Generation Next: Four Voices From Seattle

Paul Rauch BY

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I've found you've got to look back at the old things and see them in a new light.
—John Coltrane
Each generation, an insidious notion arises, and is passed about the musical world that jazz music, the only uniquely American art form is somehow experiencing a slow, but certain death. Inevitably, this notion is set aside, and somehow projected forward in time, as a new generation of artists rise to the occasion, not only facilitating the survival of, but enabling the forward journey of the genre. In Seattle, the vibrant scene has moved forward from Quincy Jones and Ernestine Anderson, across generations to current innovators such as trumpeter/composer Thomas Marriott, trailblazing bassist Jeff Johnson, and iconic pianist Marc Seales, to name but a few.

While this cycle of musical innovation, reinvents itself generationally, the path that leads musicians to this music, and beyond into a life dedicated to it as a profession changes decade by decade. What a young jazz musician is challenged with today differs greatly from the artistic, social, and economic challenges two and three generations in the past. This has been a topic of much discussion in the jazz press in recent years, as many veteran players recall how things were, "back in the day," whether the "day" is ten, twenty, even thirty or forty years ago. There is a belief that younger generation players who have developed their craft largely within the confines of academia, lack the experience and character of expression that can only be earned on the bandstand. This interview is an opportunity for four young jazz musicians from Seattle to have a voice in the matter. Three are juniors at Garfield High School, in Seattle's Central District, the other a senior at Ingraham High School in North Seattle.

Each has a unique story that adds color to their respective views and experiences to this juncture on their journey in life and music. Vocalist Serena Dominguez is the daughter of two great musicians from Spain. Her father is the great flamenco-jazz pianist, Chano Dominguez. Her mother Marina Albero is a noted pianist, as well as a pioneering innovator of the psalterium, or hammered dulcimer. Bassist Ben Feldman, and guitarist Owen Boxwell, are performing professionally as sidemen, and as leaders of their own ensemble, The Boxwell/Feldman Group. Trumpeter Bell Thompson studies with innovative trumpeter/composer Samantha Boshnack, and recently did a live studio session on Seattle's jazz and NPR station, KNKX-FM 88.5.

One afternoon at Tula's Jazz club, we discussed topics of concern for the next generation of musicians moving forward, including mentorship, gender bias, education, and each artist's personal path forging an original musical identity. The result was more than compelling and informative. It was bright, intelligent, humorous, and genuine, carrying with it the anticipation and hope each new generational wave of young musicians bring. I hope you enjoy.

All About Jazz: To be able to actually play this music someday, one needs to connect with its tradition, history, and development. To immerse one's self in the language so that you can understand it and eventually assimilate it. Immersion, imitation, and assimilation: This is, and has been, the process, not only with Jazz, but with all music. Talk about your path to this point, to your understanding this music.

Serena Dominguez: I've been into music since always, because my parents are musicians. I started getting interested in jazz, and I would want to play with my friends, and my mom would say, " Hey, let's make a band and play jazz." She would give me a list of people I should listen to, and I just started listening to a ton of jazz. My parents were playing it, it was something that came natural for me, almost as if the assimilation came before anything else, because it was all around me, I understood it already, but I didn't actively try to understand it. So I started listening to Chet Baker, Ella Fitzgerald, Coltrane, all the big names, and I thought it was super cool. I felt like I understood what they were doing, because I had been around it for so long, so it was so cool to have the musical background to finally understand it, after years of just listening to it.

Ben Feldman: I grew up much different, my parents aren't musicians. In seventh grade, I was playing rock guitar at the time, and Owen showed me a Joe Pass album his teacher had shown him. When I heard that I was really just entranced by it and started listening to it all the time, his solo album, Virtuoso (Pablo, 1973), one of the best solo jazz guitar albums, ever. So I started getting into jazz guitar, and it became an immediate addiction. I just sort of dropped everything in school, and I was just listening to music during all my classes, reading theory books under my desk. I started practicing seven, eight hours a night, until 1:30 in the morning every day.

