October 5, 2009

Jazz Beyond Jazz

Howard Mandel at Jazz Beyond Jazz had some nice things to say about last weeks FONT series honoring Bobby Bradford.

The Festival of New Trumpet is an ongoing and semi-frequent initiative put together by trumpeters including Dave Douglas, Taylor Ho Bynum and Roy Campbell, who is often heard among Vision Festival compatriots. The fall ’09 edition honored Bobby Bradford, a Mississippi-born, Dallas-bred, long-ago-in-LA player with Ornette Coleman; Bradford is heard on Coleman’s 1971 classic Science Fiction. He had a longstanding musical partnership with clarinetist John Carter, who died in 1991, and he has taught at Pasadena City College and Pomona College; his standing band is called the Mo’tet and I heard them in 2005 at the Jazz Bakery, but never since I moved to New York in ’82 do I recall him appearing here.

Best thing about FONT honoring Bradford is that at age 75 he remains in fine shape to play his horn, which he used at the Standard not as a blaring, blasting thing to brandish boldly, but rather a subtle instrument with which to explore some subtle yet heartfelt sonic issues — hand-muting as timbre-shading, use of the mellow low register, disjunct phrases setting up complicated moods, compositions built from shards of blues. Another best thing is that Bradford was given a dream team: his former student David Murray in from Paris to play tenor sax; New Yorker Marty Ehrlich (who was on several Carter-Bradford recordings) playing clarinet and alto sax; Mark Dresser in from California to bow and pluck upright bass; drummer Andrew Cyrille (on Bradford’s second night, this group enlarged to eight pieces).

This was another event which drew serious, searching musicians to hear it — pianist Connie Crothers was there, reporting her stint at the Stone was a gratifying success; vibist Kevin Norton was at Crother’s table; East Village multireedist Sabir Mateen, tubaist Bob Stewart, trumpeters Douglas and Campbell, others I’m sure I overlooked — because the musicians onstage were serious and searching. And finding. Bradford’s pieces took effortful attention, which Murray, Ehrlich, Dresser and Cyrille didn’t make look easy but did make look like it was important to them to do. They made us listen in to their collective activity, which I likened to a painter friend who accompanied me as five Impressionists determining to work together to decorate a single room with a mural that would serve the space more than their individual egos.

Murray took one extended, craggy solo that expanded on his characteristic legato phrasing, and Ehrlich was exemplary throughout (as is his practice; I’ve never seen him give less than his all to whatever music is at hand, his band or someone else’s). The band was unusually well-balanced, with Cyrille playing every his stool and the walls behind him as well as his cymbals and drums with the touch appropriate to each, and Dresser letting notes resound like trees falling in forests. But one of the finest passages was what Bradford called a “tone poem. . . which doesn’t rhyme,” featuring the three horns without the rhythm, in a blend that stretched wide as the three voices each went off down their own paths. After two sets I didn’t remember any melodies or wickedly wild passagess, but I felt like I’d studied and learned from five people working very carefully on something meaningful to them, which brought me closer to doing something meaningful myself. Very rewarding experience.

October 5, 2009

All the Brilliant Trumpets

October 4th, 2009 | Author: Dave Douglas

Bobby Bradford accepting the FONT 2009 Award of Recognition

This week I heard a recording of the music Nadje Noordhuis wrote for FONT this past June. What a beautiful sound and thoughtful composer. She says she’s recording it soon and I recommend checking that out if you can.

Ambrose Akinmusire shared the stage with Avishai Cohen — truly inspiring to see trumpeters playing TOGETHER. No competition, just music. Clearly pushing each other to new creative heights, playing original music and a few re-arrangements of music by Bobby Bradford. They say there’s nothing new under the sun, but when you see two creatively and technically gifted trumpeters side by side playing in two widely divergent styles it just drives home how many personal developments have taken place on this instrument in the past decade or so. Those developments are shot through all the music of our time, on all instruments, but hearing these two trumpeters it couldn’t be any clearer. Both of these guys are pushing new frontiers in terms of phrasing, intervallic leaps, and rhythmic interplay with the rhythm section. Most of all — leaps of imagination. Let it be said that the rhythm section was exemplary and constantly inventive – Vijay Iyer, Chris Tordini, and Marcus Gilmore.

