Jacob Duncan was inspired to play jazz on the alto saxophone at age ten after repeated listens of Sonny Rollins’ Live at the Village Vanguard. While playing on Ohio River steamboats and in nightclubs as a teenager, Duncan encountered jazz’ true identity—the revolutionary Black music of the United States and the complex narrative of noble rebellion in solidarity with Black lives. Immediately, the improvisatory and conversational nature of jazz afforded him continual opportunities for composition and arrangement in real time, serving as the basis and discipline for through-composed works for small and large ensembles. A songwriter and bandleader, he has released critically-acclaimed jazz albums The Busker and It’s Alright to Dream, as well as two albums with his avant-pop group Liberation Prophecy. Additionally, he has collaborated as arranger and improvisor with multiple well-known pop, jazz, and classical artists such as, Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Norah Jones, Teddy Abrams, Aretha Franklin, Rachel Grimes, JD Allen, Violent Femmes, and John Goldsby. Previously, his compositions for a large ensemble have been exhibited by Louisville’s Orchestra Enigmatic, and he has brought his anti-racist orchestral interventionist works to the Louisville Orchestra.
Since the cancelation of Jacob’s orchestral premier due to Covid-19, he has been busy composing and working on music for a documentary and writing for, “We Insist!,” a jazz and Black arts action community and an evolving project to convey True history and stimulate discussion, to exist in collaboration with the movement to protect Black lives, and to offer arts, educational, media, and business communities topics and possible positions on pressing intersectional topics such as: education, children, hiring practices, gentrification, patriarchy, sexuality, and the eradication of Black economic subservience and state-sponsored murder and brutality.