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Life & Work with Giveton Gelin

Today we’d like to introduce you to Giveton Gelin.

Hi Giveton, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
I first started playing the trumpet at age ten. My marching band director was short of a trumpet player, I volunteered and the rest was history. I remembered really liking the way the trumpet felt at that tender age, I played my very first notes and to my surprise, I was able to produce a sound. By the time I got to junior high school, I was introduced to jazz through a track from Nicholas Payton’s album “Payton’s Place”. The track featured Nicholas Payton, Wynton Marsalis, and Roy Hargrove, three of my absolute trumpet heroes. This discovery led to me finding out more about the jazz lineage, at the time, I was so inspired by their skillful trumpet playing that I had to know more about it. It unleashed a burning passion and soon enough, my love for music grew. Later on, I met my mentor Adrian D’Aguilar who took me under his wing and gave me such great guidance to understanding how to play. He would take me on all of his gigs at 13, through this experience, I was able to have the opportunity to develop performance chops and overall experience. I played with Adrian until I graduated from high school in 2016.

Shortly after, I got accepted to the Oberlin Conservatory and spent one year studying with another great trumpeter, Eddie Henderson. I moved to New York City in 2017 to attend the Juilliard School. In moving to New York, I was able to connect with the very same trumpeters that introduced me to jazz, Roy Hargrove, Wynton Marsalis, and Nicholas Payton. Roy Hargrove has always been one of my top influences on the trumpet, he possessed a depth in his sound and his artful expression drew me in. I was so fortunate to be in New York at this time and to hang and play with Roy at Smalls Jazz Club. Seeing him often led to a friendship. In 2017 Roy Hargrove flew to the Bahamas and played a benefit concert in aid of my schooling at Juilliard. Our relationship grew to the point where Roy presented my group at the Blue Note Jazz Club shortly before he passed in 2018. That night was special, especially when he got up on stage and started playing with us! Wynton Marsalis is another great mentor who has been so gracious to me throughout my time in New York.

I first met him at age 13 in Queens New York, and from the first day I met him, there was an immediate connection, which continues to this day. A year after meeting Wynton, I met Nicholas Payton, and like Roy, Nicholas came down to the Bahamas in 2018 for the same purpose of assisting by playing my benefit concert. It was such a great opportunity to show my people from back home the artist that first introduced me to this music. I am now a senior at the Juilliard School and it has been such a journey. This year I had the honor to release my debut album “True Design”, which features the Giveton Gelin Quintet. I am excited for what’s to come in the future.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
I believe that challenges are part of the journey, so I am not sure if I even associate that word in the same way that is customary. I look at challenges as an opportunity to learn.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
My debut album, True Design, is about the artistic nature of the universe. The world in every sense has an element of art, connecting us to God; therefore, we’re all a part of something greater than ourselves. Given the current global climate, it is clear to me that our plans have no weight against nature. I desire to live life with this outlook—hoping to be a light that contributes to making today less burdensome through music.​ – Giveton Gelin

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Image Credits:

Photographer, Rambo Elliot Creative Direction, Autumn Steele Stylist, Autumn Steele

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