Owen Boxwell: He would be such a mess in school, sleeping constantly, the teachers would be furious at him!

Dominguez: He's going mad, there's jazz in the world!

Feldman:I was just the worst student ever, and my teachers were taking away my jazz books, because I wouldn't stop reading them. I also immersed myself in the history, and I became interested in studying as many history books on jazz that I could, because I wanted to understand from that perspective as well. So that's pretty much how I got into this music, and trying to understand it.

Boxwell: Ben and I really fed off each other in middle school. We would constantly be checking out stuff. It would be like, "Hey have you heard this album?" If the other person didn't, we would vibe the shit out of each other. We were developing and checking out shit together. 100% of our conversations would be about records, walking down the halls putting on music, we were annoying! That's how it started, we were finding jazz together and that's how we found the music that we're listening to today.

Feldman: And we took lessons from the same guitar teacher.

Dominguez: You guys are jazz bros, so cute!

Feldman: From a former cult leader, it was pretty insane.

Boxwell: He had a show on Seattle Public Access, Bruce Howard. It was called the Forum.

Feldman: He was scary, and indoctrinated us to his weird views on jazz.

Boxwell: One of his things was you couldn't listen to music with horn players.

AAJ: Wait a minute, do you mean that you could not listen to recordings with horn players, and couldn't be in the same room with horn players?

Boxwell: Any music with horn players, so I deleted like 2000 Coltrane songs from my library, and all this stuff.

Feldman: Just last week I found a list of jazz recordings he gave me when I was first getting into it, and one of them was a McCoy Tyner record, and he warned me to check if there are any horns on it.

Boxwell: McCoy Tyner, watch out for horns, that was the phrasing, watch out! , Feldman: We eventually graduated from that teacher though, once we realized he was a cult leader, and then we started enjoying music with horns finally.

Bell Thompson: I started studying jazz taking lessons with Owuor Arunga, he left me to go tour with Macklemore. I went to Garfield, and at one point we started playing "Satin Doll," and that was really fun to me. I only listened to Miles Davis Kind of Blue (Columbia, 1959) for three years when I decided to start playing jazz. I still wasn't that invested, I thought that this wasn't that exciting.

AAJ: How well do you know the records? The classic recordings in jazz?

Feldman: I think it's fair to say Owen and I know them very well.

Dominguez: It's intimidating!

Boxwell: Sure, we were listening to albums during every one of our classes!

Feldman: I failed every one of my classes in middle school because I was listening to and reading about all the records.

Boxwell: It wasn't even totally about the enjoyment, it was kind of competitive.

Feldman: We were competing with each other.

Boxwell: We reveled in finding stuff the other one hadn't listened to. We've heard a lot of stuff. For three and a half years it was the only genre we listened to, and we listened all the time. Constantly.

Thompson: I don't feel like I know the records. I feel like I really know like, two records! Chet Baker in Milan (Jazzland 1959), John Coltrane Blue Train (Blue Note, 1957), maybe Hank Mobley Soul Station (Blue Note, 1960).

Dominguez: It was around me all the time, so I never bothered to learn anything about it. Does that make sense? I didn't learn the names and players, and that's on me, it's just that I don't have good memory for stuff like that. For me, everything is in the music, and it doesn't make a difference who is playing it. If it vibes with me, if I feel it, if I understand it, I'll listen to it more, and I'll find out more about that specific band, performer. I'm not a jazz aficionado like these two. My goal is to know way more about this beautiful genre, because it's my favorite thing ever, but I don't know that much about it. It will come. There is so much, it's overwhelming.

AAJ:There are people who think that playing music that swings or has a strong blues content is old-fashioned. I worry about the music losing touch with its African-American roots. How do you see this?

