Two months from today, we are launching a very special edition of the Festival Of New Trumpet Music Online. Due to the current situation our festival will be all digital. Over 10 days we will present lots of exciting new music by trumpeters from near and far. Performances will be complemented by live talks and a workshop. We hope you will join us! Check out our website in the coming weeks for further information or sign up for our newsletter.
On May 1st Bandcamp waives its share for the second time. This is a great time to buy music and support musicians. This date is also the release date for the latest album of our artistic director Dave Douglas.
Here’s a selection of productions by trumpeters
Help us honor Baikida Carroll’s contribution to our instrument and community as we present the 2020 FONT Music Award Of Recognition, acknowledging Carroll as one of the most original and creative jazz artists in the world today. Carroll’s restless experimentation and stylistic versatility are an apt fit with our mission.
Festival of New Trumpet Music 2020, September 9-17
Mark your calendars, full program details including Bria Skonberg, Marcus Printup, The Westerlies, Freddie Hendrix, Rachel Therrien, and Laurie Frink Career Grant award, will be announced soon.
Along with all of New York, and the world, FONT Music looks to the reopening of music venues by September and will follow events closely.
Happy 2020! Also this year there will be two editions of our festival. Next month we’ll start in the west and already present the 18th edition in September in the east.
All the details about FONT West in San Diego from 2 to 8 February 2020 can be found here www.fontmusic.org/fontwest
Trumpeter and composer Samantha Boshnack is one of many participating in the upcoming Festival of New Trumpet Music. Boshnack is bringing ‘Seismic Belt’ to the festival, a group performing music about the Ring of Fire, the seismic area located on the rim of the Pacific Ocean. This music, in Boshnack’s own words, “examines our relationship with the Earth, including the elements of risk and faith in that uneasy cohabitation. Movements of the work draw on influences from some of the cultures and people living on the Ring, including Chile, Japan, Alaska, Western Samoa, and Russia.” Over the course of a three-month Make Jazz Fellowship sponsored by the Herb Alpert Foundation in LA, Boshnack composed the work, and its premiere was released as Live in Santa Monica, on Orenda Records in March 2019.
Boshnack also leads and performs with a number of ensembles, and is a fellow at the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music in California. Joining her at The Jazz Gallery for this performance during the Festival of New Trumpet Music will be Chris Credit (tenor/baritone saxophone), Jessica Pavone (violin/viola), Sarah Bernstein (violin), Kai Ono (piano) Lisa Hoppe (upright bass) and Jacob Shandling (drums). We spoke with Boshnack about the new work and her next steps.
The Jazz Gallery: What made you want to use the Pacific Rim and the Ring of Fire as a way of starting a conversation about our relationship with the earth?
Samantha Boshnack: I live in Seattle which is on the Ring of Fire, the horseshoe of volcanic activity around the Pacific. Moving from New York, seeing volcanoes like Rainier and St. Helens, I was immediately floored by their grandeur. Summertime here is a great time to go traveling: I’ve been hiking around mountains in Oregon, I’ve been to Indonesia and Mexico, and always end up trying to get to a volcano. I put out a record in 2014 called Exploding Syndrome that was more focused on Mt. St. Helens–I wrote a suite about that explosion. I felt that there was a lot that could be done with the topic, and I wanted to do two things with it. First, I wanted to explore different cultures living on the Ring of Fire, because there’s so much to look at, including Eskimo music, Russian music, indigenous musics… You’ve got Japan, Chile, the Samoas. Second, I wanted to look at the science of the Ring, and try to portray that musically. We’re living through tumultuous times, and there are things we’ve done to the earth, but there’s an inherent risk of living on earth even without what we’ve done.
TJG: That brings to mind your phrase “Risk and faith in uneasy cohabitation.” So you were looking at music from cultures that live along the Ring of Fire?
SB: Yeah, and I hope to do more. I was interested in finding stories and coping methods from cultures that live on the Ring. I haven’t gotten as deep as I want to yet. It might be a stretch, but I do think people are influenced by where they live, so there must be something of that in the music of their respective cultures. I’m not necessarily saying they all have something in common, but in general, it’s fun to try to be inspired by types of music you’ve never heard. I’ve done a few projects where I was writing for people from different countries, and I liked that way of writing and preparing. Not stealing or even writing ‘in that style,’ but allowing yourself to be inspired by the musicality of another culture. I try to create music that speaks to the experience of dealing with the inherent danger of life, yet also trying to take in the good, the beauty.
