Benje Daneman

Wednesday, September 24
Ibeam: 168 7th St, Brooklyn, NY 11215
Emerging Players – $10
9pm Sam Neufeld, 10pm Benje Daneman, 11pm Mike Irwin.
9pm:

benje eyes closed (bw)

How did you become a trumpet player? Did you play other instruments before the trumpet? If so, did those instruments inform how you played trumpet? Or did your view of how music is played change once becoming a trumpeter?

I started in the public school systems in Grand Rapids, MI. No one in my family was a musician so I learned everything from the schools. I originally wanted to play french horn, but was convinced otherwise to play trumpet by my parents because they thought the size would be better for carrying it on the bus. I can’t thank them enough now!! The only other musical background I had before that was learning the “Mission Impossible Theme” on a keyboard by a family friend – even with that, I had a great sense of excitement creating even that little music. It was just a foreshadowing of what was to come.

Were there recordings in the beginning and even years into learning the instrument that drew you into the trumpet’s sound and possibilities?

In seventh grade I somehow got a “Big Band Classics” CD played by a random orchestra that introduced me to all the big band era classics (“String of Pearls”, “Stardust”, “In the Mood”). It was my first introduction to jazz. Later, a “Best of Maynard Ferguson” CD introduced me to to the jazz trumpet world, then the door blew wide open in high school by listening to Clifford Brown (“A Study in Brown”) and Lee Morgan (“Sidewinder”), while being inspired by the music of Charles Mingus (“Mingus Ah Um”). Later in college, some instrumental steps came with Tom Harrell (“Look to the Sky”) and Chet Baker (“She Was Too Good to Me”).

People often talk about how the trumpet is the hardest instrument to play. Do you feel this is true? What doesn’t the general public understand about playing the trumpet that you wish people would realize?

The trumpet is obviously difficult, but I’ve also found it to be quite a psychological instrument. As I’ve grown as a person, I feel as though my trumpet playing has changed and morphed with it. Specifically, I’ve found as I’ve disconnected myself from personal attachment to my performance and grown more in my personal life, my performance on the horn has become much more consistent and personal.

If you had to identify with one or two gurus, trumpeters or otherwise, who had the greatest impact on your musical journey to date, whom would they be?

Laurie Frink – My time spent studying with her changed my approach to not only playing the trumpet, but the process of growth. She opened up to me the world of “teaching”, “allowing” and “trusting” my body how to do what it knows how to do. The lessons I learned in her apartment truly changed almost all aspects of how I approach the trumpet – definitely physically, but even more so psychologically.

Who is your favorite trumpeter today (as in today, the day you are writing this email) and what recorded song available to the public best exemplifies why this trumpeter is so badass?

Dave Douglas – Not only as a trumpeter, but also because of the all around package. His unique approach and sound to his music and playing is so personal and honest, you get a sense that you know him just by hearing his music. His career reminds me of Miles’ career, where as you look at it in the broad view, you see clearly his continual development musically and artistically – it inspires me to be true and honest in my next musical steps. I’m also inspired by the projects and groups that he initiates – including his non performance projects like Greenleaf Records, FONT and his public masterclasses. His continual movement, direction and tenacity in the music world inspires and reminds me to continually be taking a step forward – whatever it might look like.

Jesse Neuman

Sunday, September 21
Brooklyn Children’s Museum FREE!
12pm and 1pm – Blast of Brass: An interactive concert featuring the science and fun of making music with the brass family of instruments at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum: 145 Brooklyn Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11213 (718) 735-4400.

Featuring: Jesse Neuman, Elizabeth Frascoia (trombone), John Altieri (tuba), and Brian Adler (drums).

How did you become a trumpet player? Did you play other instruments before the trumpet? If so, did those instruments inform how you played trumpet? Or did your view of how music is played change once becoming a trumpeter?

​When I was in 4th grade, they lined up all of the different instruments and let students try them. The trumpet was the only one that I could get a sound out of, so that became the obvious and only choice. It was pretty random, but in retrospect it’s probably better that I wasn’t heart-set on the trumpet in particular. It took me a while to get into it, and growing an interest slowly and steadily worked out.

Were there recordings in the beginning and even years into learning the instrument that drew you into the trumpet’s sound and possibilities?