Boxwell: You look at all the best modern players , and they can swing the shit out of stuff. Guys like Sean Jones, Taylor Eigsti, and guys like that, when it comes to swing, they really bring it. I think a lot of people who consider it unhip who just focus on modern jazz are just making excuses, for not bothering to learn the older stuff.

Feldman: The more I play modern jazz, the more I realize the importance of learning the old stuff too. I have studied the old stuff for my entire time as a jazz musician. I feel like a lot of modern players, when they don't really learn that history, you can tell in the way they play. It sounds really stereotypical, in terms of modern jazz. They always use the same chords, and they all are very dramatic all the time. When you listen to the older records, there is a lot of subtlety, sometimes the excitement is in the small changes, with the way they are fitting into the band. I think a player like Gerald Clayton really understands that, and other great musicians like Ben Wendel. I hear a lot of Ahmad Jamal in that style, even though it is totally modern. I think it is really essential to learn the history of the music.

Dominguez: I think this applies to anything. I feel you have to at least try to get interested in the origins of whatever you are trying to study, whatever you are trying to play. For example, I keep going back to classical music in my head, because that is what I studied for a long time, since I was seven years old. Having all that background with harmony rows, transposition, how it all starts from Bach to Beethoven, to Mahler, that has so much to do with jazz, people don't realize. There's the African American roots, that's so important to understand what you're doing. Modern jazz, would not have happened without what came before it. So neglecting that is hypocritical in my opinion, you have to understand where it came from, in order to play it with the intention it was meant to have.

Thompson: It has been interesting trying to learn how to swing, to transcribe, to be able to swing, to hang out with Sam (Boshnack), and see her shows, and be in Wayne Horvitz' band at JazzEd, and play his songs, which are very different. I like modern jazz more after listening to older music that swings. I went to a Wayne Horvitz concert in sixth grade, before I studied jazz, and I thought it was really weird, but now I like it , after learning the older music. Without it, I don't know that I would have come around the same way.

AAJ: There is a tradition of mentorship in jazz, from one generation to the next. Historically, the majority of this mentorship has occurred outside of academia. Talk about your experience with local jazz musicians, and what you have learned from those experiences.

Thompson : I just wrote my ten page research paper all about this. I've been taking lessons from Samantha Boshnack for a long time, and she really believes in me. and I really liked seeing her have her own band, that's been really inspiring, that she leads the band, that they play her songs. I just feel she cares a lot about me.

Boxwell: I have to shout out Milo Petersen. What I love about him is that when I'm suckin' he tells me I suck. He doesn't sugar coat it, or try to build me up, or inspire me. He'll say something like, "Tap your foot on one and three, get some time! Stop playing the wrong changes, you're playing bullshit right now, you have to learn this song." That's exactly what I need. I think what a lot of people need in a teacher is just someone who can be brutally honest. I think people who can't handle the brutal honesty might not end up making it as a jazz musician.

AAJ: It's a tough business

Boxwell: Yeah. You have to be able to take the criticism. You've got to shed.

Feldman: Chuck Deardorf has been a very important mentor to me. He was the first jazz teacher I ever studied with. I studied with him for years, I learned so much. He has more experience than almost anybody else on the scene. He has been extremely influential to me. Also jazz camps that I have been to, and I've met a lot of important mentors at festivals. Some important people to me have been Ben Wolfe, the brutal honesty, he is extremely honest. He'll just kick my ass the entire lesson. I also had a lesson with Ron Carter. That was very similar, but even more harsh. That was a really influential lesson for me as well. John Clayton at the Centrum jazz camp. This summer I'm going to work with him again at Vail jazz workshop. Another mentor to me is Sam Minaie, who I met at the Reno Jazz Festival. He's involved in a lot of really cool modern jazz music. He's helped me so much.

