Vancouver-born trumpet player Andrew Littleford is making a big contribution to the musical life of our city through his work with many groups. The Dirty Catfish Brass Band, the Ron Paley Big Band, the Winnipeg Jazz Collective, the Andrew Littleford Trio, and the Littleford/Carter Quintet, show his range in the jazz field. He also plays in the Winnipeg Brass Quintet, a classical ensemble, and Kobalt, a contemporary indie group. This summer, he’ll be part of the reincarnation of another indie band, Flying Fox and the Hunter Gatherers. You can often find him on a Friday night at Live at Massey Hall, and occasionally also at The Cool Wednesday Night Hang. Track him at andrewlittleford.com.
What led you to the trumpet?
I was fortunate enough to grow up in a musical family, as both of my parents are professional classical brass players in Vancouver. I was drawn to the trumpet because I liked the versatility of the instrument and how it fit into both jazz and classical music.
Which jazz artists are particularly compelling for you?
I am generally drawn towards accomplished instrumentalists who have also developed their own distinct improvisational and compositional voices. I am finding that there are more artists out there who have achieved this ideal musical combination—players like Dave Douglas, Mark Turner, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Ralph Alessi, Brad Mehldau, and Chris Potter. This makes for some great new music to discover.
Who’s on your listening list these days?
Robert Glasper, especially Black Radio1&2 – You can never get enough groove!
Hiatus Kaiyote – An up-and-coming soul-jazz group; their song “Nakamarra” is the best!
Ambrose Akinmusire – I admire the originality, beauty and risk in his music.
Dayna Stephens – A very melodic jazz tenor sax player.
Avishai Cohen (trumpet) – A natural trumpet player who plays amazing melodies with unbelievable time.
What would you like non-musicians to know about this art form?
The term “jazz” is a very open-ended (these days more evident then ever) and the only thing that keeps it all together is the improvisatory aspect. I understand that jazz can sometimes come across as chaotic, but I believe that is because every jazz group is trying to get to that “special moment” which creates the energy or spark we all love in jazz music. This will only happen when the whole group works towards that moment together by achieving a mutual balance of communication, interaction and support between the soloist(s) or melody and the rest of the band. Next time you put on some jazz music, try and listen to what the band does leading up to one of those great moments you love.