Jazz first attracted a mass audience shortly before World War I, some 90 years ago. Frequent revivals notwithstanding, the question is often posed, "who will carry the torch in the next generation?" In his book Preservation Hall, author William Carter asks whether traditional jazz will die out with the current generation, or "re-seed itself?"
With her dazzling smile and sun-streaked hair, you might expect Bria Skonberg to be toting a surfboard down a California beach instead of playing 'hot jazz' trumpet. Part of a new generation of gifted 20-something players, Bria visits the stage of The Landing to perform classic jazz repertoire with The Jim Cullum Jazz Band.
A native of British Columbia, Bria began her trumpet studies at age 11. She recently graduated with a degree in Jazz Performance from Capilano College. During the 2007 season she performed at over 20 traditional jazz festivals in the US, Europe and Canada, and won the coveted Kobe Award, presented at the Breda Festival in Holland. Bria continues her non-stop touring schedule performing with bands such as Mighty Aphrodite or as a solo artist from Denmark to Japan—and from California to Florida.
Bria cites Louis Armstrong as her main inspiration and stylistic model. This week on Riverwalk Jazz Bria joins Jim Cullum in the front line to pay tribute to Armstrong with tunes he made famous, "Someday You'll be Sorry," "Muskrat Ramble" and "Big Butter and Egg Man." Also on the bill, is a set devoted to pieces collected or composed by "The Father of the Blues," W.C. Handy. Bria closes things out with a spirited vocal rendition of the traditional New Orleans favorite, "Ice Cream."
For the past several years Bria has been active as an advocate for young musicians, working as a teacher and counselor at the Heebie Jeebies Youth Jazz Camp, Mammoth Lakes Youth Jazz Camp and the Sacramento Traditional Jazz Society Youth Jazz Camp in the summer. She programs, narrates and performs in educational elementary school shows, and has given clinics at Sacramento State University and the University of Colorado. She is also the leader of two classic jazz bands, Mighty Aphrodite and the 51st Eight.
Bria Skonberg is bullish on the future of classic jazz, saying she plans to use her youth and enthusiasm to bring more attention to the music she loves.
Photo credit for Home Page: Special Guest trumpeter Bria Skonberg. Photo courtesy Riverwalk Jazz.
Text based on Riverwalk Jazz script by Margaret Moos Pick © 2012