We are delighted to present a very insightful chat with NYC based trumpeter, David Smith. A heavy presence on the NYC creative music and jazz scene, David is the whole package – composer, band leader, educator, performer, father, husband and all around great guy! It’s a pleasure to dig into some heavy subjects with him on the trumpet, NYC’s current scene, recording and life – be sure to check out his group at ShapeShifter Lab on February 9th! Read More
If you are at all involved in the jazz scene, you likely have heard the name Marquis Hill over the past couple years – he’s the definition of a “rising star” and “young lion” in the jazz trumpet world. While being a sought after unique voice in his native Chicago jazz scene for years now, Marquis began to get the national/international attention he’s deserved recently after winning the 2014 Thelonious Monk Jazz Trumpet Competition (and International Trumpet Guild Jazz Competition in 2012). We’re excited to have him on the FONT Music team this year as not only an artist, but a curator of the event at The Jazz Gallery on September 26th entitled Signatures in Brass (buy tickets here).
Thanks for being a part of the FONT Music team this year – we’re excited to have you on board. For the rest of the reading world, give them your history with FONT Music:
This is actually my first year involved with FONT; I discovered the effort about two years ago and have wanted to be involved with their good work ever since. I consider myself fortunate to be a part of it this year.
You’re proudly from Chicago, which has a unique jazz scene. We just recently chatted with fellow Chicagoan, Chad McCullough last week who will also be performing at the festival. What are your thoughts about growing up in the Chicago jazz scene:
Born and raised in Chicago, I was fortunate enough to learn and grow well in the city’s energetic scene. It has long had a number of authentic voices and artist that see artistic vision. Though currently splitting time between Chicago and New York, I’m ever grateful for the rich opportunities my home town has, and continues to offer. To learn from and perform alongside some of the city’s great thinkers in the music – Willie Pickens, Von Freeman, Fred Anderson, Ken Chaney, Ernest Dawkins, and Bobby Broom – is a blessing.
Wow, a blessing for sure! Tell us about some of the professional stuff you’ve been up to.
I’ve been involved with some pretty fulfilling projects over the past few years. Matt Ulery’s “Loom,” Juan Pastor’s “Chinano,” Geof Bradifield’s “Our Roots” have each been uniquely fine opportunities in which I had the the oppurtonity to grow and contribute. As of late, my main focus has been my working group, The Marquis Hill Blacktet. We released our latest project, “Modern Flows vol. 1,” last fall; currently, we are preparing to go back into the studio and record the next project entitled “The Way We Play.”So what’s next for you?
Some great things are coming up; I’m energized to be playing the music from “Modern Flows Vol. 1” at the Chicago Jazz Festival, in September. Thrilled to be spending more time in New York – where I get opportunity to learn and grow with a number of compelling artists – I will also be doing a two-month European tour with the great bassist-composer-leader Marcus Miller, beginning in October. After that my focus will come back to the project to be released next spring (“The Way We Play”) Its an exciting and grateful time.
That’s fantastic! Can’t wait to hear about the Marcus Miller tour – you’ll have to give us a recap of that when you’re back! Luckily, before you split for that FONT Music gets you on September 16th at The Jazz Gallery. Can you tell us a little about how you’ve curated this event?
This is a project I call “SIGNATURES IN BRASS: The Personality-packed review of contemporary Jazz Trumpet.” It features Philip Dizack, Josh Evans, Keyon Harold, Ingrid Jensen, Billy Buss, and myself, on trumpets – as well as Theo Hill on Piano, Eric Wheeler on Bass, and Obed Calvaire on the kit. This is a great opportunity to feature a number of different and unique voices emerging under “Jazz Trumpet” umbrella. Featuring all-original music from the band as well as a commissioned piece – written by long time friend and fine composer, Kendall Moore. Should be a true fellowship!
