Mariel Bildsten Quartet at Jersey Jazz LIVE!

April 23, 2024

Trombonist Mariel Bildsten moved from Santa Barbara, CA, to New York to study jazz at the New School’s School of Jazz and Contemporary Music. She remained in New York after graduating in 2015 and has become an integral part of the New York/New Jersey jazz scene. DownBeat Magazine calls her “irrepressibly spontaneous.”

Currently, Bildsten (photo above) has a monthly residency at the Django Jazz Club and has performed at such venues as Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Morris Museum’s Bickford Theatre, and the Caramoor Jazz Festival. She is a frequent member of the Mingus Big Band and has played lead trombone for Arturo O’Farrill’s Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble.

On Sunday, May 5, Bildsten will be bringing a quartet to the New Jersey Jazz Society’s Jersey Jazz LIVE! concert at the Madison (NJ) Community Arts Center. Joining her will be pianist Miki Yamanaka, bassist Marty Jaffe, and drummer Charles Goold.

Bildsten’s most recent Outside in Music album, Steppin’ Out, was released in August 2023 and features Yamanaka on piano along with trumpeter Bruce Harris, alto saxophonist Sarah Hanahan, tenor saxophonist Ruben Fox, bassist Barry Stephenson, and drummer TJ Reddick. Among the selections are Duke Ellington’s “Downtown Uproar” and Jimmy Van Heusen’s “Polka Dots and Moonbeams.”

Lawrence Brown, who played in Ellington’s Orchestra for several years, is Bildsten’s trombone hero. “He is one of my favorites,” she told Jersey Jazz (January/February 2020) “because of the way he expressed his melodies. He would have you on the edge of your seat.” Bildsten’s 2020 Outside in Music album, Backbone, was called “a joy to encounter” by JazzTimes and “a straight-up, swinging, purist mix of tunes from across the ages” by New York Music Daily.

Yamanaka moved to New York City from Japan in 2012. Her latest Cellar Records album, Shades of a Rainbow, showcases her original compositions. Her piano playing, according to AllAboutJazz‘s Jack Bowers, is “nimble and expressive.”

Originally from Conway, MA, Jaffe also moved to New York in 2012, to attend Columbia University and Juilliard, where he studied with bassists Ron Carter and Ray Drummond. He was named a 2012 Presidential Scholar in the Arts and won the International Society of Bassists’ jazz competition in 2013.

In a review of Goold’s 2022 LaReserve album, Rhythm in Contrast, Giovanni Russonello of The New York Times praised the drummer for providing “a sincere update to the mid-century modern jazz sound.”

The Mariel Bildsten Quartet will be preceded by a Rising Star quartet led by Pascack Valley High School trombonist Ming-Lang Qin (photo below). Other members of the band are: drummer Cole Rosenberg from Saddle River Day School and two student musicians from Ridgewood High School, bassist Anders Ryen and pianist William Solway. Qin was a member of the New Jersey All-State Ensemble that performed at last November’s TD James Moody Jazz Festival at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. Rosenberg attended last summer’s Litchfield (CT) Jazz Camp, playing in a band led by saxophonist Steve Kortyka. Qin and Rosenberg are both members of the Jazz House Kids Big Band, which tied for first place at the Charles Mingus Festival and High School Competition held in February at The New School in New York.

The Madison Community Arts Center is located at 10 Kings Road in Madison, NJ. The Jersey Jazz LIVE! concerts begin at 3 p.m. Admission will be $10 for NJJS members and $15 for non-members. Student admission is $5 with valid ID.  There will be light refreshments for purchase.

To order tickets in advance, log onto

Funding for Jersey Jazz Live! has been made possible, in part, by funds from Morris Arts through the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a partner agency of The National Endowment for the Arts. This program is also proudly supported by a grant from The Summit Foundation


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