Trumpeter Ted Daniel
From the October, 2015 issue
According to many histories, jazz was not doing very well around 1970. Recession at home, war abroad, and the dominance of rock music led to the closing of many clubs and bars that employed jazz musicians. But despite, and perhaps even because of, such adversity, the more avant-garde forms of the music thrived and developed in new environments created by musicians bent on self-reliance. Downtown New York was the place to be, where players such as Sam Rivers and Rashid Ali organized venues to rehearse and perform. The music of this "Loft Jazz" period was quite varied as the second generation of avant-garde rebels mixed with younger musicians in a variety of contexts, from completely spontaneous improvisation to highly structured compositional presentations. Among the younger musicians who grew to maturity at the time was trumpeter Ted Daniel.
Daniel grew up in a small town north of New York playing trumpet in school bands. He perfected his skills in university settings and went to New York, where he absorbed the new directions in music before being drafted and sent to Vietnam. Upon release from the army he continued his education and then once again went to New York, where he immediately fell into the loft scene, performing with some of the central figures of the new music and leading his own ensembles. His recordings from the Seventies, both as leader and as sideman for Archie Shepp, Clifford Thornton, Dewey Redman, and others demonstrate just how quickly he matured as an instrumentalist and composer.
One record stands out in his work of the time--In the Beginning, a big band date that shows his interest in the legacy of Ornette Coleman and the new trends in jazz but also in the whole tradition of the music, going back to the 1940s and earlier. That attentiveness to early jazz has come back into focus with one of his recent projects, the International Brass and Membrane Corps, that has played tributes to Joe
"King" Oliver, the great New Orleans cornetist and trumpeter whose bands were so important to the development of jazz in the 1920s.
It is hardly surprising that Daniel would find a kindred spirit in the blues-inflected, melodic, and dramatic playing of Papa Joe, as Louis Armstrong called him. Daniel likes to explore all the sonic possibilities of his horn, subtly altering the tone with his embouchure but also with mutes--and Oliver was a master of the mute. Like the King, Daniel likes to take time developing a solo, stating a motif, and then repeating it, subtly altering it and then developing it into ever-larger chunks of melody and rhythm, all the while shaping his sound in various ways. He also doubles on flugelhorn and a large Mongolian bugle.
After taking some time off to work as a psychotherapist, Daniel is back playing music. One of the interesting groups he has been working with is the cooperative trio RMD with clarinetist Michael Marcus and drummer Jay Rosen, which performs October 21 at the Kerrytown Concert House on the opening night of Edgefest.
[Originally published in October, 2015.]
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