All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Interviews

10

Ryan Keberle: Multicolored Tapestry

R.J. DeLuke By

Sign in to view read count
"From a compositional perspective, these are tunes I'm really proud of that reflect who I am but very organic songs that flow from the heart. They're not meant to represent anything other than the music that I really care deeply about. Arranging-wise, the challenge with the three voices has forced me to become a much better arranger. It opened up a whole new world of counterpoint that I never really had a chance to experience with more horns and with piano," says Keberle, adding an important point: "Definitely from a playing perspective, I'm a much better trombonist than I was six years ago when I released my first record. This is a representation of who I want to be as a musician."



Becoming a musician was evident to Keberle at a young age. Going back to his great-grandparents, his family is full of musicians and educators. His mother is a piano teacher and music director at a church. His father is a trumpet player and jazz professor and composer and arranger for big bands. His two sisters play instruments, drums and bass, and sing. In Keberle's earlier years, they had a family band. He always knew he's be playing music on some level and unlike some parents, Keberle's were always fine with the idea of their son playing professionally.

"I fought the urge for a second there. I went to school for my first year as a physics major. I realized right away, spending hours in the computer lab, that I should be practicing," he says. "That's when I decided to put all the eggs in the basket and move out to New York to finish my undergraduate degree at the Manhattan School of Music. I studied with Steve Turre there and directly thereafter went to Julliard and did two years for a graduate degree."

It was Keberle's father who started him on trombone, mainly because he often needed one in the college bands he was instructing. So as early as age 14, Keberle was occasionally playing in a college big band. Even if it was somewhat thrust upon him, it wasn't a chore. "I love the trombone. I love what it stands for in history. It's similar to my voice, so I have a natural affinity for the sound and the register. I had a natural affinity for it at a young age. It became easy for me. Typically, anything that comes easy for a kid is fun for a kid as well."

Keberle had started, however, as a classical trombonist, learning all the classical trombone repertoire and playing in all-state groups, and even an all-national orchestra, in high school. His first foray into jazz was the Count Basie band, "a good place to start because it's super swinging, they are all masters of their instruments and the history and the tradition. From there I branched out. I started listening to J.J. Johnson and Slide Hampton a lot."

To flesh out his knowledge of the jazz language, he listened to other instruments and artists like Dexter Gordon, Freddie Hubbard, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea and Lester Young. "Then I started going back. Louis Armstrong, Coleman Hawkins," Keberle says. "I am still, to this day, trying to completely fathom Charlie Parker. He is so deep. Especially when you hear him where he got to stretch out a little bit. There's a bootleg from Sweden where he got to stretch out on three choruses of 'All the Things You Are.' It's so modern it could be something from yesterday. It's so hip. For me, Charlie Parker is where it's at."

At the Manhattan School, Keberle was immersed in his studies, not out gigging much. Looking back, he says he wasn't yet ready, but he was spending most waking hours thinking and playing and talking about jazz. He started playing in his last year there, and then transferred to the Julliard School of Music. "A friend of mine, Pedro Giraudo, put a band together in 2001. You start getting your feet a little dirty and figuring out what you need to continue to work on as an instrumentalist and as an improvisor. One thing led to another. When I was at Julliard, I met the arranging teacher there, Dave Berger, a great composer and historian. We hit it off. I've been playing with his band since around that time, 2001, 2002. It was there that I started meeting some real professionals."

Keberle was getting better gigs in New York, including subbing at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Some connections got him into Marie Schneider's band. "Even though there aren't working bands, you're not learning on the road like they used to, the big band is an important part of the learning and networking process, as it always has been."

He avows that big band experience is something is extremely valuable and, unfortunately, a lot of young musicians are missing out on it.

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Wedding Music

Wedding Music

Ryan Keberle
Double Quartet

CD/LP/Track Review
My Favourite Things
CD/LP/Track Review
Extended Analysis
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Find the Common, Shine a Light

Find the Common,...

Greenleaf Music
2017

buy
Azul Infinito

Azul Infinito

Greenleaf Music
2016

buy
Ryan Keberle & Catharsis: Azul Infinito

Ryan Keberle &...

Greenleaf Music
2016

buy
Into The Zone

Into The Zone

Greenleaf Music
2014

buy
Music Is Emotion

Music Is Emotion

Alternate Side Records
2013

buy
Julia

Julia

Alternate Side Records
2013

buy

Related Articles

Read Rain Sultanov: Putting Baku On The Jazz Map Interviews
Rain Sultanov: Putting Baku On The Jazz Map
by Ian Patterson
Published: November 20, 2018
Read Jay Thomas: We Always Knew Interviews
Jay Thomas: We Always Knew
by Paul Rauch
Published: November 16, 2018
Read Meet Roy Hargrove Interviews
Meet Roy Hargrove
by Mark Felton
Published: November 5, 2018
Read Maria Schneider: On the Road Again Interviews
Maria Schneider: On the Road Again
by Mark Robbins
Published: October 14, 2018
Read Alan Broadbent: Intimate Reflections on a Passion for Jazz Interviews
Alan Broadbent: Intimate Reflections on a Passion for Jazz
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: October 12, 2018
Read Stefon Harris: Pursuing the Tradition Interviews
Stefon Harris: Pursuing the Tradition
by R.J. DeLuke
Published: October 5, 2018
Read "Nels and Alex Cline: 50 Years in the Making" Interviews Nels and Alex Cline: 50 Years in the Making
by Jonathan Manning
Published: January 25, 2018
Read "Anat Cohen: Musical Zelig" Interviews Anat Cohen: Musical Zelig
by R.J. DeLuke
Published: June 21, 2018
Read "George Wein: A Life and Legend in Jazz" Interviews George Wein: A Life and Legend in Jazz
by Doug Hall
Published: July 19, 2018
Read "Matsuli Music: The Fight Against Forgetting" Interviews Matsuli Music: The Fight Against Forgetting
by Seton Hawkins
Published: May 23, 2018
Read "The Spike Orchestra and John Zorn's "The Book Beriah"" Interviews The Spike Orchestra and John Zorn's "The Book...
by Phil Barnes
Published: August 23, 2018
Read "Kika Sprangers: Musical Adventurer In Holland" Interviews Kika Sprangers: Musical Adventurer In Holland
by R.J. DeLuke
Published: August 14, 2018