Bria Skonberg makes the trumpet cool.
“Is that happening? Great!” the jazz musician says. “My life is awesome right now. I get to keep exploring music, keep exploring new places, travelling. Music has been the vehicle for that.”
The award winning trumpeter, vocalist and composer credits school music programs for peaking her interest in performing.
“My middle and high school had a lot of really vibrant band programs. That’s definitely how I got into music. I did the marching band – yeah, I did that,” she says with a laugh.
Her parents also allowed Skonberg, who grew up in Chilliwack, to try any sport or instrument she desired.
“My brother played the fiddle and we went to a lot of competitions to support him. I was always around music.”
When she hit senior high, she joined jazz choir and got involved in a small combo playing Dixieland jazz.
She and the group took their talents beyond graduation and began playing local gigs. “After graduation most students break apart, but we stuck it out,” she says. Skonberg took on the manager’s role and learned the business side of music. “It’s not something that’s easy to teach, you just have to do it,” she says.
She graduated from Capilano University’s jazz program, played with the Dal Richards Orchestra for four years and released her first solo album Fresh in 2009. The 31 year old moved to New York five years ago to expand her musical horizons.
Skonberg last played Victoria’s JazzFest in 2010 where her bassist struck up a conversation with veteran jazz guitarist and vocalist John Pizzarelli. “He came and jammed with us for two hours – that’s the kind of thing that can happen at festivals. It was a neat door opener. The first CD I recorded in the States, John Pizzarelli was a guest artist.”
She’s excited to play the TD Victoria International JazzFest again this year and to host a workshop.
“It’s open to everybody. Education is something I get excited about. It’s ideal, I like to do the concert at night and take time in the afternoon to talk about the process. It’s great to talk to people in the city and get to know people. Victoria’s got many great musicians.”
She says she’s not a “super road warrior” when it comes to tours, but thanks to a Canada Council for the Arts grant, she’s able to visit some Canadian cities that have previously been out of reach.
“We haven’t had a lot of chances to tour Canada, the Canada Council grant has allowed us to connect the dots. “There’s five of us and getting around Canada is not cheap. That’s where you have to understand the business side, there’s flights, hotels, we spend a lot of money on the road. This allows us to visit a number of communities both major and smaller – I’m really excited to play in Canada,” she says.
Although she’s now based in New York, she keeps her Chilliwack roots close.
“Three of the guys in my band I’ve known for 15 years and I think that comes across when we play. Evan Arntzen, Sean Cronin and I have been playing together a long time. Darrian (Douglas) is from Mississippi and Dalton (Ridenhour ) is from Missouri – we’re a bit of a mixed pot.
“Actually we were all out singing Karaoke last night, that’s why my voice is so raspy,” she adds with another laugh.
Bria Skonberg Harbour Towers Hotel jazzvictoria.ca