Festival Of New Trumpet Music Announces Complete Schedule Of Events For Forward Flight

December 17, 2009

The Festival of New Trumpet Music (FONT Music) is proud to announce the complete schedule of events for Forward Flight, a four-night celebration of the trumpet’s eclectic and integral role in contemporary music at New York’s Abrons Arts Center.

Co-curated by trumpeter Dave Douglas and cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum, and named after a late fifties album by Booker Little, Forward Flight will begin on Wednesday, January 13th with a FONT Music benefit concert honoring the esteemed trumpet player, and longtime FONT Music board member, Wilmer Wise. The following three nights will feature free workshop events and concerts on two stages by a diverse range of ensembles representing various countries, genres and musical traditions.

Tickets for the opening night benefit concert are $35, which also includes a membership in FONT Music and admission to the pre-concert reception. Tickets for the other three nights are $15 ($12 for students with ID and FONT Music members) per night. A festival pass, covering all non-fundraiser events, is available for $40 ($30 students with ID and FONT members).

Schedule of Events:

Wednesday, January 13th at 7:30 p.m. on the Main Stage
FONT Music Celebrates The Music And Legacy of Wilmer Wise
A multi-faceted event and FONT Music fundraiser featuring a pre-concert reception and performances by Dave Douglas, Wilmer Wise and a gathering of special surprise guests. Wise’s eclectic and groundbreaking body of work includes countless collaborations with many of the most prominent musicians, composers, conductors and ensembles of the 20th Century. Over the course of his 50-year career, he has worked with everyone from Pablo Casals to Placido Domingo, Philip Glass to Steven Sondheim, Rudolph Serkin to Leonard Bernstein, the Marlboro Festival Orchestra to the New York Philharmonic, Quincy Jones to Weather Report and many others in between.

Thursday, January 14th at 5:00 p.m. in the Blackbox Theatre
Free workshop: Oral History Project with Wilmer Wise
Veteran trumpet player Wilmer Wise will share some of the wisdom he acquired during the course of his 50-year career as a first-call trumpet player working with many of the 20th Century’s most respected names in jazz, Broadway and classical music.

Thursday, January 14th at 6:30 p.m. in the Blackbox Theatre
Anti-Social Music, Inc.
The New York-based composer/performer collective Anti-Social Music, Inc., known for its own fresh and unpretentious semi-annual concert series, will present a program of world premieres, including new music written by David Durst, Bradley Kemp, Andrea La Rose and Pat Muchmore, featuring trumpeters Tim Byrnes, Chris DiMeglio, Stephanie Richards and Kelly Rossum.

Thursday, January 14th at 7:30 p.m. on the Main Stage
The Brass Music of Charles Wuorinen and Du Yun
The Urban Brass Quintet will present the New York premiere of Charles Wuorinen‘s Brass Quintet with the composer conducting, and The New York Trumpet Ensemble, under the direction of Mark Gould, will perform Wuorinen’s “Big Epithalamium” for eight trumpets and Du Yun‘s “Air Glow”, a 2005 FONT Music commission for five trumpets and laptop. Known as “a leading light of American contemporary music” (The New York Times), Wourinen has been one of the world’s foremost composers for more than four decades and Chinese-born Du Yun is one of its most eclectic and respected new voices.

Thursday, January 14th at 9:00 p.m. on the Main Stage
The Brass Music of Ornette Coleman featuring Wilmer Wise and Lew Soloff
Distinguished trumpet player Wilmer Wise will lead a performance of chamber music composed by Ornette Coleman, highlighted by the rarely heard work, “The Sacred Mind of Johnny Dolphin”, featuring special guest trumpeter Lew Soloff. The program will also include new arrangements of Coleman works featuring Soloff and cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum created by Darcy James Argue, Joseph C. Phillips, Jr. and JC Sanford of the Pulse Composer Federation.

Friday, January 15th at 5:00 p.m. in the Blackbox Theatre
Free workshop: Ableton Live User Group
Co-hosted by FONT Music and the Ableton Certified Training Center, Dubspot, this free workshop will offer guidance and practice for brass players interested in using Ableton Live software in their performances.