In middle school I listened to a Miles Davis’ Greatest Hits album my parents had quite a bit. It had that live version of My Funny Valentine where he plays the melody solo with lots of dramatic pauses, and then rips into a super high phrase when Tony Williams comes in. That was pretty powerful, and definitely got me thinking about how playing a jazz solo could really command a lot of focus and attention. ​When I was in high school and began to get more serious about playing the trumpet, I took the train from the suburbs where my family and I lived into Manhattan to see live shows. I saw Graham Haynes at the (old) Knitting Factory, and later bought the album he had just put out, “Tones for the 21st Century.”​ ​He was–and still is–one of the most unique influences on me. On the surface, his use of electronics was pretty exciting (I played a solo with my high school jazz band plugged into my friend’s guitar fx pedals–it was groundbreaking, and awful!), but even more significant is the absolute solidity and commitment he makes to every single phrase.​ I loved Dave Douglas’ “Five” and “Tiny Bell Trio” records a lot (really, I’d say that even if he wasn’t the founder of FONT :), especially because they opened my eyes to how versatile the role and sound of the trumpet can be. I also went to see Maria Schneider’s Jazz Orchestra when they were still playing every Monday night at Visiones in the Village. Up until that point, big band was mostly about playing loud and high and obnoxiously, but seeing Maria’s band was like a revelation. She had Tony Kadlek, Greg Gisbert, and Dave Ballou in her trumpet section. Any one of them would be a windfall, but to have 3 of the most polished, fearless, and complete trumpeters in the world all lined up in the back row of your band is just ridiculous. The way they played–both the ensemble parts and improvised solos–was so clean and lush, it made a big impression on me.

People often talk about how the trumpet is the hardest instrument to play. Do you feel this is true? What doesn’t the general public understand about playing the trumpet that you wish people would realize?

My best friend still teases me…”You only have 3 buttons, what more do you need to practice!?” The trumpet is an incredibly difficult instrument to play. I always tell new students that unlike a piano (where you touch a key and it sounds good), the trumpet takes a looooooong time to sound anything but horrible. Mastering the trumpet, technically speaking, is based on micro-precise manipulation of a set of muscles in your face that are designed by nature for smiling and chewing. It’s a miracle that anyone sticks with it!​ ​ The upside though is that when you finally do acquire a modicum of technique, the possibilities for sound are endless. Your body, from the thickness of your lips, to the weight of your hands, determines to an enormous degree how your instrument will sound. Not only that, but your brain and sense of hearing dramatically shape the sound that comes out at the end of the day, because there is a tremendous amount of ‘room’ on each note and attack to personalize the sound. I think that many people think that the trumpet is just loud and macho, but in fact there is a world of nuance available to a good trumpeter.

If you had to identify with one or two gurus, trumpeters or otherwise, who had the greatest impact on your musical journey to date, whom would they be?

Ralph Alessi is a monster trumpet player, but he is also a deep, deep improviser in the truest sense of the word. He questions everything, and would rather ‘miss’ reaching for 1 new idea than sound great repeating any of the 99 amazing ideas he already had. I took a workshop with him before my senior year in high school, and it literally changed my life. I thought that improvisation meant making something new-ish with a few tricks you picked up from scale books (and man, I thought I was pretty good at it!). Ralph, in his typically subtle way, showed me that real improvisation meant to step out on a limb, and use tools as means to get to new, risky, unfamiliar, but ultimately thrilling ends.

Laurie Frink was my true, once in a lifetime role model. I can’t put into words the depth of impact she had on my life–as a trumpeter, musician, teacher, friend, son, husband, and person. She came from very bleak and limited circumstances and became a flawless technician, consummate professional, and guru-like teacher with a following ranging from orchestral principals to high school students. It’s a testament to her character that so many of her students recall how she helped them overcome difficult musical obstacles, as well as personal troubles. Laurie has a way of making it feel like you and her were the only people on the planet, and her only goal was to help you succeed. She was a truly extraordinary human being, and her death was devastating for the music community. I had her initials tattooed on the inside of my arm, and I think about her every day.

Who is your favorite trumpeter today (as in today, the day you are writing this email) and what recorded song available to the public best exemplifies why this trumpeter is so badass?