On Friday Jeremy Pelt invited Eddie Henderson and David Weiss with the rhythm section of Marc Cary, Vicente Archer, and Gerald Cleaver. I’m not being sarcastic or ironic when I say it made me want to go home and practice. I love Jeremy’s sound and fluid facility. He has also been important to FONT as a board member, and every time he has a chance he highlights his hero Dr. Eddie Henderson, who played just as beautifully and lucidly as ever. They played some engagingly rearranged Bobby Bradford pieces and originals. It’s such a pleasure to hear a three trumpet gig that isn’t a high note fest, a rehash of old classics, or a battle of one-up-manship. Just pure music made now in our time.

Peter Evans and Nate Wooley joined me yesterday for a short performance and discussion of “extended techniques” for the trumpet. I’m putting that in quotes because we all had the same point to make that these kinds of things have been around a long time. Peter made a good point about Round Midnight being the first major bestselling example of extended trumpet techniques. Breathy, close-miked harmon mute with a lot of reverb and microtonal pitch bending? How bizarre!

That aside, there really are things these two guys are doing that have only developed in the last decade or so. Trumpeters like Peter and Nate, Greg Kelley, Axel Doerner, Ed Harkins, Franz Hautzinger, Jaimie Branch, and others (if you know of others I’m leaving out, please reply in the comments or send me an email) have started using split tones, circular breathing, slap tonguing and many other techniques as the basis for their music. Nate said a lot of the impetus for the work he’s doing comes from listening to electronic music and sound/noise music. That kind of makes sense when you hear his uninterrupted tones affected by sheets of aluminum flashing covering the bell–with your eyes closed you would be hard pressed to identify it as trumpet music. When asked why he started developing these sonic resources on the trumpet, Peter said he does it because it’s fun. It was fun playing with Peter and Nate, I hope we get a chance to do it again some time. The session was recorded and FONT will produce a transcript of the conversation and possibly some sound samples.

Bobby Bradford played a beautiful gig with David Murray, Marty Ehrlich, Mark Dresser and Andrew Cyrille last night. I’m going to hear the Octet tonight. Bradford is being given the FONT Award of Recognition (the recipient is chosen democratically by the membership each year) this evening, and it is hard not to get emotional in seeing this cornetist and composer celebrating with a great band in NYC. Sold out houses were there to cheer him on and the music was rich and powerful.

Dave Douglas

October 2, 2009

Straight No Chaser podcast

From our blog friends at Straight No Chaser

Thu, 1 October 2009
Podcast 162: FONT salutes Bobby Bradford

Every year, the Jazz Standard in New York presents a Festival of New Trumpet Music (FONT), conceived and cu rated by acclaimed player, composer, and bandleader Dave Douglas. This year’s FONT honors the great Bobby Bradford, who will travel from the West Coast to appear on at the Jazz Standard with different combos in weekend performances October 1-4, 2009. Other trumpeters appearing to salute Mr. Bradford will be Jeremy Pelt, Ambrose Akinmusire, Avishai Cohen, Eddie Henderson and David Weiss.

Bradford, who at age 75 stands at perhaps our greatest living avant-garde trumpeter, is best known for his work with saxophonist Ornette Coleman and clarinetist John Carter, both major figures in pushing the limits of their respective instruments. He has also led his own group, the Mo’tet, and been a part of Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra. As an educator, Mr. Bradford has taught at Pomona College in California for four decades. His most famous student may be noted saxophonist David Murray, who will sit in with his former teacher on October 3rd and 4th.

Bradford will perform with a quintet and an octet, but he indicated when we spoke last week that the different band size would not create any special problems. “The music is not scored for a particular instrumentation, so the tunes we play will be the same tunes each night. The additional players are really strong, and they enhance the performance considerably.” He added that finding scores for some of the music he played with the John Carter Octet was difficult, with a certain discrepancy existing in some of the written scores. The band – which each night will include Bradford on trumpet, Marty Ehrlich on saxophones and clarinet, and Andrew Cyrille on drums, supplemented by others – will get just one rehearsal on Friday afternoon, “That’s asking a lot for anyone. No disrespect for New York players – these are the best you could have, but we want to play pieces like (John Carter’s) ‘Castles in Ghana’ and that takes work.”


October 1, 2009




Jazz Standard NYC
116 E. 27th Street

OCT 1: AMBROSE AKINMUSIRE QUARTET plus special guest Avishai Cohen
SET 1, 7:30 PM | SET 2, 9:30 PM

OCT 2: JEREMY PELT plus special guests Eddie Henderson and David Weiss
SET 1, 7:30 PM | SET 2, 9:30 PM | Set 3, 11:30 PM

SET 1, 7:30 PM | SET 2, 9:30 PM | Set 3, 11:30 PM

SET 1, 7:30 PM | SET 2, 9:30 PM

September 28, 2009

Bobby Bradford @ 75 an Appreciation by James Newton

From Point of Departure and James Newton:

How can one begin to assess the numerous contributions of a great cornetist/trumpeter/composer/bandleader/educator? How can one also adequately offer a testament for an artist who is such a high quality human being and who profoundly touches so many lives?

Those of us who have been blessed to know Bobby Bradford for a number of years can attest to a probing, powerful intellect that assimilates the history of Jazz in a highly unique manner, drawing conclusions that are as innovative and provocative as one of his solos. His understanding of the history, coupled with his embracing of Jazz’s mandate for innovation, reveals itself in his teaching, playing and composing. I have profoundly admired his brilliant mind, up-tempo wit and his usual location of being two or three steps ahead of everyone else. Like Lester Bowie, he has achieved an individualistic incorporation of Louis Armstrong’s musical language and has placed that influence within the context of modern Jazz’s avant-garde movements. Like Sonny Rollins, J.S. Bach and Ornette Coleman, Bradford has a strong penchant for using musical sequences in both his compositional and improvisational languages. Also like Sonny Rollins, Bradford has a remarkable gift of musical memory. These gifts along with a boundless imagination have consistently enabled Bradford to deftly organize his improvisations. I am consistently stunned by the exquisite musical architecture instantaneously created in his solos. These improvisational edifices give room for his listening audiences to roam within them – exploring and discovering something new about him and themselves. Bradford’s rhythmical language is extremely diverse and his lyrical leanings give many of his solos an emotional depth that only the best practitioners in the music achieve. Bradford is Bradford – coming out of Louis Armstrong, Thelonious Monk, Fats Navarro, Charles Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Lester Young – yet still Bradford.

One crucial aspect of Los Angeles’ musical scene, from Bop to Free Jazz, was that one had to find his or her individual sound. It is impossible to confuse one note of Bobby Bradford with that of any other trumpeter or cornetist. His sound uses a smidgen of air, sometimes in a fashion similar to Ben Webster or Paul Gonsalves’ use of air, as an expressive part of the sub-tone sound. Bradford’s timbral specificity within his language (not the one sound fits all ideas approach) adds a vocal quality to his playing that exudes emotional sensitivity not often found within the context of new music.

Read the rest HERE

Bonus Video:
Paal, Ingebrigt, Sabir, Kevin and Bobby @ SJK, part1/2

See you at the Jazz Standard this weekend!

September 25, 2009

Dave Douglas with Peter Evans and Nate Wooley

Saturday, October 3rd: 5-6:30pm, FREE
*Sam Ash Music, 60 West 48th St., NYC 10036*

Dave Douglas with Peter Evans and Nate Wooley: Extended Techniques for Trumpet – a Discussion and Demonstration. See and hear how new sounds are being created, and how they are being applied to new music.

FREE: Registration required, by e-mailing .

