May 30, 2011

Stephanie Richards Speaks

Click here for the festival schedule.

Trumpeter Stephanie Richards‘ WATERcolor performs at 9:15 on June 7th at the Abron’s Art Center.  Richards talks about her approach to sound, including the use of water as a part of the instrument. Stephanie Richards’ WATERcolor with Stephanie Richards (tpt), Qasim Naqvi and Andrew Munsey (drums), Kelly Rossum (tpt), Sam Minaie (bass).

FONT: When you look at the total history of the trumpet, from its beginnings as a signaling device, to the incredible diversity of approaches in the world now, what parts of the trumpet’s character is attractive to you? What keeps you interested in playing the instrument?

Stephanie Richards: The trumpet conforms to each player individually and irreplaceably. Your physiology, right down to how much sleep you had last night can contribute to your sound at that moment, and I love the vulnerability and sensitivity that fact presents.  Brass instruments have such vocalistic qualities—being the only instrument family besides voice itself to use human tissue to create sound, the trumpet lends itself to generating a personal individual voice for each and every player.  I also love the chameleonic tonal capabilities that the trumpet presents–we have the ability to change color so dramatically and have an unending supply of mutes and surfaces still left to be explored.  From its humble utilitarian origins, the trumpet has developed into a highly expressive vessel of music, and, I believe, with much of its story left to be told.

FONT: Your music tends towards very personal, unique sounds, some that wouldn’t conventionally be thought of as “musical” sounds. How do you make music with these sounds? How did you develop this approach?

SR: For myself, tone color, texture and “unique sounds” (growls, double buzzes etc.) as you put it, can be every bit as musical as harmonic expression can be, and ultimately I hope to meld together hand and hand.  I find micro-tonality to add unique colors that may not be found on a western harmonic “painters palette”, and of course, trumpet players have the golden gift of mutes to continuously explore means to express sound.  I believe that my background studying  orchestral music really brought a consciousness for timbre and texture to the forefront of my considerations as a composer and performer.  As I began to explore jazz traditions, I found a world of harmonic contemplation that I am continuously inspired by, but find that color and texture are naturally my first place to begin the musical process of composing, performing and improvising.

FONT: Where did the idea for your band “WATERcolor” come from?

SR: WATERcolor began as an experiment.  In the practice room (in the middle of a Clark study) my trumpet became filled with “condensation” and instead of emptying it, I began to improvise with it.  It turns out a trumpet filled with water can be quite beautiful, unpredictable and even a little bit sad sounding.  From there, I began to explore using water as a “mute”; playing with different resonances on the surface of water and varying depths and shapes of pots and pans.  Beyond exploring the sounds of water, the instrumentation for WATERcolor is two drumsets and bass so naturally, rhythm is the center-point of our ensemble.

Interview by Douglas Detrick.




May 27, 2011

Filmmaker Robert O’Haire Speaks

Click here for the festival schedule.

Robert O’Haire presents two of his recent films, one documents the last project of Bill’s, and the other follows the recording of Joseph Daly’s “Earthtones”, a new work for large jazz ensemble. Below are trailers to the two films, and brief interview with filmmaker Robert O’Haire.

TUESDAY, JUNE 7th – 7:45 – Two films by Robert O’Haire: “Bill Dixon: Going to the Center” and “Joseph Daley: Earthtones” at the Abrons Arts Center.

FONT: Both of your films document the recording of significant works for large ensembles, both monumental undertakings by Bill Dixon and Joseph Daley. What about these projects did you feel needed to be exposed beyond the actual recordings themselves?

Robert O’Haire: Before I start a documentary project I really don’t know what the root of the story will be until all the footage has been shot and digested by myself and the editor Jeff Burns.  When you review the footage long enough it begins to speak to you and tell you what needs to be done, the subject in fact lets you know what to do.  So to answer your question, the thing that is exposed is the individual, and the film becomes as interesting as the person in focus.

FONT: Could you describe your relationship with Bill Dixon? This project turned out to be the last in a long and productive musical career. Did you get a sense of how he felt about this? Essentially, did he know this would be his last project?

