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Portland trumpeter Cyrus Nabipoor previews new music

Cyrus Nabipoor makes his Seattle debut at the Royal Room December 15
Mary Katherine Leslie
Cyrus Nabipoor
Cyrus Nabipoor makes his Seattle debut at the Royal Room Dec. 15.

Inspired by his time in New Orleans and Norway, Portland trumpeter Cyrus Nabipoor is creating instrumental music that's all his own. Unfortunately, Nabipoor's upcoming Seattle concert Thursdayat the Royal Room has been postponed due to illness in the band.

In an interview with New Cool host Abe Beeson, Nabipoor said that studying jazz at Loyola University in New Orleans, and four years after college playing around the city taught Nabipoor the importance of playing with other musicians.

"I learned a lot about improvisation and composition, but the one thing that New Orleans taught me really well is how to be a working-class, blue-collar musician. There's a beauty and humility in doing the job and doing the job right," he said.

While studying abroad at the Grieg Academy, Nabipoor discovered new influences in the very different culture of Norway. "It was pretty life-changing," he said, especially as a composer.

"There's so much emphasis placed on 'what do you want to sound like?' It's all a possibility, and there's not a lot of judgement."

His own musical style comes from that dual effort to be a musical historian and a unique artist. Nabipoor uses his connection to the tradition of Black American music and applies it to his own "pop sensibility." His current quintet features a saxophone aside his trumpet with a semi-traditional backing trio of guitar, bass and drums.

Recorded in New Orleans in 2019, Nabipoor's Live at the Marigny Opera House album is a showcase for his own music but also includes music from the score to the film Pan's Labyrinth and The Smiths' '80s favorite "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out."

He explained his new appreciation for pop music, "I was a snooty jazz kid when I was younger. I was too narrowly focused to see value before, but I've been finding it speaks to me as much if not more," than the classic jazz music of his youth.

Nabipoor said his next album will be more focused on modern sounds, "pulling from mainstream pop, metal, pop-punk...using my jazz upbringing to make instrumental popular music. I want to see how many people I can speak to, and tell a clear story to, while still testing the limits of what accessibility really is."

"The music focuses on storytelling and being accessible in the way that pop music is accessible, moving people that don't consider themselves jazz fans," Nabipoor said.

The Seattle concert and three shows in Oregon were meant to tighten the band ahead of a recording session for a new album just before the holidays. With illness recently causing Nabipoor to cancel concerts, that session is now in doubt.

Listen to the full KNKX interview with Portland trumpeter and composer Cyrus Nabipoor above.

The New Cool airs Fridays at 9 p.m., hosted by Abe Beeson and produced by KNKX Public Radio in Seattle, Washington. LISTEN ON DEMAND

Updated: December 14, 2022 at 10:06 AM PST
Updated to note some of Nabipoor's shows have been postponed due to illness.
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Abe grew up in Western Washington, a third generation Seattle/Tacoma kid. It was as a student at Pacific Lutheran University that Abe landed his first job at KNKX, editing and producing audio for news stories. It was a Christmas Day shift no one else wanted that gave Abe his first on-air experience which led to overnights, then Saturday afternoons, and started hosting Evening Jazz in 1998.