In a pitch-black theater in Old City, a single trumpet sings.
Enormous saxophones eventually chime in and seemingly shake the entire stage with their deep lilting voices.
“An Uptown Romance” by composer and trumpeter Josh Lawrence echoes through the Painted Bride Art Center, and eventually a piano, bass, drum set and guitars are all in on it.
The Fresh Cut Trio, a local Philly jazz trio, uses this workshop and “jam-session” at the Bride once a month as sort of a laboratory to flesh out its new music and pieces for its upcoming record “From The Vine,” which will be released on May 3, accompanied by a release party at the Bride on the same day.
The trio is comprised of composers and musicians Lawrence on trumpet, Anwar Marshall on drums and Jason Fraticelli on bass. As only three parts to the 10-piece band The Fresh Cut Orchestra, the trio invited college and high school musicians from the Kimmel Center Music Program, University of the Arts and Temple to work through its music without getting the whole band together, while giving a show for the Bride at the same time.
With only one rehearsal one day prior to their performance, junior and senior jazz performance majors Max Kraus, who appeared on bass, and Jake Kelberman, who played guitar, said that the experience was fairly unique to what they are usually accustomed to with jazz jam sessions.
“We usually don’t get to work through composed music like this – a lot of the gigs have a set number of songs and players that everyone has memorized,” Kelberman said. “Here we get to work with new guys and see some new faces.”
For Kraus and Kelberman, finding work in the city and playing at jazz clubs happens pretty frequently. Playing with the trio and a new group of faces from different musical backgrounds added another layer to their experience while in school.
“This is just like an education and gig in one,” Kraus said.
The Sunday show was three hours, consisting mainly of rehearsed original pieces written by members of the trio, but also included some improvised pieces that were open to anyone in the audience who could play an instrument.
All three members of the trio started composing original music in college.
“I wrote a bunch of tunes as a kid but I don’t really count those,” Marshall said. “Some of the first tunes I brought into the group are from college at the University of the Arts. I had to dust them off a little of course.”
The trio’s trumpet player, Lawrence, also an alumnus of University of the Arts, said that he began to write his own music when he realized he would have to pay royalties to play other jazz musicians’ pieces.
“I finally felt comfortable enough to record a solo record but I realized I didn’t want to pay other people to play music,” Lawrence said.
For the trio, jazz is all about mixing music together, evident in the different flavors of music in their own compositions.
“You’re always writing,” Fraticelli said. “I’m always mixing in things that could be a song, whenever I pick up an instrument, even when I’m just messing around.”
The orchestra recently won a jazz residency at the Kimmel Center, where it is required to play a work-in-progress performance, two arts education workshops and a final performance.
Its final performance will be on June 21.
Emily Rolen can be reached at email@example.com.