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Playlist: Michael Ambrosino's Portfolio

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Steph Richards

From Michael Ambrosino | Part of the Dialogs series | 32:47

Trumpeter Steph Richards shares her thoughts on her unique take on the instrument, her collaborations with some of the most prolific voices in experimental Jazz, and her critically acclaimed albums 'Full Moon' and 'Take the Neon Lights.'

Steph_richards_small Listening through Steph's music can feel like scrolling through an extravagant special effects library, one uniquely attuned to the human condition as well the remarkable expanse of music that makes up avant grade and experimental Jazz. Sounding like everything from a synthesized Louis Armstrong to whales barking at the moon, Steph has created a sonic palette contoured perfectly to the bands she leads, as well as the internationally renown artists she collaborates with. 

Working with everyone from Henry Threadgill, Anthony Braxton, and John Zorn, to Yoko Ono, David Byrne and electro-pop star St. Vincent, Steph consistently finds ways to fit into music that often defies acceptable norms within a variety of traditional musical landscapes. Benefiting from a versatile technical toolset, fluid musical imaginative, and ingenuity, Steph is delightfully indescriminate when it comes to exploring the vast tonality of music she entertains.

Zach Brock

From Michael Ambrosino | Part of the Dialogs series | 30:56

Are you a violinist or a musician? Zach Brock has spent most of his career declaring that in Jazz, you have to be both.

Zach_brock_3_small Modern Jazz violin players face a stigma that many of their peers do not. While saxophones or trumpets are seen as synonymous with Jazz, the violin remains the iconic reference to other musical art-forms. Think of folk, bluegrass, country and of course classical music, and violins come to mind. Jazz, not so much.

Welcome to Zach Brock's world.

Eager to transcend instrumental stereotypes as often as meaningless boundaries between genres, Zach’s poised to develop a body of work that represents the promise of the violin while continuing to be seen as one of the preeminent improvisers in Jazz. Morphing into everything from an elegant accompanist along side pianist Phil Markowitz, to the searing soloist with the band Snarky Puppy, Zach has mastered the approach of honoring the music first instead of the instrument he plays.

On the new album 'Wonderment', Zach acts as a dynamic bridge between bassist Matt Ulery and drummer Jon Deitemyer, two long term collaborators whose unique chemistry give the trio remarkable depth and range. Disciplined, agile and always seeking to go beyond the cliche, Zach has toured with the fusion kings Snarky Puppy, adding fire, levity and a glimpse of how the violin can be transformed in that electric setting.

After years of playing in just about every capacity the violin is already famous for, Zach is experiencing a personal and professional renaissance, helping to position the violin as one of the signature voices in Jazz.