part one: Bryan Hooten – Richmond Love Call

Wednesday afternoon I sat down with trombonist Bryan Hooten to talk about his new album “Richmond Love Call.”

Bryan Hooten is a trombonist, composer and educator who performs with a variety of ensembles from across the musical spectrum including Fight the Big Bull, No BS! Brass and Ombak.

Bryan Hooten’s solo trombone record “Richmond Love Call” is available now on itunes or find him for a hard copy.

Question: Solo trombone albums are very rare. Can you talk about the history of solo trombone and what inspired you to record Richmond love call?

BH: You can list the trombonists that have put out solo jazz trombone albums on one hand: Albert Manglesdorff, George Lewis, Gen Baker and Samuel Blaser.

What really inspired me was listening to Albert Manglesdorff’s solo albums, particularly his use of multi-phonics and making an album sound like a duo or a trio. Another part of it was taking a look at some of the ways I was practicing and realizing that some of those techniques could becomes vehicles for musical expression.

Listen to Richmond Love Call:
[audio: Richmond Love Call.mp3|titles=Richmond Love Call|artists=Bryan Hooten]

Question: Looking back through your discography, there are very few standards or covers. This record has a few. What resonates with you about “In a Sentimental Mood” and “Nostalgia in Time Square?”

BH: First of all they are great compositions with great melodies and great harmonic content. They both provide me the opportunity to explore playing counter point with myself by singing the melody and playing the bass line. Those tunes also offered me the opportunity to practice something new.

With something as obscure as a solo trombone record, I thought it was a good idea to create a bridge between popular jazz music and the sometimes far out nature of any unaccompanied record.

Question: One of the most interesting things about solo records is hearing a musician push the limits of his or her instrument. It is immediately obvious that you are exploring “extended technique” for the trombone. Can you explain some of the ways you explored the instrument?

BH: Obviously, the combination of singing and playing is a focal point of this album. I wanted to see how far I could take that, but obviously it can go further. Part of what I am doing is playing one note, singing another note and using multi-phonic singing to create a melody on top of that.

I wanted to explore some different timbral possibilities with the plunger mute. I also wanted to push my own musical focus. So much of the album is improvised and I wanted to create interest while adhering to some central improvised idea.

I also wanted to challenge the listener’s expectations. Both in terms of what is possible on the trombone and also in terms of what we listen for. One of the bigger transformational experiences for me was hearing Ligeti’s static music. It allowed me to appreciate the subtleties of a single tone. On some of the multi-phonics driven tunes that I do, there is a sustained sound and I want to challenge the listener to experience those same subtleties.

Question: Richmond Love Call contains a suite of tunes dedicated to other trombonists. How were these tunes written and recorded and how have some of those trombonists influenced you?

BH: All of the tributes were improvised in the studio. I didn’t realize until after I had recorded the tracks that each one of them personified the trombonists.

Part of the reason it occurred to me was because of the great trombone exodus of 2011.

The tune “For Chapman,” while it doesn’t contain a lot of “bass trombone” effects, it does pay homage to the angular nature of his melodic conception. He actually commissioned me to write a piece for him a few months ago and I think this piece contains some of that material. He always has a way of playing that sounds like 2 or 3 people.

Listen to For Chapman:
[audio: For Chapman.mp3|titles=Richmond Love Call|artists=Bryan Hooten]

Reggie Pace is such a master of that visceral/ vocal style, especially with the plunger mute. I always love hearing him do that, especially one of the solos that he played on the Sounds of the South performances. After that piece was done, I realized that it was an homage to that style of his playing.

I love Toby’s kind of beboppish chromatic style. That style showed up in “For Toby.” It is funny that I didn’t allude to any salsa techniques because that is what he is best known for.

“For Albert” of course is a multi-phonic excursion which is what Albert Manglesdorff is best known for. I don’t know him personally but it definitely reminded me of his music.

Check back next week for the final part of the interview.

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Aaron Williams

Aaron Williams loves music, basketball (follow @rvaramnews!), family, learning, and barbecue sauce.

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