Samantha Boshnack’s Seismic Belt performs music about the Ring of Fire, which is located on the rim of the Pacific Ocean. The area is home to many of the world’s volcanoes and earthquakes. Boshnack’s compositions experiment with the friction of geographic shifts to create a new harmonic topography. This music examines our relationship with the Earth, including the elements of risk and faith in that uneasy cohabitation. Movements of the work draw on influences from some of the cultures and people living on the Ring, including Chile, Japan, Alaska, Western Samoa, and Russia.
In 2018, Boshnack was awarded the annual Make Jazz Fellowship. This award is sponsored by the Herb Alpert Foundation to honor and support promising, emerging jazz composers. For the fellowship, Boshnack was in residence at 18th Street Arts Center in LA for three months. While there, she composed this 8-movement work for trumpet/flugelhorn, baritone/tenor saxophones, violin, violin/viola, piano, upright bass, drums. The culminating performance was released as Live in Santa Monica, on Orenda Records in March 2019.
What the press is saying:
“She carefully avoids mere aural representations here, instead using meticulously crafted post-bop composition to contemplate destruction from an artistic remove. To help summon the desired textures for each composition here, she constellated a new ensemble to cover the distance that lies between her avant-garde quintet and her large symphonic group, B’shnorkestra: a standard rhythm section brightened with horns and tempered with strings. The ensemble finesses Boshnak’s experimental motifs, subtle Latin grooves and contrasting temperatures fluently, even during sudden changes in compositional direction. At times, the group synergy is so disarmingly serene that it’s easy to miss the fire burning underneath.”- Suzanne Lorge/Downbeat Read More
“….What Boshnack and her nimble band of tenor and baritone saxophones, violin, viola, double bass, and drums expertly sculpt is a harmonious sound world that is bucolic yet turbulent. Informed by traditional jazz stylings but with free-improvisational underpinnings, they immediately establish themselves as a well-oiled unit marked by tremendous interplay on the stately 10-minute opening track, “Subduction Zone,” which sets the mood for the program. Boshnack leads the fray, gliding and darting atop the loose-limbed structures with elegant lines that recall her childhood heroes Chet Baker and Miles Davis. But while she dazzles as both leader and trumpet wunderkind, it’s the rapport she shares with the group that’s most worthy of attention. Plenty of space is given to her bandmates to shine, and each takes star-making turns throughout the set. Seismic Belt may not deal in volcanic force, but it hurtles from jazz to classical to chamber music with aplomb.” – Brad Cohen/Jazz Times Read More
“Boshnack’s melodic and adventuresome song structures play off of a compact yet texturally diversified ensemble sound, lent a chamber-esque ambience by the fine violinist-violist Lauren Elizabeth Baba and violinist Paris Hurley.” – Josef Woodard/Jazziz Read More
“Boshnack’s complex, episodic style of composition is a great fit for the equally complex and episodic subject matter, which she crafted into a whole set of works themed on this terrestrial phenomenon…. A Samantha Boshnack project is always an ambitious project. This time, she takes her ambitions to the next level and then puts it all on the line with a new band in front of a live audience. No sweat.” – S. Victor Aaron/ Something Else! Reviews Read More
“With Boshnack at her cinematic best, Seismic Belt’s Compositions and performances present the musical equivalent of a camera zooming in and out, panning from side to side, and moving from slow-to fast-motion to reveal a volatile molten landscape from all angles.” – Karl Helander/Chamber Music America Read Full Boshnack Profile on page 12
