All the Brilliant Trumpets
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.