Trumpeter Gidon Nunes Vaz – “Jazz offers me unique freedom to express my own story”

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Trumpeter Gidon Nunes Vaz is 28, with a great reputation, and a much sought-after musician. Since his eighth birthday, a gift of a trumpet is now part of his daily life. 

The sound fascinated me and the desire to play the trumpet was so great. Fortunately, that was finally when I was eight years old. I already listened to a lot of music before I started playing. My parents weren’t jazz fans. I accidentally discovered jazz while listening to a cassette tape. Dizzy Gillespie was the first trumpet star I heard. I also listened a lot to Miles Davis and Chet Baker. As a birthday present, I was allowed to choose a CD in the music shop. Love and admiration for music has been in my life for as long as I can remember.’’

Personally Jazz for me is the most profound experience to be able to express myself. It is limitless freedom experienced in form. While playing my trumpet I often feel that the sound is my true voice. Sometimes I experience that I can express myself more through my trumpet than with my voice and the words I speak because words are tied to images. Sound is more abstract. Jazz offers the unique freedom to express your own story. Nothing can replace that great feeling when you travel back home after an evening of intense playing music.’’

From the age of thirteen, Gidon Nunes Vaz was taught by Ruud Breuls, one of the best trumpet players in Europe, who currently plays in the WDR Big Band. “I recorded the lessons on a cassette tape and listened to them on and on back home. Ruud stayed my mentor for some ten years. He has played a major role in my life as a young musician. All those lessons… they are under my skin, so to speak.

Ruud’s main lesson that I cherish, is how you play a tune is more important than what you are playing. It has to carry an atmosphere in it and the colour of your sound and your timing are the most important. During and after my graduation I started to take lessons with the teacher Ruud Breuls admires Willem van der Vliet. He has changed my view on playing music pointed me towards inner freedom.

Gidon Nunes Vaz; Portrait; 2018; There’s No End;

He also says he owes much to Peter Guidi, who was also called the godfather of the Amsterdam jazz scene. “At a very young age, I have gotten many opportunities from him to perform and to learn on stage. The experience I have gained over the years thanks to him has been invaluable to me and I cherish all these memories. His death last year is a great loss to me and many others.”

Gidon Nunes Vaz often listens to trumpet players to learn from them. “But my absolute favourite is Tom Harrell. When it comes to strength from vulnerability… there is no one like him. Always playing from musicality, the technical mastery of the instrument is serving the musical expression. And musical inspiration is always part of his playing. Sure, Tom Harrell is a great inspirator for me.’’

Tom Harrell bears the inspiration of many others, such as Freddie Hubbard and Clifford Brown. In this way, inspiration is linked to the whole jazz tradition. Tom Harrell is also a great composer and arranger, with great admiration I look at the wide palette of possibilities he uses in his music.’’

This trumpeter has a clear idea about the future of jazz. “We have to play from unity. In our present time, the emphasis is mainly on individuality. When I think of my influences and inspiration, these are often people who played music from the perception that is greater than the ‘ I ‘. Many famous musicians were spiritual, think of Cannonball Adderley and John Coltrane, but also someone like Roy Hargrove. From that spirituality they have presented their music to the public, recognizing that there is a greater purpose and meaning in life.’’

In jazz, team spirit is important, you make this music together and at the same time, there is individuality, because everyone’s own input is essential. If you can create balance on stage, then there is a connection.’

Name: Gidon Nunes Vaz
Place of Birth: Amsterdam (Netherlands)
Date of Birth: 04-01-1991
Education: Master Conservatory of Amsterdam
Instruments: Trumpet and flugelhorn
Played with: Benjamin Herman Organ Quartet | Jazz Orchestra of the Concertgebouw | Dutch Concert Big Band | New Cool Collective Big Band | BvR Flamenco Big Band | Peter Beets/Henk Meutgeert New Jazz Orchestra | Temple University Jazz Band | Vincent Bach Centennial Big Band | Bop This! | Eric Ineke JazzXpress | Rein de Graaff Quintet (with Gary Smulyan) | John Engels Quintet | Gidon Nunes Vaz Quintet, Sextet, Quartet | Sherry Dyanne Band | Henk Meutgeert Trio |

Senior writer: Peter Beije

Photo credits: Marco Brandao, Govert Driessen – and (c) info: all rights go to original recording artist/owner/photographer(s).

Last modified: May 31, 2019