Winnipeg's Jazz Magazine

September/October 2013: Vanessa Rubin

Michael Philip Mossman: At the Pinnacle

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There are very few artists in this world who can say they have been successful over a wide spectrum of genres, but to be truly recognized and celebrated in those different genres is indeed a tribute to the persistence of a devoted artist. Not only has Michael Philip Mossman earned himself a place in the jazz world, but he has also made his mark in the Latin, classical, and even the ballet worlds. An accomplished performer, composer, arranger, and educator in all these styles, Mossman has forged a career that most artists only dream of.

As a performer, Mossman is technically, harmonically, rhythmically, and musically outstanding. His trumpet playing ranks with the best on any scene today and the confidence, experience, and hint of humility in his sound reminds me of that old trumpet wisdom, “Let the horn do all the speaking.” Mossman has performed, toured, and/or recorded with Machito, Tito Puente, Toshiko Akiyoshi, the Chicago Chamber Orchestra, the Naumburg Orchestra, Ray Baretto, Lionel Hampton, Horace Silver, Dizzy Gillespie, the Count Basie Orchestra, Michel Camilo… The list of influential artists Mossman has worked with could fill the rest of the page.

As a composer and arranger, Mossman has a remarkable range. He writes for ensembles of all levels, from grade schools to professional groups. Mossman writes for orchestras, big bands, Latin ensembles, and small group, and continues to push the boundaries not only harmonically and rhythmically, but also technically. As a listener and a musician, I feel there are few things more spectacular than to hear a writer and the group he is writing for being stretched far beyond what anyone thought possible.

Mossman’s many accomplishments include arranging and performing lead with the Jazz at Lincoln Centre Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra’s Grammy-winning disc, Song for Chico, and this year a Grammy nomination for his arrangement of “Afro-Latin Suite for Ellington” on Bobby Sanabria’s album Multiverse. He also was composer-arranger and trumpet soloist for the 2011 film Chico and Rita, nominated for an Academy Award. On top of all that, he’s the Director of Jazz Studies at the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College in New York City.

Michael Philip Mossman is the special guest of the Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra on October 26 and 27 for their concert, “The Art of the Tango.” Also on that stage is singer Sheena Rattai. Given his finesse as a composer-arranger and a performer, and Sheena’s warmth as a singer, it will be a memorable concert! I hope you take this chance to not only hear the musicianship of another great artist brought to Winnipeg, but to also support the WJO and a great and growing jazz scene here in Manitoba.

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