In the last ten years or so the trumpet has been enjoying a renaissance. There are a number of gifted and innovative trumpet players the world over deconstructing, reinventing and rethinking the instrument in myriad ways. In the '80s when John Zorn was doing mouthpiece-only duck calls and blowing his sax into a bucket of water, the trumpeters were still playing somewhat straight. I suppose it was only a matter of time. What follows is a sample of the breadth of solo trumpet sounds percolating away. (And if you're interested in delving even further, the astonishingly knowledgeable community over at Bagatellen has accumulated a lot more info such as this.)
First up, Mazen Kerbaj, everyone's favorite Lebanese avant garde/improv trumpet-playing cartoonist. Aside from doing his very cool blog, Mazen is active in improv in his native Lebanon where he runs the Al Maslakh label, as well as in Europe where he often plays with avant-jazz and improv luminaries. You may remember his duet with the Israeli army a few summers ago, when he played along with the bombs dropping around his home (Brian Turner's Trumpet vs. Bomb Beware of the Blog post here). His solo record, Brt Vrt Zrt Krt, is worth checking out as it has a more rhythmic sensibility than many others we'll hear. And, yes, the title is onomatopoeic. Mazen Kerbaj - Tagadagadaga (from Brt Vrt Zrt Krt)
Greg Kelley is active in the noise scene both alone and with Bhob Rainey as the inimitable duo Nmperign. He is a veteran of several No Fun Fests and has done "jazz" records with Flaherty/Corsano as part of Cold Bleak Heat. While many of the artists profiled herein tend to have a disdain for the traditional, Greg Kelley may be my favorite of the bunch due to his punk aesthetic and general fuck-you attitude when it comes to genre. Ostensibly borne from jazz, Greg's playing is nothing if not singular. I am especially enamored of a little record he put out called, If I Never Meet You in This Life, Let Me Feel the Lack on Rossbin, as well as his duo with Alex Nielsen from a few years back on the always messed up Ultra Eczema label, entitled Graveside Doles. He's put out a ton of stuff worth exploring. This track comes from a statement-of-purpose record simply called Trumpet. Greg Kelley - (02.30) (from Trumpet)
My gushfest re: Peter Evans continues now, as I do believe he's one of the best trumpet players and bandleaders currently active. Look no further than last years Peter Evans Quartet for evidence. His 2006 release More is More on Evan Parker's Psi label should have been foreshadowing enough. It's a beast of a record, showcasing the full range of the instrument as well as Peter's ability. It a refreshing thing when you can hear an instrumentalist who knows enough to forget what he knows. This might be the most downright listenable of the bunch. Highly recommended. Peter Evans - Ritual (from More is More)
And lastly for today, Axel Dörner. Perhaps the most well known, at least among European improv acolytes, and probably the most restlessly ambitious of this group. In the late '90s he did a couple of gauntlet-throwing solo CD-Rs that are somewhat legendary in trumpet playing circles (I have yet to hear these, if anyone can hook me up, let me know!). This breath heavy track is from the excellent 2006 compilation Insight from the Malaysian label Xing Wu, featuring a world-spanning collection of boundary ignoring types like Reynols, Climax Golden Twins, Tetuzi Akiyama, etc. Axel Dörner - Marchlai (from Insight)
More solo trumpets same time same place next week...