Trumpeter/Educator,Jesse Neuman is not a new name to the FONT Music community – he’s back again this year by popular demand with his creative, energetic and fun children’s (of all ages!) brass program Blast of Brass! We got a bit more in depth last year with him with an interview (read here), but we wanted to take a few minutes this year to see what he’s been up to and talk a bit more about Blast of Brass. Be sure to catch his new video of the group at the bottom of the article!
What have you been up to recently:
I just spent an amazing two weeks in Cuba with a group of high school music students. Naturally folks think of Salsa when you mention the Caribbean, but I was lucky enough to witness several “Rumba” performances. Not to be confused with the Perez Prado “Rhumba” craze, traditional Afrocuban Rumba involves several cross-rhythmic percussion parts (cowbell and woodblocks, shakers and scrapers), a lead vocalist and chorus, a trio of bata drummers (playing the very same Iya/mother, Itotole/father, and Okonkolo/baby drums used in Santeria rituals), and of course the dancers, whose dramatic antics play out in front of a hollering crowd. Of course the biggest lesson I learned was that I have so much STILL to learn, but it’s a journey I’m looking forward to taking.
Tell us about Blast of Brass:
Luckily, the drummer in our Blast of Brass Band (multi-percussionist Brian Adler) is just as much a fan of Afrocuban music as I am. Along with trombonist Elizabeth Frascoia and tubist Joe Exley, we are looking forward to returning to the Brooklyn Children’s Museum. It’s a great forum for my teaching non-profit, Musicworks, to connect with young kids about the science (and silliness!) of brass instruments, dancing and singing, and creating an overall commotion. We love getting to set up so close to the audience, and always have several curious customers come up and ask questions and try out the instruments afterwards…though Joe does have a rule: If you are small enough to fit inside the tuba, you probably shouldn’t try to pick it up on your own! Luckily, my pocket trumpet is available.
Since moving to New York City from Australia 12 years ago, trumpeter/educator Nadje Noordhuis has taken the jazz trumpet world by storm. After attending Manhattan School of Music, Nadje quickly became a sought after voice on the New York jazz scene for her unique sound, musicality and technique. During her time at Manhattan School of Music, she formed a strong friendship to master trumpeter and educator, Laurie Frink, who passed away in 2013. After her passing, Nadje began to continue to carry Laurie’s torch by helping to coordinate The Laurie Frink Brass Summit and deeply involved with The Laurie Frink Career Grant. Nadje has also been an imperative part of the FONT Music leadership team, in addition to being a performer for the festival many times over the past few years. We recently caught up with Nadje about her music, life and Laurie – here’s what came out…
Thanks for answering some questions for us Nadje – We know you have a long history with FONT Music, give us the rundown for our readers as to what you’ve done with FONT Music in the past:
As of this year, I’m a board member for FONT. I’m such a fan of this festival and have checked out performances every year since I moved to New York in 2003, and it’s incredible that now I’m in a position to help achieve the goals of this organization.
I first performed in 2009 as the FONT commissioned artist for that year – that was an unexpected honor for me. It was first time I performed with a small group in New York under my own name, and it helped me solidify what I wanted to do in terms of my own music. It was also at the 2012 FONT festival that I performed for the first time with vibraphonist James Shipp – we have been playing regularly ever since and are headed into the recording studio soon. I performed in 2013 as part of Henry Brant’s 52 trumpets extravaganza, and again in 2014 with my quintet as part of the series curated by Jeremy Pelt.
So what’s new with your music and your career these days?:
This past year I have been increasing my teaching workload. I took a few years off from having students, but since her passing, have tried hard to expand my knowledge in how to teach brass through an individual tailored approach and by problem solving. I teach privately, for the Manhattan School of Music Precollege Program, and with the environmental arts group Bash The Trash. I’m also a teaching artist with the NY Pops, specifically working with school brass sections in middle and high schools. As well as gigging around the US and teaching masterclasses with my own quintet, I’ve also been busy with Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, The DIVA Jazz Orchestra, Kyle Saulnier’s Awakening Orchestra, and Rudy Royston’s 303, among others.