Robert O’Haire:I didn’t know Bill Dixon before going up to firehouse12 for the Tapestries recording sessions, so I couldn’t compare this experience with any other of his projects. It was very clear from the beginning that Bill was a serious person.  He did not appear to be a sick man.  He was in the studio to work and the days were long.   I mainly tried to stay out of his way.

Three of us were shooting..myself, Jeff Burns and Nick Cretens in a glass recording booth with all the we needed to be very quiet while getting all the shots.  It was great watching him work up close and listening to him speak for hours about his process…something I will never forget.

More about Bill Dixon from Taylor Ho Bynum: Bill Dixon, 1925-2010.
Interview by Douglas Detrick.

May 26, 2011

Wadada Leo Smith Speaks

Wadada Leo Smith talks about the trumpet, Ankhrasmation and the Golden Quartet. Hear him with this group at Le Poisson Rouge, June 5th at 7 pm. Wadada Leo Smith’s Golden Quartet with Angelica Sanchez (piano), John Lindberg (bass), Pheeroan akLaff (drums).

FONT: When you look at the total history of the trumpet, from its beginnings as a signaling device, to the incredible diversity of approaches in the world now, what parts of the trumpet’s character is attractive to you? What keeps you interested in playing the instrument?

Wadada Leo Smith: The trumpet really does have a great diversity of approaches but the are only six major lines of trumpet languages with some major connecting branches. The major lines for me are:  Freddie Keppard, Joe Oliver; Louis Armstrong; Bix Beiderbeck, Joe Smith, Bubber Miley; Dizzy Gillespie, Fats Navarro; Miles Davis; Donald Cherry, Donald Ayler, Lester Bowie.

What’s interesting about the trumpet is the artists that find a way to create music, to express life’s most unique essence, to make art. Now, that is what the trumpet is for me.Read More

May 23, 2011

Ted Daniel Speaks




Ted Daniel on the trumpet, King Oliver and his upcoming set at FONT’s We Speak series. Ted Daniel’s International Brass Membrane Corps performs June 7th at the Abrons Art Center, co-presented by the Vision Festival.

8:30 – Ted Daniel’s International Brass Membrane Corps salutes King Oliver, with Ted Daniel (cornet),Charles Burnham (violin), Howard Johnson (tuba), Warren Benbow (drums), Orlando ‘Que’ Rodriguez (percussion).

FONT: When you look at the total history of the trumpet, from its beginnings as a signaling device, to the incredible diversity of approaches in the world now, what parts of the trumpet’s character is attractive to you? What keeps you interested in playing the instrument?

Ted Daniel: In considering your question as to what part of the trumpet’s character is attractive to me, I would say mainly it is the trumpet’s sonority.  For me, the timbre of this brass instrument is intriguing in that it is at once both persistent and enticing. You refer to the instrument first being used as a signaling device.  I have first hand knowledge of that capability as I was often assigned the duty of bugler of the week while serving in the army band.  I was expected to play a variety of “calls” throughout the day for various troop activities.  An example of the persistent character of the instrument would be emphasized during the call “reveille” (wake up call) as oppose to the more enticing character of the instrument revealed in the call “Taps” (last call of the day or for funerals). These calls are based on Read More

March 24, 2011

Interview with Nate Wooley

Nate Wooley Quintet
The Nate Wooley Quintet. Clockwise from Top Left: Matt Moran, Harris Eisenstadt, Eivind Opsvik, Nate Wooley, Josh Sinton.

Interview with Nate Wooley

By Douglas Detrick

Nate Wooley, recipient of the FONT commission in 2007, is among the most unique, creative and powerful trumpeters in the world today. He is a busy musician, with a full touring schedule, a steady stream of gigs in New York and a long list of albums in his discography. His newest, (Put Your) Hands Together, features a set of new compositions for his quintet, and is out now on Clean Feed Records. Hands Together is essentially a jazz album. If you are familiar with Nate’s music, you know this isn’t normally what he does, but what could have sounded like a musical shotgun wedding instead sounds natural and compelling.

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