Can I get away with 2 if they are from the same state? There must be something in the water in Colorado, because it produced Shane Endsley and Ron Miles. Shane has a truly unique language on the trumpet. When he plays, it’s like every sentence starts with something you know and then winds up on a completely different–but equally interesting–topic. He never seems to be playing very loudly or working very hard, but everything that comes out of his horn is pin-point accurate and compelling. His band Kneebody gives all of us trumpeters hope that we can still be in a rock band when we grow up. Ron Miles has the most luxurious and earnest trumpet sound I have ever heard, and his playing evinces a patience and maturity that is breathtaking. One of his records was recorded in a room so dry that it makes my teeth hurt worrying that he’ll crack a note…but I think he’s just happy to put out his trumpet sound ‘as-is’ because he is so confident in his message. His compositions are gorgeous, and they way he floats along lyrically gives us plenty of perspective on how the trumpet can function as a leader, background voice, or texture in between. ​ ​And while they are not from Colorado, if you haven’t heard Eric Biondo or Nate Wooley then you are missing out.​​

FONT Interviews Tim Hagans

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How did you become a trumpet player? Did you play other instruments before the trumpet? If so, did those instruments inform how you played trumpet? Or did your view of how music is played change once becoming a trumpeter?

“I started playing the trumpet when I was nine years old. I chose the trumpet because more than any other instrument I was fascinated and excited by its sound and emotional impact. I also thought it looked very hip, like an extension of the soul. I was exposed to Louis Armstrong, Harry James and Doc Severinsen through their television appearances in the early 60′s and was fascinated by the orchestral and big band trumpet sections that I heard in concert.  I also had a record titled A Child’s Introduction To The Orchestra that featured a character named Crumpet The Trumpet.  I was sold on the trumpet!

As a teenager I played the guitar and wanted to be the next Woody Guthrie. I learned tablature and listened to a lot of folk music and early blues. I played the trumpet along with Leadbelly records. This music described what was going on in the streets of America at that time and showed me that music was a powerful and influential force.

I decided to become a professional trumpet player after hearing Ray Maldonado with Mongo Santamaria when I was fifteen years old. I stopped playing ice hockey (which also has a great deal of improvisation) and began focusing on improving my trumpet technique and learning about music theory. I listened exclusively to jazz recordings, performed odd jobs to finance record buying and concert tickets and, most importantly, became aware that jazz is the ultimate celebration of individualism and, with trumpet in hand, to devote a life to self-exploration in the improvised moment that will inspire others to think freely and search for truth is indeed an honorable mission. “

Were there recordings in the beginning that drew you into the trumpet’s sound and possibilities?

“I borrowed LPs from the public library in Dayton, Ohio.  The first record that I borrowed was Miles Davis Friday and Saturday Nights at the Blackhawk.  So the dark and up close sound on that record became my model for how a trumpet should sound and also how a rhythm section should play and interact with a soloist.  I played along with that record quite a bit. I also love Freddie Hubbard’s sound on the Hub of Hubbard.  And what he plays on that recording!  It is one of the best examples of ultimate swinging harmonic hipness.

Bitches Brew was the first record that I bought as a newly released recording and life changed during my first listening. The energy and vibe of the late 60s America was captured and amplified with a cry for freedom and a demand for a deeper understanding of glorious diversity.  Bitches Brew, packed with Miles’ melodic painting, deep grooves and suspenseful space, encouraged me to imagine how music could heroically impact the good future. Miles’ playing always emphasized playing the perfect note to best describe the emotion of the moment.”

People often talk about how the trumpet is the hardest instrument to play. Do you feel this is true? What doesn’t the general public understand about playing the trumpet that you wish people would realize? 

“I always give it up to french horn and oboe players first although I am starting to rethink that concept.  My first trumpet teachers were fantastic in relaying how to make music from a phrase or melody. They spoke about dynamics and phrasing but very little about the mechanics of trumpet technique. Consequently, I had to overcome many embouchure weaknesses and then research and teach myself the proper way to play.  Bobby Shew has been a great help and I am constantly asking trumpet players questions about chops, tonguing and breathing. As an improviser I am always hearing ideas that are just out of reach of my technical level, so I devise exercises to enable those ideas and then the next wave of humbling melodies appears in my ear’s mind and the process of improvement continues. Trumpet players are lucky to have such an arduous but ecstatically rewarding endeavor for a life’s mission.  It keeps one young, humble and honest.

Because of the difficulty of trumpet performance and the great service we provide to society, I do believe that the general public should agree that trumpet players should be given first class upgrades on all flights, lifetime alternate-side parking suspensions and free coffee on gig days.”

If you had to identify with one or two gurus, trumpeters or otherwise, who had the greatest impact on your musical journey to date, whom would they be?

“John Coltrane for his searching vibe and extremely personal way of combining global spirituality with music. Thad Jones for being a true 100% improviser and for the joy of life that pervades his playing and writing….and for that big smile and those rib-crushing hugs.”

In your upcoming performance you’ll be improvising music to a silent film. What is it that appeals to you about adding a visual element to improvisation? Is it something you do often?

