced arrangements.
Jake’s finesse with the 5-string banjo is rooted in the distinct and intrepid spirit of his Colorado home. The state that has long-embraced progressive bluegrass provided a nurturing community for Jake to hone his sound and distinct technique.
Jake’s philosophy: one lateral step on the banjo creates a completely fresh arena for string band music.
It’s a vision that has driven his work for over 20 years, through four critically acclaimed and award-winning albums, and underpins his current project, Round Window Radio.
Round Window Radio is an innovative online music subscription series covering territory from bluegrass to Brazilian choro, jazz, classical and more - each revealed through the prism of the 5-string banjo. New releases each month offer inventive, exciting, and rich new music with a wide spectrum of accomplished collaborators.
Entwined (2015), was an intensively collaborative project where Jake commissioned multiple classically-trained composers to write pieces specifically for the traditional 5-piece string band (banjo, mandolin, guitar, violin and bass). This ambitious endeavor affirmed Jake’s belief in the boundless possibilities of string band music and solidified his reputation as an innovative voice in new acoustic music.
An Evening in the Village: The Music of Béla Bartók (2011), produced by Jayme Stone, finds common ground between the piquant beauty of Bartók's take on Eastern European folk melodies and the big-sky vibrancy of new American acoustic music. Ten Thousand Leaves (2007), produced by Matt Flinner, features a series of jazz-inflected originals, an Astor Piazzolla tango, and a 3-movement through-composed suite by Jake entitled “In the American West.”
Expedition (2005), Jake’s initial release, spanned bluegrass tunes, jazz standards, ragtime romps, and other eclectic material.
As a bandleader with the Jake Schepps Quintet, the Expedition Quartet, and now Round Window, he has performed around the country, overseas, and he has been featured at NPR’s Tiny Desk, Colorado Public Radio, eTown, and WNYC.
Jake is a skilled and conscientious educator, having taught at NimbleFingers, Berklee College of Music, Steve Kaufman Acoustic Kamp, British Columbia Bluegrass Workshop, University of Northern Colorado, and producing an instructional DVD Modern Banjo Ideas & Techniques. After many years of interviewing some of the world's greatest banjo players for Banjo Newsletter, and attending workshops in a spectrum of musical styles (the Banff Centre’s Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music, the Centrum’s Choro Workshop, and Silk Road Ensemble’s Global Musician Workshop), this breadth of musical experiences have worked their way into Jake’s teaching curriculum and his open-minded approach to music.