B'shnorkestra / Neil Welch

Originally published in Earshot Jazz October 2012

The B’shnorkestra is a 14-piece ensemble of strings, horns, and drums that performs compositions and arrangements of its leader, Samantha Boshnack. This year’s festival will feature the one year old amalgam of regional performers. “I debuted it in September 2011,” Boshnack says. “Some of these musicians had not worked together before, so new musical connections and friendships have been forged. It felt wonderful to be the catalyst of that, and have such accomplished musicians playing my music, really getting into it, and working together so well.”

The personnel come from diverse musical communities – jazz, rock, avant-garde, salsa and classical. Joshua Kohl conducts trumpeter Boshnack along with violinists Alex Guy and Alina To, violist Brianna Atwell, cellists Daniel Mullikin and Maria Scherer Wilson, bassists Tim Carey and Isaac Castillo, woodwind players Chris Credit and Tobi Stone, French horn player Greg Campbell and percussionists Lalo Bello and Adam Kozie.

Boshnack garnered financial support for this large project from 4Culture, Seattle Mayor's Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs, Meet the Composer and the New York Foundation for the Arts. The B’shnorkestra also raised more than $6,000 from 130 individuals through Kickstarter to record 8 compositions at Bear Creek Studio. The recording will be released in 2013. The festival performance will include music from this recording, plus the premier of a new work.

A digital download of the B’shnorkestra’s performance this year at the Rainier Valley Cultural Center is available on BandCamp (http://bshnorkestra.bandcamp.com/) and videos can be viewed at the ensemble’s web site (http://thebshnorkestra.wordpress.com/).

Working with a large ensemble can prove challenging. “Probably the hardest thing is the rhythms,” Boshnack says, “how the different parts all lock in with each other. It takes a good amount of rehearsal time for everyone to really get comfortable with how their part fits within the rest of the band, and then to start making music and having fun with it.”

B’shnorkestra shares this performance with solo saxophonist Neil Welch. Welch plans to create a 35 minute acoustic set. “I mean to leave my mind as open as possible,” Welch says. He lists some sounds that will likely be explored – “cluster, mute, smear, rangy, scream, coo, prattle, blast.”

The ear becomes the most important instrument for the concert. Welch says, “Solo music demands focus in equal measure from the performer and listener.” Staying open to the moment is crucial. “I try to make my solo music as pliable as possible within the genre I operate. I lean on my individual mood and sense of space during a performance. Because of all this, I just try to give you myself.”

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