September 13, 2013

Interview with RPE Duo

by Andrew Oom

The RPE Duo is a trumpet and electronics collaboration between friends Matt Postle and Radek Rudnicki, focusing on collaborative sound-crafting with heavy emphasis on improvisation and sonic exploration and the interaction between live trumpet and electronics. As they prepare for their show at the Village Zendo on Saturday, September 14, I had the opportunity to speak with Radek and Matt about their process, their upcoming projects, and how to run a band with an ocean in-between.

-Andrew Oom


Andrew Oom: How did you guys get together on this project and how has the geographical separation affected your music? Have there been any issues or, more interestingly, any positive outcomes due to this setup?

Radek Rudnicki: I come from Poland and have been living in England for 7 years now. We met at the University of York in 2008/2009. RPE Duo was part of submitted folio of pieces for both mine and Matt’s PhD. We toured it in UK before Matt went back to USA. It is definitely more difficult to work on the distance. I recorded every gig on last tour and that made us 3 new tracks on the album. I took these recorded performances, edited the best bits, processed again or added drum parts on top. Following ones came from sending recordings back and forth via the internet. Long breaks without playing together make the set much fresher once we are back together, so the new material comes out.

Matt Postle: I’m originally from Seattle, but we first met while I was studying for my PhD at University of York and Radek was completing his Masters/PhD at that time. My research revolved around six separate projects that dealt with the challenges of improvisation in composed music, alongside co-creative processes in music and achieving a “band sound” no matter what the material was (i.e. personal composition, “free” improvisation, or a cover). I wanted to work with electronics for one project and everyone told me to get together with Radek. We performed extensively throughout the UK and Europe from that point forward until I left in the end of 2010. I think Radek and I are such good friends and had so much time together learning our mannerisms, styles, and so on, that whenever we get to play, it tends to click right in. That also comes from so much time spent away from the music, communicating to each other about our lives, other projects, and the future of our creative output. If there is a positive outcome due to our long distance relationship, it is that we know when we do get together we have to make the most of it!

AO: So much of the music is improvised, so how does that play into the compositions?

RR: We started with establishing themes, general guides for the pieces: rhythmic, ambient, melody etc. and I made few loops for each. We were improvising the order of these themes from the start. Now we mix them with one another. I might be playing bass from groovy and ambient parts from another track and Matt could do melody line from different project – Nirvana’s pieces for example. It’s a lot about listening to each other and responding and coming up with new material. I also resample quite a lot. Therefore, new patterns come to life adding new textures or even leading to creation of new tracks.

MP: Well, actually to an extent it is almost all completely “improvised”. I put that in quotations because of course the idea of music being 100% free doesn’t really exist.

I believe instead of “compositions” we more aim towards general sound worlds. When we first started to work together, these worlds were roughly 10 minutes long and dealt with themes such as ambient, noise, rhythm…etc… Before our first major performance in 2009, we decided to meld these ideas together to make more of a sound collage (foregoing any breaks between moods).

The most important thing from my end was never to play on top of the beats, or lay down ideas after he developed his loops. I wanted to be inside of his sound as much as possible (even on the acoustic end), and allowing Radek to further my sound as a part of what he creates. I think it could sound to “clubby” if we were just layering stuff on top of other stuff.

AO: What’s your live setup like?

RR: We stripped down the setup and made it even more portable now. I’m using Elektron Machinedrum for drums and samples and Octatrack for sampling and mixing whatever Matt and I are doing live. We also have circuit-bended Speak & Spell which took place of vintage EMS VCS3, that we had access to in York and used on the first album.

MP: Trumpet, some mutes, and a circuit bent Speak and Spell. Sometimes I will find other objects like a bucket (but I guess that is just a mute really).

AO: Who are some artists that you have looked to model your approach, if any? Do you see yourself falling into a specific community?

RR: Probably 70’s dub because of mixing and processing the material live. I love King Tubby’s dub, for example. While making beats for this project I was revisiting my interest in early 90’s hip-hop and sampling. I used to cut the samples from jazz records, this time having live trumpet felt like luxury.

