Songs of My City: Trumpeter Brandon Woody on the Love and Tradition that Shaped Him

Kimberly R. Cammack

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The band’s tunes combine jazz improvisation with hip-hop beats and melodies drawn from gospel and soul music, and Woody resists slotting it into just one precise style. “All of this is Black songs. The stuff with rapping has just as considerably inspiration from individuals like Miles Davis and John Coltrane, and the stuff with just trumpet from items that aren’t automatically viewed as to be what persons connect with jazz,” Woody suggests. “I just can’t place these genres on issues due to the fact that’s how individuals institutionalize them.”

For Woody, Black songs will come from communities relatively than establishments. “You cannot master it from a personal computer or a book—that’s just not how it is effective. You understand it from jam sessions and remaining close to elder musicians who move it on to you. Which is how it is and how it generally will be. And mastering from folks like Craig Alston has taught me that I should give it to the future generation and to my friends.”

Together with Extended, Woody has introduced his new music earlier the stage. In 2019, Calvin Klein came throughout music they experienced recorded and requested to use it for an advert campaign. That began an ongoing sequence of movie scoring jobs. “I love seeing one thing on the monitor, remaining influenced by it, and figuring out how I can portray it musically,” suggests Woody. He and Lengthy scored music for Unwavering: The Electrical power of Black Innovation, a documentary produced by the nonprofit Echoing Green about recipients of their Black Male Accomplishment Fellowship.

Real to their mother nature, lots of of the duo’s scores have been collaborations with the Baltimore art scene, this sort of as with executing artist Nia June and cinematographer Kirby Griffin. Woody and Long composed new music for a movie by June and Griffin called The Unveiling of God (2021), a visible tribute to the filmmakers’ forefathers and the Black adult males of Baltimore. The scoring work demonstrates Woody’s dedication to music that not only arrives from a local community but can also be utilized to provide it.

Woody has lots of new tasks ahead of him. He and Prolonged prepare to keep on movie scoring together. He and yet another musician buddy, Brandon “Buz” Donald, have a teaching and carrying out residency at the College of Maryland. UPENDO performs weekly at the Town Winery in DC and plays weekly at other venues close to Baltimore. The large function this calendar year, nevertheless, will be the launch of UPENDO’s first album, as however untitled. The venture is decades in the making, matter to the trumpeter’s ever-higher specifications. He plans to release it in August, all over the time of his (and Alston’s) birthday. 

Despite his numerous accomplishments, Woody locates his milestones at a additional private stage. He cites meeting Long, forming UPENDO, and just being capable to preserve enjoying songs. “I don’t want to discuss about accolades too substantially because that’s not definitely what it is all about,” Woody states. “My audio is about celebrating existence and like. Adore typically gets viewed as one thing 1-dimensional, but there are so lots of unique sorts of love and so quite a few distinctive means to enjoy. Which is what my songs is about.” Woody is strongly conscious of the diverse types of like that have nurtured his music—the appreciate of a mother, of a instructor, of a close friend, of the previous keepers of a tradition—and by his songs, he channels that appreciate back again into the community that to start with offered it.

 

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