Last week, Altadena-based jazz quartet, Slumgum, received a Chamber Music America Award for Adventurous Programming. Comprised of CalArts alumni—bassist David Tranchina (Music MFA 08), pianist Rory Cowal (Music MFA 08), saxophonist Jonathan Armstrong (Music MFA 08) and drummer Trevor Anderies (Music BFA 08)—Slumgum was selected in the Jazz Ensemble category for the award that recognizes distinctive programming.
Among the innovations of the jazz ensemble Slumgum is its practice of choosing a single concept, based on which all four band members agree to create at least one new work. Other recent projects include the creation of a new work for octet (Slumgum musicians plus a traditional chamber ensemble of flute, horn, clarinet and voice) and performances of original works interpreting the written word, ranging from a passage in Charles Mingus’s autobiography to poems, a Biblical passage and a Buddhist reading.
The award marks the second consecutive year in which an all-CalArtian jazz group has won the award. In 2011, Dawn of MIDI, received a Chamber Music America grant for its new multimedia work, Kashmir.
Last July, Slumgum released its latest album, The Sky His Own, on CalArts’ faculty member Vinny Golia’s record label, Nine Winds, with virtuoso trumpeter Hugh Ragin on cornet. Leading up to the release, the band participated in a month-long, CalArtian-dominated jazz residency celebrating the record label at the Blue Whale in Los Angeles.
Slumgum will be recognized for the grant at the 35th Chamber Music America National Conference on Jan. 20 in New York.