Friday, January 15th at 6:30 p.m. in the Blackbox Theatre
Opsvik & Jennings meets Ignite a Noise Trumpet Trio
In his review of experimental chamber-pop duo Opsvik & Jennings‘ latest recording, A Dream I Used To Remember (Loyal Label, 2009), AllAboutJazz.com’s Troy Collins writes, “the duo’s improvisational skills are reflected in the sophisticated harmonies and concise arrangements that drive their buoyant songs. Bursting with verdant Americana, pastoral folk and nostalgic old world ambience, these pieces sit comfortably alongside the work of their indie rock brethren.” For this performance at Forward Flight, the three year-old group will join forces with the Ignite a Noise Trumpet Trio featuring three of New York’s most adventurous trumpet players, Rich Johnson, Russ Johnson and Kirk Knuffke.

Friday, January 15th at 7:30 p.m. on the Main Stage
Chicago Underground Duo
Cornetist Rob Mazurek and drummer Chad Taylor will celebrate the release of Boca Negra, their fifth recording for Chicago’s Thrill Jockey Records. The longstanding group is known for its adventurous explorations of sound and texture, fueled by the musicians’ ability to bring more than a dozen different instruments, as well as programmed sounds, into the mix on their recordings. Its music draws on elements such as modern composition, free-form improvisation and avant-rock. Boca Negra, the band’s first recording since 2006, will be released in January 2010.

Friday, January 15th at 9:00 p.m. on the Main Stage
The Low Anthem with special appearance by Dave Douglas
“At times languid and haunting, but with detours into Tom Waits-esque stomping and hollering, The Low Anthem’s music seems equally informed by Simon & Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, The Band and a late-night ride home in Joni Mitchell’s car,” explains NPR Song of the Day reviewer Bruce Warren. “Like fellow new-acoustic greats—Fleet Foxes, Blitzen Trapper, et al.—The Low Anthem has created something strange, beautiful and new.” The Providence-based trio’s 2009 release, Oh My God, Charlie Darwin (Nonesuch), earned Album of the Year honors at the Boston Music Awards and is listed on year-end lists in publications including the Boston Herald, The Independent, Q, Rough Trade and Uncut.

Saturday, January 16th at 5:00 p.m. in the Blackbox Theatre
Free workshop: The York College Blue Notes
The York College Blue Notes, an elite high school big band-in-residence at York College/CUNY, will join with other student ensembles and members of the Open Circuit International Trumpet Ensemble to demonstrate techniques for collective improvisation.

Saturday, January 16th at 6:00 p.m. in the Blackbox Theatre
Trumpets in Traditional Folk Music: Mr. Tamerman’s Maggot and Sarah Ferholt’s Veveritse
Named after “Mr. Beveridge’s Maggot”, a once popular English country dance—in the folk tradition a maggot is a bit of whimsical and extravagantly different bit of music brought on by the madness caused by an actual maggot bite—trumpeter Erol Tamerman‘s new quintet romps through fanciful jigs, reels, ballads, waltzes, polkas and more, including original compositions. Joining Tamerman are Nadje Noordhius (trumpet, flugelhorn and pennywhistle), Will Holshouser (accordian), Jaqueline Schwab (piano) and Andrew VanNostrand (guitar and bouzouki).

Veveritse is eight horn players and two percussionists exploring the Romany (Gypsy) brass band tradition of Serbia. Led by Brooklyn-based musician and educator Sarah Ferholt, the group also features Erin Bell (baritone truba), Patty Farrell (alto horn), Emily Geller (bubanj), Don Godwin (baritone truba), JR Hankins (truba), Joe Keady (tuba), Quince Marcum (alto horn), Luke Schnieders (snare drum), Greg Squared (alto sax) and Ben Syversen (trumpet).

Saturday, January 16th at 7:30 p.m. on the Main Stage
The Meridian Arts Ensemble featuring special guest Dave Ballou
This eclectic new music ensemble will be joined by trumpeter Dave Ballou to present the world premiere of David Sanford‘s Seven Kings, a multi-movement work for brass quintet and trumpet soloist inspired by the complex interplay in King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band, commissioned by FONT Music and Chamber Music America. The program will also include music by Ballou and Mark Applebaum. The New York-based Meridian Arts Ensemble features John Ferrari (drums), Daniel Grabois (French horn), Benjamin Herrington (trombone), Brain McWhorter (trumpet), Jon Nelson (trumpet) and Raymond Stewart (tuba).

