Alfred Patterson:Turned-On Trombone

by    /  November 19, 2010  / 1 Comment

Musicians of the 2010 Jazz Poetry Concert

Video production and editing by Glen Wood

At age 4, Alfred Patterson hopped on the piano bench next to his older sister and tried imitating her lessons. Suddenly, he realized he was having fun. Thus began his peripatetic musical career from piano to cello to trombone to soprano saxophone, then back to trombone.

He moves just as easily between musical styles: he was a member of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, toured with the American Ballet Company, played in the pit orchestras for musicals such as “Dreamgirls” and “La Cage Aux Folles,” and jammed with the Count Basie and Duke Ellington Orchestras.

For Patterson, “Sounds are a visceral thing, man. Sound makes you purr. Sound turns you on.” Judging by his ever-present smile and bopping movements, Patterson is as turned on by talking about music as he is by playing it. While he told his musical autobiography, his free hand moved to the beat of the words while the other held his trombone.

At the 2008 Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians performance, Patterson tapped into that visceral quality of sound when he opened the show with an extended free-improvised solo that All About Jazz described as “a long paragraph of broken phrases.” At that concert, he also read excerpts from Malcolm X’s speeches for a piece entitled “Malcolm 6365.”

Patterson ‘s connections with poetry run deep. Not only do the sounds of the words themselves interest him, but he views poetry’s spontaneity and fluidity as directly related to improvised music. “It only happens once,” he said, smiling.

In this video, Patterson discusses sound, poetry, and the time-sensitive nature of improvisation.

You can hear (and see) more of Alfred Patterson on CD/DVD, “Joseph Daley Earth Tones Ensemble: The Seven Deadly Sins” released last month.

Read Joshua’s bio.

About the Author

Joshua Barnes is Sampsonia Way's Associate Editor. In 2010 he earned a bachelor’s degree in Fiction Writing and Literature at the University of Pittsburgh. During his undergraduate career, he was awarded 2009′s Ossip Award in Critical Writing for Anna Kavan: A Critical Study. Josh is involved with several musical projects and working on a variety of multi-media narratives.

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  • carolyn

    great little interview – great little improv!