As for the community, I’m working a lot with few really good improvisers from Leeds. There is strong scene in there, and of course feeling lucky to be invited to FONT.

MP: Artists I admire on trumpet that fit this project: Arve Henriksen most of the time. I think his thought process on the instrument is something I would like to get at some day. It probably is similar to what a lot of other trumpeters (and other instrumentalists) are doing, but trying to recreate the possibilities of what the instrument can do.

As far as a specific category, I’m not sure, it seems challenging to get booked at jazz festivals (because we are too electronic-based) and then at contemporary festivals it is too “jazzy”. We have had some really great gigs at a variety of festivals, venues, and universities so I shouldn’t be too negative.

AO: Have you had any collaborations or do you guys have any that you would like to happen?

RR: Yeah lots of collaborations recently. Would love to do solo album for once! Most recent one is RPE Duo’s collaboration with NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Stockholm Environment Institute. We are preparing few surprises for you at FONT festival.

As for the other projects, my main one in the UK is Space F!ght with James Mainwaring (sax) and Tom Adams (guitar) and Jakub Hader (visuals). Like RPE Duo it is groovy electronic music with acoustic improvisation but as quartet (visuals being the 4th instrument) we closely work with visual artist doing projection mapping. Recently we started using 3D projection screens that literally add another dimension to the set.

MP: As far as RPE Duo collaborating with other bands/artists, not really. We collaborated with theater projects at University of Leeds in 2009, developing a musical score that was improvised based on the subject material, dance movements, and general atmosphere. Last year we had a tour around North Carolina and upon returning to Charlotte we collaborated with one of my groups called the Fat Face Trio (trumpet/melodica, guitar, and tuba). I also rounded up a lot of some great improvisers in Charlotte to do a free-for-all at a great local venue called Snug Harbor.

We do however have quite a unique collaboration with Radek’s work (Stockholm Environmental Institute) and NASA of all things. When I arrive in NYC for the FONT festival, we have one day to rehearse this new collaboration before we perform it at NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies!

AO: What is your favorite city in which you have performed and why?

RR: Any city I haven’t been to before and come to play music is my favourite. Loved both gigs in Asheville, NC as it was linked with Moog factory visit on top of that. Also recent Space F!ght gig in my hometown was pretty cool as I’ve never played in there before. Was great to play for my friends and family as otherwise they wouldn’t have a chance to see us live.

MP: I think my favorite city that RPE Duo has performed in would probably be Edinburgh, Scotland. I think first off every time I visited Edinburgh it was always so much fun (and strangely no rain ever). We had wonderful treatment courtesy of Dr. Martin Parker (Music Lecturer at Edinburgh University) and the rest of the faculty/students. Anytime RPE Duo has played there has been something special about the location and people we meet.

AO: What was the best audience comment given to you post-show?

RR: “This is way better then hip-hop.” – My mum

MP: “Leave the electronics to Radek.” – Prof. Tony Myatt

October 4, 2012

Interview with Jack Walrath

Interview with Jack Walrath

October 4, 2012 – See full festival schedule here.

By Stephanie Richards

Jack Walrath performs at Jazz Standard Thursday, October 4th, 2012. A veteran of the international jazz scene, Jack Walrath’s talents have been utilized by Charles Mingus, Ray Charles, Muhal Richard Abrams, Ricky Ford, Sam Rivers, Joe Morello, Charli Persip, Miles Davis, and Quincey Jones, among many others. He has appeared in films, TV and Radio both as a sideman and leader since 1965, and has released 22 albums as a leader. In addition he has appeared on countless albums with others (Mingus-14, Abrams-3,and others such as Persip, Davis, Lou Rawls, Richie Cole, Ricky Ford, the Jazz Tribe, Joe Lovano, the WDR Big Band, Jamaaladeen Tacuma and Gruntz to name a few).