Saturday, January 16th at 9:00 p.m. on the Main Stage
Open Circuit International Trumpet Ensemble
Forward Flight concludes with the American debut of this international all-star ensemble featuring trumpeters Taylor Ho Bynum, Jean-Luc Cappozza, Franz Hautzinger, Joe McPhee, Itaru Oki and Herb Robertson and the world-class rhythm section of bassist William Parker and drummer John Betsch. First assembled in May 2008 for a two-night stand at Le Petit Faucheaux in Tours, France, the Open Circuit International Trumpet Ensemble comes to the United States thanks to a grant from the CMA/FACE French-American Jazz Exchange that will provide funding for this performance and a second at the International House in Philadelphia the following night as part of a traveling FONT Music triple-bill with The Chicago Underground Duo and The Meridian Arts Ensemble with special guest Dave Ballou.

Learn more about FONT Music at http://fontmusic.org


Signal To Noise: Taylor Ho Bynum, Fonda/Stevens Group, The Fully Celebrated, Darius Jones and Joe Morris

December 14, 2009

The Winter 2010 issue of Signal To Noise arrived this weekend and with it reviews of the latest releases from Taylor Ho Bynum & SpiderMonkey Strings, the Fonda/Stevens Group, The Fully Celebrated, the Darius Jones Trio and the Joe Morris Quartet.

“Bynum’s compositions consistently engage and amplify the texts [from his sister’s novel, Madeleine is Sleeping],” writes Stuart Broomer in his review of Madeleine Dreams (Firehouse 12 Records), “and the performances are at a high level. Vocalist Kyoko Kitamura ranges from pensive dramatic readings to jazz-inflected vocals and creative improvisations, performing admirably in the divergent settings. The group’s improvisational skills come to the fore on pieces by three great composers—Ornette Coleman, Duke Ellington and Sun Ra—whose works are all subtly complementary…the results are driving, focused, expressive performances that make the most of the jazz tradition.”

“After 20 years of musical partnership, pianist Michael Jefry Stevens, bassist Joe Fonda, drummer Harvey Sorgen and trumpeter Herb Robertson have developed a rich chemistry,” declares James Hale. “On Memphis, their 11th recording, the quartet surges with energy—equal parts Stevens’ proclivity for aggresive vamps, Robertson’s slippery slalom runs, and a wrecking crew of a rhythm duo. When the mood turns somber individual members find ways of keeping the tension high, whether its Fonda’s abrasive arco on ‘For My Brother’ or the free segments that alternate with Stevens’ pretty theme on ‘Whale Majesty.'”

“Alto saxophonist Jim Hobbs, bassist Timo Shanko and drummer Django Carranza hammer away at eight slices of groove-based music that is is peppy, incisive and yes, amusing,” explains Jay Collins in his review of Drunk on the Blood of the Holy Ones (AUM Fidelity). “The Fully Celebrated is a group that doesn’t take themselves too seriously, but the music is of high caliber and a hell of a lot of fun.”

Marc Medwin describes the Darius Jones Trio’s debut, Man’ish Boy (AUM Fidelity), as “a barn-burner from note one. Jones could not have chosen better musicians to enter into his world, with Cooper-Moore and drummer Rakalam Bob Moses enhancing every moan, cry and shriek emanating from his alto.”

Jay Collins calls the Joe Morris Quartet’s second release, Today On Earth (AUM Fidelity), “Morris at his most accessible. His tremendous single-note flurries come to bear immediately on the boppish ‘Backbone’ and the exuberantly swinging ‘Imaginary Solutions.’ The quartet’s keen melodic sense is eveident on ‘Ashes’ and the ruminative ‘Animal,’ especially in Hobbs’s earthy, gripping saxophone playing. Hobbs and Morris’s unison lines against the rhythm section’s restless activity are part of the record’s pleasures. Like Drunk on the Blood of the Holy Ones, Today on Earth has it all: smart compositional structures that launch tasty, unpredictable improvisations.”


The Fonda/Stevens Group’s European Tour Begins Today

October 15, 2009
Photo by Lindsay Beyerstein

Photo by Lindsay Beyerstein

Starting tonight, The Fonda/Stevens Group will celebrate its latest release, Memphis (Playscape Recordings), with a European tour spanning two weeks and eight countries.

Details can be found here.

Co-led by bassist/composer Joe Fonda and pianist/composer Michael Jefry Stevens, who are also celebrating 25 years as collaborators in 2009, The Fonda/Stevens Group features trumpeter Herb Robertson and drummer Harvey Sorgen.


The Fonda/Stevens Group’s Memphis Released Today

September 29, 2009

Playscape Recordings officially welcomes The Fonda/Stevens Group to its roster with the September 29th release of Memphis, the eminent ensemble’s 11th recording.

