Celebrating jazz with Buss

Now, music has become “a way of life, a discipline, a voice, an art form, a friend and guiding light through my life’s path”


The Kathmandu Jazz Conservatory (KJC) is celebrating the International Jazz Day here on July 30. The celebration includes lots of music to be catered by KJC-Army Jazz Orchestra, Hari Maharjan, KJC Faculty with Billy Buss, Indira & Dhime Girls, Doxy, Sociology, Ziglag and Nirantar Yakthumba. And American trumpeter Billy Buss will be showcasing his amazing talent and music. Buss expresses his excitement of his visit and music with The Himalayan Times in an email interview.

“I feel blessed and honoured to share my love of music and jazz with the people of Nepal!” he writes. This is his first visit.

“I am extremely thrilled to be travelling for the first time to Nepal! I have had the great fortune to travel to some nearby Jazz festivals and conservatories in China and India for performance and educational opportunities and have always kept an open and inquisitive mind.”

He is looking forward to experiencing a brand new culture, cuisine and geography, especially knowing “I’ll be near the Himalayas”. And once he is here, Buss will be soaking up as much of the Nepali musical culture as possible. He will be interacting with the KJC students and faculty in a cultural exchange programme to celebrate Jazz music, its history and potential to unite people from different backgrounds across the world.

At the event, he will be collaborating with KJC and Nepal Army. “I am looking forward to these collaborations and plan to rehearse and perform some music from the jazz lineage as well as a few original compositions. I’m sure it will be a collaboration to remember!”

Buss is a talented young musician from California, USA. He has BA in Professional Music from Berklee College of Music and MA in Music from The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance at Loyola University, New Orleans. It all began by playing trumpet and piano since the age of nine as “it is customary for all school children (in his hometown of Berkeley, California) to begin studying an instrument at age 10”.

He originally wanted to play the saxophone but it was too expensive. A family friend had a trumpet available, so he decided to try that instead. His skills started slowly, but “my curiosity and determination kept me engaged with the instrument, as I studied in and out of school”. In the next two years, he was introduced to jazz.

A music teacher Bob Athayde, who invited him to join the school Jazz Ensemble, introduced him to this music.

“Looking back, I realise I was instantly hooked by the new and exciting rhythms, harmonies and freedom of expression through improvisation although at the time it was just fun,” he shares.

Enjoying listening to music on the radio, instinctively singing along, listening to the stories they told and noticing the different instruments and wondering how does it all work — that is how it started. Now, music has become “a way of life, a discipline, a voice, an art form, a friend and guiding light through my life’s path”.

“Life throws many things on our way — trials and tribulations but also successes and triumphs; having been given the gift of music, I am able to more easily appreciate, come to terms with and ultimately celebrate, through compositions and performance, just how beautiful life can be in all its variations. Communicating that to people and allowing them to connect to this themselves is a great honour and life mission,” he elaborates.

As a musician, he plays and enjoys all kinds of instruments. He is often playing piano, guitar, drums and singing when working with children and adults of all ages. This is “the result of many years of focused studying of the trumpet”.

His main instrument is trumpet of which he expresses, “The trumpet is a powerful instrument because it is so expressive. It can shout and it can whisper — it can wail, shriek or cry. It is additionally a physically demanding instrument, taking lots of air, muscle coordination and finger technique to command the many colours available on its palette of expressions.”

And so the study of the trumpet is a fulfilling and enlightening process of conquering an ever-expanding universe of skill benchmarks and personal goals.

This trumpeter is not limited to playing instruments. He is a performer, a composer and an educator which he says are all connected and he is often doing all three at once. “I view performance as a means to compose and vice-versa. I can educate and be educated by an audience through my performances. You can see that they depend on each other to exist and flourish,” he explains.

All in all, he is committed to music education. That is because “I want to share the gifts that have been given. I also feel a responsibility to present music as something that can take on a deeper meaning through the study of and exposure to music from across the world and throughout history.”

He believes that appreciation and study of music on any level can help everybody, especially youngsters, succeed in many areas of their lives, by “encouraging imagination, group interaction, listening, communication and democratic ideals such as peace, brotherhood, and freedom of expression. The more people who share these ideas, the better the world can be”.

The concert is a free event. It will be held at Moksh. It starts from 6:00 pm.