Adam Mecker’s modern big band

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When jazz trumpeter Adam Meckler is inspired to write a new composition, the tune often emerges from his playing.

“It usually starts on the trumpet for me,” Meckler said. “I’m playing or I’m screwing around or I’m just like improvising by myself and I come up with a riff or a melody and I go, ‘OK, this needs to be a tune.’ And then I go and compose it.”

Playing and composing are big parts of Meckler’s work as leader of the Adam Meckler Orchestra, an 18-member group that performs tonight at Jazz Central in Minneapolis.

The group of young musicians draws on the big band heritage of days past while infusing the music with modern beats and improvisational spirit. Like Meckler, many of the band’s members perform in a variety of groups and settings, an economic necessity that also builds creative energy.

“The bands that I play in are all great and all very unique and that’s artistically very satisfying,” said Meckler, a St. Paul native who returned to the Twin Cities four years ago. “I can go and play in a polka band one night, go and play in the Adam Meckler Orchestra another night, play in the Good, The Bad and the Funky another night and the Jack Brass Band another night, and the Pete Wittman X-tet and all kinds of bands like that that are all unique and all different and all require a certain amount of artistic input from me.”

Listen to my story on the Adam Meckler Orchestra today on MPR’s All Things Considered.

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