The Trumpet Mafia is coming to Ascona: don’t fortget to bring along your trumpet this year!

Trumpet Mafia project: seven free afternoons open to all the fans of the instrument, alongside the festival’s renowned trumpeters

Ashlin Parker

Ashlin Parker, 37, trumpeter of the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra and one of the most interesting faces of the New Orleans nouvelle vague, has launched an innovative project in the Crescent City, bringing together numerous trumpeters united by the common desire to play and grow together as a collective. Parker’s "Trumpet Mafia" project is now expanding to our shores, in a series of afternoon sessions (free entrance!) in which all trumpet aficionados (talented, less talented, newcomers, and experts) will be able to play (and grow) alongside the experts of the trumpet and stars of the festival.

In a way, trumpeters are the stars of jazz. It is thus only natural to see unhealthy rivalry and bitter competition grow out of an excess of narcissism. Even more so in a city like New Orleans, where there is no lack of talented musicians. So why not come up with an alternative model, to counter this sterile competition, nurturing solidarity, exchange, and togetherness instead? Ashlin Parker was thinking had this on his mind when, in 2013, he lay the foundations for his Trumpet Mafia project. And so a community was born, under a funny and curious label that owes its name to a funny joke exchanged by two Russian musicians. A collective of trumpeters who meets freely, once a week, on Sundays, to exchange ideas and experiences, and of course to play together.

Sharing knowledge
and experience

In only a few years dozens of trumpeters joined the project: the result is astonishing. “When you play alongside 20 artists just as good as you are, if not better – explains Ashlin Parker – you immediately become more modest, focalizing on what you still have to learn. It’s a positive mechanism, driven by the desire to grow, to emulate the greatest. One learns to respect and cherish the art of sharing.”. A winning model, for sure, also thanks to the presence, at the side of solid professionals and developing students, of undisputed trumpet masters such as Nicholas Payton, who enjoy sharing their knowledge and experience. The collective performs regularly in new Orleans and more and more across the United States. Their annual performance at the Jazz Fest, for instance, has become a classic. Concert programs are democratically discussed within the collective and the arrangements for 10 or 20 trumpeters and curated by Ashlin Parker, the soul of Trumpet Mafia.

Join the Trumpet Mafia
at JazzAscona 19

Ashlin Parker is now ready to export this project across the world and he hopes the idea can grow in Ascona as well. During the festival – particularly – there will be seven afternoons with the participation of the festival’s famous trumpeters and whoever will want to join them. “We are completely open”, continues Parker. “From the child at his first trumpet steps, to a band member, from the curious aficionado, to the professional who wants to exchange views with colleagues: everyone is welcome. Your technical level is not important and we don’t even expect you to have played jazz before. The more expert trumpeters will lead the others and those who need to grow in confidence will be able to throw themselves into the fray; everyone will give what she/he can. At the end we’ll all give a surprise performance through the streets of Ascona. What really counts is the desire to grow, learn, and share a really special experience”. Not a school, strictly speaking, and not a workshop. The sheer pleasure of coming together, sharing, and learning by having fun. You may join for one or more of these meetings and entrance is free.

Joining the Trumpet Mafia at JazzAscona
From Sunday June 23 to Saturday June 29
Meeting point: Aula Magna of the Collegio Papio, 1 pm.