Paradise Blue Suite

In 2015, I was hired to write the music for a new play called PARADISE BLUE. The award-winning playwright, Dominique Morisseau (often compared to the great August Wilson), is a two-time NAACP Image Award recipient, Obie Award-winner, Kennedy Prize for Drama Award winner and Steinberg Playwright Award winner. Ms. Morisseau also won the L. Arnold Weissberger Award and the Edgerton Foundation New Play Award for PARADISE BLUE, which was premiered at the Williamstown Theatre Festival (http://wtfestival.org/main-events/paradise-blue/) in July of 2015. It was directed by Tony Award-winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson (The Piano Lesson, Jitney) and will be continuing its journey by coming to New York City for a limited run at the Signature Theatre (www.signaturetheatre.orgfrom April 24th - June 3rd, 2018. Here is a brief description of the play:
 
In 1949, Detroit’s Blackbottom neighborhood is gentrifying. Blue, a troubled trumpeter and the owner of Paradise Club, is torn between remaining in Blackbottom with his loyal lover Pumpkin or leaving behind a traumatic past. But when the arrival of a mysterious woman stirs up tensions, the fate of Paradise Club hangs in the balance. It is a thrilling and timely look at the changes a community endures to find its resilience.
 
Cast (at the Williamstown Theatre Festival):
Blue - Blair Underwood
Pumpkin - Kristolyn Lloyd
Silver - De'Adre Aziza
P-Sam - Andre Holland
Corn - Keith Randolph Smith
 
I am thrilled to have composed and recorded the music for this incredible play. I am currently working on a suite based on the music I wrote for PARADISE BLUE. I plan on premiering this new suite on August 15th in Las Vegas, at a special event and fundraiser. We will be celebrating the launch of the newly formed non-profit organization, Jazz Outreach Initiative (JOi)(http://www.jazzoutreachinitiative.org) and the new Jazz Studies Program at Nevada School of the Arts (which I am honored to be the Artistic Advisor of) (http://www.nsamusic.org/2017/04/21/elite-jazz-combos-2017-2018/). Performing with me for this special event will be the faculty members of the NSA Jazz Program. This collaborative effort is hopefully just the first of many between JOi and NSA. Let’s make a difference through music!

Celebrating Black History Month with the UNLV Jazz Ensemble I

I performed with the UNLV Jazz Ensemble I in February, 2017 to celebrate Black History Month. We decided to do several Duke Ellington pieces as a way to plant the seed for The First Annual Essentially Ellington Regional High School Jazz Band Festival to be held in Las Vegas on January 18th–19th, 2018 at UNLV!

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The art will take care of you

walt_wynton.jpgGrowing up in Las Vegas, I had a uniquely great music education largely because of my Dad, Roger Rampton. He spent his career as a percussionist playing in the Vegas hotels. I remember going to rehearsals with him from the time I was a little kid, before I even played an instrument. I remember sleeping under the timpani when he was playing with Bob Barclay's orchestra over at the Las Vegas symphony. I was just constantly exposed to music and loved being around musicians. Then when I got a little older and started playing piano as a little kid, I remember going to rehearsals with Johnny Haig's Relief Orchestra. I'd sit behind the piano player, Ronnie Simone. As he played, I'd watch the chords go by and look at his fingers and see how he played the piano. Then later when I started playing trumpet, I used to go and sit behind the trumpet section behind master trumpet players like Rick Baptist and Lynn Nicholson, and I would just sit back and watch them breathe and watch how they approached playing music. Here I was, a 12-year-old kid just starting out, and I was exposed to some of the greatest trumpet players of all time because of Dad. He would take me to rehearsals, and he saw that I was interested. It was unbelievable the education that I got through that experience of of just getting to go to rehearsals with Dad.

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