Montclair Jazz Festival
Saturday, Aug. 12
Nishuane Park (at High Street)
By GWEN OREL
Trumpeter Ted Chubb is one of the headliners of the Montclair Jazz Festival. He recently released a new CD, “Gratified Never Satisfied,” which includes reimagined classics and original tunes as well. Chubb grew up in a musical family, and played violin and piano as a child. His mother was a choir director and he says he still plays “composer’s piano.” Chubb is also managing director of the Jazz House Kids’ summer workshop. Originally from Ohio, Chubb splits his time between New York City and Lucerne, Switzerland. We caught up to him to talk about talent and trumpet.
Montclair Local: Are people born with musical talent?
Chubb: People are born with a wide array of musical talent. In the end it’s a mixture between an aptitude and a developed love for the music. Through the love for music, people are willing to put in practice time to become professionals. That is the difference maker. I believe anyone with regular aptitude or talent can put in the hours and make it happen.
Prodigies have built up a relationship to music and seriousness to music that started at 4 or 5 years old. They may not think of it as hard work. It is their way of having fun. Other kids like riding their bike or doing kid things. It’s like their favorite toy.
A difference in aptitude doesn’t affect how far people can progress, just where they start from. If a student comes in moderately advanced and another as beginner, if the intermediate student doesn’t practice as hard they stay where they are.
Montclair Local: Do you think anyone can learn to play jazz?
Chubb: I do. Jazz is a language. Improv is not complete on-the-spot spur-of-the-moment divine intervention. It’s more like slowly learning vocabulary words that have to do with music, then sentences, and then paragraphs. You respond to what someone else has given you musically, or make a statement requesting a response from someone else.
Montclair Local: What do you love about the trumpet?
Chubb: For me, the trumpet is a very intense instrument. It’s very difficult, and requires a lot of daily dedication. I can’t take any days off. None. It doesn’t matter where I go or what I’m doing I have to practice or it is not going to work. They don’t always love me in hotels.
Montclair Local: How much do you practice?
Chubb: If I have a daily routine, four hours every day. Bare minimum, 45 minutes to an hour. So as director of the Jazz House summer workshop, I have be there at 9 a.m. ready to accept the kids, run things, write emails. Before I see anyone, I’ve got to get that hour in. To me, that makes my life make sense.
Montclair Local: Back to the trumpet…
Chubb: The versatility is amazing. It is a sound made with your breath. Trumpet can go from a whisper to a very powerful instrument. Trumpet has commonality to the human voice that way. It’s an intimate way of making music. My body has to produce the sound.
Montclair Local: How do you feel when playing it?
Chubb: I feel like I can be very vulnerable, but also very powerful. When you’re playing and everything is working great and you’re expressing yourself, there’s no disconnect from musical thoughts from the brain, no disconnect from what’s coming out of the bell, the band is together, you feel like you can do anything. I can’t think of anything more magical or powerful than that. It’s humbling. You’re exposed. It’s easy to feel vulnerable. You’re so far out, right in front, like a singer.