“I have always been fascinated with film music. I will watch films just for the music and ponder the composer’s choices concerning orchestration, harmony, density and space.  Sometimes I wonder if the music is needed at all and sometimes I wish I could mute just the music and add my own.  So the project with Aaron and James is exciting for me because we will be adding a score and it will be improvised.  The film could be considered the soloist that we are accompanying or maybe as just another member of the band although the film’s interaction with us is, of course, limited. It is very easy to play literal ideas to support the visual but I think a more interesting approach for the musicians is to portray the core emotion as abstractly as possible.  This enables each audience member to freely interpret the integration of music and film on a personal level rather than being told what to feel. For me this is the primary mission of any film composer or any group of two trumpeters and a vibraphonist improvising to a Japanese silent film.”

Nadje Noordhuis

Thursday, September 18
Smoke Jazz and Supper Club – $9 Cover.
7pm Paul Williamson , 9pm Steve Fishwick,
10:30pm Keyon Harrold , 11:30pm Nadje Noordhuis.

How did you become a trumpet player? Did you play other instruments before the trumpet? If so, did those instruments inform how you played trumpet? Or did your view of how music is played change once becoming a trumpeter?

I was a classical piano player before I picked up the trumpet. My piano teacher’s husband played the trumpet, and so when I had the opportunity to learn a band instrument, it was my natural choice. I thought it was really easy – I only had to read one note at a time, and only in treble clef! I was sold immediately. My view of music didn’t change, but it certainly became more social. Classical piano was such a solitary activity, and I liked being in bands with my friends. (And playing fabulous arrangements of 80′s tunes like Neutron Dance and Macarthur Park).

Were there recordings in the beginning and even years into learning the instrument that drew you into the trumpet’s sound and possibilities?

There was always classical radio playing in my house, so I would mainly hear the trumpet in an orchestral setting. I don’t recall listening to any trumpet albums early on, but as a teenager, I had a recording of Hadyn’s trumpet concerto. I hated it.

People often talk about how the trumpet is the hardest instrument to play. Do you feel this is true? What doesn’t the general public understand about playing the trumpet that you wish people would realize?

The trumpet is an unyielding, difficult beast. It’s like having a child that never grows up. It requires constant maintenance and attention. Sometimes I ignore it as much as possible, and I’ve even left it alone for years, but somehow it always seems to find me and pull me back into its clutches. Perhaps I’d want people to know that sometimes playing this instrument really physically hurts, and we should be rewarded for our efforts with donations of cash, generous steak dinners and perhaps some wine.

If you had to identify with one or two gurus, trumpeters or otherwise, who had the greatest impact on your musical journey to date, whom would they be?

Laurie Frink – my teacher during my masters program at Manhattan School of Music. She was too much of an influence for me to be able to put into words. I also admire the playing of Kenny Wheeler, and it was his album, Kind Folk, that really drew me into the European jazz world when I was in college, and in a way, let me know that people may like to hear beautiful melody played with a great sound. I wasn’t really sold on bebop at that time – I found it very hard to relate to, but immediately loved anything released on ECM.

Who is your favorite trumpeter today (as in today, the day you are writing this email) and what recorded song available to the public best exemplifies why this trumpeter is so badass?

Today, I was listening to Louis Armstrong. It’s impossible to have a bad moment while listening to him. I have the “All Time Greatest Hits” album. It’s fabulous.

Steve Fishwick

Thursday, September 18
Smoke Jazz and Supper Club – $9 Cover.
7pm Paul Williamson , 9pm Steve Fishwick,
10:30pm Keyon Harrold , 11:30pm Nadje Noordhuis.

How did you become a trumpet player? Did you play other instruments before
the trumpet? If so, did those instruments inform how you played trumpet?
Or did your view of how music is played change once becoming a trumpeter?

I started playing trumpet aged 8.  I came home from school one day with
a letter offering trumpet lessons, I don’t really know why I initially
wanted to play but I’ve played it ever since!

Were there recordings in the beginning and even years into learning the
instrument that drew you into the trumpet’s sound and possibilities?

Yes, Miles Davis live in Europe, Woody Shaw Night Music, Freddie
Hubbard, Clark Terry, Donald Byrd, Wynton Marsalis (his classical and jazz
recordings)

People often talk about how the trumpet is the hardest instrument to play.
Do you feel this is true? What doesn’t the general public understand about
playing the trumpet that you wish people would realize?

