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Blindfold Bootleg Series: Trent Austin

Posted in Improvisation, Musical Influences with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 14, 2015 by pogo56

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Trent Austin is one of the great trumpeters of his (of any really) generation.  He’s one of those rare artists that can easily command the lead chair and turn around and improvise with the best of them.  And on top of that he’s recently opened one of the premier brass shops on the east coast and he makes marvelous mouthpieces.  As soon as he sent me one of his pieces to try out, set aside my Monette B2 of 12 years and haven’t picked it up since. Trent also works closely with the great Miel Adams!  Here’s what Trent had to say after hearing the examples:


Example 1
-Dave Douglas Live at R-bar

Dave Douglas

After:   Dave has always been one of my favorite players. I got this one in a few seconds due to his IMO very original sound, vibrato touches, and personal style.  His work is so incredibly diverse player who can jump over any style be it totally straight ahead to his work with John Zorn.  This one for me was a fairly easy one with some of his inflections he uses  that IMO are very much his own.   It was a fantastic example of how I should listen and transcribe him some more.  I love the way his compositional mind works during this improvisation. 

Example 2-Wynton live with Freddie Hubbard NYC

Wynton (trying to sound like Freddie) love the sound of the Bach!

After:   I have to admit hearing this before,  perhaps even from you.   It still got me for a few seconds.  I literally said out loud “That’s Freddie… oh wait, that’s Wynton”.  It’s pretty cool to hear him playing like this although at times it’s pretty disjointed.  His sound and control are constant reminders to me that he is still the hands down  best player in the world.  I especially love his sound and articulations on his Bach.  I personally feel coming from someone that makes equipment these days he had the best recorded sound speaking only on a “trumpet” side of things on the Bach.   While he’s such a deeper musician than he was in the early 80’s  I strongly feel that the Monette has hampered his tonal color spectrum on recordings.  Of course me critiquing the greatest player in the world is a bit silly so I’ll go back to my corner and practice my long tones 😉

Example 3-Ryan Kisor Live in Japan

Ryan Kisor

After:   One of my absolute favorite (if not my favorite player)  out there. I have not met many folks that can do what Ryan does. The fluency on those triplets!   Man  such amazing technique!  Perhaps Ryan  and Greg Gisbert are two of the most versatile cats out there who can literally sit in any chair and any musical situation regardless of style and crush it!  Was he playing cornet on this?  I don’t think so this sounds like a trumpet to my ears.  I know he’s recently been doing a lot of his solo work on an Olds Super Cornet lately and has inspired me to check out playing more cornet in my own work.  

Example 4-Tom Harrell with Johnathan Blake

Tom Harrell

After:  Genius… enough said… Every time I hear Tom I hear just how his complete melodic sense and compositional mind inspire me to seek out more of the inner lines  he plays. I have transcribed so much of Tom’s work and I think this one will be next on my list.  Listen to that space he uses.  A lot of folks listen to his latest playing and wish he would play more like the 70’s/early 80’s versions but for myself he’s playing so much more melodically!

Example 5-Keyon Harrold live in NYC

Josh Evans? (One Finger Snap… silly burning)

After: Bummed I didn’t get this but I know Keyon is one BADDDD  cat.  Such a titanic  solo full of virtuosity.    What an inspiration to listen to and get myself back in the practice room.  Keyon is someone more people should know about as he can hang with anyone for sure!

Example 6-Christian Scott Live at the R-Bar

Nick Payton (this one was particularly tough… not totally sure)

After:   AGH!   This one got me until I sent you my before and then I heard something in Christian’s tone and inflections  that made me pick up on him after sending you the before.  I didn’t think it was Nick but was fairly confident it was a New Orleans player.  The vibrato on the F on the second or third chorus gave it away to me.  I think there still is a lot to be said about regional styles and the influence the local traditions have on players.   It’s harder and harder to hear this in players today (both in improvisational music and orchestral style as we continually head to more homogenized sounds which in my opinion is  not a good thing).  Also didn’t think of Christian initially due to the fact his current music is so different than this clip.    He’s a wonderful cat,  great spokesman for the trumpet, and really a wonderful example of always committing yourself in the moment as I have never seen a bad performance from Christian.  He was one of the first guys to hip me to Adams and I am so thankful for that as it truly changed my life (Adams were the first company to urge me to start my business).

