Jazz is an innovation of the African American community that originated in New Orleans, and emerged in the 20th century. It has continued to evolve with different sounds from Ragtime to Bebop to Smooth Jazz, and now new genres like TrapJazz and JazzHop.
Both genres fuse together the sounds of hip hop and Jazz. TrapJazz specifically blends Jazz with the sounds of new and old school hip hop. We had the opportunity to hear from the pioneers of these two new sounds and its future in the music industry.
Phillip Mouton – Pioneer and Originator of TrapJazz
“My music career began from birth,” shared jazz musician, Phillip Mouton. He goes on to share that his family is musically inclined on both sides. He’s been playing the drums for twenty-five years and saxophone for nineteen. An Alumni of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB), Mouton took advantage of the opportunity to perfect his craft under the guidance of many amazing and some legendary instructors of music. “Mr. Darryl Evans, Harold Fooster, John Graham, Milton Jackson, Dr. Earnest Lamb, Gerome Hudson, Dr. Michael Bates, Ron Carter and last but not least Jazz great Clark “Mumbles” Terry,” shared Mouton.
“I learned the jazz language and pulled a lot of all nighters or burning the lamp oil, as Clark would say, to perfect Jazz. I am so thankful to have Mumbles blessing before he passed away.”
Mouton said his learning has allowed him to play with some of the greats. Including the likes of Erica and Teddy Campbell, Ron Carter, Clark Terry and Roy Hargrove. “It has been a great journey so far,” he expressed. I am truly blessed.”
Born and raised in the state of Arkansas, Mouton is out on a mission to nurture a legacy of his own.
We started the interview by getting acquainted with the origin of TrapJazz. Mouton explained that the sound was already there. “Me and Q (producer Quincy “QNote” Watson) just put a magnifying glass on TrapJazz by giving the music a name and two faces”, he shared.
Mouton said his latest project I Am TrapJazz was a personal challenge to bring feel good music back into the music industry. With 10 original tracks and 4 renditions of some of our Hip Hop & R&B favorites, the album exhibits a soulful nostalgic, yet evolutionary feel.
Mouton said that he wanted to leave a lasting impression on each person that ever hears TrapJazz. “…so I guess it’s safe to say that a nostalgic feeling was the vision I had in mind,” he expressed. “Good music charms the soul.”
I Am TrapJazz touches on some important social justice issues, like racial discrimination and police brutality. Both very serious issues and a point of topic during an important election year in the United States. The music speaks to the hearts of so many individuals. It tells the tale of the realities of being black in America, but at that same time gives hope.
“I always wanted to use my music as a platform to speak out on the injustices and persecution of my culture that has been going on for centuries,” explained Mouton. “I wanted to say ‘Hey. Look, I’m young, but I am aware of who I am and what my ancestors have endured, and I just prayed and thought on the best way to get my voice heard without disrespecting anyone or their culture.’ And music, in my opinion was the perfect way to do so.”
Authentic in its sound and creation. In the words of Mouton,“…it came from two original students of the game and it can’t be recreated.” The fusion of so many sounds. Primarily hip hop and Jazz, makes it unique to any of its Jazz counterparts. In regards to his latest project, I Am Trap Jazz, Mouton explains.. “It’s like Gumbo. If you like Hip Hop I guarantee you can find a Hip hop track on the album. R&B ? Listen to “How do”. Neo-soul? No problem Tricia Reid has you covered with “Run away”. I could keep going really.”
I had to ask about dream collaborations. If there was an opportunity to collab with anyone in the industry who would it be? “Wow, okay. I would have to say 2 Chainz first, because he’s an HBCU graduate like me and QNote. Second, I would have to say T.I. Especially, with his newly released album Us or Else. It’s like he read my mind or heard my I Am Trap Jazz outro, and thirdly, I have to go with Pharrell Williams a fellow band nerd like me.”
T.I. over a TrapJazz track sounds super dope right now, or maybe an entire album. Call it Trap Musik to TrapJazz… Maybe not, but both originated in the south. TrapMusik pioneerd by T.I. in Atlanta, Georgia and TrapJazz by Phillip Mouton along with producer QNote in Little Rock, Arkansas. Both artists are storytellers through music. Not afraid to tap into their own personal stories. “I like music that inspires you to keep living out your purpose,” said Mouton. The only music that can do that is personal music from your soul.”
Mouton shared his vision for the future of TrapJazz evolving into a worldwide distribution deal. “Prayerfully,” he expressed.
Featured image: Masego