Tell us a little bit about your history with Laurie Frink:
Laurie was my teacher while I studied at Manhattan School of Music from 2003-05. Most people who studied with her say this – her lessons were like an oasis from the troubles of the world. I would walk into her studio with the weight of the world on my shoulders and walk out with a big smile. We chatted a lot in lessons about life, our struggles in being women musicians in jazz, and about very important things like great coffee and chocolate. She was inspirational, rock steady, and so incredibly funny. I miss her a lot.
How did your time with Laurie affect you as a teacher:
I have been teaching several students that have had particular chop problems or unusual playing habits, and I’m trying to channel Laurie in these lessons to help them achieve their musical goals.
You are deeply involved in The Laurie Frink Career Grant and Brass Summit, can you tell us about these two awesome things:
The Laurie Frink Career Grant was founded in 2014 by her long-term partner, Lois Martin, to continue Laurie’s legacy in helping young brass players to achieve great things. The first $10K grant was awarded last year to trumpeter Riley Mulherkar, and applications will be open in 2016 for the next one. There’s a small team of us administrating the grant who were close to Laurie, and it feels wonderful to be a part of this life-changing project. The Laurie Frink Brass Summit is the result of an idea I had at the gym – probably the most effective workout I’ve ever had! It’s basically a bunch of around 25 musicians and a special celebrity brass expert, and we talk about top secret brass stuff. It’s great fun, and a wonderful way to foster the community in the way that Laurie always did.
I’m currently plotting and planning my next quintet+guests record, trying to promote my latest album, “Ten Sails” with pianist Luke Howard, and working hard to become the best teacher and player that I can.
Check out this recording from her new album “Ten Sails” with Luke Howard:
Last Monday, we posted an article featuring trumpeter and 2015 FONT Music Curator, Nate Wooley discussing his view of “Visionary” as he is curating one of two nights during the FONT Music 2015 called “Visionaries”. The other night, Sunday September 27, is hosted and curated by trumpeter and FONT Music’s Secretary, Aaron Shragge. Aaron himself is quite a visionary in the modern/creative music and trumpet world as you’ll read and hear below.
A Note from Aaron:
The term ‘visionary’ can be a difficult to define. For that reason I think it’s all the more important to search deeply and find a way to actualize its essence. The artists that I’ve chosen for this series (Chad McCullough, John Blevins, Leo Hardman-Hill) are all wonderful examples of the unity and diversity of the trumpet. I feel they have each committed themselves to the visionary path by continuing to search for their own unique musical voice without being swayed by convention or novelty.
More About Aaron: Aaron is active in the NYC improvised/creative music scene and serves on the board of Festival of New Trumpet Music NY/Canada. His unique instrument the Dragon Mouth Trumpet was designed to expand the trumpet’s melodic capacity and is the result of over a decade of studying both the Shakuhachi (Japanese, Flute) as well as North Indian Vocals. Aaron Shragge’s current projects include a duo with Ben Monder, a Jazz quintet that plays the music of Tom Waits and his continuing solo works for Dragon Mouth Trumpet/Shakuhachi.
AARON SHRAGGE’S MUSIC “…DELVES DEEPER INTO THAT SATORI PLACE IN YOUR BRAIN” – JAZZ TIMES.
Victor Haskins, was a featured artist at last year’s FONT Music Festival where he presented his unique musical concept “ImproviStory” at IBeam. Last November, Victor brought his concept to a larger platform as he introduced it on a Tedx Talk at Virginia Commonwealth University. The video was just released last week, which we have posted below. A year after his performance we asked Victor to catch us up with ImproviStory and what he’s up to currently.
A Note from Victor:
“Currently, I am working on getting ImproviStory in front of different audiences, especially in the context of education for kids. In addition, I have been writing music for and developing new concepts for my band, formerly the Victor Haskins Trio, which is now called Victor Haskins’ Skein. We will have our first performance in a long time at the Richmond Jazz Festival on August 9, which works out to be a big bang of a return to performing. And besides music, I am now also a salsa dance instructor–I started dancing salsa in December of 2014 and I fell in love with it. It’s been and continues to be an awesome addition to my life!