TJG: What else has stood out for you in the differences between Atlantic and Pacific coasts? While traveling and research, what other specific things spoke to you?
SB: The idea of the duality of it all. You have these incredibly beautiful mountains that are so dangerous as well. That duality inspires me. When you travel to places in Oregon or Hawaii where there are lava fields or other barren places, it looks like another planet. The lava has burnt the ground and everything on it. It’s beautiful, it’s ugly, it makes you think.
TJG: Is this duality something you’ll talk about with your bandmates while working through this music? Or is it more on your mind while putting notes on the page?
SB: Once the music’s written, I bring it to the musicians and we work it out. They know what it’s about and it comes across, but the composition process is more where I’m tackling the subject matter, and I hope the musicians feel something from it.
TJG: The work was completed at 18th Street Arts Center in LA; What was the residency like for you?
SB: Incredible. It was a tight timeline: You show up at the beginning of February, and the final concert is in the middle of April, with one work-in-progress showing mid-March. It got there. There were no other things I had to do during that time. That’s partly why I wanted to have a topic, because having a specific goal in mind is a great way to delve into a composition project. Something to inspire you while doing work that might otherwise feel overwhelming. Every day, I was listening, researching, writing, and going out and finding the players I wanted to play with for the record. I didn’t know originally that I wanted it to be a record. First, we did the concert, then I got the nice live recording of it, so I released it. The LA jazz scene was great, and I was happy with my collaborators.
TJG: Did you have this Ring of Fire idea before the residency?
SB: Yes, I did apply with that idea. A lot of times, you get these ideas and then apply for things for years. Then something comes through and you get to do it. This is something I’ve been trying to do for a while, so I’m glad it happened [laughs].
TJG: Would you say the music has evolved, changed, grown, shifted as you’ve recorded and continued to perform it?
SB: For sure. Little things. It’s more refined. More instances of “Yeah, we did this on the recording, but maybe we could do it like this instead.” I’ve done this music in LA, Seattle, and one gig at Nublu in July, so this will be the second New York show. The New York players were really great, and of course everyone is different, so it brought a different flavor. There’s lots of improvisation, so that gives a chance for that flavor to come out. It’s different every time.
TJG: What are you looking forward to about this particular iteration at The Jazz Gallery?
SB: The second time is always a great thing. We’ve already rehearsed, we’ve already performed it, so now we can go deeper. You go further every time, of course. All the players are people I respect and admire. I’m honored to be at the Festival of New Trumpet Music, which I’ve dreamed of doing for years. Dave Douglas was a big influence on me starting in college, so I think it’s great that he does this festival.
As a composer, you’re always evolving. Sometimes you listen to your music and you hear elements that have always been there, and yet, they keep shifting and growing with you, your playing, your opportunities, your people. I think that this album is really me, and it feels true to myself. It pays homage to a region, and expresses things I wanted to express.
TJG: Tell me a little about the band that we’ll see at the Gallery.
SB: Chris Credit is flying out with me from Seattle, he plays in my Seattle band. We have Jessica Pavone on viola and viola and Sarah Bernstein on violin. They’re both really accomplished improvisers in New York. Jessica plays a lot with Mary Halvorson, and Sarah has her own great groups. I didn’t know those two string players before I came, but I wrote to Jessica because I’d heard of her and was a fan of her music. We’ll have a younger pianist named Kai Ono, who I actually met doing this string trio composition I’m working on through the Gabriela Lena Frank Academy. He’s in the Academy too, so I asked him to play piano. He sounds great. We’ll have a bassist who lives in New York but is from Germany, Lisa Hoppe. She has a group too and I love her writing. And a drummer named Jacob Shandling, a friend of a friend who brought a lot of excitement to the music on the Nublu gig. The chemistry was great in July, so I decided to keep working with this group.