Dominguez: Jeff Johnson. I don't want to call him my mentor, because we haven't had that one on one time like that. And I'm new to Seattle, really new to Seattle. I have had the opportunity to meet with amazing jazz musicians here. My first show as a headliner, here at Tula's, was with my mother, who obviously I consider my life mentor, not only in music, but in every aspect. She's been an amazing musician. I learn from her every time she performs, every time she just talks about music, I learn something more. I feel so privileged to have been able to headline here for the first time in my life, at Tula's, with my mother Marina Albero, and with Jeff Johnson on bass. The way he approaches jazz just turned everything around for me. His embracing of each individual style of performing. During rehearsal, something would go wrong, or something wouldn't feel right, and I would start to get frustrated with myself. He had such a chill vibe about it all. He would say something like, "Hey, that was beautiful, just keep going, you have it man, you have such a nice approach." I stopped being so judgemental with myself, and just kind of let things happen. In jazz, there's no such thing as mistakes (laughter).

AAJ: Learning from our elders is not a new concept. If we take a look at history, we notice that a great majority of the musicians we admire in Jazz or any other form, were inspired by music that came before them, that they developed their personalities from a combination of these influences. What music has influenced your musical personality, and inspired you to pursue a life in music?

Dominguez: I've been singing all my life, but when I started scatting, and started getting into actual jazz language with singing, first it was Chet Baker doing "My Funny Valentine," and "Everything Happens to Me." I heard that through ten times, and I would cry every time, and I thought, this is why I want to do jazz, why I want to do music, what he transmitted to me with his singing and his trumpet.

AAJ: A singing trumpet player is so unusual in modern times.

Dominguez: It is! It's such a beautiful combination too. It's so unique and so personal, it got to me on a really personal level. Then obviously Ella Fitzgerald, she's just technically amazing, these two have really influenced me singing wise to get that emotion out!

Thompson: Recently I've spent a lot of time with Riley Mulherkar, he's in The Westerlies. He's been successful, and is really inspiring. I'm a huge Grace Kelly fan. I have a very upbeat and lively personality, and it seems like before, I was going to all these shows where people were very serious. It was like, "I'm very serious about jazz, and I'm playing all my anger out, I love really hard chords." Recently I've been really inspired by seeing shows by Kelly, Esperanza Spalding, they're just so sweet. Their music sounds like so much fun. Seeing them perform is so inspiring.

AAJ: Ben, you mentioned guitar, what prompted the switch to bass?

BF: I was actually recruited for my school's vocal jazz at the time when I played guitar in middle school, they needed a guitarist. There was actually another guitarist already in there, so he told us to both to learn bass guitar, and switch off between the two of them. So I put in the time.

Boxwell: Quick interjection, he also drafted me for the band to play piano, I had never played piano before, so he's got me playing piano, and Ben playing bass, when we don't play these instruments, he was so desperate.

Dominguez: The first time I played jazz, I played piano and I'm not a pianist. My mom and dad play piano, I thought it would be easier to learn that way. It was a weird thing.

AAJ: Why is it Serena, that you and your brother, with two parents who are world class pianists, do not play piano?

Dominguez: Something about rebellion. I was going to play at my school, IEA Oriol Martorell, in Barcelona, for the access audition. I did it for piano. I had already done the audition and I told my mom I didn't want to play piano anymore. She asked me what I wanted to play, and I told her, "guitar!" Too many pianists in my house!

AAJ: None of the Marsalis brothers perform on piano like their father Ellis.

Dominguez: You would compete, well, not really compete, but kind of be under the shadow of your parents as musicians.

AAJ:Jazz instrumentalists are overwhelmingly male, unlike classical music where the gender divide has been balanced with blind auditions. What are your thoughts on remedying this sort of gender bias in jazz?