Fellowship indeed! That’s what we’re all about here at FONT Music. We’re so glad to have you on board. Be sure to check out Marquis’ recent performance of his tune “White Shadows”at Tribeca Arts Center with his group Blacktet below:
On May 24, 2015, Marcus Belgrave, a staple not only in his hometown, Detroit, MI, but also in the jazz world was lost. Playing on everything from Motown records to recording with other jazz masters – Marcus embodied music, as a being and a musician. Trumpeter, Greg Glassman, a former student, colleague and friend reflects on the being of Marcus:
If you didn’t know Marcus Belgrave, it is very difficult to paint an apt picture for you through words. This is for some of the same reasons that conditioned his unique version and depth of greatness. Marcus was a true artist, a full human being, a manifestation of lifetimes of wisdom, and of the people. He was very much down-to-earth, and at the same time ephemeral, seeming to hover in the air above us, analogized by his sound, which appeared to be coming from everywhere in a room at once. He was a friend, allowing you to feel equal and important. Yet as his friend, you always felt lucky, as if he was allowing you to touch a higher plane of living. When he was with you, he really was with you, and you felt honored.
I have been around so many great trumpeters, but I haven’t met or heard anyone who comes close to transcending the instrument the way Marcus did. I imagine it was something like being with Dizzy Gillespie (several have told me that later in life Marcus was Dizzy’s favorite trumpet player). The ears are just so advanced that there’s so little in between the soul of the man and what comes out of the horn. Marcus was an encyclopedia of jazz language, but it was internalized to the point that he wasn’t thinking about notes and chords. I asked him several times about this, and he confirmed in his own way what I had believed to be true: that the goal was to go back to playing by ear. He would play the deepest nooks and crannies of harmony you’ll ever hear, but because it was truly singing in his mind, and because he was truly improvising, it always sounded full of freedom and of the present moment. And he brought this to every setting imaginable. In person I heard him play dixieland, bebop, free jazz, R&B, electronic groove music, music that is not within a label; in every setting he was improvising, and in every setting he sounded simultaneously grounded in the language of that idiom, and unmistakably himself.
He cared so much about serious young musicians, and the future of the music. He became a pillar of culture in Detroit, constantly and passionately working to develop and showcase the wealth of talent in that city. He gave them everything he had.
I started spending time with Marcus Belgrave when I was 19. I would drive to Detroit from Oberlin College and he would have me sit-in on his gigs and stay at his house…pre-gig trips to kinko’s to copy music; post-gig late-night meals; forcing me to push the limits of my social comfort zone; heaping portions of needed criticism and the hard-love that comes from a master when he cares about the music and about a student. He was my closest mentor. And as much as I know my relationship with him was exceptionally close, it blows the mind to realize: So many musicians he touched feel the same way!
How is this possible? How did he find this time and energy? This was Marcus Belgrave. A seemingly unending source of energy, joy, dedication, artistry, love and fire. If ever there was someone you expected to live forever, it was him. He’s in every note I play, and I’m joined by many who miss him deeply.
Three cheers for Saint Marcus Belgrave!
Greg Glassman is emerging as one of New York City’s mostrecognizable and accomplished young jazz musicians. Born in Queens, NY in 1977, Mr. Glassman has packed a wealth of knowledge and experience into his budding career. He started his career as a full-time professional at age 17, while attending the esteemed Oberlin Conservatory and Oberlin College. While at Oberlin, he developed close relationships with Donald Walden and Marcus Belgrave, making frequent trips to Detroit to mentor under them. He earned a B.A. from Oberlin in 1998 and immediately moved back to New York City. In 2002 he received his M.A. in Jazz Performance from Queens College, where he studied with Michael Mossman and Roland Hanna and presently serves as a clinician for Queens College’s Jazz Project. Since returning to New York Mr. Glassman has been steadily cementing himself in the canon of great NY trumpeters. He has led legendary weekly jam sessions for years, tours internationally and is a staple of the vibrant New York jazz scene.
Learn more about Greg at his website here: http://www.gregglassman.com/
Last March, the jazz trumpet world suddenly lost another master,
Lew Soloff. Known throughout the jazz world not only for his truly unique approach to his music, but also to life. Mention of his name in the jazz circles today still brings pain to a fresh wound from his loss. No one is more fit to write about Lew than his close friend and colleague, Randy Brecker:
“Lew simply put was one of my closest friends for close to 50 years. I first heard him play at the home of Barry Miles then a precocious drummer and pianist in 1966. Barry had heard me play at ‘Ramblerny’ I believe, a jazz camp that Phil Woods ran in New Hope, PA. After returning from a 4 month State Dept tour with the Indiana U Jazz Ensemble I was visiting and sitting in with my younger brother Mike, who was attending the camp, and playing in Phil’s student big band. (Phil’s sax section included 15 year olds: Michael Brecker, Ritchie Cole and Roger Rosenberg-imagine that!). Anyway, Barry was playing tapes of his concerts for me at his home near the camp, and I heard some amazingly strong and creative trumpet playing. I asked Barry who it was, and he said:
Lew Soloff….I kinda froze thinking ‘uh oh! I’m going to have to compete with THIS when I move to NYC from Philly in a couple of months??’
Not too long after, I actually met Lew (who had just gotten out of the Army Reserves) at the old Half Note Club downtown…by then I was playing with the Duke Pearson Big band and Duke needed a sub and Lew was hired. He blew us all away not only his soloing, but his expertise in reading the parts, playing lead trumpet, and his overall musicality.
Being close in age, we became fast friends, and would trade lessons with each other, and just hang out a lot. He loved to talk trumpet and more trumpet. It was an entirely accurate statement that Wynton made upon hearing of his death: “Lew Soloff loved the trumpet more than anyone!”
He was completely enthusiastic about everything he loved, trumpet food, wine and trumpet again. He became the world’s greatest jazz piccolo trumpet player. He tasted great fame and fortune when he joined Blood Sweat and Tears. I had to beg him to do that gig. I was leaving the band to join Horace Silver, and found myself sitting next to Lew at a Joe Henderson Big Band rehearsal the day after I quit. Lew didn’t want to do the gig because it was a ‘Rock Band’ and he wanted to play Jazz, but I was in a spot so as a friend he said OK he’d try it for awhile…needless to say the record they were about to record sold 11 million copies! and Lew’s salary went from $200 a week to $5000 a week (!) so he was there to stay! We were taking lessons together with Ed Troidel in NJ usually taking a bus to get there, and Lew started picking me up in a stretch Limo laughing the whole time!
He was such a character with a great sense of self deprecating humor. Jeez I miss him. Guitarist Bob Mann said it best upon hearing the news: “Sadly Cirque Du Soloff has Ended”….
Since moving to New York City from Australia 12 years ago, trumpeter/educator Nadje Noordhuis has taken the jazz trumpet world by storm. After attending Manhattan School of Music, Nadje quickly became a sought after voice on the New York jazz scene for her unique sound, musicality and technique. During her time at Manhattan School of Music, she formed a strong friendship to master trumpeter and educator, Laurie Frink, who passed away in 2013. After her passing, Nadje began to continue to carry Laurie’s torch by helping to coordinate The Laurie Frink Brass Summit and deeply involved with The Laurie Frink Career Grant. Nadje has also been an imperative part of the FONT Music leadership team, in addition to being a performer for the festival many times over the past few years. We recently caught up with Nadje about her music, life and Laurie – here’s what came out…
Thanks for answering some questions for us Nadje – We know you have a long history with FONT Music, give us the rundown for our readers as to what you’ve done with FONT Music in the past:
As of this year, I’m a board member for FONT. I’m such a fan of this festival and have checked out performances every year since I moved to New York in 2003, and it’s incredible that now I’m in a position to help achieve the goals of this organization.
I first performed in 2009 as the FONT commissioned artist for that year – that was an unexpected honor for me. It was first time I performed with a small group in New York under my own name, and it helped me solidify what I wanted to do in terms of my own music. It was also at the 2012 FONT festival that I performed for the first time with vibraphonist James Shipp – we have been playing regularly ever since and are headed into the recording studio soon. I performed in 2013 as part of Henry Brant’s 52 trumpets extravaganza, and again in 2014 with my quintet as part of the series curated by Jeremy Pelt.