TJG: What steps are you looking to take in the near future? Say, the next six months, with the band or in general.
SB: With the band, I’m hoping to make more things happen out in New York. I don’t have anything else on the books yet, but I’m trying. Outside of this project, I’m coming back to have my string trio played in Massachusetts. I’m doing a big chamber music writing project over the next year—I’m working with different poets on a topic called ‘Uncomfortable Subjects,’ things people think about but have trouble talking about. I have a lot of work to do on that. So those are my big writing things. I have some dates in Seattle with my quintet too. I play in a group called Alchemy Sound Project that plays on the east coast a lot. I’ll be playing with my mentor and teacher from Bard, Erica Lindsay, who wrote music which was funded by the Chamber Music of America New Jazz Works Grant. We’ll be recording that. The pianist in the group Sumi Tonooka also got the grant, so I’ll be playing with her too. So I’ll be out on the east coast a lot doing other people’s music, and then booking my own when I can. Sometimes you have things booked way out in advance, then other times things come together quickly and suddenly.
by Noah Fishman, The Jazz Gallery
Name: Stephanie Richards
Instrument: trumpet, flugelhorn
Style: modern creative, avant-garde jazz
Album Highlights: Fullmoon (Relative Pitch, 2018), Take The Neon Lights (Fresh Sound, 2019)
Tell us a bit more about your forthcoming album, Take the Neon Lights.
This next record is my second record. Unlike the first [Fullmoon], with solo trumpet and a very experimental concept, this one goes more into my roots as a jazz musician. Compositionally, the music is still really complex and rhythmic. It’s a quartet and a lot of the compositions are in song form, so we have cycles over which we improvise. There’s also some open improvisation in there, I mean, it’s still experimental but definitely much more of a jazz record. The music itself is about New York City. I’ve been living here for 10 years now, so I wrote it for certain places in Brooklyn and New York. There is also poetry that was written for NYC and I kind of linked to it by giving each tune the title of a poem.
Why the option for a jazz quartet?
Well, it’s interesting that the instrumentation determines a little bit if it’s jazz or not. It’s a lot easier to call it jazz when you have a quartet and it’s really hard to call it jazz if I’m playing my trumpet against a timpani or a snare drum. But, at the same time, I see it as the same. When improvising, I’m responding to the same information.
What music genres outside of jazz influence you?
I listen to a lot of music. James Brown is a huge influence. I like funk music a lot and for a period of time that was all I did. I’m also really excited about what’s going on in the indie rock scene. I think there’s so much crossover between indie rock musicians and jazz improvisers, especially in a place like New York.
I know you’ve collaborated with the Pixies, which is a band I grew up listening to. How did that happen?
I played in a group called Asphalt Orchestra, formed ten years ago in New York, and the idea behind it was: we’re going to play new music but we’re going to be choreographed. We had this idea for our second album while on tour, and at one point we all agreed we wanted to listen to Pixies record Surfer Rosa. Everyone in the band was digging the record so much and we just had this conversation: ‘man, what if we did a cover record? This is kind of a new music ensemble.’ That was awesome, it was so much fun. We toured that project and opened for Pixies several times.
What made you choose the trumpet?
I wish I had a romantic answer for you (laughs). I was lucky to go to a school that had a band program and I liked the trumpet because, at that time, I had the idea to move between the orchestra and the jazz band. That flexibility was a nice reason when I look at the music I play now. I’m always moving between different genres and different communities.
You played at Winter JazzFest. How was the experience?
At Winter JazzFest you’re playing for people who really love jazz. It’s not like in those clubs where half of the people are there for dinner. There are so many musicians, there’s such a good hang, and the audience is a mix of musicians, writers, lovers of music and people coming from all over the world. I felt especially honored because it was the last set of the last day of the festival and it meant a lot every single person that waited to see us.
Can you tell me two persons who have influenced you the most as a musician?
The first one and most clear is Butch Morris. He influenced me so much. I had the fortune of meeting Butch through a mutual friend. I was playing at my friend’s wedding and Butch pulled me aside, saying: ‘I got the good whiskey.’ (laughs). And then he looked at me and said: ‘you’re not really a trumpet player’. It took me a moment to realize he meant that as the biggest compliment he could give because what I take from his words is that I wasn’t playing the instrument in a traditional way. After that moment, he kind of took me under his wing and he showed me around New York. He introduced me to Henry Threadgill and kind of hooked us up together. I also learned so much from working with Henry, listening to him and watching him.
