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 March 2020 issue of The International Trumpet Guild Journal.
The article, “Ralph Alessi: Kindred Spirit,” is about trumpeter, flugelhornist and composer Ralph Alessi. Born in 1963 to famed classical trumpeter Joseph Alessi (longtime trumpeter with the Radio City Music Hall and Metropolitan Opera orchestras, later a celebrated West Coast-based teacher), and soprano Maria Leone Alessi (who sang at both Radio City Music Hall and the Metropolitan Opera), Ralph and his trombonist brother, also named Joseph (Principal with the New York Philharmonic since 1985, on the faculty of The Juilliard School, and previously with the Philadelphia and Montreal symphonies), have continued the family’s tradition of unswerving devotion to not only their own musical excellence but also eagerly passing on their knowledge to generations of students. While the rest of the family followed the classical road, Ralph chose a path including not just classical performance but also forward-thinking jazz, with great critical acclaim, in addition to teaching.
First studies on the trumpet came from his father before work with traditional jazz and forward-thinking bassist Charlie Haden at the California Institute of the Arts. During this time Alessi performed in Haden’s groundbreaking and historically important Liberation Music Orchestra while also freelancing with the San Francisco Symphony and various opera and chamber ensembles.
After completing a bachelor’s degree in jazz trumpet performance and a master’s degree in jazz bass performance, Alessi moved to New York in 1999. Quickly coming to notice of musicians associated with the downtown scene such as saxophonist Steve Coleman, pianist Uri Caine and clarinetist Don Byron among others, Alessi established himself as a major creative performing and compositional force.
Critic Michael G. Nastos, in reviewing Alessi’s debut as a leader, 2002’s “Hissy Fit,” immediately noticed Alessi’s talents stating, “Alessi is emerging as one of the most important new trumpeters and composers of the new century.” Further acclaim for his recordings as a leader arrived in the form of numerous four-star Downbeat Magazine reviews, magazine feature articles, and various Top 10 Record of the Year lists. In JazzTimes noted critic Nate Chinen wrote of Alessi’s 2013 Baida recording, “Without abandoning his yen for oppositional energies, it’s a beautifully coherent statement, not just his most accomplished album but a contender for one of the year’s best.” The New York Times seconded acclaiming the album for its “elegant precision and power.”
Never far from his desire to share what he knows with successive generations of youth, Alessi currently teaches at the School of Jazz and Contemporary Music at The New School, has taught at the University of Nevada-Reno, New York University, Eastman, the New England Conservatory, and Brandeis and Harvard universities, and is the Founder and Director of the New York-based nonprofit School for Improvisational Music.
Among the bands he leads include This Against That, an ensemble Alessi describes as “organically tow(ing) the line between jazz, pop and contemporary classical music,” and the Baida Quartet of which Downbeat exclaimed, “Alessi works between the notes… the group’s focus on low-level details (is) a study of exactitude, like a jeweler’s art set to music.” When one listens to the dexterity, refined brilliance, luscious tone, and genre hopping skill Alessi displays in everything from neo-bop to straight-ahead to free to classical, it’s easy to see why he’s so revered. He may have the genes, but developing them into what Downbeat called, “An individualist with a style and sound all his own,” was all his own doing.
Erdmann has now had more than 280 peer-reviewed/professional articles published.