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Audrey Ochoa

Did Audrey Hepburn Really Play the Trombone, or is Audrey Ochoa Just Messing With Us?

A hot trio, great engineers and a new label equals a hot, new sound for trombonist Audrey Ochoa.

By Jim Dupuis

This is the second time I’ve interviewed Edmonton-based trombone player/composer/educator Audrey Ochoa. I enjoy talking with her. She has a wonderful sense of humour and is quick to laugh. She tells us that her alleged attempt to compose Katy Perry’s next hit morphed into a very good contemporary jazz album that includes fusion and electronics. Katy’s loss is our gain. The new album Afterthought relies on fewer musicians than her previous album, as this is a trio album, but some remarkable engineers round out the talent. I recently caught up with her and we talked about her new album Afterthought; women named Audrey, and the future of music.

I wasn’t thinking of Ellington. I wasn’t thinking of Weather Report, I was thinking of Martin Sexton and friggin’ Katy Perry

JD: I talked to you in July of 2014 when you had Trombone and Other Delights out. This is your follow-up to that. How did this one go?

AO: For this time, it was a trio; bass and drums and trombone, which was really, different from the last time. It was a quartet with extra guests and a piano and it was a real Latin feel. I decided to do something different with the guys on this album. (Laughs) That was the worst answer ever, “How’s it going—you did really well.”

JD: Ok, you did mention you have just a trio this time. You have Mike Lent on bass, who was on the last album. You also have one of my favourite drummers anywhere—Sandro Dominelli. I thought he was living in New York. Is he back in Edmonton?

AO: He was doing some recording in New York. He did his last two albums with New York guys, but he is living in Edmonton. He’s got a wife and two beautiful daughters, so I think he is there to stay.

JD: That’s good for Edmonton, for sure.

AO: Oh ya, it’s great for me. That was the best part of this album. We developed a thing together, where personality was essential to the record. I sort of wrote the tunes for these guys.

JD: That’s good. I went through the album, Afterthought, a number of times, before speaking to you and right off the bat—the first song, “Low Interest Rate,” I got the Weather Report feel. Was that on purpose?

AO: No, actually, that’s a good call. That was not on purpose. I assume you are referring to the treatment and the filters on the trombone and the sort of electric sound.

JD: Ya.

AO: We kind of did a little bit of that in post-production. If you listen further on the album, we did a lot more of that later. That was the product of working with Stew Kirkwood, the guy who mixed it. He comes from the old pop/rock/electronic background, not a huge jazz background, so I guess it was a real mash of fusion.

JD: That’s what I got out of that song. I like the fact that you have different subgenres of jazz throughout it. It’s a very enjoyable CD. Then, with “Ant Grasshopper,” I got a Duke Ellington feel. It sort of went from a little bit of fusion to Ellington. The trombone in that one, could be in an Ellington band at any time. Was that somewhat in your mind when you were composing it?

AO: You know, all these songs, I sort of wrote with voice and guitar, really and then I developed them for a jazz trio. None of that was on my mind. I was trying to write a pop album (laughs). I was trying to just write singable pop songs and that’s what popped out. I don’t know if I was successful in my original mission (laughs) but, no, I wasn’t thinking of Ellington. I wasn’t thinking of Weather Report, I was thinking of Martin Sexton and friggin’ Katy Perry (both laugh).

JD: (Laughing) From my point of view you and you are going to hate me, I think you are a failure at pop—no just joking. In all seriousness, it’s jazz to me and has a nice feel. Like you said the first album had that Latin feel. I was opening this one up and thinking that I’m going to get some nice Latin tunes here and see what’s going on. I wasn’t disappointed in the least. It just was different from what I expected. Now, the song “De Mi.” What does that mean?

AO: From me.

JD: Ok, duh, that’s pretty simple. With that one, I sort of got a Mid East feel in places and some interesting echo. That’s probably your producer again?