Yes I feel it’s one of the hardest instruments.  I would like people to
realise the amount of work, daily routines and drills we have to do in
practice every single day just so that we can play the instrument to a
certain standard and make a good enough sound that people might want to
listen to.

If you had to identify with one or two gurus, trumpeters or otherwise, who
had the greatest impact on your musical journey to date, whom would they
be?

As I’m from the UK and have never lived in the US I haven’t really
studied with any of the recognised brass gurus.  I would consider myself
self taught, but I have read and practised a lot from the methods and
ideas of Arnold Jacobs, Vincent Chicowicz, Laurie Frink and Carmine
Caruso.  I’ve picked a lot of other trumpet players brains when I’ve had
the opportunity too!

Who is your favorite trumpeter today (as in today, the day you are writing
this email) and what recorded song available to the public best
exemplifies why this trumpeter is so badass?

For sound Wallace Roney, I especially love his record ‘The Village’.
For technique Wynton Marsalis, I love his classical recordings.  For pure
musicality and feeling it’s hard to beat Tom Harrell, my favourite record
of his is called ‘Form’.

Theljon Allen

photo

I became a trumpet player because of Clifford Brown. I heard him on the radio and thought it was the slickest ever. Joy Spring was the tune I later found out.

I played violin when I was 3 or 4 years old. When I started playing trumpet my whole view of music changed by listening to more jazz and having a wider variety of music to check out.  The trumpet is pretty difficult at times but any instrument can be, it’s all about how you look at it. If you put the time in the easier it gets. It’s a very physical instrument you have to play it daily to keep up.

I would say the two biggest impacts on my musical life are Gary Thomas, a saxophonist/ flutist and composer, his approach to music is genius and has given me a whole new approach to music. The other is Doobie Powell, a God send of a musician whose music has inspired me greatly. Keyon Harrold is probably my favorite trumpet player out now, I’ve known him since 1998 and has been incredible since then.

American•Brass•Electric – September 17th-28th

Kirk Knuffke

Photo by Madeleine Ventrice-Knuffke --  Kirk Knuffke www.kirkknuffke.com

Photo by Madeleine Ventrice-Knuffke

 

How did you become a trumpet player? Did you play other instruments before the trumpet? If so, did those instruments inform how you played trumpet? Or did your view of how music is played change once becoming a trumpeter?

I always wanted to be a musician. I started out improvising at the piano and this goes back longer than I can remember. My mom recently gave me a picture of me playing piano when I was 2. I used to steal my older brother’s trombone until he switched to flute because I didn’t have any desire to steal that. I originally wanted to be a drummer but  after attending his big band concert I was really attracted to the trumpet because the trumpet players looked the coolest. They got to stand for the whole concert while the other horns had to seat. So I got my first trumpet when I was 12 years old and my first cornet when I was 13 and I immediately began to improvise on them.

 

Were there recordings in the beginning and even years into learning the instrument that drew you into the trumpet’s sound and possibilities?
The first great trumpet player that I heard was Al Hirt, my dad had a bunch of his records and he was eager to share them with me when I showed interest in the trumpet but al scared me because he was so good. Dig this clip!! Everybody plays great but Al just dominates.
You can also hear that Wynton got more than just his first horn from Al.
After that I went to be more attracted to Chet Baker playing. The subtlety really appealed to me. I learned every note on “Chet Baker with Strings” and I could play the whole cd from start to finish without ever writing anything down.
Listen to that sound!
 
People often talk about how the trumpet is the hardest instrument to play. Do you feel this is true? What doesn’t the general public understand about playing the trumpet that you wish people would realize?
I do think it’s the hardest, luckily a lot of my friends that play other instruments agree. Some friends and I had a competition in high school when we traded instrument to see how fast we can gain a basic level of proficiency so I played saxophone, clarinet and trombone. My friends that borrowed my trumpet couldn’t make it work in the time of the competition. So I won!
I think that the soprano voice on any instrument family (violin, soprano voices, etc.) is inherently more difficult because the notes are closer together and there’s less room for air. But the trumpet has a host of other reasons that make it more difficult than other soprano instruments. Most of all is the constant attention than the instrument needs, you can’t take any time off.

If you had to identify with one or two gurus, trumpeters or otherwise, who had the greatest impact on your musical journey to date, whom would they be?