ImproviStory is a new genre of music I created which combines improvisation, audience interaction, and storytelling to generate unique musical experiences. It is a concept that I developed as a result of trying to find a way to connect with audiences in an improvisational setting where nobody needed to “understand” anything about music to appreciate and relate to what was being played. Instead, those present during the performance use their imaginations to access and control the direction of the where the music goes and what it means, thus involving the audience in a deeper way than they would normally be involved with a musical exhibition.
Because of this universal connectivity and engagement capability, I figured that this idea would be even more valuable as an educational tool to encourage people—specifically kids—to think more creatively (counter to what the U.S. school system typically promotes—cramming info to take a test). So for the last 8 months or so, I have been doing ImproviStory in educational settings for kids in school. This has greatly expanded the possibilities of the applications of my concept in ways that can only have been discovered through live practice of ImproviStory for a variety of real audiences in different situations. There are some exciting things on the horizon for this new music, so to stay abreast of where it goes next.”
On September 28, the FONT Music Festival will be hosting one of two nights featuring three trumpet “Visionaries” on the jazz scene today including Joe Moffett, Jaimie Branch and Leo Hardman-Hill (more on them in coming blog posts) at Downtown Music Gallery (Purchase tickets here). Curating the evening is another leading voice in creative trumpet world, Nate Wooley. We wanted to give a quick spotlight on this unique voice in the trumpet world and hear his thoughts on his curatorial picks and his idea of “Visionary”:
A Note from Nate:
“The term “visionary” comes with a lot of baggage. Who is to say which ways of thinking will prove to be visionary and which will be well intentioned ideas that never quite make it. For that very reason there are many that don’t take the opportunity to find their own musical and aesthetic limits, whether it is with the idea of staking a claim as a “visionary” or not. The three trumpet players I chose for this series are the ones that are taking the chance and are heavily engaged in an attempt to push beyond the already possible systems of playing to form a new one that is best suited to who they are and what they think.”
More about Nate:
Nate Wooley was born in 1974 in Clatskanie, Oregon, a town of 2,000 people in the timber country of the Pacific Northwestern corner of the U.S. He began playing trumpet professionally with his father, a big band saxophonist, at the age of 13. He moved to New York in 2001, and has since become one of the most in-demand trumpet players in the burgeoning Brooklyn jazz, improv, noise, and new music scenes. He has performed regularly with such icons as John Zorn, Anthony Braxton, Eliane Radigue, Ken Vandermark, Fred Frith, Evan Parker, and Yoshi Wada, as well as being a collaborator with some of the brightest lights of his generation like Chris Corsano, C. Spencer Yeh, Peter Evans, and Mary Halvorson.
Wooley’s solo playing has often been cited as being a part of an international revolution in improvised trumpet. Along with Peter Evans and Greg Kelley, Wooley is considered one of the leading lights of the American movement to redefine the physical boundaries of the horn, as well as demolishing the way trumpet is perceived in a historical context still overshadowed by Louis Armstrong. A combination of vocalization, extreme extended technique, noise and drone aesthetics, amplification and feedback, and compositional rigor has led one reviewer to call his solo recordings “exquisitely hostile”.
The Thomas Bergeron Ensemble will perform new arrangements of Olivier Messiaen’s music from his new album “Sacred Feast“.
Thomas Bergeron Ensemble:
Thomas Bergeron – Trumpet
Becca Stevens – voice
Jason Ennis – Guitars
Chris Doyle – Piano
Michael Bates – Double bass
David Palazola – Percussion
Yousuf Kerai – Tabla
Sara Caswell – Violin
Tomoko Akaboshi – Violin
Colin Brookes – Viola
Hamilton Berry – Cello
Marquis Hill, Phillip Dizack, Keyon Harrold, Billy Buss, Josh Evans & Ingrid Jenson – Trumpet
Theo Hill – Piano
Eric Wheeler – Bass
Obed Calvaire – Drums
Kendall Moore – Commissioned Composer
In addition to access to all events, the FESTIVAL PASS allows access to the VIP Reception on Sept 29th at The New School following the Eddie Henderson Concert.
**Festival Pass ONLY includes one set for events at The Jazz Gallery (9/26) and Blue Note (9/27), to attend both sets you must by an additional ticket for the other set**