The new face of jazz (or at least one of them) has tattoos and wears yoga pants. Raised on Brazilian and Afro-Cuban rhythms, with straight-ahead instrumental chops worthy of a Wycliffe Gordon and yet equally divested enough to tour as a member of the jam band Phish, and all the while capable of laying a deep vocal read on an oldie like “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” — say hello to Natalie Cressman. Still in her 20s, Cressman reminds a listener of the high-octane Lincoln Center class and freelance spirit of Esperanza Spalding, but with a trombone instead of a double bass. Is Cressman the future of jazz? No. That’s too heavy a burden to lay on any one performer.
Natalie Cressman performs her original composition
In it, but not of it, describes the approach that Cressman and so many of her contemporaries bring to contemporary jazz. Jazz music is not doomed and will survive of its own accord. Surely there are Charlie Parker sycophants enough to ensure that the accomplishments of that bygone era will be around for generations to come, albeit in a kind of museum setting. It’s the fresh approach by young jazz players who were raised on indie rock that interest me most at present.
- Saturday, July 11, 2015, 8 p.m.
4275 Mission Bay Drive (in the showroom at San Diego Jet Ski Rentals),
$10 - $20
Naturally, Natalie Cressman’s backstory includes deep music roots: her dad played ’bone in Santana and her mom is a jazz singer. An injury took Cressman out of her first love, ballet, and therefore her development as a musician began somewhat late in the game, but so be it. Consider her multitude of childhood influences a sort of cross-training, such that when she began to woodshed a music instrument in earnest, the finished result came out as if effortless. Her trombone is world-class, but her singing voice is another thing entirely, an empathic entity that channels the ages. Cressman’s is a flawless act that can only get better with time and age. Yep, I smell a Grammy — someday.