I dropped out of the college after a year my main man was Ron Miles. I started to hang with Ron when I was 17, he never gave me a trumpet lesson but being around him was always a lesson. He never told me how to play but talked about things to listen to. He introduced me to Steve Lacy and Lee Konitz. Ron and I became good friends and he is still a role model. He even gave me the horn that I play! He is a true master.
When I moved to New York, I met and started to play with Butch Morris. Incidentally Butch told me I was really a cornet player years before I made the switch back. Butch was the first person to want me on record in New York and the first person to take me to Europe. His system of organization changed the way I think about music. Butch was really hard on the band but that’s because he cared about music so much.
It’s difficult to say how much I learned from these two guys, both are cornet players and true individuals.
Who is your favorite trumpeter today (as in today, the day you are writing this email) and what recorded song available to the public best exemplifies why this trumpeter is so badass?
 
Today, like many days, is Lester Bowie.  Dig this clip: 

Listen to his entrance at 1’15″, so sweet and laid back and listen to how expressive he is throughout the track. Lester was never afraid to get his hands dirty, the trumpet is so difficult that players get scared of it and they get more concerned about playing technically correct than playing with emotion. 

Kirk Knuffke

www.kirkknuffke.com

FONT interviews Riley Mulherkar

Credit - Kristin Wessling

Winner of the first bi-annual Laurie Frink career grant, Riley Mulherkar will perform at Cornelia Street Cafe on Saturday, 20th.

How did you become a trumpet player? Did you play other instruments before the trumpet? If so, did those instruments inform how you played trumpet? Or did your view of how music is played change once becoming a trumpeter?

I became a trumpet player thanks to the incredible support and love for jazz education in Seattle. When I was young, I went to see my babysitters play in the local high school jazz band every year at the neighborhood community center, and I always thought they were the coolest people ever; and the trumpet players were the coolest of the cool, so I had to be like them!

As I developed on the trumpet, the instrument brought me into many musical settings in Seattle that further shaped my view of how music is played, in opportunities to play orchestral music, collaborate with hip hop producers and rappers, and be part of an incredibly supportive scene for improvised music. I’ve yet to find a style of music that the trumpet doesn’t fit in, so I’m excited to see where it takes me!

Were there recordings in the beginning that drew you into the trumpet’s sound and possibilities?

On the day that my parents gave me a trumpet, they were also wise enough to give Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue. The impact that those five tunes had on my entire upbringing as a trumpet player and musician is immeasurable. However, even before that I had stolen some of my older brother’s jazz CDs and memorized them front to back, singing all the solos and listening to them on repeat – Count Basie’s Roulette recordings were my favorite. Those trumpets on “Scoot”…whew!!

People often talk about how the trumpet is the hardest instrument to play. Do you feel this is true? What doesn’t the general public understand about playing the trumpet that you wish people would realize?

I certainly wouldn’t argue with anyone who says the trumpet is the hardest instrument to play – it reminds me of its challenges every morning, every afternoon, and every night! However I think it is immensely rewarding in its unique ability to create such a dynamic range of human expression – it can blow you away with a fanfare or bring you in with an intimate whisper, and I think that’s how it can connect to the general public: communicating and speaking to people through its sound.

If you had to identify with one or two gurus, trumpeters or otherwise, who had the greatest impact on your musical journey to date, whom would they be?

There are so many people along the way who have generously mentored me both on the trumpet and in my broader musical journey, so it’s difficult to narrow it down to just a couple. However, when I first arrived in New York fresh out of high school (and a bit overeager), I was fortunate enough to spend over a year studying with Laurie Frink. Laurie was truly a trumpet guru, but she was so much more than that, too. She gave me invaluable clarity and perspective on all of the pressures that come along with moving to New York – classes, rehearsals, gigs, etc. – she would even make sure I was eating healthily and exercising to stay sane! Laurie shared with me the joy of practice and hard work for the sake of the means, not the end; my morning routine still begins with the exercises she taught me four years ago.

Secondly, I’ll mention Wynton Marsalis. We first met when I was just starting the trumpet in Seattle, and he gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever received: “practice slow.” He mentored me throughout high school and when I moved into the Juilliard dorms, I soon discovered that he lived right next door, so I went knocking on his door day after day with endless questions about all things trumpet, music, and life. I still do today, and I’m sure I’ll still be knocking on his door twenty years from now.

What do you find most compelling about your current work? I mean, for you, what is the aspect of what you are presenting in the festival that most absorbs you?

The Westerlies are a very exciting project that’s come together over the past few years – we all come from Seattle, but formed in New York based on common friendship and musical values. The instrumentation is a bit unorthodox, but the challenge of writing and arranging music for two trumpets and two trombones has proved to be a catalyst for compositional and technical inspiration on the trumpet that has applications outside of the brass quartet as well.