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Exploring the Mutantrumpet of Ben Neill

A  Message from Echoes leads to the Exploration of Horizontal from Ben Neill

On Friday of last week, I received the email outlining what was coming up on Echoes during the week of January 18th. On Wednesday the 20th, the title of the show is Tripped Out Trumpets. Here’s the description of the show…..

It’s the sound of tripped out trumpets. Horn players are going beyond the sound of Be-bop solos and classical concertos. We’ll hear from leading innovators expanding the range of the trumpet including Ben Neill, Nils Peter Molvaer, Jeff Oster and more. Join John Diliberto with Tripped Out Trumpets on Echoes.


Ben NeillOf the three trumpeters mentioned, I have listened to the music of Jeff Oster. His latest album is titled Next is a really fine album it was at the top of the Zone Music Reporter Top 100 Radio Airplay Chart back in the fall! The other two artists were unfamiliar to me. I decided that I would start with the first name, Ben Neill. At Spotify I saw that his latest release is Horizontal. The album became the soundtrack for my trip back from Paulsboro on Friday, and since then I have listened to the wonderful album a few more times.This morning I went to Ben Neill’s website to explore the man and his music a little further. From his biography…..

BEN NEILL is a composer, performer, producer, and inventor of the mutantrumpet, a hybrid electro-acoustic instrument. He has been called “a creative composer and genius performer” (Time Out NY),”the mad scientist of dancefloor jazz” (CMJ), and “a musical powerhouse, a serious and individual talent” (Time Out London). Neill’s music blends influences from electronica, jazz and contemporary classical music, blurring the lines between DJ culture and acoustic instrument performance.

Ok so now I’m really interested. So what I was listening to was a mutantrumpet!! Tell Me More! From Wikipedia…..

Neill invented the “mutantrumpet”, which is a trumpet equipped with extra bells and valves, and electrical modifications that allow him to control computer variables with his playing. The first mutantrumpet had three bells, six valves, a trombone slide and an analog processing system. At the STEIM Studios in Amsterdam, he then developed a MIDI-capable mutantrumpet, which contained more switches, knobs and pressure-sensitive pads so as to allow greater control over the sound and visuals of his sound installations. Robert Moog designed its original electronic processing system and David Behrman designed a computer program to facilitate live performance. In 2008, Neill completed a new version of his instrument during another residency at STEIM. In 2014, he returned to Amsterdam to design another updated version of the mutantrumpet. Read More

Sounds like an instrument that Rahsaan Roland Kirk would be proud of! The bottom line is that you should check out Horizontal and the mutantrumpet of Ben Neill, as well as, Next from Jeff Oster. As for me, I’m going back to Spotify to check out Nils Peter Molvaer, the third of those Tripped Out Trumpeters who will be featured tomorrow night on Echoes!!

Links for the Further Exploration of the Music of Ben Neill

Ben Neill’s Website

Here’s Ben Neill with a demo of his mutantrumpet…..