Imagine listening to a group of four musicians who creatively speak to each other, have roots in jazz, world, and classical music, improvise with great imagination and inventiveness, and leave the door open for anything to happen musically. Meet Slumgum – a LA based group of musicians and friends who met while studying at Cal Arts and have been together for 6 years (so far). They came through Phoenix last night and gave a clinic and performance at The Nash on their way to Denver and Albuquerque. It was absolutely amazing.
During the clinic, Slumgum talked about how they compose, arrange, and improvise. Two things really stuck with me. The first is that they bring in ideas / incomplete tunes in and let them evolve organically with input from the entire group. The second was that they often use their rehearsal time to play improv games. They even showed us how they take standards and “slum it up”, as they put it. They are always looking for new ways to stretch themselves. The playfulness, freedom, and trust comes through in their music. Here’s an example from The Blue Whale in LA last year:
Jon Armstrong – Woodwinds
Rory Cowal – Piano
Dave Tranchina – Bass
Trevor Anderies – Drums
If you ever get the opportunity to hear this group play live, I highly recommend it. They also have a couple of CD’s out that are absolutely wonderful. Pick those up if you can. I can’t wait until they come to Phoenix again!
More fantastic photos from of the evening at The Nash by Diane Banyai: