JazzColumbus.com Interview Series: Tim Perdue

Next in our series of interviews with some of Central Ohio’s finest jazz musicians is trumpeter Tim Perdue (photo by Rick Bennett). A Capital grad, Perdue has been a professional musician since the 1990s, playing with many local (and international) greats. Groups he plays or has played with include the New Basics Brass Band, Honk Wail & Moan, Yumbambe, Vaughn Wiester’s Famous Jazz Orchestra, the Rick Brunetto Big Band, the Chad Rager Modern Big Band, the New Remnants Dance Orchestra, the Columbus Jazz Orchestra, and the Hoodoo Soul Band. Perdue has a busy slate upcoming (see below), including playing with the New Basics Brass Band on Friday, May 27th at King Avenue 5 in Grandview. Perdue was kind enough to answer our interview questions – keep reading for insights into his musical background and ongoing projects:

When and why did you start playing music and jazz?

Tim Perdue (TP): I began playing trumpet in the fifth grade – my second choice since drums was not an option (glad that worked out)! I started getting into jazz in high school (Columbus Brookhaven) – my band director, Jeff Groff, was always playing jazz albums in the bandroom, and I played in the school’s “stage band,” as well as all-city jazz bands under the direction of great local teachers & players like Wes Orr and others. The more jazz I heard, the more I became interested. I remember checking out many albums from the library, and I listened to the Jazz Hour on QFM96 every Sunday night! I was very good at academics and was probably on the way to becoming an engineer or scientist, but at some point toward the end of high school, an internal switch was flipped and I decided I wanted to go to college for music instead.

I ended up with a degree in music education from Capital University, but along the way I was a jazz performance major, so I got to study with some great professors and performers like Ray Eubanks, Vaughn Wiester, and Stan Smith. At that time Capital was more closely associated with the Jazz Arts Group, so as a student I got to attend numerous JAG concerts, as well as hear and play with many of the great guest artists that came through. That was a few (!) years ago now, and I’ve been playing and teaching ever since.

As to the question of “Why,” that’s a little harder to quantify. From the time I started to hear it more often, I was more drawn to it for numerous reasons – the creativity & spontaneity, the improvisation, the more interesting feel of the swing & Latin rhythms. It was something more unique and different than everything on the radio and what my friends were listening to. My choice of instrument had something to do with it as well – not much trumpet in 80’s pop music! My parents and grandparents listened to a lot of big band music – Glenn Miller, etc. – that probably planted some seeds of interest early on. I enjoy playing and listening to all types of music, but for whatever reason, I’ve always had more of an affinity for jazz.

Who are some of your main influences in your playing/performing?

TP: I know it’s a common answer for a lot of trumpet players, but number one would have to be Miles Davis – I’ve always identified with his style and creativity the most. I have pretty diverse tastes, so I have a whole range of favorites including Louis Armstrong, Chet Baker, Art Farmer, Clark Terry, Woody Shaw, Don Cherry, Randy Brecker, Kenny Wheeler, Tom Harrell, Tomasz Stanko, Brian Lynch, Steven Bernstein, Dave Douglas – the list goes on and on, and that’s just trumpet players!

Non-trumpet influences include many jazz artists such as John Coltrane, Sarah Vaughan, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Charles Mingus, Branford Marsalis, Michael Brecker, and Pat Metheny, to name just a few. Also a lot of Brazilian/Latin musicians – Tom Jobim, Joao Gilberto, Milton Nascimento, Caetano Veloso, Moacir Santos… And New Orleans artists, too – Allen Toussaint, the Dirty Dozen and other brass bands, Dr. John, Preservation Hall, etc. Too many others to remember and list here!

What is your fondest musical memory?

TP: Too many to choose from! Though one performance that comes to mind is from the early days of Honk Wail & Moan – in the middle of the night, playing on a beach at a jazz festival, in Thailand! For whatever reason, the band was really on and seemed to take things to a different place that night – in particular I remember a tune called “The Onslaught of My Enemies” by the late Brian Casey. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to play with Aretha Franklin once – just to be on the same stage as her was pretty amazing.

I’ve attended some concerts that were pretty memorable as well. I’ve seen Pat Metheny several times – he never disappoints! I had the opportunity to see several jazz greats up close and personal here in town a few years back at the Major Chord (remember that?) – Freddie Hubbard, McCoy Tyner, Phil Woods & Tom Harrell, and others. Some other memorable ones over the years include Branford Marsalis at the Village Vanguard, Nicholas Payton at Snug Harbor in New Orleans, Dave Douglas at the Wexner Center.

What are you listening to today? What’s on your playlist?

TP: On the jazz side, I’ve been checking out recent releases from artists like Dave Douglas, Snarky Puppy, Jimmy Greene, Maria Schneider, Kenny Wheeler, The Bad Plus Joshua Redman, and Antonio Sanchez, among many others. As I said, my tastes are fairly wide-ranging, so included in the rotation are quite a few non-jazz artists like Jason Isbell, Jeff Lynne’s ELO, Lianne La Havas, Milton Nascimento, Rickie Lee Jones, Ray LaMontagne, Los Lobos, etc., etc… There’s a lot of great new music happening out there – it just takes some digging to find it sometimes.

What inspires you about the Columbus Jazz scene?

TP: One thing that’s always impressed me is the sheer number of jazz musicians in the area, as well as the breadth of styles and talents represented. Considering the size, location, etc. of Columbus, there’s really a lot going on. Also I think there’s a great sense of community among the jazz musicians here. Everyone is pretty open, friendly, and willing to play with many other musicians and bands, and if you look in the audience at any jazz gig, chances are you’ll see other musicians there to listen. Recently, there also seems to be an upswing in the number of venues in town that feature live jazz as well – pretty much any night of the week you can find somewhere to hear some great music.

What are you working on currently? Any new projects, exciting shows or releases?

TP: No projects in the works at the moment, and nothing of my own, but I’m managing to keep pretty busy. I seem to fit best into the sideman role – I keep popping up everywhere, but my name is never on the marquee! I have a few ideas in the back of my mind, so hopefully I’ll be working on some projects of my own in the near future. On an unrelated note, I’ve been getting into photography for a while now – hopefully there will be more on that front soon as well. That said, one of my main groups, the New Basics Brass Band, is keeping pretty busy this summer, and I’m regularly working with quite a few other groups and artists as well, which leads us to your next question…

Where can local audiences see you play in the near future?

TP: There’s a lot going on, especially once the summer outdoor concert & festival season gets going. Here are the next few gigs on the books:

Friday, May 27 – New Basics Brass Band @ King Avenue 5 (with the Deeptones)
Saturday, May 28 – Yumbambe Latin Jazz @ Notes
Wednesday June 8 – Kelly McLennan +5 @ Natalie’s Pizza
Thursday, June 9 – New Basics Brass Band @ Upper Arlington Music in the Parks
Thursday, June 9 – Kelly McLennan +5 @ Dick’s Den
Friday, June 10 – New Basics Brass Band @ Lancaster Gazebo Concert Series
Thursday, June 16 – New Basics Brass Band @ Dick’s Den
Saturday, June 18 – New Basics Brass Band @ Local Roots in Powell

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