So what’s new with your music and your career these days?:
This past year I have been increasing my teaching workload. I took a few years off from having students, but since her passing, have tried hard to expand my knowledge in how to teach brass through an individual tailored approach and by problem solving. I teach privately, for the Manhattan School of Music Precollege Program, and with the environmental arts group Bash The Trash. I’m also a teaching artist with the NY Pops, specifically working with school brass sections in middle and high schools. As well as gigging around the US and teaching masterclasses with my own quintet, I’ve also been busy with Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, The DIVA Jazz Orchestra, Kyle Saulnier’s Awakening Orchestra, and Rudy Royston’s 303, among others.
Tell us a little bit about your history with Laurie Frink:
Laurie was my teacher while I studied at Manhattan School of Music from 2003-05. Most people who studied with her say this – her lessons were like an oasis from the troubles of the world. I would walk into her studio with the weight of the world on my shoulders and walk out with a big smile. We chatted a lot in lessons about life, our struggles in being women musicians in jazz, and about very important things like great coffee and chocolate. She was inspirational, rock steady, and so incredibly funny. I miss her a lot.
How did your time with Laurie affect you as a teacher:
I have been teaching several students that have had particular chop problems or unusual playing habits, and I’m trying to channel Laurie in these lessons to help them achieve their musical goals.
You are deeply involved in The Laurie Frink Career Grant and Brass Summit, can you tell us about these two awesome things:
The Laurie Frink Career Grant was founded in 2014 by her long-term partner, Lois Martin, to continue Laurie’s legacy in helping young brass players to achieve great things. The first $10K grant was awarded last year to trumpeter Riley Mulherkar, and applications will be open in 2016 for the next one. There’s a small team of us administrating the grant who were close to Laurie, and it feels wonderful to be a part of this life-changing project. The Laurie Frink Brass Summit is the result of an idea I had at the gym – probably the most effective workout I’ve ever had! It’s basically a bunch of around 25 musicians and a special celebrity brass expert, and we talk about top secret brass stuff. It’s great fun, and a wonderful way to foster the community in the way that Laurie always did.
I’m currently plotting and planning my next quintet+guests record, trying to promote my latest album, “Ten Sails” with pianist Luke Howard, and working hard to become the best teacher and player that I can.
Check out this recording from her new album “Ten Sails” with Luke Howard:
Last Monday, we posted an article featuring trumpeter and 2015 FONT Music Curator, Nate Wooley discussing his view of “Visionary” as he is curating one of two nights during the FONT Music 2015 called “Visionaries”. The other night, Sunday September 27, is hosted and curated by trumpeter and FONT Music’s Secretary, Aaron Shragge. Aaron himself is quite a visionary in the modern/creative music and trumpet world as you’ll read and hear below.
A Note from Aaron:
The term ‘visionary’ can be a difficult to define. For that reason I think it’s all the more important to search deeply and find a way to actualize its essence. The artists that I’ve chosen for this series (Chad McCullough, John Blevins, Leo Hardman-Hill) are all wonderful examples of the unity and diversity of the trumpet. I feel they have each committed themselves to the visionary path by continuing to search for their own unique musical voice without being swayed by convention or novelty.
More About Aaron: Aaron is active in the NYC improvised/creative music scene and serves on the board of Festival of New Trumpet Music NY/Canada. His unique instrument the Dragon Mouth Trumpet was designed to expand the trumpet’s melodic capacity and is the result of over a decade of studying both the Shakuhachi (Japanese, Flute) as well as North Indian Vocals. Aaron Shragge’s current projects include a duo with Ben Monder, a Jazz quintet that plays the music of Tom Waits and his continuing solo works for Dragon Mouth Trumpet/Shakuhachi.
AARON SHRAGGE’S MUSIC “…DELVES DEEPER INTO THAT SATORI PLACE IN YOUR BRAIN” – JAZZ TIMES.
