Giveton Gelin’s music is the pride of The Bahamas- Gritty Vibes Magazine
A name to remember for Jazz fans
Giving to others is often said to bring back double the blessings, something that a community in the Bahamas learned first hand. Giveton Gelin’s first trumpet was handed to him by his father, who received the horn back after lending it out years ago. What followed was a spark of inspiration, leading to Gelin’s infatuation with Jazz music and an unwavering pursuit of the artform itself. His talent brought him to the states, where he has become a standout, and played with some heavy hitters like Wynton Marsalis and Lou Rainone. These days, Gelin is focused on his very own quintet. We reached out to him to hear more about his story and he was kind enough to share.
1. I read that you discovered Jazz when your teacher played The Three Trumpeters. Can you walk us through how inspired that moment made you feel?
Yes. My music teacher played for the class “The Three Trumpeteers” from Nicholas Payton’s album “Payton’s Place” in the 7th Grade. I can remember this moment like it was yesterday. The conventional playing of trumpet in the Bahamas (where I’m from), was either Marching Band or Junkanoo music. (Junkanoo is our “Boxing, Day” and New Year’s street parade, which consists of huge groups of musicians, dancers, displaying their beautiful costumes. It’s similar to The New Orleans Mardi Gras).
When he played this recording, It was the first time I have ever heard trumpet played at such a high level. It was then I realized that there was more to the trumpet. I was so inspired by what I heard, I took down the names of all three trumpeters: Nicholas Payton, Roy Hargrove and Wynton Marsalis. I immediately went home and began researching these jazz giants who had inspired me so greatly. This was the beginning of my jazz trumpet journey.
2. What kind of obstacles did you face as you sought Jazz in your home country where it is not as prevalent? How did you find your way to the states?
There were many obstacles throughout my journey to understanding this art form living in the Bahamas, but early on I was extremely fortunate to have met bassist Adrian D’Aguilar, who had just moved back home from living in New York, and L.A., for many years, and has since been my mentor for the past 7 years. He was the person who guided me in the right direction, and gave me the tools to really play Jazz music. Through his guidance I was afforded the opportunity to leave the Bahamas for the first time, and to attend the Manhattan School of Music Summer Program. After graduating high school in the Bahamas I was offered a spot at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. I spent one year at Oberlin and then moved to New York to attend the Juilliard School.
3. Do you think a bit of the Bahamas seeps through into your music?
My Bahamian roots absolutely influences my approach to music and to playing the trumpet. I believe that your music is an extension of your life, your experiences, your highs and lows, your personality etc., and therefore it’s difficult to separate. I say biasedly (of course), the Bahamas has got to be the most beautiful place on earth! It’s beautiful beaches and year round warm weather is what I grew up with, but it wasn’t all beautiful for me.
I come from very humble beginnings. Life was tough for me and my family. The neighborhood where we lived was very unsafe. I grew up in a bad ghetto area, where living in fear was just a way of life, but thank God, music was my ticket out! This experience is all reflective in the way I play.
4. Any recent or upcoming projects you’d like to speak on? What should we expect from you going forward?
My project as of now is the “Giveton Gelin Quintet”. Our artistic vision is to pay tribute to our ancestors and to bring forth a new narrative to Jazz music. We play to uplift and unify others by incorporating core human qualities into sound. We are a relatively newly formed group and play around town on the New York scene.
5. If you could lend some advice or encouragement to a youngin coming out The Bahamas what would you tell him/her?
Truly believe in your passion. Being from a small island, sometimes it’s difficult to get good training, advice, or to even muster the inspiration to continue on your journey. So, people find themselves giving up on what they initially set out to do. Hope fades away, and complacency sets in, and their dreams die.
What it takes to get there does not depend on where you are located, it depends on your heart, and desire to reach that goal. Whatever your dream may be, find out how to achieve it, and with discipline, consistency, and hard work anything is possible, especially if God is in control.