Devin Robins, NPR News
Russell Gunn plays his horn at NPR West in Los Angeles, Calif.
Cover from Ethnomusicology Volume 3 (Justin Time Records, 2003)
Trumpeter/composer Russell Gunn continues his music lesson for the world with Ethnomusicology Volume 3 — a rich fusion of sound that's part jazz, part spoken word, part techno, part hip hop.
Ethnomusicology Volume 3 is the ninth album from Gunn, twice nominated for a Grammy for the first two CDs in this series — Ethnomusicology Volume 1 and Ethnomusicology Volume 2. Gunn produced the collection and composed or collaborated on seven cuts on the latest CD.
The thread running through each of the diverse cuts is the theory that most modern music can trace its roots to the African-American community.
Gunn combines traditional jazz riffs with hard rock guitars, turntable artists, funk bass... sometimes all on the same track.
The emotional landscape is equally diverse, celebrating old friends, hometowns and even hate crimes and discrimination. Gunn weaves together elements of Cuban, Brazilian, African, Washington, D.C.'s "Go-Go" music and hip hop into a progressive jazz style.
Gunn grew up on the mean streets of East St. Louis, and his first aspiration was to be a rapper. He took up the trumpet in the fourth grade, and he's been creating a furious fusion of both music genres ever since.
He first drew notice playing at New York City's famed Blue Note club and soon earned a place on the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, and has been touring on his own and as part of other bands since the mid-1990s.