Only the fourth studio release in the band’s two-decade existence, Memphis takes its name from Stevens’ composition, “Memphis Ramble”, one of ten tracks documented here for the first time following the band’s March 2008 U.S. tour.

Co-led by bassist/composer Joe Fonda and pianist/composer Michael Jefry Stevens, who celebrate the 25th anniversary of their first collaboration in 2009, The Fonda/Stevens Group also features trumpeter Herb Robertson and drummer Harvey Sorgen.

“Their quartet is a fine example of how a long established band can gel without becoming predictable, with many of its moves unforeseeable in advance,” explains AllAboutJazz.com’s Nic Jones. “This helps to keep the music fresh, but it’s the level of collective empathy that often takes it to another level…it’s clear on ‘Memphis Ramble’ that the group had reached a level of understanding in excess of even its usual working relationship.”

“The great thing about the band is its human warmth and musical openness,” writes Stef Gijssels on his popular blog, Free Jazz. “They can play AACM-like music (‘In The Whitecage’), post-bop (‘For My Brother’), blues, Stanko-esque melancholy (‘Whole Majesty’), free improvisation (‘Yes This Is It!’) and spontaneous chants (‘Memphis Ramble’)…it is fun, musically entertaining and interesting.”

The Downtown Music Gallery’s Bruce Lee Gallanter adds, “What makes this band great is that they can swing their asses off, go out, come back and stop on a dime. Their jubilant spirit is infectious. This is the one disc that makes me feel so good every time I hear it.”

The Fonda/Stevens Group will celebrate its latest record with a two-week, eight-country European tour in the second half of October. Details can be found here.


Playscape Recordings To Release The Fonda/Stevens Group’s Memphis September 29th

June 30, 2009
Photo by Lindsay Beyerstein

Photo by Lindsay Beyerstein

Playscape Recordings will officially welcome The Fonda/Stevens Group to its roster with the September 29th release of Memphis (PSR#033108), the eminent ensemble’s 11th recording. Only the fourth studio release in the band’s two-decade existence, Memphis was recorded at the end of a week-long March 2008 U.S. tour. The Fonda/Stevens Group is co-led by bassist/composer Joe Fonda and pianist/composer Michael Jefry Stevens and features trumpeter Herb Robertson and drummer Harvey Sorgen.

Memphis takes its name from Stevens’ composition, “Memphis Ramble,” one of ten tracks documented here for the first time. The subject matter of the piece, which features a spoken word section developed spontaneously during its first performance, deals with his move from Brooklyn to Memphis to be with his wife, who teaches poetry at Rhodes College. Coincidentally, it was the poetry of the city’s name that appealed to Fonda. “When Mike suggested we call the record Memphis,” he recalls, “I just liked the sound of the word —the poetry of it. And, Memphis is a musical melting pot, just like The Fonda/Stevens Group.”

Known as “one of the great and often under-appreciated jazz groups of the modern era” (Steven Loewy, All Music Guide), critics have credited the band with playing “with equal precision and passion” (Peter Margasak, JazzTimes) and “a combination of recognizable creativity and courageous new experimentation” (Christian Carey, Signal to Noise). “The quartet of Fonda, Stevens, Sorgen and Robertson continues to mine territory that defies categorization,” adds AllAboutJazz.com Managing Editor John Kelman. “Everyone demonstrates a fine ability to skirt the edges of convention, while at the same time stretching its boundaries.”

Active collaborators since 1984, when they first worked together as sidemen with saxophonist Mark Whitecage, Fonda and Stevens founded their own band after the 1990 demise of another all-star ensemble, The Mosaic Sextet. The Fonda/Stevens Group began as a quintet, and toured with some transitional personnel following Whitecage’s departure in 1999, but has operated primarily as a quartet with its four remaining original members for the past decade. Although based in America, the band found early success touring abroad and recording for European labels, and has built its longstanding reputation on the world stage. Learn more at http://www.joefonda.digitalspace.net and http://www.michaeljefrystevens.com


Fonda/Stevens Group Tonight At Roulette

March 16, 2009


Tonight at Roulette in New York, the Fonda/Stevens Group will preview music from Memphis, its forthcoming September release on Playscape Recordings.

The longstanding quartet features Joe Fonda (bass), Michael Jefry Stevens (piano), Herb Robertson (trumpet) and Harvey Sorgen (drums).