Sunday, April 24, 2016

2016, what a year.

I’ve noticed I haven’t written these blogs as much in the past several years.  I’m getting older, busier, it’s hard to keep up, and especially hard to keep ‘em interesting.  I could write that I’ve been practicing 5 hours a day as always, writing music, working with Destiny Records on developing the art and concept, and all that goes into releasing an album, or about how I’ve been teaching more and more trumpet lessons, which has been great, but it would hard to make that into an exciting entry since it’s really just a day-to-day grind.  I’ve been in New York City for 10 years now.

I guess I’ll just give you the bullet-points of the past several months: First we shot photos, came up with album art concept and developed them, all coordinated between myself, Agnes Fohn(photographer), Sashico Asano(graphic artist) and Cam Mizell(label coordinator).  The visual concept was to juxtapose the concept of feeling disconnected and “not-human” with an image that was “The most” human, thus making the person look at the image and question their initial impression.  To me, the most human quality is one-on-one connection, so I used an image of two people holding hands to represent that human connection.

The end of last year into this year were pretty rocky.  First off, my girlfriend and I broke up in January, and I had a number of friends have certain emotional(and spiritual) crises at the same time.  I’ve done a lot of reflection these past few months about what truly is important in life and where we derive our meaning and value from.  I think it’s important to think about these things, even though they can be very difficult.

We played our record release show on Feb 28th, and “I Walk Amongst The Humans” was out a few weeks later.  Feedback has all been really positive, I just wish more people could hear the record.(you can listen to it on youtube, in it’s entirety or here:  I’m really proud of this album.  When it finally came out I reflected on the fact that it was almost 2 years after I recorded it, and on the fact that since I was 16 years old all I wanted to do was create a record I felt was good.  It took me almost 15 years to do that.  I feel my first two records(“Connections” and “At the Edge”) are fine, but “The Rehumanization EP” and “I Walk Amongst The Humans” are my first records I’m really proud of.  I finally feel like I’m playing a style that’s uniquely my own.

After the album came out, I went back into the studio and have started recording my next album.  No title yet.  We did one day so far, and we’ll do a second in mid-May.  The music is for a larger group: Trumpet, Alto Sax, Bari Sax, Bass Trombone, Piano, Bass, Drums.  We got a lot of great stuff on the first day.  I’m hoping it’ll be out fall of ’17.

I think I’m making the best music I’ve ever made… it really takes a long time to create something you think is good.  No one ever tells you that when you’re starting out and basically hating everything you play.  As Miles Davis once said “It takes a long time to sound like yourself.”  Still, this is a tricky time to put out music, with the music industry basically tanked.  Everyone consumes music via streaming which generates zero income.  I wonder what will happen in the future, and what music’s role will be in our society.

Band photos:
Jon Crowley - Trumpet
John Beaty- Alto Sax
Alden Banta- Bari Sax
Owen Caprell- Bass Trombone
Brad Whiteley- Piano
Julian Smith- Bass
Dan Pugach- Drums

Monday, September 21, 2015

Album Update

Album Update.

So quick update: My next album entitled “I walk Amongst The Humans” will be released on Destiny Records.  The album is recorded, mixed and I just heard the first mastered version.  The sound is beautiful and I’m really happy with how it turned out.  I’ve also been having meetings with the great people at Destiny records, talking about album cover design and concept too.  My friend Agnes took some photos to pitch the artistic concept to them and we’ll be doing another shoot in a few weeks, since they liked it.  I won’t spoil what we’re trying to do, but I included an outtake from our first session(my girlfriend Angela is in the photo too).  Release date is looking like probably February since November-December and January get so swamped with holiday releases that new albums can be lost in the chaos, plus they want to get the right publicist and give her time to prepare for the release date and release show.  Other than that, I’m looking forward to start recording the NEXT record, since “I walk Amongst The Humans” was recorded all the way back in 2013.  I attached a little (terrible audio quality) video recording of that new band at our last show... I guess that music will be released in 2017-2018

Rolling forward, hopefully 2016 is a big year for me.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Life update

Once again it's been kind of a while since my last blog post.  Thought I'd give a little update on what I've been up to.  First off, I released 'The Rehumanization EP' back in May, played a CD release show and have done my best to try to get the record into the hands of any press people and reviewers I could.  I actually have a friend in book publishing who was able to get me the email addresses of 30 Jazz press people.  So I emailed them all personally(and politely), including a link to the record streaming, and a free download code.  Using my band website I can track how many copies were actually downloaded(and how many plays/listens there'd been).  Sadly from the Jazz press, both came to ZERO.  That was a bit frustrating and disheartening.  The Jazz biz is pretty tough, and unless you've got someone on the inside helping push your record it's damn near impossible to get any Jazz biz people to even LISTEN to it.  It's funny, because I've gone to shows of the people they hype and there's barely anyone there and the music is received in a kind of luke-warm fashion.  While, I played a show this summer at Muhlenberg College and sold 30 records(!).  That was a really fun and incredible show, it felt great to connect with people musically and talk with folks afterwards, who told me how much our music had touched them.

