A recent graduate of the Juilliard School, trombonist Kalia Vandever is a true musical omnivore. In her young career, she has played with everyone from the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, to pianist Fabian Almazan, to drummer Tyshawn Sorey, to pop and hip-hop groups. She has recently completed her first tour as a bandleader, and will bring her working band to The Jazz Gallery on Thursday, November 9th, for two sets. We recently caught up with Vandever to talk about her post-graduation experiences and how they have impacted her composing for the group.
The Jazz Gallery: This is your first time playing at the jazz gallery as a leader with your own band. Can you tell us a little bit about who you are bringing, and the music that we will be hearing?
Kalia Vandever: I am bringing my quintet, which consists of Immanuel Wilkins on alto, Connor Parks on drums, Kanoa Mendenhall on bass and Theo Walentiny on piano, and myself on trombone, and we will be playing mostly my compositions, as well as some of the compositions of people in the band as well. These are newer compositions of mine that I’ve composed in the last year, and some of them are really recent pieces of mine.
TJG: Are the compositions all encompassing one general time frame or body of work?
KV: Yeah definitely, I feel like the compositions have been inspired by a couple things, one being the beginning of my life out of school, also, a lot of my music is inspired by my family, specific family members of mine, a couple pieces that I’ve written have been dedicated to my sister, or my grandmother, and their experiences but also my relationship with them. And other pieces are inspired by nature, I have a lot of pieces that have just naturally been inspired by my surroundings on trips, or surroundings in New York City.
TJG: You said some of the pieces are inspired by what your life has been like since you’ve been out of school. Do you think being out of school has changed how you’re approaching music, what has been one of the biggest changes for you since you’ve been out of a structured jazz program?
KV: I’ve just felt really freed by the space that I’m in now, which is not confined to any specific method of composing, or not feeling confined by specific music I’m listening to. I found when I was in school I was listening to a lot of music that was guided by those who were teaching me at the time but now I’m in this space where everything I’m inspired by is what’s around me.