Visiting Artist Offers Insight and Latin Flair to Jazz

Trumpeter Michael Philip Mossmann conveys life lessons through the MSUFCU Jazz Artist in Residence program

Michael Philip Mossman performs with MSU Jazz Orchestras during the MSUFCU Jazz Artist in Residence concert at Fairchild Theatre.
Michael Philip Mossman has been active on both the Jazz and Latin scene since he was 17, collaborating with a variety of musicians and composers throughout his career.
MSU Associate Professor of Jazz Trumpet Etienne Charles and Michael Philip Mossman perform together after an interview for a morning show on WXMI, Fox 17 in Grand Rapids, Mich.
Michael Philip Mossman works with a student from Byron Center High School on the marimba.

Walter Cano remembers how he played arrangements by Michael Philip Mossman when he was in high school band. In October, the now master’s student in jazz studies got to meet the man behind the music when Mossman visited the Michigan State University College of Music through the 2017-18 MSU Jazz Artist in Residence Program.

Cano was elated to hear that Mossman was the first of four critically acclaimed artists slated to mentor, perform and tour with MSU jazz students, and looked forward to working with a jazz master whose career he hoped to emulate.

“He improvises, plays lead trumpet and arranges music,” says Cano, lead trumpeter in MSU's Jazz Orchestra I. “Those are all my areas as well. He seems like someone who is content with his career and life. For me, that's the most important thing. He made the point that music can be tough, but if you can make a living doing it, it's a lot of fun.”

For seven days spanning Oct. 9-15, Mossman immersed himself with College of Music jazz studies students and toured with the MSU Jazz Orchestra I to high schools and academies across the state. His residency—supported through a $1 million endowment by MSU Federal Credit Union—included performances at the MSUFCU for their Blue Mondays concert series and a public performance at the Fairchild Theatre.

Associate Professor of Jazz Trumpet Etienne Charles says he first met Mossman when he was living in New York, and admired his work as a trumpet player, composer, arranger and educator. When Charles was tapped to name an artist for the 2017-18 residency, he instantly thought of Mossman.

“He gave me a lot of great advice. He’s clear and concise in his delivery, and gets straight to the point,” says Charles. “I knew bringing him here would be a great opportunity for students.”

Etienne Charles and students of the jazz trumpet studio pose for a photo with Michael Philip Mossman.
Rodney Whitaker and Jazz Studies students walk through a downtown district of Detroit after a television interview with NBC Detroit Local 4’s program “Live in the D.”
MSU Jazz Orchestra I and Michael Philip Mossman rehearse on location at one of their many stops across Michigan.

Mossman has been active on both the jazz and Latin jazz scenes with a virtual who’s who of the music industry since he was 17. Early on, he played lead trumpet with the Machito Orchestra, Toshiko Akiyoshi, and with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra, and joined the Blue Note Ensemble Out of the Blue and the Horace Silver Quintet in the mid-1980s. He has performed and recorded with Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakey, Joe Henderson, McKoy Tyner, Gerry Mulligan, Joe Zawinul, Slide Hampton, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Jon Faddis, George Gruntz, Bob Mintzer, Steve Turre, Anthony Braxton, Roscoe Mitchell, Tom Pierson, Carnegie Hall Jazz Orchestra, Charles Mingus Orchestra, Benny Carter, Gil Evans Orchestra, and Count Basie Orchestra.

Mossman’s Latin Jazz associations include Tito Puente, Eddie Palmieri, Chico O’Farrill, Ray Barretto, Daniel Ponce, Israel “Cachao” Lopez, Paquito D’Rivera, Bebo Valdez and Michel Camilo, and work with Mario Bauza and his Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra. He has composed, arranged and recorded for orchestras, film, ballet and dance companies; chamber orchestras and classical ensembles; and as a soloist. He is lead trumpeter with Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, and professor and director of Jazz Studies at the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College. 

Charles says MSU’s residency program is emblematic of the long-standing jazz tradition upheld by experienced musicians mentoring young and aspiring artists. He adds that bringing notable artists to campus further positions the College as a center of jazz studies, and strengthens career opportunities for students.

“It’s essential for students to come into contact with those who are currently the top call players, composers, arrangers and educators on the scene,” Charles says. “Our students become familiar to these people, and it’s a great way for students to build networks and to play music with the masters.”

Cano agrees. He cites the multiple years he has benefited from learning from jazz artists in residence as both an MSU undergraduate and graduate student.

“All the artists have had a profound effect on how I approach playing this music," says Cano, who earned his bachelor’s in jazz studies in 2016. “Just seeing them as people is a big thing. Sometimes, you can get star struck and you never see the human side of these artists. It’s humbling to meet them and makes you understand that you can have a place in this, too.”

The MSUFCU Jazz Artist in Residence program represents the largest-ever investment in the College’s curriculum and provides one-on-one instruction, collaboration and performance opportunities with some of the world’s best jazz musicians. Since 2013, 16 artists have come to MSU to carry out an itinerary that includes workshops, concerts, events and outreach to more than 27,332 students and adults in communities across Michigan. The 2017-2018 season features four weeklong residencies including Trumpeter Michael Philip Mossman, Drummer Harvey Mason, Pianist Helen Sung and Saxophonist Steve Wilson.

Recap: On the Road with Michael Philip Mossman

While an MSUFCU Jazz Artist in Residence in October, jazz trumpeter Michael Philip Mossman took to the road with the Jazz Orchestra I as part of MSU’s efforts to bring jazz performance and education to Michigan high schools, music academies and colleges.

Destinations and highlights:

  • Byron Center High School, Byron Center . . . 450 people attended a community outreach concert; 56 students were involved in workshops.
  • West Ottawa with Holland and Black River High Schools . . . 200 people attended a community outreach concert; 20 students were involved in workshops.
  • Center Stage Theatre, West Shore Community College, Ludington . . . 350 people attended a community outreach concert; 100 students were involved in workshops.
  • First Congregational Church of Detroit, sponsored by the Carr Center . . . 25 people attended a community outreach concert.

What teachers and band directors said:

“This is an amazing experience for our students.  They get the opportunity to meet and get instruction from a world-class artist and arranger. Mr. Mossman did an excellent job of teaching the students how to better interpret and perform his arrangement. The concepts he worked on will inform and improve our performance on the rest of the literature we perform this year.

“Additionally, the MSU students jumped in and worked with all our students, even during their ‘dinner’ time. Each one of my students received individualized instruction from an MSU student who is a master on their instrument. Our students are still very excited about all they learned. This is a great springboard for the rest of our year.”

—Mike Hamann, band director at West Ottawa High School

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