Denver-based trumpeter-composer Joshua Trinidad makes a strikingly original statement on his RareNoiseRecords debut, In November. Recorded in Giske, Norway, this highly evocative trio outing features the adventurous Norwegian guitarist-composer and ECM recording artist Jacob Young and drummer Stale Liavik Solberg, a central figure on Oslo's improvising music scene. Brimming with deep and winding lyricism, Trinidad's elegiac seventh album as a leader is a compelling mix of bold long tones on trumpet, atmospheric guitaristry, fluid melodic invention and daring group improv, all delivered with rare authority by the three intrepid improvisers. From the minor key rubato opener "Beside" to the melancholy soundscape "Bell (Hymn)" to a darkly entrancing "The Attic" and the stirring title track, Trinidad and his empathetic crew of deep listeners show respect toward space and silence on these spellbinding noirish numbers.
Young, whose principal teacher was the great jazz guitarist Jim Hall and who also took lessons with guitar great John Abercrombie, switches from edgy wah-wah inflected statements on electric guitar ("Bedside," "Feathers") to gently introspective nylon string acoustic tones on soothing numbers like "Kin," "Morning Flight" and "Poem." Solberg, a remarkably interactive drummer, plays sensitive colorist on the kit on the minimalist "Bell (Hymn)," the mournful rubato number "Bell (Lullaby)" and the spacious title track, then provides a solid backbeat on the urgent, rock-fueled closer "Torreon," named for the town in Mexico where Trinidad's family came from. The trumpeter blows with burnished tones and relaxed restraint over the top on the eleven stirring tracks.
Trinidad explains how the rare chemistry displayed on In November came about: "I met Jacob Young in the summer of 2007 at the Jarasum Jazz Festival in South Korea. I was living in Seoul at the time and had the opportunity to meet his band, which included trumpeter Mathias Eick. I was really into the music coming out of Norway and enjoyed the songwriting quite a bit. With Stale, I have been a fan of his since the early 2000s as well. And I really got into his music when he recorded with UK guitarist John Russell. I was instantly attracted to Stale's creativity and ability to command improvised music."
Growing up in Denver, Trinidad gravitated to trumpet at the early age of seven and later developed under the tutelage of some of the Mile High City's finest trumpeters, including Hugh Ragin, Walter Barr, Al Hood and Ron Miles. "Studying with these gentlemen was life-changing," he says, "and I owe each one of them a great amount of thanks for their support." He adds that Miles, who has gained international notoriety through his collaborations with the likes of Ginger Baker, Bill Frisell, Jason Moran and Mary Halvorson as well as his ten acclaimed albums as a leader, made a particularly strong impression on the aspiring trumpeter. "Ron is an important mentor to me," he says. "When I decided to study music, it was such an easy choice to stay in Denver because of Ron Miles. He really showed me that playing the trumpet was more than creating music; it embodied so much more. Mr. Miles constantly showed me that being honest and genuine as a person and in my music was an important factor. I still look up to Ron. I don't see him as much as I would like, but he is constantly in my heart."
While studying music at the University of Colorado at Denver, Trinidad learned piano while also soaking up the sounds of jazz trumpet. "The first time I heard some serious jazz trumpet playing was on the early '60s recordings that my Mom used to play for me of Tony Bennett with Count Basie's Orchestra. Sonny Cohn's playing on those records were some of the first sounds of trumpet that I can remember. I also grew up listening to Miles Davis and Lee Morgan and as I got older, into 20's, I began listening to Arturo Sandoval, Jon Hassell and some other trumpeters of today such as Cuong Vu, Erik Truffaz and, most notably, Nils Petter Molvaer."
Though steeped in jazz during his formative years, Trinidad explored the indie rock scene in some of his early endeavors. "One of the first bands I was in was a four-piece band that played music similar to Radiohead," he recalls. "Later I explored other genres ranging from punk rock and folk to rap and hip-hop. From each one of those bands I played in over the years I learned a lot of important lessons about musicianship. And now I think I spend more of my time not listening to jazz music. I actually spend a lot of my time listening to rap, hip-hop, folk, rock and punk music. Over the past year I have been really digging the music of Kendrick Lamar, James Blake, Chance the Rapper, Sigur Ros, Radiohead and Bjork."
A prolific composer, shows remarkable growth on his seventh recording as a leader. "In November is an album that I had been dreaming up for years; I just wasn't sure how to approach the concept. I have been attracted to the musicians in Scandinavia for years, specifically, Norway. Through years of listening to music coming out of Scandinavia I feel that I have found my identity and myself."
That identity plays out in Trinidad's zen-like restraint heard throughout In November. It's an approach that has far less to do with the hot, extroverted style of bebop and hard bop trumpeters like Dizzy Gillespie, Roy Eldridge, Clifford Brown, Lee Morgan, Kenny Dorham, Fats Navarro and early Miles Davis than the cooler, more ambient approach of Scandinavian trumpeters such as Mathias Eick and Nils Petter Molvaer or Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stanko, whose signature brooding ECM albums had a direct impact on Trinidad's latest. "Here in the U.S., many trumpeters play trumpet from a very macho approach," notes Trinidad. "This whole idea that playing higher, faster and louder defined a quality trumpet player made me sick. To me, many U.S. trumpeters play trumpet as though they are playing a sport. However, when I discovered the music in Norway, I realized that this is not always the case. I was drawn to that approach much more."
After reaching out to Young and Solberg about collaborating, the kindred crew met at Ocean Sound Recording in Giske, Norway to document their special chemistry for In November. "When they both agreed to do this project, I spent the next six months writing songs with them in mind," Trinidad recalls. "I spent many nights thinking about Jacob's guitar and Stale's drums and how I wanted them to sound together with my trumpet. When we all sat down to play together for the first time in the studio, it was magical. It sounded better than I had dreamt. We three connected quickly and through this connection we were able to explore the music from an honest position."
That kind of hand-in-glove chemistry plays out in elegant, empathetic fashion throughout In November, Trinidad's auspicious debut on RareNoise Records.
2. Bell (Hymn)
3. Bell (Lullaby)
6. In November
8. Morning Flight
10. The Attic
All compositions by Trinidad, Young, Solberg.
Published by RareNoisePublishing (PRS).
Recorded 22-25 November 2015 at Ocean Sound Recordings Studios in Giske, Norway.
Sound Engineer : Henning Svoren.
Mixed by James Dellatacoma at Orange Studios, NJ, USA.
Mastered by James Dellatacoma at Orange Studios, NJ, USA.
Executive Producer for RareNoiseRecords : Giacomo Bruzzo.
Artwork and Design : Petulia Mattioli.