SR: You’ve called your brand new piece that you’ll play at Jazz Standard, a FONT commission, a work of “extended composition.” What do you mean by this?

Jack Walrath: What Mingus meant by “Extended Composition” was a composition that may have had different movements, tempi, etc.  “Extended Composition” was basically going beyond the mere song form which, except for Ellington, perhaps, was the rule of the day.

The piece is in five movements and the working title is “Life’s Times”






All I can say is that it is my stuff that I have discovered.  The movements are connected by “idee fixes”, if you will, threaded through all the movements.  I use my own harmonic techniques that were inspired by North African, Greek, and all kinds of music that I have studied and experienced in my travels.  One piece also uses harmonies of my own derivation that have nothing to do with II-V-I or chords built in thirds.  I also make up my own scales.  I don’t want it to sound like I threw in the kitchen sink, but as I write it, I notice that I have been invoking musical elements that I have experienced in my lifetime—even going back to when I was ten years old and met Louis Armstrong.  It seems to be shaping up as somewhat autobiographical, even though it wasn’t originally intended to be that way.  Of course, I can’t get away from the blues, so that is a major thread in the piece.  I like to play with intervals, so that is in there, and yes, you can dance to it!

I hope that I don’t sound pretentious, but I don’t know how to explain it any other way.  In some ways, it is also a tribute to my idols, who showed me that the most important lesson is not to be like them!

SR: How did you come upon choosing the players and instrumentation for this work?

JW: I try to keep a consistent personnel in my groups.  This is, of course, very hard these days.  The guys have either traveled, played or recorded with me fairly consistently for the last 4 or 5 years.  Victor is a sub, but we have played in many bands together.  The first time I played with Victor was in the mid-seventies.  This was also his first day in New York.

SR: Your performance history includes playing with many great musicians that tend to embrace the legacy and roots of jazz and blues while focusing on moving the direction of music forward, and your personal works suggest the same.  Can you tell me a little more about your outlook on furthering the direction of jazz and improvisation?

JW: I have always seen jazz as innovative.  Unfortunately, this has become harder to achieve with the demise of working/traveling/steady bands and the apprenticeship system.  Jazz “education” is also a culprit.  The “rules” and “dogmatism” has kept it back. It has gotten to the point that often school teachers think that they are the cats.  Once a “professor” asked me, “DID YOU EVER PLAY THE ARBAN’S BOOK?”, to which I answered, “HAVE YOU EVER APPEARED ON STAGE?”  I once heard a “teacher” ask Woody Shaw, “CAN YOU READ?”  He answered, ‘CAN YOU PLAY?”  What I find ludicrous is that cats are going back to school to be teachers and their “teachers” are grading them on things that they may have actually invented.  I offered to teach Mingus courses in several schools that had them and was either told the they had somebody that did that or I don’t qualify because I don’t have a degree!  When I went to Berklee there was no degree.  I had eight hours a day of music.  Nowadays, I meet people with Masters degrees that don’t know what I learned in the first four semesters.

As far as the future of the music and improvisation, jazz must be seen a relevant again as an art form and not just a craft.  These are conservative times and so many play it safe.  We have been vamping for over fifty years now.  Perhaps it is time to start evolving again.  There are a lot of chords, forms and melodies that still haven’t been discovered as yet.  Jazz will always be around because people play it for the same reason people write poetry.  Also, they are some people in this world that love instrumental music and we don’t need hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of electrical equipment to make our point.

August 1, 2012

FONT’s 10th Anniversary Festival

FONT Music Presents: The 10th Anniversary

The Festival of New Trumpet Music


September 8 through October 7, 2012 – in NYC and Brooklyn – The Festival of New Trumpet Music, directed by Dave Douglas, presents its 10th Anniversary Festival, a multi-genre, multi-venue celebration of new trumpet music by the instrument’s most creative players and composers. Hailed as “a grand highlight of the musical season” by The New Yorker and “a cross-stylistic extravaganza” by The New York Times, FONT Music reaffirms its status as one of the most adventurous and consistently innovative music festivals in the New York scene.

