“Search for Clarity” is the title of a composition by a young and extremely talented arranger/composer, and wonderful trombonist, Caleb Rumley, who composed this piece specifically for us on our Oct 22, 2014 Annual Peace Concert and tribute to Daniel Pearl World Music Days. I first met Caleb when he attended our June 18th, 2014 concert at Trumpets Jazz Club and as we were talking that night, he told me he was attending graduate school at William Paterson University in their Masters of Jazz Arranging Program. About a month later he contacted me and told me how inspired he was after hearing our music and asked if I would check out his big band writing and sent links of his big band arrangements. He also told me he asked our lead trumpet player, Mike Spengler, to play with a big band that he co-leads with Charlie Dougherty called “Big Beat”, and Mike had agreed. Caleb and Charlie came back to our July 30th concert at Trumpets, which featured composers from the VCFA Music Composition Program (Tim Miller, Matthew Polashek, William Stevens and Whit Van Meter) and my co-faculty member from that program , Andy Jaffe (as a side note, Charlie Dougherty was a student of Andy’s at Williams College for his undergraduate studies, and is now in his second year at William Paterson University, in their Masters in Jazz Arranging Program).
Once again Caleb contacted me after that concert, asking when our next one would be, and I told him it would be in Oct, our Annual Peace Concert and Tribute to Daniel Pearl World Music Days, and I added, would he like to bring in a chart. After some back and forth emails, I suggested that he listen to what we’ve been doing on these concerts, and to think about writing something new, my exact words being..”I think it would be cool for you to stretch a little :-)”. Caleb responded by saying he had listened to the links I sent and “I’m up for the challenge! It would be an honor to write for your band”. And off we went! We went back and forth with more emails about music, voicings in the horns, groove ideas, how to lead the band into metric modulations, I loved it that he was so into the music and so open to new ideas. At our rehearsal he told me he was a little nervous and that this was his first composition for big band, all of the other charts he had done have been arrangements. At the rehearsal, I could tell the band was very impressed with this young man; his talent, his way of rehearsing the band, very focused and really listening to everything that was being played, and his dedication to learning and exploring Jazz composition and arranging. On the next night at the performance, everything went well and we had a great time playing his music. You can check out his piece while you read the read of this post!
Caleb wrote this as a feature for our trombonist, Ben Williams. On the night of our rehearsal, he told us that when he was thinking of applying to William Patterson University for an undergraduate degree in Jazz, he sought out Ben Williams for trombone lessons. Ben was playing with a group on a regular basis at a club near Caleb’s home, so the two got together and lessons commenced. Ben is an incredible trombonist, who is also in my quintet. We’ve had a lot of musical adventures together, and he’s been by my side for many of my crazier ideas. He’s one of those musicians who really cares about the music and really cares about musicians, of all ages, so it doesn’t surprise me that he got together with Caleb, Ben is very generous in that way. Continuing Caleb’s story, he ended up being accepted into William Patterson University and graduated, and as stated above, is now continuing his education in their Masters in Jazz Arranging Program. This piece, “Search for Clarity”, is his gratitude to Ben for his mentor ship and his friendship.
For us, we were grateful for the opportunity to work with a younger musician; checking out his aesthetic, reveling in his enthusiasm, and feeling great that we were helping him explore and expand his world of big band music. We haven’t had that many opportunities to do that in the past, with the exception of 2 of my New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music students, Mike Effenburger and Lenart Krecic, but we have more opportunities coming soon.
Coming up on Nov 12th, recent New School graduate vocalist/composer Sara McDonald will join us bringing her fresh new sound into the band, after that, a current New School student (and former student of mine)Joe Vilardi who is currently writing a new piece for us, and one of my VCFA students, Nate Trier, is working on a piece for us as well.
And of course, we will most definitely have Caleb Rumley back, and most likely some of his co-conspirators in “Big Beat”. All of these young musicians will bring their fresh new sounds to the band, and together we will exchange ideas and learn from each other. For me, I’m looking forward to exploring their world of music, and sharing that with all of you!