Example 7-Art Farmer live in NYC

Art Farmer

After:  Art  plays with so much and is a master of economy!   Great to hear him  (although I’m pretty sure he was playing the flumpet on this clip and I preferred him on the Besson flugel as again it had more  of a variety tonal spectrum) and how he winds through Recordame.  One of my heroes Herb Pomeroy always stressed finding the “sweet notes”  in a solo.  Those notes that  give you the most color for the chord or pivotal notes to signify harmonic motion.    Art was always someone I could hear that in.   Another thing I love about Art is that he never stopped shedding.  I met him near the end of his life and he told me he still spent numerous (3+ daily) in the shed.

Stay afloat with what’s going on in Trent’s career by visiting his website!!

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Blindfold Bootleg Series: Austin McMahon

Posted in Composition, Improvisation, Musical Influences, Performance with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 14, 2015 by pogo56

AustinMcMahon

I consider Austin to be one of the most talented, acute artists of my generation to sit at the drum throne. He’s got a great sophisticated touch on the set and as a horn player, he’s VERY easy to make music with because he has a strong set of musical ears. He also co-leads the Quartet of Happiness, one of the frontrunners in introducing children to thee are of jazz and improvisation in a fresh and interactive way! Here’s what Austin had to say after hearing the test examples:

Example 1-Clarence Penn in London with Jason Palmer and Cedric Hanriot’s City of Poets (2014)

1) I love the phrasing of this example. The drummer has such command of the time amidst this syncopated (yet spacious) vamp. Although the gestures are fragmented and largely occurring within the spaces of the accompaniment, the solo has a clear shape and direction to it. I particularly enjoy the superimposition of other meters/grooves and his sonic concept. Nowadays, it seems more and more drummers are utilizing “prepared” sounds like a heavily muffled snare or additional high-pitched auxiliary drum (as heard in this example) to add a little more color to the drummer’s palette. Based on this brief example I’m not certain who this drummer is and therefore would rather be surprised and hope to check them out more in the future!

After: Ah, yes, Clarence Penn. I actually thought of him for a second when I heard the splash cymbal but didn’t put all the pieces together. I love how he’s incorporated the roll of a percussionist into his drumset playing and utilizes auxiliary percussion like wood blocks or triangles in a tasteful way. Recently I’ve enjoyed his playing on several records and live performances in recent years specifically with Kate McGarry and Maria Schneider’s orchestra.

Example 2-Kendrick Scott Tribute to Herbie Hancock in NYC (year unknown)

2) This drum intro leaves me wondering many things. The vocabulary sounds heavily influenced by the great Roy Haynes but the tuning of the drums seems more contemporary. And, the extensive use of the hihat is not nearly as common amongst modern drummers as it once was. Though this may seem like a strange take on this example my honest guess is that this is an older drummer sitting in and playing someone else’s (modern) drums. (Again, I’m consciously choosing not to mention names for lack of certainty.) Either way, if it happens to be a younger drummer, I would applaud their dedication in studying the foundation of our idiom. In my opinion, this drummer has not cut corners to get to this level of playing.

After: I’m glad to hear this is Kendrick Scott. I love his playing and he is definitely a player who has done his share of studying the lineage of the drumset (thus fooling me into thinking he was an “older” drummer). He is quite a driving force in modern jazz and has had a big influence on my playing. I really love his “Oracle” group and how well constructed the music is – not just the drumming. He’s a fabulous musician.

