INTERVIEW | JASMIN PERALES
ON THE ALL-STARS, ACCOLADES, AND THE BIG APPLE
June 15, 2017 | by Erin Putnam
Jasim Perales playing w/ SFJAZZ High School All-Stars in 2015
The trombone is not an easy instrument. Whether for this reason or in spite of it, trombone players have tended to be mold-breakers. For instance, it was assumed that the slide trombone wasn’t adaptable to bebop – the genre’s fast runs required agility that was all but impossible without valves – but pioneer J.J. Johnson ignored this rhetoric and rose through the ranks to become one of bebop’s greats. Since then, trombone players have been constantly challenging ideas of what their instrument can do and how far they can go. One such player auditioned for the SFJAZZ High School All-Stars back in 2012 – as an eighth grader. And once again, a standard was (re)set thanks to an incredible trombone player and the only musician ever to play in the High School All-Stars for five years: meet this year’s SFJAZZ Education Award recipient and brand new alum, Jasim Perales.
When you first auditioned for SFJAZZ, you were already playing at a higher level than most -- where did you get that foundation in jazz performance?
Thank you, I'm flattered! I got my foundation in jazz performance from studying with the likes of Angela Wellman, Wayne Wallace, Charles Hamilton, and Marty Wehner. Also, studying and being immersed in music from a young age at the Oakland Public Conservatory of Music (led by Angela Wellman) and Oakland School for the Arts contributed heavily to my development and confidence as a soloist.
You've won a tremendous number of Outstanding Soloist awards over the years at competitions. How do you keep each solo so fresh and unique, and what's going through your mind when you improvise?
Keeping each solo fresh has always proved to be a challenge for me, because it is tempting to regurgitate everything I worked on in the practice room. What I try to do is imagine my solo as a story, or a single statement developed into a cohesive speech. Of course, I'm always trying to make conversation with the rhythm section as well. I try to forget about squeezing in every single lick I ever learned, and just focus on playing what flows naturally, what I'm feeling in the moment, or saying what I feel most inclined to say in that setting.
Is there a particular project, trip, gig, or repair that your SFJAZZ Education Award might go towards?
I confess, I haven't entirely made up my mind about what I will use the award for! I'm leaning towards either a new trombone, or a second brass instrument, like a trumpet, baritone, flugelbone, or bass trombone (it's important to play more than one brass instrument). There's also a chance that my money will go towards my flight to New York for college.
Tell us about your plans for the coming year.
Next year, I am going to be attending the Juilliard School, majoring in Jazz Performance, and hopefully studying with the illustrious Steve Turre!
Closing with nostalgia: what was your favorite moment of your five years in the High School All-Stars?
Choosing a favorite moment is difficult, but I think for now I'll say the Jazz Education Network Conference trip to New Orleans with the Combo, just because we all got to hang out and play great music in the place where it all began! Honestly, there were so many memorable moments, it would be impossible to list them all or favor one over the other. I've had a fantastic five years, and I am thankful for all of the memories, and new friends, I have gained.