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.
Friday, March 14 ”Trumpet Cultures”
(Doors open at 830, Music starts at 9pm)
Cafe Resonance 5175a avenue. du parc
Lina Allemano – Toronto: Lina Allemano trumpet, Brody West alto saxophone, Andrew Downing bass, Nick Fraser drums
Teachers: Axel Dörner (Berlin), Laurie Frink (New York City), Kevin Turcotte
(Toronto), Bill Dimmer (Edmonton)
Current Projects: What are you working on? Arrangements, techniques
you’re practicing, other projects
As a leader, I have two active groups: my longtime project Lina Allemano Four, and my new group Titanium Riot. I’ve just written new music for Lina Allemano Four that we’ll be playing in Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, and during our upcoming Europe tour in April. We’re hoping to record our 5th album later this year. Titanium Riot is just working on putting out our first album in the fall. I also play in various other creative projects as a side person as well as play a lot of improvised music. I’m particularly looking forward to collaborating with some great European improvisers, Achim Kaufmann and Christian Weber, in Germany and Austria at the end of March. Trumpet-wise, I’m currently honing my circular breathing as well as other extended techniques that I’ve been checking out recently, and I’ve also been attempting to make my own mutes.
I knew I wanted to be play trumpet when…
I noticed it only had 3 buttons. How hard could it be?
Dream Band: My long-time project, Lina Allemano Four. 8 years going and still
full of surprises!
How did you become a trumpet player? Did you play other instruments before the trumpet? If so, did those instruments inform how you played trumpet? Or did your view of how music is played change once becoming a trumpeter?
Choosing the trumpet seems quite happenstance when I think how it ended up influencing my life so massively. I remember liking many different styles of music, and trumpet seemed the most flexible instrument musically and stylistically. My band instructor, however, assigned me to play french horn (then later allowed me to switch to trumpet) but I like to imagine how different my life would have been! FONF (Festival of New French Horn) just doesn’t have the same ring to it….
Before picking up the trumpet in jr. high, I grew up playing piano as well as tenor drum in a Scottish pipe & drum band. There is likely some sort of correlation between the theatrics and choreography involved with playing the tenor drum (where drumming involves fancily choreographed stick swings and flourishes) and my present interest in theatrics and movement with trumpet playing somewhere in there. The trumpet has such flexibility of movement and sound, and I believe there is much yet to discover.
Were there recordings in the beginning and even years into learning the instrument that drew you into the trumpet’s sound and possibilities?
Influential recordings also seem quite haphazard as my first recordings were things I seemed to stumble upon. The earliest (no pun intended) influential trumpet recordings I experienced were of Maurice Andre’s baroque piccolo recordings. I remember grooving so hard them! He had such a gorgeous tone, intensity of musicality and he really could swing. That was my first experience recognizing a difference in players’ sense of time and “pocket” — Maurice had a good pocket, not matter that he was playing classical music.
People often talk about how the trumpet is the hardest instrument to play. Do you feel this is true? What doesn’t the general public understand about playing the trumpet that you wish people would realize?
The trumpet demands a unique maintenance of it’s player, but for me, that habit a labor of love. Is it the hardest instrument to play? I don’t think so. I do think that for anybody, any instrument, any musician, it’s playing something new–making new music, that is hard to do. That is why we need to stick together and support each other. I appreciate FONT for that reason; bringing everyone together in support of music that is new, vulnerable, unheard or unknown. It meant the world to me when I moved to town years ago and FONT asked me to play a show. I want to pass that confidence and opportunity on to other players doing new things in the city.
If you had to identify with one or two gurus, trumpeters or otherwise, who had the greatest impact on your musical journey to date, whom would they be?
