All posts by Jennifer Wharton

Try To Fail

I am a stubborn person but I’m never as stubborn as when people tell me I can’t do something. That’s how I became a professional trombonist – my whole family told me I couldn’t and I did it just to prove them wrong. I did an Ironman triathlon (140.6 miles) a year after having hip surgery just because someone said I might want to consider not running anymore. That’s how freaking stubborn I am. 
It doesn’t work as well when I’ve told myself that I can’t do something. In those cases, I believe it harder than anyone has believed anything, ever. I told myself I couldn’t improvise in the 7th grade. Since I graduated college, I told myself nobody would want to play in a trombone quartet with me. Even though most musicians I know have some form of negative self talk, it’s probably a factor that helps drive us to be better. But in my case it became debilitating – a reason to not try. I wasn’t always this way but that’s a different story for another time. I spent the better part of the last decade doing triathlon stuff to distract myself from my career and it worked until I couldn’t swim or bike. My shoulder injuries threatened not just my triathlon habit but my trombone playing. I needed to get my priorities straight. 
Since moving to NYC in 2005, I rarely had to improvise. I was a classically trained bass trombonist with a serious big band habit. I paid my bills playing Broadway but what really blew my skirt up was playing The Jazz. At most, I’d be called upon about once a year to “blow” and I’d go running to my very patient husband to help me figure out how to not sound like an @sshole while attempting to improvise. I even took a lesson with the amazing Max Seigel but that fear-based learning didn’t stick. My breakthrough came when I found a tune that I loved. When you love something, it’s not work. I loved a tune so much that I got the changes and started to work on it. 
Then, I realized a name that I’d been using as my YouTube username for years was the perfect name for a band – BONEGASM. I loved this name so much that I formulated a plan. As a birthday present to myself, I would commission people I love and respect to write/arrange some tunes and then, dammit, I did it. I got a trombone quartet together and I forced myself to improvise. TWICE! And I didn’t die. Everything I did was pretty elementary but considering that I have never studied melody in my life, I am going to allow at least one pat on the back. 
The reason I want to talk about this is because I don’t want you to have regrets. Whether you dream of becoming an underwater basket weaver, an ironman or a lady bass trombonist, you have to try. Meredith Wilson wrote The Music Man to prove to people that he couldn’t write a musical about Iowa. He tried to fail. And you know what mattered most? HE TRIED. Look at how that worked out. 
Let’s all try to fail at something soon. Just don’t take as long as I did. 
Low notes,

Bonegasm – Thurs 7/27



  •  a climax of musical excitement, characterized by feelings of pleasure centered in the ears and experienced as an accompaniment to hearing a group of trombone players.

This is a project that I have wanted to put together for years. When I heard Alan Ferber‘s tune called North Rampart, it was so gorgeous I couldn’t NOT play it. And I happen to be married to a damned fine writer and arranger who helped me get the ball rolling. I’m also surrounded by awesome musicians in New York City and a few of them agreed to write some more tunes.  

I do hope you will be able to experience your first Bonegasm with us on Thursday, July 27 from 6-8pm at Silvana. It is our mission to bring peace, love, and trombone to the unsuspecting masses. Music by Robin Eubanks, John Fedchock, Alan Ferber, Sara Jacovino, Nate Mayland, Edward Perez and more!

Trombones: John Fedchock, Alan Ferber, Nate Mayland and Jennifer Wharton 
Piano: Mike Eckroth 
Bass: Evan Gregor 
Drums: Don Peretz

ITF recap! Trombones, trombones and more trombones.

Wow! What an exciting time to be a bone player! 
The 2017 International Trombone Festival was held at University of Redlands in Southern California. As part of the XO Professional Brass family, I joined John Fedchock, Paul McKee and Tim Coffman for the XO all-stars and performed on the first day of the festival. That left me free to enjoy a lot of the exhibits and performances while making new friends and reconnecting with old ones. 
One face I was stoked to see was Doug Yeo. I studied with him at New England Conservatory and hadn’t seen him in almost 10 years. He’s one of the teachers I have remained in touch with and is very generous with his time to people near and far. I knew we’d have a great time working together from the moment he crawled over the desk during my NEC audition. I still email him for advice from time to time and he is always kind and encouraging. Everyone should have a Doug Yeo in their corner. 

Continue reading ITF recap! Trombones, trombones and more trombones.