Top 50 JAzz Blog

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Fillin' the Void. 3. Tromboneliness.

This weeks feature on under recognized younger artists goes out to Alex at Lubricity, an earnest and good natured trombonist, activist and scholar. The old sackbut has been pegged by Frank Zappa as a naturally funny instrument. He loved its comedy potential and likened it to a fat guy running uphill. But it is also a majestic member of the brass family with a very impressive roster of practitioners going back to the earliest days of Kid Ory. Alex Asher is working the connections to world musicians such as Nigeria's Fred Fisher. Trombonist, Composer and Educator Alex Asher lives in Brooklyn, NY. He plays regularly throughout the East Coast in as many types of groups and in as many musical styles as he can. Alex is a member of the Superpowers (formerly the Boston Afrobeat Society), winners of Best World Act in both the Boston Phoenix's 2007 'Best Music Poll' as well as the 2006 Boston Music Awards. Look out for the Superpowers’ second album "Trance for Nation" dropping Fall 2008! He has performed throughout the United States and also in London and Oxford, UK; at the North Sea Jazz Festival, The Hague, The Netherlands; at the Montreux Jazz Festival, Montreux, Switzerland; and at informal traditional Irish jam sessions all over Ireland. An avid writer, Alex has penned press releases for ECM Records and news briefs for JazzTimes Magazine. Alex has been privileged enough to study with Robin Eubanks, Bob Brookmeyer, Charlie Banacos, Frank Carlberg, James DeSano and Norman Bolter. He holds a B.M. and a B.A. from Oberlin College and a M.M. from New England Conservatory. I actually got to meet Jen Baker at a concert series I worked in a Tai Chi school in Brookline Massachusetts. She is like a researcher into sonic potentials and voices Gregorian Chants through the horn bore while handling the embouchure issues. She also has a compelling stunner duet with Reuben Radding . Trombonist Jen Baker has performed internationally in ensembles spanning from orchestra to free jazz. Baker has been performing Lyrical Vibrations around the country since 2006. Lyrical Vibrations is a collection of multiphonic improvisations that take on the character of chant, and can be heard on her album, Blue Dreams. Committed to expanding the contemporary trombone repertoire, Baker has commissioned and performed many new solos over the past 10 years. She recently toured performing Pat Muchmore’s THS, for trombone and electronics, on the East and West coasts. She has recorded music ranging from video game trailers to Werner Herzog’s Encounters at the End of the World. She has recorded with the Mountain Goats, the Michael Cooke Quintet, and also can be heard on Music + One, an improvisation compendium on Rastascan Records, and Untitled 1959, on Jerusalem-based label Kadima. “Braying slurs from Baker are the initial defining factor of the title track…Double and triple tonguing to a multiphonic display, the trombonist eventually lets loosen with elongated and accumulated trills and tones…” (JazzWord) Baker’s festival performances include the International Trombone Workshop, the Eastern Trombone Workshop, No’west Improvised Music Festival, and the Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival. She has performed and worked with Stuart Dempster, Pauline Oliveros, Fred Frith, Joelle Leandre, Chris Brown, William Winant, Cecil Taylor, Alvin Curran, and the Rova Saxophone Quartet. “Awesome Performance!” (Gold Branch Music, Inc.) Baker currently resides in Oakland, CA where she freelances and teaches privately on all brass instruments, piano, and the didgeridoo. She can also be found teaching young minds at Archway School how to compose and perform their own compositions, sing, and play on a variety of homemade and classroom instruments. She received degrees in music from Oberlin Conservatory and Mills College. Matt Plummer is in an interesting middle ground between the two above trombonists. He works in some folkloric music situations and cutting edge sonic explorations. He has a very puckish sense of humor as can be found in his work with the wind quartet, Hooper Piccolaro. He is an ace at self deprecation and coud'nt bring himself to crank out a bio on his My Space page or even register as a band. So his descriptive traces come from the various 'who I am' parts of a my space page. They do convey a sense of him though. Trombone player, Reading, riding the T, canoeing, civic affairs, cooking, web design, vanlet enthusiast, amateur bad accordion. (Music Preferences) Not particularly ordered: The Pixies, Neutral Milk Hotel, Nirvana, M.I.A., Arcade Fire, Batter Recharger, Sufjan Stevens, Calexico, The Roots, Cee-lo, Steve Lacy, Roswell Rudd, Ray Anderson, Billie Holiday, Archie Shepp, Ornette Coleman, Fela Kuti, Ron Miles, Art Lande, Steve Reich, Frederic Rzewski, Mahler, Bjork, Prince, Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, everything is a little glorious. (Movie Preferences).Koyaanisqatsi, Mad Hot Ballroom, have I even seen any? I can't remember. Generally: depressing or happy indie films. (Book Preferences). Jane Austen, Mark Twain, Louise Erdrich, Ursula LeGuin, John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway, Kelly Link.