Of the many incredible musicians I’ve known so far, Butch Morris was a mentor I’ll always be grateful to have known. Moving to the city, Butch liberated me as a musician. He opened up an intent, an intensity of sound, of improvisation and a way to communicate that was new and relevant. This year at Roulette, we’re presenting a special performance in tribute to Butch and his language of Conduction. The band will consist of some of the many musicians that were close to Butch, his language, and who believed in what he was trying to move forward. The goal isn’t to “recreate” anything that Butch was already doing, but to keep speaking the innovative language of Conduction and moving it forward, letting it evolve as languages do. As the guitarist Brandon Ross, who played with Butch in Conduction no. 1, mentioned to me, “…the search didn’t END with Butch, I believe he’d want it to grow – beyond him. If we use it, it will.” His presence is missed by the many incredible musicians that he touched throughout all of the world and I’m thankful that FONT is presenting this very special performance.
What event besides the events you curated are you most looking forward to checking out live?
Highlights of the festival for me will be the FONT run at Roulette (both evenings will be incredible!), and hearing Marcus Belgrave perform-his joyfulness of spirit sings through the horn every time he plays!
How did you become a trumpet player? Did you play any other instruments before the trumpet?
The was something about the sound of the trumpet that sparked my interest around the time I was eleven years old. I had already played the violin and then briefly the accordion but without very much dedication or success.
The moment when I decided I was going to become a trumpet player was much later in high school when I had a transcendent experience improvising. The feeling I had while improvising on the horn seemed to instantly liberate me from all my worries and give my life new meaning and direction.
I also feel like really being a trumpet player is never becoming a trumpet player. It’s never arriving at any fixed destination. It’s to relentlessly and fearlessly grow towards what is limitless by continually bowing to the practice of an instrument that has an endless number lessons to teach us.
If so, did those instruments inform how you played the trumpet?
I find what most informs my trumpet playing is the practice of the Japanese Flute, the Shakuhachi and North Indian Vocals. Playing the Shakuhachi for the last nine years has changed the way I breath as well as the way I hear sound and space. From learning North Indian Vocals over the last seven years I’ve developed a greater awareness of my throat, which allows me to open my trumpet sound in different ways. The singing has also revolutionized the way I hear intonation and the space between each pitch. It’s from learning these musical traditions away from the trumpet that lead me to develop a custom horn with a seven position slide as well as valves, built by Josh Landress.
Were there recording in the beginning and even years into learning the instrument that drew you into the trumpet’s sound and possibilities?
On of the recording that sticks out the most is Jon Hassell’s album Facsinoma. I remember hearing it at a record store in L.A and not realizing that what I was hearing was a trumpet. His sound had so much breath and the subtlety-flexibility of a voice. Later I would make the connection that the style of Indian vocals that I was learning had been the same that Jon Hassell has studied many years before.
People often talk about how the trumpet is the hardest instrument to play. Do you feel this is true? What doesn’t the general public understand about playing trumpet that you wish people would realize?
I think the trumpet is as hard as we make it. Though I do feel that before I met Laurie Frink I didn’t stand a chance in every getting anywhere. I think once you find the right method/teacher it’s not as bad as everyone says. It is high maintenance but I see that as a blessing. The ritual of practicing the trumpet is what keeps me going through everything that I face in life.
I do wish more people would realize that there are an abundance of different ways the trumpet can be played. So many times whether in school or in performance situations I get the sense that people still assume the trumpet is about being loud high and fast. That is why I think FONT is so amazing and important. I think it represents a very unique all inclusive trumpet culture that not nearly enough listeners of the instrument are aware of.
If you had to identify with one of two gurus, trumpeters of otherwise, who had the greatest impact on you musical journey to date, whom would they be?
I’d say Laurie Frink, for simply proving to me that what I thought I’d never be able to do on the trumpet was possible.
Then I’d say my Indian vocal teacher Ustad Mashkoor Ali Khan. I feel that I’ve learned music from him as intimately as a child learns language from their parents. He also never gives up on pushing me way past where I think I can go.
Last, I’d have to list my flute teacher Ronnie Nyogetsu Seldin. He has a powerful compassionate presence that comes through his playing/teaching and it is something that I always think of when I play music.
