Take Five With The New Five

AAJ Staff By

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Meet The New 5: The New 5 is a cohesive group based in Austin, TX whose sound is rooted in the post-bop tradition but with a forward-leaning edge. Four of the five members of the group have or are working on their doctorates in music from the University of Texas. Thomas Heflin and Chris Budhan have their doctorates in Performance. Michael Arthurs is finishing his doctorate in Jazz Composition. Peter Stoltzman is completing his doctorate in Music and Human Learning. David Colvin has completed his masters in music from UT as well. While the group shares an interest in education, they also have shared the time with some of the jazz world's greatest. Thomas recorded his first album with James Williams and has another one one the way with trombonist Ron Westray. Michael has studied with Dave Liebman, Joe Lovano and George Coleman. Chris Budhan, as a festival producer in Eastern Canada, presents more than 1,000 performances each summer as part of the City Stages and Always On Stage festivals. Peter Stoltzman has performed with Eddie Gomez and Steve Gass and is an instructor at the Stanford Jazz Workshop. David Colvin has performed on the David Letterman Show and Austin City Limits as a member of the rock outfit Heartless Bastards.

The five share songwriting duties and produce a unique groove oriented post-bop vibe. This is not a typical quintet - even including spoken word into their debut release, Introducing The New Five.


Trumpet, tenor Sax, piano, upright bass, drums.

Teachers and/or influences?

Thomas Heflin's influences: Woody Shaw, Freddie Hubbard, Clifford Brown, Louis Armstrong and Nicholas Payton.

Michael Arthurs' teachers: Dave Liebman, Joe Lovano and George Coleman.

Peter Stoltzman teachers: JoAnne Brackeen

Chris Budhan influences: Red Mitchell

David Sierra influences: Paul Motian.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...

The New Five formed a musical rapport at The University of Texas at Austin and decided to put together a recording project featuring original compositions.

Your sound and approach to music:

We are definitely rooted in the post-bop tradition of the second great Miles Davis, but we also have contemporary leanings.

Your teaching approach:

What makes this group especially unique is each members dedication to promoting jazz education. By 2010, four of the five members will have doctorates in music. These include doctorates in Music and Human Learning, Jazz Performance and Jazz Composition. In addition, Chris Budhan, the groups bassist, leads a music festival every year in his home town of Charlottetown, PEI Canada. The festival gives young jazz musicians live performance opportunities as well as offering them lessons and master classes from seasoned jazz artists. The combined education and expertise of the New 5 members makes them the ideal group for master classes at festivals or camps.

Your dream band:

Our dream band doesn't hinge on having name players. We more interested in finding talented people willing to put in the work to get a cohesive group sound.

Road story: Your best or worst experience:

On one of our gigs, someone handed a napkin up to the stage that said, "Play some Kenny G. I want to dance."

Favorite venue:

In Austin, we've always enjoyed playing the Elephant Room. It's a New York style basement club with a funky Austin vibe.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why?

Anything from the great Miles Quintet of the 60's. Miles Smiles is a great example of a standard quintet with a completely unique group sound.

The first Jazz album I bought was:


The Best of Maynard Ferguson. Although I'm not interested in playing like Maynard, he was a phenomenal trumpet player who acted as a sort of gateway drug into jazz. For instance, from hearing his heard his loud, flashy arrangements of Sonny Rollins' 'Airegin,' I went and checked out the original and discovered Sonny Rollins that way.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?

We try to straddle the line between paying tribute to the rich history of the music, and doing something new and uniquely our own.

Did you know...

We don't put the "Dr." in front of our names, but four of us will have doctorates by 2010.

CDs you are listening to now:


Michael Jackson - Invincible

Donald Brown - Fast Forward to the Past

Nicholas Payton - Into the Blue

Desert Island picks:

Oliver Nelson - Blues and the Abstract Truth

Herbie Hancock - Empyrean Isles

Donald Brown - Car Tunes

Clifford Brown - Study in Brown.

How would you describe the state of jazz today?

Jazz is definitely becoming institutionalized. This group is an great example of that. We met at a university while working on our doctorates in a music that used to be learned on the road. Unfortunately, like many things that become institutionalized and standardized, the music is in danger of losing its spirit. By their nature, universities teach the tools of the music like scales, chords, etc. But many students loose sight of the fact that these are just a means to an end. The goal should be to swing, to play with fire and rhythmic intensity, to honor the rich history of the music, and to communicate your intangible essence to the audience.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?

We desperately need more interest in the music. With this, comes more clubs and thus more playing and touring opportunities. Unfortunately, jazz is in danger of becoming a museum music with non-profit big bands acting like symphony orchestras who rely on grants and rich people to put on concerts. Jazz needs to connect with everyday people again. How to do this is anyone's guess. We live in a culture of shallow, disposable pop music. Right now, people aren't interested in anything that might take a little effort on their part to understand and appreciate.

What is in the near future?

As a group, we hope to travel to universities and high schools to perform and give master classes.

By Day:

Thomas Heflin: Program Coordinator of the Precollege Division at the Manhattan School of Music Everyone else is in school or performing for a living.

If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a:

There's no second choice for us.


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