JazzTimes is honored to present the premiere of “Blackout” by Bria Skonberg. The song will appear on the Canadian trumpeter, vocalist, and composer’s latest album, Nothing Never Happens, due out November 1.
Written by Skonberg, “Blackout” is the opening track of Nothing Never Happens. It features the leader on voice and trumpet, along with her primary working band—pianist Mathis Picard, bassist Devin Starks, drummer Darrian Douglas—and special guests Doug Wamble on guitar and Jon Cowherd on Hammond B-3 organ. (Another guest, saxophonist Patrick Bartley, appears elsewhere on the album.)
Copping an old-school R&B feel that’s enhanced by Skonberg’s rich vocal performance (at times reminiscent of Adele) and Cowherd’s Hammond stabs, “Blackout” seems at first to be a song about a love affair gone bad, but its pointed repetition of the line “get off the grid” suggests that the sour relationship described here is actually with social media and American politics—a notion that its author confirms. “Just being able to play music right now is essential to getting to a level of normalcy,” she says. “Playing trumpet really lets me get all those emotions out. It’s not always joyous, but it is a release.”
Besides Skonberg’s own compositions, Nothing Never Happens includes an intriguing handful of covers: Sonny Bono’s “Bang Bang,” John Deacon’s “I Want to Break Free” (made famous by Queen), and a mashup of the Beatles’ “Blackbird” and Duke Ellington’s “Black and Tan Fantasy.” That eclecticism mirrors her recent career achievements. In the past year alone, she has sung the music of Aretha Franklin alongside Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child, played with U2 at the Apollo Theater in New York, sat in with the Dave Matthews Band and Jon Batiste, performed as part of the Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour, and sung the national anthem at Madison Square Garden for a New York Rangers game.
Nothing Never Happens is Skonberg’s sixth album as a leader; her fourth, Bria, won the 2017 Juno Award for Best Vocal Jazz Album.
Go here to preorder Nothing Never Happens.