Dominguez: I'm going to start off with an anecdote, and be really quick. I got into The New School, and there's a group chat for the School of Jazz people in our class. I talked about the Robert Glasper interview that was really controversial, and how it was absolutely insane, and all the women agreed, and by all the women, I mean four people out of thirty four. All of us four were saying, " Oh yeah, that was really crazy," and the men were saying, "What interview?" They didn't even know about it. I think that because women get more interested about things like that, we find out when there is sexism at the higher levels of jazz, because we are women. But guys, since they're not affected by it, it's not important. I took that moment in the group chat as an educational moment, and I tried to explain why that is not OK. They were saying he was just joking, he didn't mean it. He's responsible for what he said. If you're in a certain status, you just have to watch what you say. I defended my point of view. Saying that he was kidding is like saying it's locker room talk, it's no excuse to say the things he said. So my plan at least, now that I'm getting into college, and that I know I will be a woman musician in jazz, not only that , but a singer already getting degraded, saying that I'm not a real musician, is to be that one girl who advocates for equality. I'll try to at least get the word out there. I'm not trying to change anybody's mind, I'm not trying to accuse anyone of anything, I'm just going to speak my mind, to say what I think.

AAJ: Samantha Boshnack said, "Sometimes if it's subtle, you can get through." Bell, what are your thoughts on this?

Thompson: I have a lot of ideas on remedying it. On the approach, at least in Seattle. I think there has to be an effort to reach out to young women instrumentalists, and encourage them to play jazz, introduce them to improvising. So many times the approach with girls is, "It's OK to be scared, I know it's hard to be visible," and I think the assumption that all girls are terrified confirms everyone's doubts about themselves. It makes you think you're supposed to be scared, this is not for me because everyone is telling me I'm supposed to be scared. I think the next step to get more girls to want to play solos is to treat them like they're supposed to be there. You're supposed to solo at the jam session. For me, it was never assumed I was going to solo ever. Whenever I show up to certain events, it's never assumed I'm going to volunteer to solo.

AAJ: What about gender assignment of instruments?

Thompson: That's also bad.

AAJ: Give the girl a clarinet or a flute mentality. In these times, of course, there is a lot more opportunity as a saxophone or trumpet player. This is something I admire about you Bell. As a woman trumpet player, you are in a position that frankly has not been experienced often enough.

Thompson: Yes, really early on girls get pushed into clarinet.

AAJ: And that nurtures the fact that there are less women instrumentalists. Gender assignment at a young age is a huge part of that.

Feldman: I think gender assignment of instruments is a huge thing. In my orchestras (Seattle Youth Symphony, Garfield HS Orchestra) it's pretty much equal, but in jazz band it is definitely not. It starts in middle school actually. I think school districts bringing in more female mentors to work with the bands, would inspire more girls to join the jazz band. Most of the clinicians and band directors are males too.

Boxwell: I think it's a tough question, lots of people have some sort of bias whether they admit it or not. I think it will happen naturally as more women get into it.

Dominguez: The thing is, I've thought about it a lot, that's because we face this problem. The first step to remedy anything is education, and acknowledging it's an issue. For you to be aware, you have to get in that mindset, you have to be empathic. For that to happen, there has to be more conversation about it, which is why I appreciate the question being asked here.

Boxwell: I'm not saying I don't think about it, because I do, I'm just saying that thinking about it now, the methods that have been used, it's going to be hard. I agree with the solutions, but the ways things are have been in place in Seattle for a while. Most of the professional musicians who come out of Seattle, which is one of the most liberal places you can get, are male. It's a hard struggle.

AAJ: Opportunities to play randomly with other musicians at jam sessions are limited to players under twenty one years old. How have you approached this thus far, and what are your insights into creating opportunities for young musicians going forward?

Boxwell: We just get together and have our own jam sessions with friends. In a way, I think it's better than going to some giant jam session where you're playing "In a Mellow Tone," with everyone taking three choruses, and gets to like eighty beats a minute. I think it's more rewarding and when you're playing with friends, and your taking on more of a leadership role and challenging each other.

