Trumpeter Brian Groder is a New Yorker, but there's plenty of Central Florida at the heart of his latest jazz disc, Torque.
Groder, who performs Saturday at the "Jazz on Edge" series at Taste in College Park, teamed for the 2005 album with jazz icon Sam Rivers, bassist Doug Mathews and drummer Anthony Cole. The result was 14 challenging, freewheeling tracks recorded at Mathews' home studio in Orlando. If that weren't enough, the concept was hatched during Groder 's 1998 residency at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in New Smyrna Beach. That's a mighty long gestation period. "Yeah, I've been working with that same stuff since 1998, been fooling with that stuff on the piano," Groder says by phone from his New York home. "It took a little bit, but, hey, I'm a Capricorn. I take the glacial approach, and I just tinker away."
In the meantime, Groder befriended Mathews, sitting in with Rivers' Rivbea Orchestra when it was still stationed at the now-defunct Will's Pub. Groder will team with Mathews and drummer Dru Betts on Saturday, with Orlando's Eastside Combo and cellist Claire Courchene as openers. "I just hit it off with Doug and then spoke to Sam," Groder says. "He told me, 'If you ever wanna do anything, give me a call.' " In the best glacial spirit, Groder waited about a month before taking him up on the offer and "after a bit, it just came together."
Writing credits are diverse on Torque, involving different combinations of the core studio band. Most of the songs were improvisations captured spontaneously, Groder says. "I do enjoy playing with a wide range of instrumentalists and vocalists, where you can listen closely, get inside their heads and get a feel for their parameters for improvisation."
Although the music is strictly instrumental, Groder says that much of his inspiration comes from reading, particularly the sci-fi genre. "I probably read way too much,' says Groder , who inherited his interest in sci-fi and reincarnation from his father. "I write notes in the margins of books and circle things, transcribe certain sentences and keep them in a folder with scraps of musical ideas. "I've written a few compositions based on a title or a concept I was reading about,' he says. "A great writer has a flow. With Fitzgerald and Tender is the Night, that's a ballad, a love song. Jack Kerouac's On the Road? Groder hears be-bop. "You see those shared characteristics in architecture and all the arts," he says. "I love going to museums, but the last thing I'll look at is the title. Sometimes, I don't even want to know. "You look at a great piece of art, and it has a harmonic structure or rhythm. They all tell a story and that's what holds our interest."
Groder 's next project is already under way, with plans for release in 2009. Another glacial evolution. "You may think you know how long it takes," Groder says, "but it takes a lot longer."