From Dave Douglas: “For our tenth festival we decided to go back to the full month model—a blowout of creative music that spans generations and genres that is our biggest festival since the early days when we had residency at Tonic. We’re book-ending the festival with two great free events: Stephanie Richards’ Rotations Rotations and Claudio Roditi with the West Point Jazz Knights. In between we’ve commissioned creative pioneers like Charles Tolliver, Tom Harrell, and Jack Walrath, and emerging talents like Adam O’Farrill, Alicia Rau, Bruce Harris, and Douglas Detrick. We’re really excited to co-curate with yMusic at Rockwood Music Hall, bringing up the NO BS! Brass Band from Virginia. I am also proud to present my own new project featuring singer Aoife O’Donovan on music from Be Still. I hope you will join us for this exciting and varied program! I am proud to be part of the group of ambitious musician/curators who have worked hard to support and expand the field through this festival’s programming.”


Saturday, September 8, 6:30-7pm –  Brooklyn Bridge Park, Jane’s CarouselDUMBO, between the Brooklyn & Manhattan Bridges. FREE!

FONT’S 10th Anniversary Celebration and Grand Opening – Rotations, Rotations by Stephanie Richards Rotations, Rotations is a site-specific performance composed and directed by Stephanie Richards, who will be joined by nine moving brass and percussion players performing with the nostalgic sounds of the carousel’s “mechanical band”. Personnel includes Kirk Knuffke and Ben Holmes on trumpet, Brian Drye and Jen Baker on trombone, and Andrew Munsey, Nick Jenkins and Kenny Wollesen on percussion.   Wardrobe stylist  Sarah Maiorino and movement direction by Mark DeChiazza.

September 13-15 – The Jazz Gallery all concerts 9 & 10:30pm, 290 Hudson St, NYC. Thursday 9/13 1st set: $15.00 | $10.00 for Members, 2nd set: $10.00 | $5.00 for Members. Friday and Saturday 9/14-5 both sets $20.00 | $10.00 for Members.

Thursday, September 13 Douglas Detrick’s AnyWhen Ensemble Pre-Concert Talk at 7:30pm. Chamber-Jazz quintet Douglas Detrick’s AnyWhen Ensemble gives the world premiere of its Chamber Music America-commissioned The Bright and Rushing World: Suite for Five Musicians. (The Bright and Rushing World: Suite for Five Musicians has been made possible with support from Chamber Music America’s 2011 New Jazz Works: Commissioning and Ensemble Development program funded through the generosity of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.)

Friday, September 14 – Adam O’Farrill Trumpeter Adam O’Farrill performs new music with Luis Perdomo, piano; and Burniss Traviss, bass and Nasheet Waits, drums, and will be joined by a special guest on trumpet.

Saturday, September 15 – Taylor Ho Bynum Sextet performing new, “thoughtfully tumultuous” (Nate Chinen, The New York Times) music for his sextet.

Wednesday, September 19 – The Checkout: Live from 92YTribeca featuring Dave Douglas Quintet with special guest Aoife O’Donovan. 92YTribeca, 8pm, 200 Hudson St, $12.00, The Checkout Live from 92YTribeca Co-produced by The Checkout-WBGO & NPR

Dave Douglas Quintet with special guest Aoife O’Donovan – CD Release Concert – Dave Douglas describes the title of his new release, Be Still, as “aspirational.” The continually evolving trumpeter and composer settles down for a ballad-like set that presents a series of hymns and folk songs with an intensely personal connection. Be Still brings out the most lyrical side of Douglas, and introduces both a newly configured Quintet, and an important new collaborator, vocalist and guitarist Aoife O’Donovan.

Thursday and Friday, September 20 and 21 – Speyer Hall, University Settlement8pm, 184 Eldridge St, NYC.

