Natalie Cressman

Natalie Cressman was raised in a musically diverse family and has continued to expand her musical horizons. Still in her early 20s, the trombonist/composer/vocalist has assimilated the full range of her sonic influences into a startlingly mature, strikingly original voice that melds the sophistication of modern jazz with captivating storytelling and intoxicating melodies reminiscent of indie rock’s most distinctive songwriters. Cressman spent the past four years on the road with Phish’s Trey Anastasio and has also performed with jazz legends Wycliffe Gordon and Peter Apfelbaum. Turn the Sea, Cressman’s second album, reflects her varied experiences. Anastasio describes the album as “a beacon for light in an increasingly dark and automated era of music.” Natalie is on the brink of an amazing life in music. If this album is any indication, then I’ll continue to listen every step of her journey. Turn the Sea is partly inspired by the bandleaders’ boundary-breaking approaches. It reveals a sound that is utterly uncategorizable, but instantly accessible. This is a product Cressman’s youth. Cressman states, “I want music that my generation can relate to.” Cressman says, “I would love for anyone to hear my music and find something they can relate to.” The disc features an eight-piece band that includes Cressman’s Bay Area peers, including trumpeter Ivan Rosenberg and flutist and clarinetist Steven Lugerner. Keyboardist Samora Pinderhughes, keyboardist Samora Casey, guitarist Gabe Schneider and bassist Jonathan Stein. Michael Mitchell is the bandleader. She sings and plays trombone. Cressman’s parents raised her in San Francisco, where she was surrounded by music all the time. Sandy Cressman is her mother and a jazz singer. Jeff Cressman is a trombonist, recording engineer, and long-time Santana member. Natalie studied trombone with her dad, but she wanted to become a dancer and not a musician. She started out as a ballet dancer, but an injury forced her to take a new path. Her parents were there to support her as she pursued a career in music. Cressman recalls that “Seeing how passionate and inspired my parents were about their work lit a fire inside me when I decided to pursue music.” Although her parents were able to provide many opportunities for her, Cressman’s prodigious talents continued to be a major draw in a variety of high-profile settings. She soon found herself playing salsa with Uruguayan percussionist Edgardo Cambon e Orquesta Candela, Latin Jazz with Pete Escovedo’s Latin Jazz Orchestra, world music with Jai Uttal and the Pagan Love Orchestra, and globally-inspired avant-garde jazz with multi-instrumentalist Peter Apfelbaum, a family friend who became a key mentor. Cressman is still working with Apfelbaum in the New York Hieroglyphics or Sparkler. Cressman moved to the east coast in 2009 to attend the Manhattan School of Music. The following year, Cressman was recruited by Trey Anastasio, a pioneering jam band leader, for his touring band. Anastasio explains, “I met Natalie for the first time when she was 18 years old. I was immediately blown away by her singing and melodically arranged voice.” Natalie is one of the most rare musicians. She was born into a musical family, and grew up in a home full of Brazilian, jazz, and Afro-Cuban rhythms. She is a musical person. Cressman explains that Unfolding, her jazz-oriented debut was followed by Turn the Sea, which is more song-oriented. This was probably due to her time with Anastasio. Trey wants to be inclusive of the audience but doesn’t make his music too boring. With the music I write, I feel like I am in two worlds. It’s not just bread and butter jazz, but it’s also not entirely anything else. It would be difficult to identify Cressman’s music and equally difficult to resist its appeal. The album’s title track marries Cressman’s silken voice with a lyrical trombone, and has a rhythm that evokes waves receding and cresting. “Fortune’s Fool”, a melancholy love story, is driven by a dark, Middle Eastern-inflected beat. “New Moon” sets the mysterious lyrics to a groove that’s soulful and Rhodes-driven. It then transitions into a powerful chorus that draws from West African rhythms. The album closes with a remix by the band’s bassist, JNTHN STEIN (an electronica producer). This track is a hint at more future directions for Cressman while also making the song’s message about risk-taking tangible. She says that it’s a good way to end the year, returning to where you started but in a completely different place. from

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