Featured Musician - July 2014  

Douglas Detrick
Douglas Detrick

Name: Douglas Detrick

Instrument: trumpet, composer; arts consultant.

Early Years/Education: I grew up in West Linn, Oregon, and went to Athey Creek Middle School, which had a jazz ensemble. I picked up the trumpet in the sixth grade. I picked the trumpet because I think I wanted to be heard.I joined the middle school jazz band and played all the way through high school. I learned music in school, mostly jazz and wind ensemble music. There’s a strong big band tradition still in that school. When you’re that young, playing a brass instrument is a huge challenge. There’s no “Suzuki Method” for jazz. It’s kind of a “wild west” of how things are taught. All the people I’ve studied with do it differently, there’s no standard, it depends on the teacher. Locally, I’ve studied with Paul Mazzio, Sally Kuhns (of the Oregon Symphony) and Rich Cooper.

West Linn High School band director Jeff Cumston was influential in me becoming a musician. My mother also had an influence. She was very active in the parentrun arts support group in West Linn. When it came time for college, I decided to do music. I’m not a full time musician now, I work for a web development company, but all the skills I use in that job I learned by being a musician. I write, do support and sales; it’s about communicating. I learned to write by blogging about music and writing grant applications and press releases.

After high school, I went to Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin. They gave me a scholarship. I went there partly because the jazz director recruited me. I met him when I was in the All Northwest Jazz Band in high school. When I went to visit Lawrence, it turned out to be the best visit I’d done. The trumpet teacher, Fred Sturm, made time to see me.

Went to the University of Oregon for graduate school [when] they offered me a teaching scholarship. I got my masters there in 2008. For my masters thesis recital, I formed an improvising chamber group called the AnyWhen Ensemble. I’ve always been interested in the intersection of jazz and chamber music. The group’s instrumentation is trumpet, sax, bassoon, cello and drum set. This was … to force us to do things differently. We start out of the box. We play jazz for the most part, [but] we do have one set of music that deals with folk music as a foundation.

After graduation I stayed in Eugene and ran a big band there for a couple of years, The Detrick-Swigart Jazz Orchestra with David Swigart. We changed the name to the Eugene Jazz Composers Orchestra. We played once a month at Cosmic Pizza.

Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble: I’m the new executive director of the PJCE. Andrew Oliver (who started the organization and now resides in London) asked me to apply, and the board picked me in December 2013. We now have a CPA on our board who is doing our bookkeeping. Charlie Gray from Portland State University is also on the board. The connection to the university is strong. We rehearse there, hold our board meetings there, we’re really fortunate to have that.

We are doing a jazz festival in August called the Montavilla Jazz Festival. This event would not be happening if it wasn’t for the work of Ryan Meagher. He’s had great help from the Montavilla Neighborhood Association, they are the ones who are actually presenting it, it was their idea. You can find out more about this at the website montavillajazzfestival.com. The director of the PJCE Records label is Lee Elderton. I think the idea of what a record label is these days is wide open. [Currently,] we’re scaling back the number of PJCE releases [from one a month], but doing more for the artists.

New York: I lived in New York from 2010 to 2013 and got to play at The Stone, The Jazz Gallery, etc. I had a good run there. I did consulting, writing, wrote jazz reviews, gave workshops for artists on how to write effectively about their music for their websites, and gave workshops on grant writing. I wrote grants for Dave Douglas and worked on his “Festival of New Trumpet Music.” I also got to perform in his festival. I returned to Portland when I had a son.

Musical Influences: Miles Davis, Gil Evans, Duke Ellington, Benjamin Britten, Igor Stravinsky, Roscoe Holcombe, Wayne Horvitz, Sam Amidon, Kenny Wheeler, and Joanne Metcalf, my composition teacher.

Douglas Detrick

Most Satisfying Experience: My group AnyWhen Ensemble is going into it’s seventh season together with all the same people. We have a great time together, everyone is really committed to the group. As a composer, I feel really lucky to have that level of commitment to the playing of my music. We had great things happen to us, like playing at The Jazz Gallery and the New Trumpet Music Festival, and coming up, we’re playing at the Phillips Collection — an art gallery in D.C.

How we work together as a group is special. We’re blending techniques, in terms of how we actually get through the music. Jazz musicians work in a set form and anything can happen inside that form; classical musicians don’t do that. They start at the beginning and they follow it all the way to the end, so we kind of bring those two together. We’ll have parts that are flexible inside of a longer set piece. We talk like chamber musicians and we talk like jazz musicians to each other. My playing in this group is more like jazz trumpet playing, very personal, but the sound is influenced by classical players as well.

Favorite Recordings: Miles Davis/Gil Evans - “Sketches of Spain”; Trygve Seim – “Sangham”; Arve Henriksen – “Chiaroscuro”; Ron Miles Trio – “Quiver”; Nick Drake - “Pink Moon”; Roscoe Holcombe - “The High Lonesome Sound”; Duke Ellington – “Such Sweet Thunder”; Wayne Horvitz - “Whispers, Hymns, and a Murmur”; Dillard Chandler and others - “Dark Holler”: Old Love Songs and Ballads”; Sam Amidon - “The Bright Sunny South.”

Discography: Douglas Detrick Quintet - “The Turning Point” (2008 - 8Bells Records); Douglas Detrick’s AnyWhen Ensemble - “Walking Across” (2009 - 8Bells Records); Douglas Detrick’s AnyWhen Ensemble - “Rivers Music” (2011 - Origin Classical); Operation Northwoods - “The Bureau of Fiction” (2013 - PJCE Records); Douglas Detrick’s AnyWhen Ensemble - “The Bright and Rushing World” (2014 - Parma Recordings); Douglas Detrick’s AnyWhen Ensemble - “Awake, Awake!” (coming out 2015).

Gigs: PJCE: Fall Concert with Taylor Ho Bynum and Holcombe Waller, September 7 & September 9, location TBA; Any- When Ensemble, October 11, Ripon College, WI; w/Dal Niente, October 12, Constellation Chicago, Chicago, IL; AnyWhen Ensemble: Lebanon Valley College Residency.

Future Plans: I’d like to expand my project, “Ishmael and the Whale.” This is done with a narrator. The text is about responding to a chapter in Moby Dick. I read it for the first time last year and started tweeting about it like it was happening now, like a current event. I did this just for fun, but it turned out to be a constructive way of engaging with that book. The piece was responding to the chapter in the book when Ishmael had not left for sea yet and he is in a chapel and hears for he first time the story of “Jonah and the Whale.” I got it commissioned by a group who funds pieces that respond to the bible. Eventually, I’d like to make it a podcast, like a radio show with original music and original text with other writers contributing.

Other: PJCE is about creating opportunity for the musicians of Portland. We want to enhance the scene, and paying our people is an important goal.


-- by Rita Rega