Peter Evans is an American trumpet player based in New York, who specializes in improvisation and avant-garde music. Evans has toured throughout the United States, Canada, Italy, and England. His solo trumpet album, More Is More was released on Evan Parker’s psi label in 2006, and his debut album as a leader, titled simply The Peter Evans Quartet, was released by Firehouse 12 in 2007. In New York, Peter also performs contemporary notated music with groups such as the International Contemporary Ensemble, Alarm Will Sound, Continuum, and Ensemble 21.

Nate Wooley grew up in a Finnish-American fishing village in Oregon. He has spent the rest of his life trying musically to find a way back to the peace and quiet of that time by whole-heartedly embracing the space between complete absorption in sound and relative absence of the same. Nate currently resides in Jersey City, NJ and performs solo trumpet improvisations as well as collaborating with such diverse artists as Anthony Braxton, Paul Lytton, John Zorn, Fred Frith, Marilyn Crispell, Joe Morris, Steve Beresford, Wolf Eyes, Akron/Family, David Grubbs, C. Spencer Yeh, Daniel Levin, Stephen Gauci, Harris Eisenstadt, Taylor Ho Bynum and Peter Evans.

Artistic Director of the Festival of New Trumpet Music, Dave Douglas is a Grammy nominated trumpeter and composer based in New York. In 2005, after seven critically-acclaimed albums for Bluebird/RCA, Douglas launched his own record label, Greenleaf Music. On Greenleaf, Douglas has released albums with his long standing Quintet, the electronic sextet Keystone, and the mixed chamber ensemble Nomad. His latest project, Brass Ecstasy, features a brass quintet of trumpet, french horn, trombone, tuba and drums and in 2009 released the album Spirit Moves. Douglas is currently the artistic director of the Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music at the Banff Center for the Arts. In addition to leading his own groups, Douglas has an important ongoing musical relationship as a member of John Zorn’s Masada and with artists such as Don Byron, Joe Lovano, Miguel Zenon, Uri Caine, Bill Frisell, Mark Dresser, Han Bennink and Misha Mengelberg.

October 1 – 4, 2009: Bobby Bradford and David Murray in New York.
Sponsored by the Festival of New Trumpet Music.

September 16, 2009

Free Tickets to a Clean Feed Show

FONT is offering free tickets for this weekend’s Clean Feed double bill: Bay Area trumpeter Darren Johnston and NYC’s own Kirk Knuffke. Saturday, September 19, 2009 at 8pm, at the Cornelia Connelly Center in NYC.

With Bobby Bradford coming to town in a couple weeks for the next FONT series we decided to get things going with a little pop quiz.

“Name 3 brass players Bobby Bradford has recorded alongside during his career (either as a sideman or a leader.) First 10 people that email us at with a correct answer get one free ticket.”

Bobby will be in NYC October 3 & 4 accepting FONT’s Award of Recognition, and performing alongside Baikida Carroll, David Murray, Marty Ehrlich, Mark Dresser, Benny Powell, and Andrew Cyrille.

September 14, 2009

FONT in New York Times annual Fall ARTS Preview

Today’s New York Times features its annual Fall ARTS Preview section. It spotlights FONT. View online HERE.


FESTIVAL OF NEW TRUMPET MUSIC The annual trumpet-centric series engineered by Dave Douglas pays tribute to Bobby Bradford, the Los Angeles improviser associated with Ornette Coleman and John Carter. It brings Mr. Bradford together in a band with the saxophonist David Murray, and also presents other bands led by the excellent younger players Ambrose Akinmusire and Jeremy Pelt. Oct. 1-4, Jazz Standard, (B. R.)

September 13, 2009

avishai cohen interview

IN-DEMAND jazz trumpeter Avishai Cohen is returning to New York’s Festival of New Trumpet Music to perform with musical prodigy Ambrose Akinmusire, writes Robert Clayton.

And Avishai is full of praise for the winner of both the 2007 Carmine Caruso International Jazz Trumpet Solo Competition and 2007 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition.

He said: “Ambrose contacted me and asked if I wanted to perform with him at the festival on October 1 at New York’s Jazz Standard.

“He is an incredible young trumpeter and I am always happy to work with and support him.