19-year-old jazz trumpet player creates all-women’s big band

And records debut album and documentary of the project

Photo courtesy of the artist

Grace Fox playing the trumpet

The COVID-19 pandemic halted numerous creative projects for musicians, but the rise in vaccination rates have allowed us to emerge from these hardships and has opened the door for live music and recording sessions to resume. 

Grace Fox, 19-year-old jazz trumpet player from the New Jersey / Philadelphia area, has just recorded her debut album. Fox will be entering her second year of undergraduate studies at the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers in New Brunswick, NJ. There she studies with Joe Mosello and Tatum Greenblatt and continues to further her career as a trumpet player. 

Fox was inspired to create this all-women’s big band after recognizing that most of the jazz greats she was being taught in school were mostly men. She saw the importance of representing all genders in jazz, and especially the importance of giving women a space to play music and support each other. She pointed out that although it is crucial to be educated in the history of jazz, the community is constantly changing. This big band record will add to history with an all-female big band, and represent women in the next generation of jazz. 

“When I first started getting into jazz I knew I wanted to lead my own big band. Getting hip to The International Sweethearts of Rhythm, The Key of She, and the DIVA Band opened my mind to having my band consist of only women. Most of the cats in the band have never played in an all-female big band, some being 10 years into their careers. I had the opportunity to get this band together and I couldn’t say no. It’s my dream, as corny as that may sound. The Grace Fox Big Band is truly the next generation of women in jazz.” 

Grace is not only a bandleader, but also a lead trumpet player, improviser, and composer. Fox’s album consists of almost all original compositions. She describes her music as being modern jazz, with influences from Maria Schenider, Darcy James Argue, Roy Hargrove, Brad Mehldau, and Kamasi Washington. Her goal is to deliver a message to her audience and connect with others through music. “Each tune has a message to convey. Like when you’re at an art gallery and a certain piece touches you, you can relate to it in some way. It may mean something else to the cat standing next to you, but it still means something.” 

Her band includes 5 trumpets (Grace Fox, Summer Camargo, Kellin Hanas, Kal Ferretti, Janelle Finton), 4 trombones (Hailey Brinnel, Laura Orzehoski, Zhane Brown, Gina Benalcazar Lopez), 5 Saxophones (Veronica Lehay, Sarah Hananhan, Jade Elliott, Olivia Hughart, Noa Zebley), and a rhythm section (Naomi Nakanishi, Zoe Harrison, Bryana Crockett). 

Grace has not only taken care of the music aspect of this project, but will also be releasing a documentary alongside the making of the record to document the next generation of women in jazz coming together. Once the album is released (release date TBA), it will be available on all streaming platforms as well as printed on vinyl, and the documentary will be available for viewing. 

After the release, Fox plans to continue to write and play music. After a long year with the COVID-19 pandemic, she looks forward to returning to play live music. “I have been considering moving to New York in a year or two, but we’ll see what happens! Everything is pretty fluid right now, taking as many gigs as I can get!” 

Follow @gracefoxtrpt to watch her journey and to stay tuned with her projects and upcoming shows!