The effervescent JUNO award-winning trumpeter and vocalist Bria Skonberg came by prior to her show at Edmonds Center for the Arts. She brought a top-notch group and wowed us with a set of music, laughter and fun.
Joining Bria were recent Julliard graduate Mathis Picard on piano and Eric Wheeler on upright bass. Elizabeth Goodfellow, Bria’s former band-mate in the group “Mighty Aphrodite,” played drums and percussion, and old friend Steve Treseler, who jammed with Skonberg in Seattle over a decade ago, filled out the group on reeds.
The session began with “Whatever Lola Wants,” the Richard Adler and Jerry Ross song from the 1955 musical Damn Yankees. Of the many versions of that song, Bria loves the one by Sarah Vaughan, but said her inspiration was the character Uma Thurman played in the movie Kill Bill.
In fact, her most recent album “With a Twist” is a nod to strong female leads.
Now based in New York City, Bria told us about her upbringing in Chilliwack, BC and her journey into the world of jazz. She says the team environment in the jazz world was a big selling point.
The bluesy original composition called “Down in the Deep” is also on Skonberg’s debut album “Bria.” On this one, she resorted to using a paper cup as a substitute for her plunger mute, which she had left behind at a workshop she’d been teaching earlier. Bria said jazz musicians often need to learn the art of compromise, and of course, improvising is what jazz is all about.
Bria’s advice for young jazz musicians: study the music and look for mentors. One of Bria’s mentors, Tacoma-based trumpeter Lance Buller, apparently also passed along his sense of humor to her.
Bria loves teaching. She presides at clinics and workshops all over the continent, and she’s started a jazz camp for adults, New York Hot Jazz Camp which takes place in April.
The group finished the session with “On the Sunny Side of the Street,” leaving listeners with sunny smiles on their faces.