September 20 – The Spaces In Between with Sao Paulo Underground Cornetist Rob Mazurek and choreographer/artist Marianne Kim’s FONT-commissioned collaboration grown out of the meditative environments of Mazurek’s solo performances at the Rothko Chapel, in Houston, TX and at the Abbaye Royale de Fontevrau, France.

September 21 – TILT Brass performs music by Dave Ballou, the latest installment of Nate Wooley’s 7-Storey Mountain, and the New York premiere of Louis Andreissen’s De Volharding for brass sextet and a cast of special guests. Tickets available HERE

Sunday, September 23 – The Village Zendo7pm, 588 Broadway, NYC, Suite 1108. $20 Suggested Donation,

Villagers and Trumpet: FONT Music at the Village ZendoNatsuki Tamura and Josh Deutsch each present duo sets of their music in an intimate and diverse concert at the beautiful Village Zendo

September 26-27 – Smalls Jazz ClubSets at 7:30, 9 and 10:30pm, 183 West 10th St, NYC, $20,

Wednesday, September 26 – Dave Chisholm’s Calligraphy, Jean Caze Group, Jon Crowley’s Heart of Darkness

Thursday, September 27 – Alicia Rau’s aRAUz, John Raymond Group, David Weiss Group

September 30 – Rockwood Music Hall Doors 6:30pm, 196 Allen St, NYC, $12, Rockwood Music Hall

Sunday, September 30 – 7 pm – yMusic – 8pm – No BS! Brass Hailed by NPR’s Fred Child as “one of the groups that has really helped to shape the future of classical music,” yMusic is a sextet of young performers equally comfortable in the overlapping classical and pop music worlds. yMusic will be premiering a FONT-Commissioned work by Andrew Norman. No BS! Brass Band is a powerful brass band that embraces the spirit of New Orleans into its original East Coast modern funk.

October 4-7 – Jazz Standard Showtimes 7:30 and 9:30 with an 11:30 set on October 5 and 6, 116 East 27th St, NYC. Jack Walrath, Charles Tolliver and Tom Harrell all perform new music commissioned by FONT Music.

October 4 – Jack Walrath

October 5 – RETROFORWARD ™, Charles Tolliver & Music Inc/Continuum

October 6 – Tom Harrell

October 7 – West Point Jazz Knights featuring Claudio Roditi – The exciting, post-bop oriented trumpeter Claudio Roditi joins the West Point Jazz Knights in a concert of new music by Roditi. FREE!

April 10, 2012

Nate Wooley, Aaron Shragge and Nadje Noordhuis at the Village Zendo

Villagers and Trumpet: An Evening of Innovative Trumpet Music
Presented by the Village Zendo and the Festival of New Trumpet Music

Nate Wooley and Joe Morris
Aaron Ryuko Shragge and Ben Monder
Nadje Noordhuis and James Shipp

Friday May 4th, 8 pm
$20 suggested donation, 588 Broadway, suite 1108, NYC
Read More

October 10, 2011

Kenny Wheeler: Profile of an Incredible Career

Kenny Wheeler

Kenny Wheeler: Profile of an Incredible Career

By Douglas Detrick

For more information, read Douglas Detrick’s interview with trumpeter Nick Smart about Kenny Wheeler.

Still a prolific performer and composer into his eighties, Kenny Wheeler is among the most influential trumpet players in jazz. The Festival of New Trumpet Music is proud to present Kenny Wheeler in a four-concert series taking place October 20 through 23, where he will appear with some of New York’s most in-demand trumpet players, including Ingrid Jensen, Jonathon Finlayson, Shane Endsley and Nate Wooley and the John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble to perform a range of his classic and new compositions for large and small jazz ensembles and brass ensemble.Read More

October 10, 2011

Interview with Nick Smart: On Kenny Wheeler

Nick Smart

Interview with Nick Smart: On Kenny Wheeler
from a conversation that took place 9.19.11.

By Douglas Detrick

For more information, read Douglas Detrick’s Profile of Kenny Wheeler on the FONT blog.

