“My goal is that it’s always a quest for more knowledge. I actually started playing the oboe when I was in fourth grade, which I continued all the way through college. I got a scholarship to college playing oboe. When I was 13, I had been listening to this piece that my mom had of this flugelhorn player, Chuck Mangione, who was a legit jazz player for a while, but then he got into that fusion jazz movement in the ’70s. My grandparents, who I was living with at the time, had a trumpet in the basement, and I was like, ‘I’m gonna teach myself how to play’ so I could play along with this music I thought was so cool. So I taught myself to play trumpet. I started playing in the jazz band at school, and I got me some trumpet lessons, and my teacher introduced me to trumpet players like Chet Baker and Miles Davis. And I was just sort of hooked, from then on out. That was the beginning and the end.
Right now I play with Aurora Nealand and the Royal Roses, and with Miss Sophie Lee, and Meschiya Lake and the Little Big Horns. I play with the TomCats, that’s Tom Saunders’ dance band, and Linnzi Zaorski. I sub for a lot of people in different settings. And I’m starting to lead my own group, which is something I’ve really been aiming to start doing for a while. I don’t wanna just be another trad band. I want to do things that are in the New Orleans realm—New Orleans standards—and then some of these soul songs that I sing. But I also would like to bring in some of the hard bop, Blue Note ’60s-era trumpet tenor kind of stuff that I grew up listening to. When I play things that are of a more modern style, I have a more informed approach rhythmically than I used to. Because of having played all this New Orleans music.
I really love the music here. I remember telling Bruce [Brackman, clarinetist], maybe two years or so after I moved here [from Denver], that I felt like this was the music that I always wanted to play but never knew it. A lot of jazz is really esoteric and intellectual. Some of it’s really cool, but it loses some of that guttural, that visceral effect. The music of New Orleans is, I think, a lot more accessible. And it’s really much more culturally relevant.
Now, I’m trying to marry the two halves of my music. The pre–New Orleans and the post–New Orleans side of music personality.
I think it’s kind of like cooking, you know? You just kind of like try things and if it tastes good—or if it sounds right—then it is. When [Brackman] solos, he plays this very—I mean, it’s not “avant-garde,” but it’s very modern stuff over this old music, but it still sounds right. And I guess that’s what I’m going for. I want it to feel alive, and I want it to speak to people, and I want it to sound right.”