AO: Actually, that’s a fellow from Victoria, Dallas Budd, who goes by the stage name of Battery Poacher, who did mixing on “De Mi” and “Afterthought.” What originally was a Latin jazz tune, he turned it into that electronic, sort of Middle Eastern thing. He changed the whole thing. It was great (laughs). It was nice to have another take on that tune.

JD: I like the variety on Afterthought. You have a song called “Dopplegangers.” Have you ever met your doppleganger?

AO: (Laughs) I have a doppleganger. I am a twin.

JD: Are you?

AO: Ya.

JD: You blew that question, gee (laughs). No, just kidding. I did not know that. That’s interesting. I think you must have got tired of hearing questions about the cover on Trombone and Other Delights (cover is a rip-off of Herb Alpert’s iconic album Whipped Cream and Other Delights). The cover on Afterthought is quite subdued. There are pretty photos of you. Is that a beehive hairdo from the 1960s?

AO: I was trying to rip-off Audrey Hepburn. Because after the first one, which was so well received, and I’m not sick of questions about it. Frankly, I made an outrageous cover, so I should expect it. I wanted attention for it and I didn’t know how I was going to follow it up. (Laughs) So I thought that I’d just rip-off Audrey Hepburn and maybe somebody will think, “Oh, I didn’t know Audrey Hepburn released a trombone album.” (Both laugh).

JD: The black and white picture on the cover—I thought, wow that’s Audrey Hepburn. I kind of thought you were aiming for that, but I wasn’t totally sure. I like your sense of humour. You look really good in that era’s clothing and hair. That’s pretty nice.

AO: Thank you (laughs).

I did a gig, we high-fived at the end of it and decided it was really fun. Let’s make an album. Why not? So, the whole thing was an afterthought. That’s why I called it that

JD: What is the significance of the title Afterthought?

AO: The track “Afterthought” was not originally going to be on the album. I had recorded eight tunes and one of them I didn’t like. It’s not on there. Sandro and I were in the studio and he said, “You know what you should do Audrey, you should record a track that’s just trombone.” And so I did. Five tracks of just trombone that sounded like a chorale—no drums, no bass. While I liked it, (laughs) I thought that nobody’s going to like this. I sent it off to be remixed and it got electronified by Dallas. The whole song was an afterthought. The more I thought of it, this album was kind of an afterthought. I didn’t get a grant to do it. It was something I decided to record on a whim. After Mike (Lent) and Sandro (Dominelli) and I did a gig, we high-fived at the end of it and decided it was really fun. Let’s make an album. Why not? So, the whole thing was an afterthought. That’s why I called it that (laughs).

JD: Ok, the last time I talked to you, you were teaching music in the school system.

AO: Yes, I’m still doing that.

JD: Any budding stars that we might hear in the next ten years?

AO: I’m working with really, young children. They are in elementary school. How shall I say, maybe in ten years there will be budding stars, but it won’t look like what we think, because they are doing so many different things with music now, that it is going to have to look different in ten years.

JD: Indeed, I think you are right about that. It’s always interesting to see the young ones and how many will continue with it, etc. It’s nice that they are being exposed to music at a young age. I think that’s all anybody can ask for in an education that includes music.

AO: You hear your Jacob Colliers and Donny McCaslins and all of that is electronic and about different musical values and it is also, largely about performance. I think it will look a lot different.

JD: I think you have a good point. How does someone get your new album, Afterthought  by the Audrey Ochoa Trio?

AO: You can buy it online. It is on iTunes, CD Baby and this album is on Chronograph Records. They are now both of Chronograph Records. You can purchase it through Chronograph, as well.

JD: Cool. That’s the small label out of Calgary. We really enjoy the music that they send us.

AO: It’s nice to have them handling that part of the business and I can concentrate on playing trombone.

JD: That’s what you should be doing anyway. It’s tough to have ten hats on at once and get albums together. You did get it together and Afterthought is quite enjoyable and is getting lots of airplay here on The X. That’s about it, and thanks for telling us about Afterthought.

AO: Ok.

JD: Thank you for taking the time and I will talk to you when we put the next one out.

AO: You know, funny, I just started recording Tuesday. So, it should be out—I don’t know—give me a year.

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