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Thomas Erdmann has article published

Professor of Music Thomas Erdmann had an article published in the professional trumpet journal.

Professor Thomas Erdmann in the Department of Music had an article published in the June 2015 issue of "The International Trumpet Guild Journal."

The article, "Herb Robertson: Defying Categorization," is about the internationally renowned trumpeter, flugelhornist, cornetist, valve trombonist, and composer.  Born in 1951, Clarence “Herb” Robertson started the trumpet at 10 and within two years was listening to and captivated by Donald Byrd, Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard, and Don Ellis.

Swept up in the excitement of music, he became versed in all music styles including Louis Armstrong and the classical canon. After three years at the Berklee College of Music, Robertson left to play on the road with jazz-rock bands. The strain of playing loud led to a short period where he lost his chops. 

What seemed like the end of the line was actually the beginning of his modern journey. Altering his playing style, Robertson became a more lyrical expressionist. It was his playing with alto saxophonist Tim Berne from 1981-87 that brought the trumpeter to prominence with the bellwether critical moment coming in 1986 when Robertson’s own quintet opened the Greenwich Music Festival. Joining others like Bill Frisell in the Brooklyn music scene, Robertson’s influence has been noted by many trumpeters including Dave Douglas and Peter Evans.

Robertson exemplifies the classically ancient notion of what an artist should be; concerned with the craft, with the art of putting notes together in new combinations, and fearlessly and continually exploring uncharted territory. His extensive historical knowledge has helped. Drawing on the past in order to move forward, many critics have celebrated his use of mutes, especially during this time when trumpeters have moved away from this jazz-roots staple of trumpet playing.

Critic Sean Patrick Fitzell summed up this aspect of Robertson best, “Forging a distinct sound, (Robertson) combines the chops and projection of a big band lead trumpet with the imagination and fearlessness of an improviser, extending his textural range with ambitious use of multiple mutes, vocalizations, megaphones and whistles.”

Downbeat adds, “Robertson has always been a virtuoso of plunger and mutes… (he plays) the full range of brass sound with startling elasticity.” Performing today as much as he ever has, and armed with a great sense of humor, Robertson has appeared on over 100 albums and continues to work extensively in the United States and Europe. 

Thomas Erdmann,
6/8/2018 9:50 AM