Feldman: For a long time, The Ship Canal jam with Jay Thomas was great, but it's gone now, unfortunately. I definitely think I've learned the most from playing with other friends, because you have to think about the music more when you're doing that. Most of the time at jam sessions, people don't try to do anything musical within the group, they just focus on themselves and try to play solos to impress everybody. When you're playing in a group of friends, there isn't any of that. You're just trying to create music together, you can talk about it, about ways to improve what's happening. Owen and I did that so much that we started to get opportunities to play with great musicians in town, by getting hired for gigs. That's how we learned from the elder musicians in Seattle. I never went to the Ship Canal jam, but once I got good enough, I was hired by Jay Thomas, and learned from him that way.

Boxwell: I think it's really important for High Schoolers to be hired on professional gigs. That's where the most knowledge comes from, when you're forced to listen, create music, respond to people, and most importantly, play with people who are better than you. You look at every great musician in history, they hustled as a teenager getting every gig they could. It's all about getting out there and meeting people, and play as many gigs as you can.

Feldman: Eventually on our own gigs, we started hiring professional musicians, and then they started hiring us, recommending us to people, and eventually we became ingrained in the professional scene. We were out there working our asses off, because we wanted to be part of the scene.

Boxwell: I think that tradition is dying off, with all the focus on jazz education as the primary source of learning. It's really more about getting out and playing music with people. Jazz is a social music.

Thompson: I just invite everyone to my house, because I live about 10 blocks from Garfield High School. That's just what happens.

AAJ: Which would you deem more important for a jazz musician. Paying dues as a sideman with established musicians to develop your craft, or forming your personal musical identity early?

Feldman: I have personal experience with both. In middle school Owen and I were trying to create our own identities, we were playing all this weird music together, trying to come up with some stuff of our own. What we came up with was total bullshit!

Boxwell: We thought, " This is some spiritual shit man." Twenty minute jams, eyes closed, wailing and chanting. Playing all this weird bullshit to try to have our own style. Then we listened back to recordings, and it was terrible. No fundamentals. In order to develop your own style, you have to get out and play gigs, pay dues as a sideman, it's something that arises naturally. It's like a synthesis of the two.

Feldman: I think you can't just try to be sidemen though, especially in today's age. There's a good and bad way to be a sideman. What I hear a lot of Seattle musicians doing is whoring themselves out for gigs trying to have a style that fits the most people.

Dominguez: Just choosing a demographic and hitting it.

Feldman: Yes, and that's boring, and it's not polarizing, and nobody is going to pay attention to those musicians in the end.

Boxwell: That's why we have these negative stereotypes about jazz being boring, and playing it safe, when the entire genre is about taking risks.

Feldman: I was trying to conform to every single group I played in, and I ended up with a lot of mediocre gigs, and I was working a lot. Then I had some experiences that made me decide to change that. I started getting some gigs with good people, and losing the gigs with mediocre people. So I think developing that self identity is important, but I think it's possible to do it as a sideman, not just as a leader.

Dominguez: In music, not only in jazz, but in all music, you have to be really humble, if you want to dedicate yourself to it. Trying to create your own personality first is a very immature thing. Deep down, we all search for our own sound, what my music is like, that comes naturally if you just get yourself around these people. You start by imitating, but then at the same time you do your own thing and have a happy medium, and take what you learned and apply it to what comes from you. There's no excuse not to play. You can do it on the street, you can do it in your house, that's when your personal voice comes, when you just play when you feel like it, when no opportunity has been given to you. Get yourself wet in all of the knowledge that the people around you know. Take time for yourself to play.

Thompson: I like making my own combos, not with the intent of forming a personal style, that's not my goal in starting groups. I just think it's different as opposed to being at school, following a director. It's valuable forming groups just to choose what you want to do, making decisions, and just playing for fun.

AAJ: I saw you did a studio session on KNKX radio with an all girl band. How did you get the session?

Thompson: I sent a really nice email.

AAJ: It's fantastic you had the initiative to do it! This was to Brenda Goldstein with community outreach at the station?

