New England Conservatory faculty member and trumpet legend John McNeil is the recipient of this year’s Award of Recognition from New York’s prestigious Festival of New Trumpet Music (FONT Music). Previous recipients include Wadada Leo Smith, Kenny Wheeler, Raymond Mase, Bobby Bradford, Eddie Henderson, and Laurie Frink.
The FONT Music Festival (September 19–25) culminates in “Honoring John McNeil” on Sunday, September 25, 5 p.m. at The New School, Theresa Lang Community and Student Center, Arnhold Hall, Room I-202, 55 West 13th St., New York City. Admission by donation. More about this event
The concert will include a performance of “Anxiety Option” for trumpet and electronics written and performed by Jeff Beal, an accomplished trumpeter and composer of music for film, television, and the concert hall – and a student of McNeil. Following Beal’s set, John McNeil will take the stage with his ensemble: Gary Versace, piano; Jerome Harris, bass; and Jay Sawyer, drums. The 2016 Laurie Frink Career Grant award winner, Tony Glausi, will join them.
The theme for this year’s festival is Flexus, taken from the title of an influential book by the late Laurie Frink and John McNeil. Asked about the selection of McNeil as the FONT Music Awardee for 2016, NEC alum Dave Douglas said:
“McNeil has long been a forward-looking voice on the instrument in jazz, influencing many in subsequent generations. His unique view of jazz practice has opened doors for countless players. FONT Music is proud to be able to celebrate him in our community this year.”
Douglas co-founded the FONT Festival in 2003 with the late Roy Campbell Jr. “The Festival of New Trumpet Music started on a cocktail napkin,” Douglas said in a 2013 interview. He had been asked to program a month of music at a venue on New York’s Lower East Side, and he and Campbell wondered whether it could be filled with creative trumpet music. “We started this list, and within ten minutes we were already way over the number that we could program,” said Douglas. The festival has been promoting and supporting music by a diverse community of brass players ever since.