Victor Haskins, was a featured artist at last year’s FONT Music Festival where he presented his unique musical concept “ImproviStory” at IBeam. Last November, Victor brought his concept to a larger platform as he introduced it on a Tedx Talk at Virginia Commonwealth University. The video was just released last week, which we have posted below. A year after his performance we asked Victor to catch us up with ImproviStory and what he’s up to currently.
A Note from Victor:
“Currently, I am working on getting ImproviStory in front of different audiences, especially in the context of education for kids. In addition, I have been writing music for and developing new concepts for my band, formerly the Victor Haskins Trio, which is now called Victor Haskins’ Skein. We will have our first performance in a long time at the Richmond Jazz Festival on August 9, which works out to be a big bang of a return to performing. And besides music, I am now also a salsa dance instructor–I started dancing salsa in December of 2014 and I fell in love with it. It’s been and continues to be an awesome addition to my life!
ImproviStory is a new genre of music I created which combines improvisation, audience interaction, and storytelling to generate unique musical experiences. It is a concept that I developed as a result of trying to find a way to connect with audiences in an improvisational setting where nobody needed to “understand” anything about music to appreciate and relate to what was being played. Instead, those present during the performance use their imaginations to access and control the direction of the where the music goes and what it means, thus involving the audience in a deeper way than they would normally be involved with a musical exhibition.
Because of this universal connectivity and engagement capability, I figured that this idea would be even more valuable as an educational tool to encourage people—specifically kids—to think more creatively (counter to what the U.S. school system typically promotes—cramming info to take a test). So for the last 8 months or so, I have been doing ImproviStory in educational settings for kids in school. This has greatly expanded the possibilities of the applications of my concept in ways that can only have been discovered through live practice of ImproviStory for a variety of real audiences in different situations. There are some exciting things on the horizon for this new music, so to stay abreast of where it goes next.”
On September 28, the FONT Music Festival will be hosting one of two nights featuring three trumpet “Visionaries” on the jazz scene today including Joe Moffett, Jaimie Branch and Leo Hardman-Hill (more on them in coming blog posts) at Downtown Music Gallery (Purchase tickets here). Curating the evening is another leading voice in creative trumpet world, Nate Wooley. We wanted to give a quick spotlight on this unique voice in the trumpet world and hear his thoughts on his curatorial picks and his idea of “Visionary”:
A Note from Nate:
“The term “visionary” comes with a lot of baggage. Who is to say which ways of thinking will prove to be visionary and which will be well intentioned ideas that never quite make it. For that very reason there are many that don’t take the opportunity to find their own musical and aesthetic limits, whether it is with the idea of staking a claim as a “visionary” or not. The three trumpet players I chose for this series are the ones that are taking the chance and are heavily engaged in an attempt to push beyond the already possible systems of playing to form a new one that is best suited to who they are and what they think.”
More about Nate:
Nate Wooley was born in 1974 in Clatskanie, Oregon, a town of 2,000 people in the timber country of the Pacific Northwestern corner of the U.S. He began playing trumpet professionally with his father, a big band saxophonist, at the age of 13. He moved to New York in 2001, and has since become one of the most in-demand trumpet players in the burgeoning Brooklyn jazz, improv, noise, and new music scenes. He has performed regularly with such icons as John Zorn, Anthony Braxton, Eliane Radigue, Ken Vandermark, Fred Frith, Evan Parker, and Yoshi Wada, as well as being a collaborator with some of the brightest lights of his generation like Chris Corsano, C. Spencer Yeh, Peter Evans, and Mary Halvorson.
Wooley’s solo playing has often been cited as being a part of an international revolution in improvised trumpet. Along with Peter Evans and Greg Kelley, Wooley is considered one of the leading lights of the American movement to redefine the physical boundaries of the horn, as well as demolishing the way trumpet is perceived in a historical context still overshadowed by Louis Armstrong. A combination of vocalization, extreme extended technique, noise and drone aesthetics, amplification and feedback, and compositional rigor has led one reviewer to call his solo recordings “exquisitely hostile”.