"In New York you get into a thing of being nonemotional," says Malachi Thompson. "I've seen people there step over people lying in the street to get to their Rolls-Royces." Thompson, who recently moved here from New York, believes Washington "has the potential of becoming the second jazz capital of the East Coast."
Thompson grew up in Chicago, and then fell in with the jazz avant-garde loft scene in New York for the 1970s, leaving him "burned out" with the big city hustle and bustle. "I was born in Kentucky so this is my kind of groove," Thompson says of Washington.
Thompson is one of a few trumpet players who are creating a new vocabulary of sonorities and timbres for their instrument. It takes a lot of practice, he says, and he thinks "what makes this generation of trumpet players different is a different set of chops. In terms of playing in the cracks of the horn, there's unlimited things you can do with the trumpet."
But even if the sounds coming out of his horn sometimes bear little resemblance to anything heard before the '70s, Thompson considers himself a part of the tradition that began with the "godfather of the music," the late Louis Armstrong. Thompson will perform at d.c. space with saxophonist Charlie Young's group tomorrow night--which just happens to be Satchmo's birthday. --W. Royal Stokes Jazz on a Dare Your average jazz singer will offer a long and involved account of how he or she first got up on the bandstand and tried out a song on an audience. But pianist-vocalist Rosella Clemmons didn't seem to have given it any thought at all when, one open-mike night at the Excalibur two years ago, on a dare and with a sore throat to boot, she sang the Billie Holiday classic "God Bless the Child." After the last note had faded away, the club owner followed Clemmons to her table and booked her for an upcoming weekend. Clemmons insists she had never tried her hand--or her voice--at jazz before then. She will be at Park Place Friday and Saturday with her trio, guitarists Paul Bollenback and Cliff Brown and bassist Cheyney Thomas.
Clemmons began classical piano studies as a 7-year-old in her native Charlotte, N.C., where country and western influenced her tastes, and she sang some top-40 when she came to Howard University as a music education major several years ago. She transferred to Temple University in Philadelphia recently to study classical voice and performance, and is taking private instruction, on a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, from Philadelphia jazz pianist Gerald Price. Last month Clemmons had the honor of being the only area performer asked to take part in the sixth annual New York Women's Jazz Fesitval.
"I love both of them--jazz and classical music," Clemmons says, and admits to an uncertainty as to which way she will eventually decide to go. "I think maybe jazz will win out, but I'm not really sure. The one thing that's really important to me is that I continue to study."