Music Preview: A jazz fusion of music fundamentals

Trumpeter and composer Daniel Rosenboom is probably not going to land a record deal with a major jazz label anytime soon. That's a shame.

In these days of constricted jazz-related record industry numbers, the labels that still traffic in jazz consider the sales potential and audience demographics of their signees very carefully. Though a musical visionary (he fronts four bands and maintains several other ongoing musical "projects"), Rosenboom often operates in uncharted musical territory.


Along with several musical compatriots like guitarist Jake Vossler, Rosenboom is interested in many forms and styles of music not readily associated with the traditional definition of jazz. "Jake and I grew up with jazz," the 34-year old trumpeter specifies, "but we play anything. The best music comes when you find people you want to make music with. What we play is a synthesis of our histories as players and listeners — we bring those histories to the bandstand and we want to be able to access any part of our knowledge."

For Rosenboom ("I'm not Jewish; it's a Dutch name..."), that means the classical trumpet literature and the late 20th-century composers like Shostakovich and Stockhausen, heavy metal rock, rhythmic counterpoint and minimalist electronica, Slavic rave-ups, the higher metrics of fusion and brass chamber music — all wedded with scores and improvisational opportunities. As a whole, it would hardly figure into a present-day corporate marketing plan.


Burning Ghosts, Rosenboom's experimental metal jazz quartet with Vossler, acoustic bassist Richard Giddens and drummer Aaron McLendon, headlines Sunday's Open Gate Theatre concert in Eagle Rock. In an example of asymmetrical booking, medieval vocal specialist Argenta Walther opens for the often-torrential Ghosts outfit.

It's no surprise that the pan-stylistic approach of Rosenboom and his colleagues flourished at Cal Arts. Teachers like trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, reedman Vinny Golia and guitarist Miroslav Tadić were all influential to him. "Daniel's a virtuoso trumpeter," Golia contends, "who's coming to improvisation from the classical world. But at the same time, Leo was his first trumpet teacher, and Miroslav taught the students in his age group to play those half-beat Balkan meters without thinking. And," he adds, "Cal Arts turns out instrumentalists to compose."

Rosenboom contends that the idea "was central to the Cal Arts ethos, though not mandated. All of us in Burning Ghosts were there, playing many kinds of music. The influences simmer sometimes: You may only take West African drumming for a semester but it affects how you think about time ever after."

The trumpet studies with Smith began in the sixth grade in Valencia. "Leo's lessons were half technical and half playing-from-the-heart," Rosenboom says. "It was all about sound, melody and fearlessness. We'd improvise, but he also taught me the second movement of the Haydn Trumpet Concerto."

"Daniel's also very aware of the Hollywood studio trumpeters," Golia points out, "like Malcolm McNabb. He did all the rising trumpet parts for the Jerry Goldsmith movie scores. You know," he adds, "Leo had Daniel play the trumpet leads in one of his own pieces at REDCAT downtown so Leo could conduct — now that's an endorsement!"

As for the heavy metal content in Burning Ghosts,'s Greg Burk has some observations: "Some of Dan's music has a level of energy similar to that of Jimi Hendrix — that overdriven guitar sound and free jamming that kick-started Cream, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and generations of metal — from Metallica to Slayer to Morbid Angel."

"He also loves the 1970s jazz-rock of Miles Davis," Burk continues. "Miles hired loud, wild guitarists like John McLaughlin and Pete Cosey in an attempt to cop a Hendrix vibe. When Rosenboom taps Jake Vossler's extreme axe, he follows in a similar tradition. But Daniel doesn't want to inspire people to drink blood or burn churches — he wants listeners to release emotion."


What: Daniel Rosenboom's Burning Ghosts, Argenta Walther

Where: Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock

When: Sunday, September 4, 7 p.m.

Admission: $10

Contact: (626) 795-4989,


KIRK SILSBEE writers about jazz and culture for Marquee.