By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Jun 02, 2023 at 9:01 AM

On June 2, Milwaukee trumpeter and educator Jamie Breiwick releases his 15th album as a leader/co-leader, following the path of the golden era of bop and post-bop, by performing and recording somewhat furiously. All while maintaining a day job as a music teacher.

That record is the six-song “Awake: Volume 2 – The Music of Don Cherry,” released on CD by Minneapolis-based Shifting Paradigm Records.

It follows the label’s digital-only release of Volume 1 in 2019.

Why focus on the music of the late Don Cherry, who made his name as a member of Ornette Coleman’s quartet?

Awake Volume 2X

“As of the early ‘60s Cherry was really just beginning what would be a long and diverse career that I am still just starting to uncover,” Breiwick has written. “The musics of West Africa, India, Turkey, Jamaica, Europe, became a part of Cherry’s musical being after the late ‘60s.

“Albums such as ‘Hear and Now’ and ‘Organic Music Society’ truly push the boundaries of genre, and knock down the walls of musical style and ethnicity in general.”

The “Awake” records salute Cherry’s open-minded, explorational style.

Breiwick is a major fixture on the local jazz scene, not only as a performer, but also a bandleader and tireless promoter of the music and his fellow musicians. We caught up with him to ask about the records in advance of three release gigs.

Breiwick will play at 7 p.m. June 2 at the Bay View Jazz Fest in Milwaukee (Rev Pop), June 4 at 9 p.m. at The Hungry Brain in Chicago and June 15 at the Madison Jazz Fest at the Arts & Lit Laboratory.

OnMilwaukee: I feel like you've been releasing music pretty fast and furious these past few years, is that just perception?

I definitely have been releasing a lot of music. There have been a number of reasons. One is an existential need to create. I have this constant desire to make things, whether it be music or art or through teaching or organizing. I started B Side Recordings as a "pandemic project" as a means to release my music on my own terms, whenever and however I like.

This particular recording is being released by my friends at the Minneapolis-based record label Shifting Paradigm Records. There are some press and marketing things that SPR can do that I cannot on my own with B Side, and they are just a pleasure to work with. Shout out to Zacc Harris and the SPR crew!

 It feels a lot like how jazz records used to be released in the hard bop/post bop era.

I have been trying to figure out creative ways to record my groups in a DIY way. We have reached a point where, for some things at least, it is very feasible to record and release a professional sounding product without spending big bucks on studio time. Most everything I've released in the last three years has been done either live or on my own.

Can you talk a bit about the "Awake" series so far in terms of the musicians, the material, etc.?

"Awake: Volume 2 – The Music of Don Cherry" is a continuation of Volume 1 which was released in 2019 in a digital-only format (also on Shifting Paradigm Records). Both records highlight some under-performed and under-recorded gems from the pen of trumpeter Don Cherry.

The tune list consists of a wide array of Cherry's music from the ‘60s through the ‘90s. The main band on both volumes consists of myself on trumpet, Tim Ipsen on bass and Devin Drobka on drums. For Volume 2 we added the great Chris Weller on tenor saxophone and the young star Lenard Simpson on alto saxophone.

How did you decide to focus on the music of Don Cherry? What is it about his music that led you to dig this deep?

I truly fell in love with not only Don Cherry's music, but also with his concept of living and who he was as a person.  I wrote a whole blog about why.

Will there be future installments, too, or is it two and done?

I think the two volumes will be it as I want to focus more on original material and ideas — but with the concept and feeling of Cherry's ideals of freedom, openness and boundarylessness.

What are your plans for the three upcoming release gigs in Milwaukee, Madison and Chicago?

The group will be the same as on the record for all three dates minus Chris Weller. So, myself on trumpet, Lenard Simpson on alto saxophone, Tim Ipsen on bass, and Devin Drobka on drums.

Maybe this is too broad a question, but what's the jazz scene like these days in Milwaukee in terms of live performance and recorded releases?

I'll just quote Manty Ellis, "You can't kill a cultural art form." I am always thinking about the "scene" and how we can make it better, more inclusive and less segregated. I guess I have just been trying to exemplify that message, which was also Cherry's message, I think, in the music and projects I have been taking on.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.