Once we'd played the CD release show back in May, I started writing new music and started thinking about ways to expand and change my band style and format.  It had been about 2 years playing that music with essentially the same people(we had about 15 songs in the book), and after recording it I always feel relieved and ready to move onto the next thing.  The new group I started writing for in June added Baritone Sax and Bass Trombone to the existing Trumpet, Alto Sax, Piano/keyboard, Bass and Drums.  The idea was to add lower counter parts to the existing Trumpet and Alto sax, essentially having a low brass and low reed respectively.  I also wanted to kind of take things in an even more rock way, and use the horns as a 'brass band' type thing but playing alternative rock.  I also was influenced by the Bon Iver 2nd record 'Bon Iver', and it's use of Bass Sax and Trombone.  Over the last couple months I've written 10 songs, rehearsed and the new arrangement of the band played back in November for the first time.  Here are some videos  from our last rehearsal just last week. (I got a camera recently, so I'm hoping to put out videos consistently now)

Other than that, I've been in talks with a great Jazz label and am close to finalizing and signing a contract with them to release my next record.  I'm really exciting about this, they've been releasing great music for a while now and I'm happy to be on board with these awesome guys.  I actually recorded 2 albums at the same time over the past year and a half.  'The Rehumanization EP' is the first from those recordings, and 'I walk Amongst the Humans' is a full length record.  They're shooting to release it this August('15).  MORE INFO TO COME!!

Lastly, I've been doing more teaching than I've ever done before over the past few months.  Teaching trumpet has really been something I've completely fallen in love with over the past several years.  I've had the pleasure of working with some great people who are hard working and committed to improve, and I've guided them through the same studies I learned from my time with Laurie Frink.  It's amazing watching it work for them just like it worked for me.  I've also modified the routine person to person based on their unique and individual strengths and weakness.(I learned a lot about the variations Laurie came up with through seeing different students' routines that she taught.)  I've learned so much about this method and my students are the proof.  It's so deeply satisfying to see them improve by leaps and bounds week to week, and analyzing and fixing chop problems feels so natural to me and my personality.  I still think about Laurie daily, and it feels like I'm walking in her footsteps and keeping a little of what she(and Carmine Caruso) created alive.  I have noticed that I've been teaching for a while that some of my students can play most anything on the horn now, so I need to keep finding new ones to help.  Hopefully it all snowballs, since this is really what I want to do moving forward.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

First Review of 'The Rehumanization EP'

Here's the first review of 'The Rehumanization EP' written by Nicholas F Mondello at

The "EP" tag sitting on the title of trumpeter Jon Crowley's The Rehumanization EP is an obvious abbreviation for "Extended Play." Given an extended listening, it might be more apt to be interpreted as "exceptionally pleasing" or "exceptional performance." Both descriptions precisely fit this, Crowley's third release as leader. And, it is just as terrific as its two predecessors. 

With The Rehumanization EP Crowley, originally from the fecund musical womb ofPhiladelphia—and now a Brooklyn resident—continues to offer intriguingly explored tonalities and textures. The four selections on this somewhat shorter in duration recording are all superb Crowley originals. Each is a somewhat slower selection more melismatic in nature than balladic. The melodies of each tune eschew faster tempo and notation, allowing Crowley and crew to expand on lengthy ribbon-like solo forays. In an appealing way, the four selections seem to echo one another emotionally, with each commencing at an almost drone state and developing, highly energized into a finale of sorts. This is music of deep thinking and emotion, yet it is sonorous and easily grasped. 

What works so well here—and there are quite a few elements to that point—is Crowley's playing. This is a thoughtful, emotionally penetrating player. His near vibrato-less tone is robust, yet somewhat vulnerable. Wisely, he's a trumpeting minimalist as opposed to a technical braggadocio—something unfortunately more common today. Think the emotional quotient of Chet Baker with a more focused, inviting resonance—that's Mr. Crowley. His improvisational lines spew effortlessly from the melodies he created and they extend out with each fragment generating another unique idea. 

Alto saxophonist John Beaty joins Crowley in a frontline that is superbly more ensemble driven than one that stands out selfishly at the expense of the rhythm section—which is superb in its abilities to support the slower and energy-developing formats. 

While the Free Spirits, Smooth Jazzers, Giant Steppers and Beboppers each have their players and proponents, Jon Crowley, with his horn and pen almost has created a totally unique format with this recording and his prior efforts. It is a most enjoyable—and especially human—change of pace.