April 25 2016 02:59 PM

Bria Skonberg returns to East Lansing for Wharton Center performance

Bria Skonberg
Photo by Seth Cashman

MONDAY, April 25 — Bria Skonberg fondly remembers her time at East Lansing’s Summer Solstice Jazz Festival last summer.

“The audience was awesomely warm,” she said. “It was a really great experience.”

Nearly a year later, the 32-year-old trumpeter returns to East Lansing Wednesday for an encore performance at the Wharton Center. While she’s bringing the same band she brought last summer, she thinks the group will sound even better this time around.

“We’ve grown a lot in the last year,” she said. “It’s a really exciting time for us.”

Skonberg recently finished recording tracks for a new album, which she hopes to release later this year. This new album, she said, is about “honing her voice” — literally and figuratively. Like her jazz hero, Louis Armstrong, Skonberg both sings and plays trumpet. Other young jazz instrumentalists, like Esperanza Spalding, have started adding vocals into the mix.

“Maybe the focus has come back to being an entertainer,” Skonberg said. “It’s great to play complex instrumental pieces, but it’s just as much fun to sing and entertain.”

Skonberg grew up in Chilliwack, a rural community about an hour east of Vancouver, Canada. She attended college in Vancouver, and moved to New York in 2010.

“I was working full time by 2006, managing my own band,” she explained. “By 2010, I had established the discipline that I needed to pursue my career in New York.”

While she’s living on the East Coast now, she returns to her hometown often to visit and host educational workshops.

“Chilliwack is awesome,” she said. “It’s a place with a great jazz community.”

Chilliwack hosts an annual traditional jazz festival, which exposed her to Armstrong’s hot jazz at an early age.

“I was really lucky, in retrospect,” Skonberg said. “When I was 15, I was playing Louis Armstrong transcriptions. It’s a great place to start improvising.”

And there was another benefit of living in a rural area.

“We had two acres,” she said. “I was able to make a lot of noise.”

Bria Skonberg

7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 27

$45/$15 students

Pasant Theatre

Wharton Center

750 E. Shaw Lane, East Lansing

(517) 432-2000, whartoncenter.com

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