Thompson: Yes, they've been great

AAJ: Terri Lyne Carrington said, "Women bring something different to an instrument if they are respectful of their feminine aesthetic." Serena and Bell, your thoughts on this point of view.

Dominguez: If you embrace what you are, without trying to meet people's expectations, or the expectations of men-every time I've played there has been more men than women-if you embrace what you have, if you just present yourself for who you are truly, you can bring a whole different game, it's speaking from a place of abolishing oppression at the same time. So you're embracing yourself, you're also saying no to feeling under, just because you're a woman. I feel like that's a very powerful place to be at, and what you communicate when you play is so much more powerful in that sense.

Thompson: That's a really good answer! I talk a lot, and I talk kind of loud, and I play with a very clear tone-it's like BAM, there's Bell. For me, that kind of works. I think it helps me work within the masculine aesthetic. Some people think women don't want to play solos, to be aggressive, to step out, to be loud, that women are really quiet and afraid. That's just not how it is. I think the feminine aesthetic is whatever you want it to be.

AAJ: What are your plans going forward, in terms of your musical education and experience?

Dominguez: I'm going to The New School, to study vocal jazz, and honestly, branch out as much as I can.

Feldman: I'd like to attend a school, probably in New York City. I'm looking at Manhattan School of Music, Juilliard, and The New School. I'm going to audition for those next year.

Boxwell: I'm going for roughly the same colleges as Ben, but the primary reason I want to go to New York it's not for the jazz education aspect of it so much as just being in the city, being surrounded by great people. I know there's not a lot of opportunity for students in terms of gigs. There's no better city to spend my formative years, it's just going all in.

Thompson: I'm a junior as well, and I really want to study with Terell Stafford (at Temple University), I think he's an incredible teacher, and an incredible player. I met Jimmy Owens, and John O'Neill, they're all amazing teachers, and I'd be happy to study with any of them.

AAJ: Where do you see yourself in five years? Big picture! In ten?

Dominguez: I don't know. I love music. I'm definitely going to be doing that. I picture myself not staying in New York, just going around. In five years I'll be graduated leading my own band hopefully.

Feldman: Not sure, but I embrace the uncertainty, and just sort of see where life and music takes me. Currently one of the things that might appeal to me is to tour. I love travel, and I love playing music. That's what most of my teachers from New York do, they tour. They say you can't earn much money gigging in New York, but you can, touring Europe and Asia. That's what I'd currently like to do, as a sideman.

Dominguez: Less stressful

Feldman: Yes! Less work in a way. But eventually, I would like to make a name for myself as a leader.

Boxwell: Life never works out how I want it to, or how I'd like it to. For good or bad. I have hopes, obviously. My cynical mind goes to something like death, or injuring my arm permanently, working at a Jimmy Johns in a small town, with only my cat for companionship. Hopefully not, but all I can do in life is accept it.

Thompson: I have a lot of ideas, I think it would be fun to have my own band and play a lot of shows, I love doing concerts. It would also be fun to be a sideman for Beyonce, that's my other dream, or solely play ballads all the time! (laughter)

Dominguez: No.That would not be fun!

AAJ: I have a pretty good idea what all of you are listening to these days, but what have you listened to so far today?

Feldman: Johnny Hartman. I was listening to John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman (Impulse, 1963), and another one called All of Me (Bethlehem, 1956). And Ben Webster as well. I want to embrace the vocal qualities of the bass. Voice is the thing that connects with humans the most, I think making your instrument imitate that in some way is important.

Dominguez: Jon Batiste, the latest one with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, The Music of John Lewis (Blue Engine, 2017).

Boxwell: Today, I had a lot of free time in classes, not paying attention, failing, sorry mom and dad! Some Erroll Garner, the album Body and Soul (Columbia, 1991).

Thompson: I was listening to Sarah Vaughan and her trio, Live at Mister Kelly's (EmArcy, 1957)

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