How did you select the people you wanted to showcase in you particular curation? We’re these people you felt we’re deserving of wider recognition? We’re they people you felt shared a similar working aesthetic as you or came from someplace completely differently?
What attracted me to RPE duo is how Matt Postle’s trumpet seamlessly integrates with Radek Rudnick’s electronics. Listening to their music in a way reminds me of meditating at the Zendo. As we are on Broadway there can be some very intense city sounds that come up from the street and as you sit those sounds become a sonic landscape for seeing your mind. In a similar way Matt’s trumpet focuses the various musical textures of Radek’s soundscape. For that reason I thought they would be perfect for performing at the Village Zendo.
Douglas Detrick is the first person I talked to about bringing FONT to the Zendo and I’m extremely grateful for his guidance in the organization and curating process. I believe his music is a perfect fit for the Zendo because it maintains an incredible balance between being compositionally challenging and aesthetically pleasing to the listener. In a similar way the openness of the Zendo can be equally inviting and challenging to all those that enter the space to meditate.
Who is your favorite trumpeter today (as in today, the day you are writing this email) and what recorded song available to the public best exemplifies why this trumpeter is so badass?
It’s hard to list one, but I’d have to say Kenny Wheeler, Angel Song.There is something about the depth of his sound and the sensitivity of his musical ideas that never ceases to amaze me.
Talk a bit about the venue you chose to curate in? Why is it special to you? Why do you want people to experience that particular venue? Or was it the most hospitable venue available for what you wanted to do?
The Village Zendo has existed as a meditation center in lower Manhattan for over twenty five years. Since 2009, Village Zendo Arts has been presenting music, visual art, music film and theatre at the Zendo. In 2012, we began “Villagers and Trumpet” an ongoing series in collaboration FONT music that is inspired by a Zen parable in which villagers gain insight into their true nature through listening to a visitor play the trumpet.
People often say there is a real vibe or energy at the Zendo, which might be because there are people meditating there three times a day. Either way it’s a beautiful loft space with wonderful warm acoustics and it provides the listener with an extremely intimate way to experience creative music.
I hold the Village Zendo as a space and community close to my heart. I feel as though the community there is like my family and has allowed me to grow in ways that I never thought possible. It is for that reason that I’m all the more excited to share it with the trumpet/greater musical community.
Can you all share an anecdote about this year’s honoree Marcus Belgrave and what bearing, if any, he has had on you life as a listener, trumpet player, student of appreciator of creative music?
What I find most inspiring about Marcus Belgrave is that beyond his huge contribution to wide range of musical styles he has also dedicated himself to mentoring and educating others. In an interview with Bret Primack Marcus said some of the best advice he can give his students is to “…Look inside yourself and see wherever you want to go…and follow your dream.” I feel these are powerful words to live by not only as a human being but especially as a trumpet player.
What even besides the events you curate are you most looking forward to checking out live?
Hard to pinpoint one but I think I’ll really enjoy the diversity represented at both Smoke and Douglass Street, though I hope to be at every concert!
Make Music New York is recruiting trumpet players all over Nyc for MMNY’s trumpet mass appeal on the first day of summer June 21, 2010.
Trumpets from all over NYC gather at Bowling Green to serenade lower Manhattan at sunset. The program includes new arrangements of the classic Gershwin tune “Summertime” as well as Rimsky Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumblebee” Led by Nicholas Mauro
How to join: Own a trumpet and contact Nicholas Mauro for details and any questions about the program.
“Benefit for Brass” concert to raise funds for a 2nd volunteer seminar with Fundacion Brass Band del Ecuador, a school & community safehaven for underprivileged students and families in Quito, Ecuador.
Featuring members of Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra, Brooklyn Qawwali Party, Imogen Heap, Michael Bolton, Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Ursa Minor, Bjork, Josh Ritter, and the Saturday Night Live band.