Jazz musician Adam Unsworth has combined two interestingly different music genres, chamber jazz and French horn jazz, with his recently released CD, excerpt this! Unsworth, an eight-year member of the Philadelphia Orchestra as a French horn player, is also a professor of music at Temple.
His CD implements instruments that are traditionally used in classical music, such as the violin, clarinet, flute, vibraphone, bass, drums and French horn. Unsworth uses the term “chamber jazz,” a term he coined, to describe his unique sound after being unable to find a suitable type of jazz to categorize it as.
Chamber music is music played by a classical music ensemble, so it made the most sense to add jazz to the term, thus leading Unsworth to wonder whether he is possibly pioneering a new category of jazz.
“They were asking me to put it some place and it’s very unclear where it needs to go, so I call it chamber jazz,” Unsworth said.
He picked musicians for his CD who had experience in other genres of music besides jazz.
“I wasn’t looking for straight Jazzers, per se,” Unsworth said.
Collectively the musicians have experience in jazz, classical, rock – Unsworth played in his brother’s rock band in high school – and world music. Diane Monroe, who is also a faculty member at Temple , plays the violin.
Les Thimming plays bass clarinet and flute, Tony Miceli mans the vibraphone, Ranaan Meyer plays bass and Cornell Rochester plays the percussion.
The combination of musical influences polishes the sound and eases the musicians’ abilities to create jazz-tune styles that are nontraditional. There is nothing about this album that is generic and that gives it an entertaining twist from the conventional.
The album title excerpt this! is a reference to classical music, which Unsworth has been studying since he was 10 years old.
“Classical musicians spend a lot of time working on excerpts in classical music,” Unsworth said. “So much time and so much effort is placed on these excerpts that it’s easy for them to take on a life of their own.” He decided to challenge that notion and convey the message to “try something different; try to play this.”
Unsworth said he finds jazz appealing because it allows him to think and play outside of the box.
The improvisation and the arranging of the music, to “mold it into what it is becoming” with an emphasis on collaboration from all of the musicians, are two main elements that sparked Unsworth’s interest in creating his own jazz CD in the first place. Unsworth is already starting to work on a second CD with the same group of musicians.
“I just did it without any idea of where it’s going to take me,” he said. “I would hope to make more records … I hope that I can keep this going for as long as possible.”
Excerpt this! is on sale at Adam Unsworth’s Web site, www.adamunsworth.com, www.cdbaby.com, and at Applause, a gift shop in the Kimmel Center.
His upcoming Philadelphia performances are on Friday, March 17, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art for two sets, 5:45 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. to 8:15 p.m., and on March 19 at Rock Hall from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Becky Molotsky can be reached at email@example.com.