At the age of 9, Dan Oestreicher "wanted to be a rock star." But convincing his parents took some doing. Dan yearned for either a saxophone or an electric bass, but it took a couple years to finally get an instrument through school – which turned out to be a clarinet, "because it was free." When he finally got the chance to play his dream instrument, the saxophone, he chose the larger and less-common one, the baritone sax, and played throughout high school.
Dan didn’t know much about New Orleans when he packed his sax and headed there, but he had heard that a young man might play music for a living in the Crescent City. Also, he had earned a music scholarship to Loyola University. He soon realized there weren’t many baritone sax players in the city, and seriously considered switching to tenor sax in the hope of finding more jobs. But one of Dan’s saxophone teachers at Loyola recognized his talent and recommended Dan to musician James Singleton who headed the group 3 Now 4. Singleton mentored him and helped him land more professional gigs, cultivating his baritone chops.
Dan’s "sink or swim moment" came when he realized he had no idea where or when he would be playing next, or who he would be playing with. He wasn’t sure if this was the kind of life he wanted, but he just kept on going and learned "to quickly adapt to new and changing situations."
Dan caught his break when Troy Andrews came to watch a rehearsal with the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra. Troy was looking for a baritone saxophonist and Dan was his man! For Dan, the best part of touring with Troy is, "playing every night with a group of guys whose common goal is to do the best job possible." His favorite cities to play are New Orleans, New York or San Francisco, where audiences seem particularly tuned-in to New Orleans music.
Dan considers himself to be a good cook, and even roasts his own coffee beans! He can’t imagine having a regular day job, or even changing instruments now. "It’s funny, because I thought I could only get a job if I switched from baritone to tenor sax, and now all the tenor players I know are looking for gigs." Standing out from the rest, and following his heart, have been the keys to Dan’s success.