Pioneering trombonist and composer Peter Zummo has created a career-spanning playlist of his own compositions and collaborations, exclusively for us.
"Making a playlist of my work started out as a disturbing exercise—all those moments when I was required to revisit the past—but in the end I liked what I was hearing. Any one of the music tracks here might have evolved from years of projects, compositions, experiments, and daily practice, all of which were compressed into what the listener hears, which is the published result. I worked on the first song on the playlist for more than a decade, until the New York bass player Ernie Brooks said, "Let's play it". Even more decades later, eight different versions of the song were released on the album Dress Code.
"The collaboration that led to the second song on the list, "Bluebells", came together more quickly. It started one afternoon, when London drummer and producer Tom Skinner came to my house in New York City. We listened to music in my studio. At one moment, Tom asked about a track, "Was that recorded on tape?" It was. Impressed at the intensity of his listening, I said to myself, "I could work with this guy." I eventually contributed to his band, Hello Skinny's album Watermelon Sun. When we made the recording, I was in London for other work. The session, in which we did five tracks, including "Bluebells", was the next morning, and that afternoon, I took a train to the Continent for more shows.
"American cellist and composer Arthur Russell wrote the third song on the playlist, "This Is How We Walk on the Moon". My instructions were to play exactly what he was singing in real time. For other Russell tunes, I was to sight-read his precise notations. For yet others, as in parts of "Go Bang", my role was quite free. I remember asking, "What do you want me to play?" And he replied, "Just do your chromatic thing". Sometimes, he was working for me, as in "Song IV", and I could expect energetic expansions of my ideas.
"Each job, each project, each track you hear on this playlist has its own history and creates a new environment. I try to find the right thing to play, while doing my thing."
- Peter Zummo, 2020.