Whether creating sonic explorations with her 14-piece B’shnorkestra or fronting her own Quintet, composer/trumpeter Samantha Boshnack walks her own path. As the leader of these ensembles and an active member/contributing composer to various others, she is never far from inspiration. Boshnack’s talents have brought her into the company of such diverse artists as Butch Morris, Eyvind Kang, Oliver Lake, Renee Baker, Bobby Previte, Terry Riley, Stuart Dempster, Skerik, Wayne Horvitz, Robin Holcomb, Jherek Bischoff, Tom Varner, Jessica Lurie, Amy Denio, Dead Science, Joshua Kohl, Paul Kikuchi, Evan Flory Barnes, Paul Rucker, and Orkestar Zirkonium.
Boshnack grew up surrounded by many genres, but in her household jazz was king. After ingesting a prototypical diet of Miles, Dizzy, and Morgan, a love of spice eventually led her to contemporary innovators such as Lewis Barnes, Steven Bernstein, and Dave Douglas, along with a slew of Cuban soloists. The latter’s sense of rhythm and penchant for “letting loose” have been her greatest influences, emboldening her as an artist who plays comfortably outside the box of standard jazz.
After studying jazz performance and composition at Bard College, Boshnack proved that not all roads lead to New York for the aspiring improviser. In search of something different, she ended up in Seattle, where fate dropped her into the free jazz collective known as Monktail Creative Music Concern. After an ad hoc performance with MCMC, she knew she’d found her niche. Encouragement from local musicians and the welcoming temperament of the scene made it a perfect fit, and Boshnack hasn’t looked back since. The subsequent decade has found her active in a variety of musical and theatrical settings and has, more importantly, put her in contact with some phenomenal musicians in their own right. She toured nationally and internationally with the modern jazz group Reptet for seven years, releasing four albums comprised mostly of her compositions. She also formed the B’shnorkestra in 2011 and released Go To Orange in 2013 to critical acclaim. Her eponymous Quintet brought together players who had never worked before as a unit, and the results have been nothing short of incendiary—hence the title of their 2014 debut album, Exploding Syndrome. That same year saw a collaboration with Karin Stevens Dance, the premiere of the “Nellie Bly Project” (a four-movement work about a lesserknown female figure in history), and a Master Artist-in-Residence Program with legendary pianist Marilyn Crispell. In 2014 she also helped form the Alchemy Sound Project, a composer-led ensemble featuring the works of 5 composers who attended the Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute (presented by The Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University and American Composers Orchestra in cooperation with The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music) – Sumi Tonooka, Erica Lindsay, Salim Washington, David Arend, and Boshnack herself. In May of 2016, ASP released their debut recording on Artists Recording Collective, entitled Further Explorations, which Travis Rogers, Jr. of JazzTimes called “a musical pilgrimage that searches the horizons and moves beyond them. The compositions are inspiring and intelligent and the performance artistry is exemplary.”
In 2015, Boshnack premiered “Coelacanth: In Its Own Time” with the Northwest Symphony Orchestra in honor of a 400 million-year-old species of fish threatened by extinction, and the “Global Concertos” project with her B’shnorkestra, for which she wrote five interlocking concertos, each featuring a prominent soloist from a different continent. All of these and more have served to elevate and support the value of individual expression in larger collectives, and to turn a new corner in the ever-growing map of Boshnack’s sonic journey.