Example 3-Jochen Ruechert in England (year unknown)

3) Wow, this drummer is so “inside” of the accompaniment that it seems uncanny. My feeling is that this drummer is also a composer (not of this example) and thus really understands the direction of the music and can dance around and within it very liberally. The solo also makes me think that this drummer is either an extremely good reader of difficulty music or has played this particular song many times, or both. It’s very interesting to me to try to make guesses at who this may be when I hear vocabulary and cymbal sound and drum tuning that’s used by lots of contemporary jazz drummers. If this were a studio album it’s possible that some of the subtleties/individualities would stand out to me but with live recordings a lot of that is lost. Whoever it is, I like it a lot and would assume this is a very busy hardworking drummer.

After: Jochen Rueckert is on my latest favorites. I’m a big fan of his playing with Marc Copland and his electronic music project “Wolff Parkinson White”. Sometimes when I’m listening to him I feel like there was a snapshot of jazz taken in the late 1960’s and he is building upon that style, approach and vocabulary. I mean that as the highest compliment since many drummers strive to achieve what drummers of that era were doing and I think Jochen understands that language deeply. That mixed with his fiery modern edge blend to create a very exciting and engaging approach to drumming.

Example 4-Marcus Gilmore in Boston with Nicholas Payton 5tet (year unknown)

4) I find it hard to hone in on an honest guess on this one because the sound of the cymbals and drums are obscured and sound compressed. The beginning is reminiscent of a free jazz approach to time playing like that of Paul Motian with a little more modern edge which, then leads more towards a more Tony William’s influenced approach to uptempo time playing. Overall, I don’t know who this is but, I feel this solo was inspired to a degree by Tony Williams. And again, the drummer has done their homework.

After: I still wouldn’t have been able to guess this was Marcus Gilmore but now I do hear some similarities in approach to some recordings of Vijay Iyer’s trio, which feature Marcus. I love the fluidity of his playing and how he makes time and grooves feel so liquid even in very complex meters and forms. When he plays drums I feel he evokes a true love of the instrument.

Example 5-Obed Calvaire in Cambridge with Kurt Rosenwinkel 5tet (year unknown)

5) This is the first time during this blindfold test that I will actually mention a name of who I think the drummer is. I don’t know many other drummers on the scene today with such command of the instrument and ability to build a solo to peak and continue pushing upwards from there. There is such musicality and technical mastery on display here. I love his sound as well. This must be Eric Harland.

After: Obed! I remember hearing his name when I was a student at the University of Miami in early 2000’s and he was at the New World School for the Arts High School. After that when he attended Manhattan School of Music he would come sit in at jam sessions when he was visiting Miami and blow people away with his feel. It wasn’t long before he was making waves in New York’s jazz scene. Wow, what a great player! I can only hope that he’d see it as a compliment that I thought he was Eric Harland. Both are fantastic drummers at the top of the game.

Example 6-Jamire Williams in NYC with Darren Barrett and Myron Walden

6) This is an enjoyable solo with some interesting push and pull on the time feel. There are moments of an almost exaggerated swing feeling as the drummer moves around the toms as Max Roach would but meanwhile a lot of heavy cymbals and Blakey like gestures. Again, I hear a young/contemporary drummer and strong influences from the hardbop era but I’m unable to pinpoint who this may be for sure.

After: I still wouldn’t have been able to get this one but since being given the answers to this blindfold test I’ve been exploring Jamire’s music and have really enjoyed what I’ve heard so far. I’m glad he’s on my radar now. He seems to be part of the new movement of drummers who have many other musical talents and knows how to use them to create truly fresh sounding new music.

Example 7-Jeff Ballard in London with Jason Palmer, Michael Janisch, and Julian Siegel.

7) Yes, I will name another name during this test because I have no doubts that this is the one and only Jeff Ballard. His sound and vocabulary are both so refined and individual. To me, his whole approach is unmistakable and so musical. This is what jazz drumming has always been about and he makes it sound so fresh – I love this solo.

After: Yep, Jeff Ballard. I love his touch on the ride cymbal. It’s particularly on display in the later part of this example. It’s like he’s dancing on the ride and tying the whole drumset together with that sound. Really fantastic drumming and musicianship.

Keep up with Austin via his website!