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Max Highstein’s Latest Album is So Fun!

GRATITUNES is  filled with fresh melodies, ear-catching arrangements, and inspired performances by outstanding players. With Max Highstein on soprano sax, Howard Levy (harmonica), Rusty Crutcher (alto & tenor sax), Ed Willett (cello) and more. It’s “Bone Time!”

“Exquisite melodies are what truly set Max Highstein’s music apart—so fresh, seemingly effortless yet rich, born of joy, that find a permanent place in my heart. And the performances are, as always, world class.” ~ Dave Kinnoin, Writer/producer of Hundreds of Songs for the Muppets, Disney, DreamWorks Animation, Sesame Workshop and others

“Heady and yet playful compositions. Amazing arrangements, expertly and expressively played. That’s the stuff of Max Highstein, and he has done it again with this opus magnum. I recommend sitting back with a glass of your favorite beverage and drinking in this album. You will not regret it in the morning!” ~ Grant Maloy Smith, Billboard Top 10 recording artist

“This music makes me smile. Such a warm and rich tone. The playing is a joy to hear. Max Highstein has a wonderful voice on the soprano [saxophone], and I don’t get to say that very often, really. The production is as elegant as the melodies, too. Bravo!” ~ Joe Giardullo, World Renown Soprano Saxophonist and Recording Artist.

“This album is filled with unexpected twists that will make you smile, grooves that pick up your feet to make you dance, complex rhythms to entertain your intellect, and melodic swells to steal your heart. This album is FUN above all, but seriously never compromising in quality; the writing, artistry, and all aspects of engineering are polished to utmost shine! Another wonderfully uplifting achievement from Mr. Highstein and a perfect follow-up to his last album “Flying Not Falling,” which I also highly recommend!” ~ Danaë Vlasse, Award-Winning Composer and Recording Artist. 

“There is an invitation here, one that offers you the chance to enter a sound world where you can breathe, simplify, and share in the palpable sense of joyful living and gratitude which fully permeates Max’s music. The outstanding performers are at ease with their material, and the meticulous sound design is attractive. I highly recommend this collection!” ~ Frederick Frahm, Composer, Publisher, Music Educator

“Beautiful!!! For most artists, the quality of their work diminishes with each new release as their inspiration fades, but not so with Max Highstein. I’ve known his music since the 1980s, and I can say with certainty that his quality continues to advance. I could listen to Gratitunes continually and never tire of it. When they defined the word “joy,” they had Max’s music in mind. ~ Jim Moeller, Owner and Founder of the music label “Serenity, Music to Awaken the Heart”


soprano sax album

GRATITUNES includes stellar performances by the following musicians:

Max Highstein – Soprano Saxophone, Piano, Fretless Bass, Mystery Instruments. All composition, arranging, and production by Max H.

Howard Levy – Harmonica. Widely considered the world’s most virtuosic harmonica player, best known for his work with Bela Fleck & The Flecktones, as well as countless other credits. Plays on the songs Open To Receive and Rail Runner. His effortless playing seems to tease musical surprises out of nowhere.

Rusty Crutcher – Alto and Tenor Saxophones. Outstanding multi-instrumentalist, composer, and recording artist with 9 albums to his credit. Rusty brings the heat, brings the hurt, and then heals the pain.

Ed Willett – Cello. Willett has performed with the Honolulu Symphony and Los Angeles Mozart Orchestra, and toured worldwide with pop/rock icon Rickie Lee Jones. Every note Ed plays can break your heart. Hear Ed Willett’s playing and singing with his wonder duo, Chance.

John Yoakum – Flute. Credits include Paul McCartney, Lady Gaga, Stevie Wonder, Barbra Streisand, The Simpsons, LA Philharmonic Orchestra. A wind playing genius who can play anything with a hole in it and make it sound alarmingly beautiful.

Dimian Disante: Guitar. The “Everything With Excellence” guitarist and brilliant Albuquerque sideman. Has been known to cause funk spasms of joy and delight.

Judy Mitchell: Accordion. An outstanding accordionist and feature player with Almazazz. Her hard swinging yet subtle playing will give you an automatic accordion contact high.

Roger Fletcher: Trumpet. Flies below the radar; plays with stealthy devastation. All notes are coated with gold.

Mark Clark – Drums and Percussion. Credits include James Taylor, Dan Fogelberg, John Popper, and Ottmar Liebert. Rhythm dripping with intelligence and charm. There is more musicality in one of Mark’s fills than in most other drum tracks combined.


COVER ART: Detail of a painting by Jene Highstein. Visit


A Letter From Max

My Dear Listener,

I’d like to tell you a little about making this album, Gratitunes.

Making Gratitunes was a transformative process for me, as making music should be, and I enjoyed every bit of it. Having never played the saxophone, I picked up the soprano sax in 2017, and spent the next two years practicing. Then I began Gratitunes, and played my heart out on each song. It’s something of a miracle to learn an instrument so quickly, but miracles do happen, and I hope you’ll be as pleased with the result as I am. (Read on…)

soprano sax, piano, fretless bass
Daytime At The Office
Max Looks Into The Studio
Reflection: Max Looks Into The Studio

I sometimes get asked about my musical inspiration, and it’s pretty simple. Song ideas come to me while walking outside, or improvising in my studio. A short music-noodle will catch my ear, like the first clue to a mystery song. I’ll record it on my phone, and periodically listen back for the ones with the most charm.

Beginning with a charming music-noodle, I often spend weeks working out all the parts for a new tune. Once written, I’ll perform some of parts myself, but some will require outside help. For this album I brought in a number of brilliant musicians. Some are quite renowned, and some less so, but all did a wonderful job interpreting my music.

I do love recording great players for my songs, and I also enjoy being my own sound engineer—recording, editing, and mixing for days on end. So much fun, one person shouldn’t be allowed to have!

From start to finish, hundreds of hours go into every piece, and if this music brings you joy, it was time well spent. If you can, please listen with good headphones. I think listening is the kindest thing you can do for a composer, and I thank you in advance for receiving my musical message.

My heart is filled with gratitude for having been able to make this music, and I’m deeply grateful for the opportunity to share it with you. I wish you much peace.

Warm regards, Max H.

PS. I love hearing from listeners, and would like to know about your experience with my music. You’re always welcome to be in touch.