Is there someone who you would like to collaborate with?
There’s so many and I can go so many different directions, but if I could… in my dreams, it would be Wayne Shorter.
If not a musician, what would you be?
Maybe a dancer or an athlete. Trumpet is a very athletic instrument and I actually love that aspect. I think my body has more music inside of it than my brain does, so when I’m playing I usually let my body take over.
What was the first jazz album you fell in love with?
My first jazz record was Kind of Blue but I didn’t fall in love with it. It took me a long time. I didn’t understand the context or what that music meant. I got the record, I listened to it because teachers were telling me to check it out, I transcribed solos, and then a few years later I picked it up again and could hear the colors inside of it. I could hear the sophistication and the class and the taste that Bill Evans had, and what Miles Davis was doing, which was totally pioneering. My second record was just a collection of all the Verve recordings. A four CD-set of kind of old jazz that took me through decades of jazz, starting in the 20s. I remember being super into J.J. Johnson and Duke Ellington.
Are you working on any other project?
After this record [Take the Neon Lights], I’ve got another record where I worked with a scent artist, someone who creates smells. I wrote music with smells. I’m interested in the idea of the ability to sense music not just with our ears but also with our bodies. The new record is done – it’s with Jason Moran (piano), Stomu Takeishi (bass) and Kelly Wollesen (drums). It’s a great band and it was a wacko project! The other part of it is that, as musicians, we’re trying to figure out how to survive in a digital age. And one part of this project is that you can’t buy smells on iTunes. I was really trying to think about how could we make the physical manifestation of our music meaningful. If the record comes with stickers that you have to smell, then it adds another sort of level to the listening experience. It will probably come out next year and we’ll see how it goes.
by Filipe Freitas
Hello all involved in FONT Music 2018 — musicians, listeners, partners, collaborators, supporters.
In my opinion it was our best one yet. All the events were solidly attended. With TILT Brass we finally achieved a concert of ‘contemporary brass music’ with an enthusiastic and engaged audience and ensemble! Oh, and the music was astounding! Thanks, Chris McIntyre.
Our shows at Dizzy’s Club, Threes Brewing and The Jazz Gallery were equally wonderful, with new groups formed and new music presented. Linda Briceño, Rachel Therrien, Michael Rodriguez, Giveton Gelin, David Adewumi, Davy Lazar, Adam O’Farrill, Ingrid Jensen, Jesse Neuman, Nadje Noordhuis, Riley Mulherkar, Jaimie Branch, and John Blevins were among trumpeters who brought great new music to our events.
We commissioned a suite of new music from esteemed colleague Jermey Pelt.
We awarded legendary Tom Harrell with our adulation, and he was interviewed from the stage by Mr. Pelt!
We celebrated Laurie Frink, teacher, mentor and friend to so many of us.
FONT JR, a program for trumpeters 12 to 21, had its inaugural run, under the tutelage of Mr. Michael Rodriguez.
And we continued the mission that began at the bar of Tonic, where Roy Campbell, Jr. and I conspired all those years ago. To spread the diversity of people playing the instrument, to engage in new ways the idea of what trumpet music is and can be, to honor great pioneers of the instrument in our community.
All I can say further is, BRING ON 2019!
Thank you all for being with us and I look forward to working on a new festival with all of you in the new year.
January 20-27, 2019
FONT co-director Stephanie Richards became a faculty member of the University of California San Diego Department of Music in 2017. She and Dan Atkinson, a Grammy-nominated jazz producer and artistic director for UC San Diego Urban, have put together the first-ever West Coast edition of FONT, FONT West, for one week in January 2019. The festival involves the collaboration of leading San Diego arts organizations including the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library, Digital Gym Cinema, UC San Diego Department of Music, Panama 66, The Loft, Fresh Sound, San Diego Symphony, Quartyard, and UC San Diego Urban.
Full program available here: fontmusic.org/fontwest