Neon Jazz Interview series with Joe Dimino & Engineered by John Christopher in Kansas City Missouri. Take a listen:
Muneer Nasser lecturing at Montgomery College for faculty professional development.
Trumpeter, composer, jazz historian, and author Muneer Nasser developed a lifelong passion for written and oral jazz history. His father, jazz bassist Jamil Nasser and the rich musical landscape of New York City provided a great classroom for his jazz education. “Hearing Dizzy Gillespie at the Village Gate (1976) was a mind-blowing experience, which ignited my pursuit of jazz trumpet,” said Nasser. His major publication, Upright Bass: The Musical Life & Legacy of Jamil Nasser documents 50 years of that history.
In 1979, Nasser attended The International Art of Jazz Workshop. Trumpeter Dave Burns (Gillespie Big Band Alum) had reservations about his youthful age, but Nasser’s talent overshadowed this concern, "Mr. Burns' acceptance fortified my confidence, and I began studying with him." Additional instruction from George Coleman, Jimmy Owens, Oliver Beener, and Webster Young was tested at jam sessions conducted by Eddie Henderson, Ted Curson, Tommy Turrentine, and Gil Coggins. "If you couldn't play, they would bench you with quickness and give you a homework assignment." Nasser said.
Challenging jam sessions at The Village Gate, Sonny’s Place, Smalls, and The Jazz Center of New York provided a forum to apply those basics. Along with his brother Zaid, Nasser played a soulful rendition of “Straight No Chaser” with Lou Donaldson at the Jazz Center in 1984. Lou said, “Y’all on the right track.”
In 1988 Nasser enrolled in the illustrious Howard University exposing him to a thriving Washington DC jazz scene. Muneer performed at Blues Alley, Kennedy Center, and Lincoln Theater with Buck Hill, Larry Willis, Keter Betts, and Butch Warren. Nasser earned his degree and decided to take his trumpet outside of the United states. Performing in Europe and North Africa expanded his audience. Touring with Jazz Jamaica in the United Kingdom allowed him to share the bandstand with Courtney Pine and Gary Crosby. “I had a chance to perform with the great drummer Clifford Jarvis, and he shared musical and trumpet gems from Kenny Dorham and Freddie Hubbard."
Fifteen years of research preceded the release of Upright Bass: The Musical Life & Legacy of Jamil Nasser and Ron Carter’s heartfelt foreword sets the stage for an epic story filled with adventure. Publisher’s Weekly said, "The book covers rare historical events and contemporary issues in jazz.” Muneer launched a book release at St. Peter’s Church in New York City wherein he conducted a panel discussion on Memphis jazz with Harold Mabern, Dick Griffin, and Rufus Reid. Jimmy Owens, Lonnie Plexico, Zaid Nasser, and Winard Harper performed as well.
Nasser’s has also released his debut album as a band leader “A Soldier’s Story” which Jazzwise magazine calls, “A hard swinging recording immersed in bebop, latin, and modal jazz traditions,” features Elijah Easton-Sax, Allyn Johnson-Piano, James King-Bass, John Lamkin III-drums.
In addition to teaching jazz improvisation at the University of Maryland, Muneer has written and recorded over two hundred reggae, jazz, rock, EDM, Rap, and R & B compositions. He won the best soundtrack award for the film “Aftershock” at the DC 48-hour Film Festival.
Nasser’s post pandemic efforts include teaching master classes and giving lectures in Kassel Germany, Frankfurt Book Fair, JJA Academy London, Berklee College of Music, Howard University, Jazz Education Network Conference, and The Frank Islam Symposium at Montgomery College.
Nasser is working to expand the purview of contemporary jazz history by releasing an exciting jazz documentary and publishing a Muneer Nasser Quintet live video. He will also continue performing and lecturing around the world.