Introduction: Nick Smart is a trumpet player and educator based in London. When he moved to London in 1999, Smart initiated a relationship with Wheeler that has grown to find Smart performing Wheeler’s music for big band, and Wheeler making guest appearances as an educator in Smart’s classes at the Royal Academy of Music. This friendship, that began with but now transcends the teacher and student relationship, gives Smart some insight that he was willing to share with the Festival of New Trumpet’s audiences. Given Wheeler’s legendary shyness, it is very exciting to talk with someone who has studied Kenny Wheeler’s career, and even participated in it, so that we can get a deeper look into his motivations than even the man himself would feel comfortable offering. Smart is one of Wheeler’s great champions, along with many others, and FONT is happy to offer his thoughts on this great musician.Read More

October 8, 2011

Ted Daniel Quartet Performance and Jam Session in Ossining, NY

Ted Daniel


Enjoy music from the renowned trumpeter Ted Daniel and his  “Trumpet and Rhythm Quartet”

Ted Daniel’s “Trumpet and Rhythm Quartet” is back at the Karma Lounge in Ossining, New York Sunday, October 9th.  Join Ted for this Sunday in before he leaves on a tour of Spain, playing in the cities and provinces of Cadiz, Barcelona and Madrid.

For those of you with chops of your own, the quartet will host a jam session after their first set of the evening.

You can now keep up with Ted on FaceBook! Users can visit his music page at!/pages/Ted-Daniel/235200259848405?sk=wall and click “like” to receive automatic updates.

EVENT:  The Ted Daniel “Trumpet and Rhythm Quartet” returns to the Karma Lounge
DATE: October  9th from 5PM to 8PM.
LOCATION: Karma Lounge, 175 Main St., Ossining, NY 10562

September 12, 2011

Kenny Wheeler BBC Documentary from 1977

This 1977 documentary, originally aired on BBC Omnibus and rebroadcast in 2005 for Wheeler’s 75th birthday, shows the Kenny Wheeler Big Band recording for a radio broadcast.

Kenny Wheeler brings his latest music for big band to New York City for FONT in October! Hear Kenny Wheeler’s continuing creative vision at the Jazz Standard October 20 through 23.

June 16, 2011

Bobby Bradford on KUNM

Bobby Bradford speaks with Mark Weber
KUNM 89.9 FM
Thursday jazz show
June 16, 2011 @ 12:06 Noon
streaming on the web >

Today we talk with Bobby Bradford about jazz and trumpets and the artists who play jazz trumpet. Bobby Bradford plays the near-relative of the trumpet known as the cornet. We’ll cover everybody
from Dizzy to Buddy Bolden to Don Cherry, Shorty Rogers, Chet, Bix, Bubber Miley, Cootie Williams, Art Farmer, Fats Navarro, and King Oliver. Bobby grew up in the heart of the Mississippi Delta in the late-30s, spent his high school years in Dallas with classmates Cedar Walton and James Clay. Graduated from Sam Houston College in Austin (now known as Houston-Tillotson College). Joins Ornette’s band in Los Angeles 1953-1954. Goes into Air Force 1954-1958. Back with Ornette in NYC 1961-1963. Moves his family to Los Angeles. Meets John Carter and they start the quartet that recorded four albums of such distilled and articulated modern post-bop “free” jazz that all these years later the re-issued 3-CD set on Mosaic is winning awards. Rejoins Ornette in NYC for the 1971 sessions at Columbia that produced SCIENCE FICTION. In 2009 Bobby was honored with the Festival of New Trumpet Music Award in NYC with front page headlines (arts section) of NY TIMES and a week of his music at the Jazz Standard with lines around the block. He is the professor of jazz music at Pomona College in Southern California and one of the preeminent scholars on jazz music. SO, there’s a LOT to talk about!

This will be a Live telephone interview from Bobby’s home in Upper Pasadena, California.

Professor Bradford, May 16, 2008
Potter Valley Jazz Festival, California
photo by Mark Weber