“There have been a countless number of recorded tributes in the jazz world through the decades, but it is fair to say that this one is quite unique. Trumpeter Samantha Boshnack composed eight originals dedicated to the Ring Of Fire, the area in the Pacific Ocean where most of the world’s volcanoes are located and the majority of the earthquakes take place. While one might expect this picturesque music to be unremittingly intense and explosive, Ms. Boshnack explores a variety of moods, some of which are unsettlingly quiet. The trumpeter is joined by Ryan Parrish on tenor and baritone, pianist-keyboardist Paul Cornish, bassist Nashir Janmohamed, drummer Dan Schnelle, and both Paris Hurley and Lauren Elizabeth Baba on violins (with Baba doubling on viola). On such numbers as “Subduction Zone,” “Tectonic Plates,” “Submarine Volcano” and “Summer That Never Came,” Boshnack’s arrangements and frameworks are quite impressionistic and a bit cinematic, almost a bit like Maria Schneider’s music except that she utilizes a much smaller group. The horns and violins have their spots, creating improvisations that fit the music and blending together beautifully in the ensembles, serving the music rather than being featured on individual heroics. This unusual set is worth several listens.” – Scott Yanow/LA Jazz Scene
“The music of ‘Seismic Belt’ is generously playful and adventurous. Each piece has multiple elements of styles from varied early jazz, lots of swing, a wide scope of dynamics, boundary jumping measures, and incredible dexterity (both mentally and physically). The entire event is first class throughout. The complex rhythms keep you on the edge of your seat and demands attention to that marvelous mind you have. This is big band done in a premium way, sometimes kiting all over the stage, only pausing for the occasional intimate trumpet solo, so soothing to the soul, or a quick side step for stand up bass, violin and quiet drumkit to make entrance for more peppy syncopated orchestration. It sounds like a perfect collision of her B’shnorkestra (her other larger ensembles of 14 members), and her Sam Boshnack Quintet, both having multiple ingredients, but the mixture is large scale orchestrated and then small details magnified among the majestic.
In the show, there are so many great jazz and classical composers that you may be reminded of (too many to list in fact), with some truly wonderful string arrangements, but nothing overshadows the astonishing style blend that Samantha Boshnack has created here. Her ‘Seismic Belt’ is among the best avant-garde bands I have ever heard”. – Lee Henderson/Big Beautiful Noise Read more
“Trumpeter and more importantly, composer (although she’s a fine trumpeter!) Sam is one of my very favorite up ‘n’ comers and if you haven’t already experienced her uniformly great body of work, this is a great place to start!” Steve Feigenbaum/ Wayside Music
“Boshnack skillfully weaves melodies, improvised solos, and pulses of varying intensity to express arcs, plate movements, and explosive volcanic activity. Seismic Belt has many jagged edges, abrupt explosions of improvisation, angular melodic passages, and uneven endings…. The musical expression of seismic activity demonstrates aptly Boshnack’s courageous nature as an artist. While most art springs from the well of human emotion and experience, Seismic Belt largely expresses the volatility and movement of the very earth we walk upon.” – Paul Rauch/Earshot Jazz Read more
“In which we find the answer to the question: can you win an award from Herb Alpert and turn around and make a record that Carla Bley would have been proud to release on Watt 40 years ago? This record answers both questions at once with a big yes. Displacing Rickie Lee Jones as a girl at her volcano, Boshnack’s fascination with volcanoes is the inspirational driving wheel behind this release so much so that you think you can hear the magma fermenting as you listen to this. Gleefully but seriously coloring outside the lines, progressive jazz fans will not go wrong taking a byte out of this. Well done.” – Chris Spector/ Midwest Record
“A fixture of Seattle’s prolific jazz community, Samantha Boshnack is both an agile, expressive trumpet player and a wily, far-reaching composer…. These songs tend toward a feeling of refined and respectful experimentation, and, perhaps owing to the musicians’ innate curiosity, occasionally veer into incendiary soloing. The work was inspired by the indigenous cultures and mercurial geology of the Ring of Fire, that Pacific Ocean-aligned zone of volcanoes and earthquakes that Boshnack says is “where the excitement begins.” –Jonathan Zwickel/Crosscut
“The leader shows herself to be a compelling and assured player as she navigates pathways through the at times intricate design of a given piece. With many settings in the seven- to ten-minute range, the musicians are able to let their solos develop organically without having to end them abruptly. Boshnack takes her share but also grants spotlights generously…. That she approached the project with such seriousness of purpose highlights one thing of many that makes this trumpeter and composer deserving of the attention she’s received.” – textura Read More