Benje Daneman

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

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.