3rd Degree, The Odyssey Sound. What it is and Why We Hope It Inspires You
“Comics were my first love…until I found the horn.”
Roman Gonzales also known as Roman G. is a trumpeter, composer, arranger, producer, writer, and teacher based in Boston Massachusetts. Born in Waukegan, Illinois and raised in Los Lunas, New Mexico, he was an avid reader from an early age. Comic books being the preferred choice, he was intent on becoming a graphic novelist like his heroes Stan Lee, Alan Moore, Tony Daniel, and others. That would change when he stepped foot into his middle school’s band room. He wasted no time in making a lasting impression, picking up the horn at the age of 12, he strove to master the instrument, the craft, and its traditions. Although primarily self taught, Roman credits 3 teachers with influencing his growth and personal motto of “No Weakness, Zero Regrets”. Mr. Rich Worcester taught him the fundamentals of the horn and how to recognize talent by listening. Mr. Henry Estrada not only encouraged a good work ethic, but also the discipline that comes with being an excellent musician. Mr. Jeff Piper taught him how to problem solve and work hard like an athlete. From his early days of middle school to his ending days of high school, Roman would compete in district, state, regional, and national competitions earning over 70 accolades in total.
After graduating high school in the spring, Roman began studying at New Mexico State University that fall. He would earn spots in the college’s top Wind Ensemble and Jazz Orchestra as well as other school directed ensembles. Roman would end up teaching himself intermediate music theory, ear training, composition, and music technology. It was here he would also begin drafting his concept for the genre of 3rd Degree. In 2016 he would attend the International Trumpet Guild (ITG) conference in Anaheim, CA which would change his life forever. In a bid to take his education further and after a chance encounter with trumpet virtuoso Arturo Sandoval, he would apply and be accepted into Berklee College of Music, gathering his band shortly thereafter.
He still reads comics to this day…
The Odyssey was formed in order to promote a dialogue for social change. While every kind of artistry has a crucial and functional role in society, music tends to be the most accessible and widely understood. To this end, I believe music has the ability to be the strongest positive force in the world today, more specifically “jazz” music. While not a generically accurate term (I believe it to be an attitude, not a genre), it is a type of music based solely in creation. It’s the people’s music, it’s rebel music, it’s joyful noise. Since it’s inception it has granted a voice to the speechless. To the underdogs of society who struggle in desperation, it has garnered hope. However, beginning with the institutionalization of the music around 1947, I believe “jazz” has lost its way. A wave of willful ignorance has begun to populate the world of modern music. This is primarily due to an unwillingness to understand the history of “jazz” which is at the root of all modern music. This is not entirely the fault of our modern musicians however, as they have not been given proper incentive or instruction. Though the efforts of our elders were always meant to be in the best interest of the music, I feel their teachings have been misinterpreted and even misconstrued (partially through the powers of bureaucracy). “jazz”, pulling heavily from the West African Griot tradition and the institutionalized form only taking some of these important values, I believe the music has not been able to realize its full potential in this modern age.
Enter The Odyssey and 3rd Degree, a new genre of music we are working to pioneer based in “jazz”. 3rd Degree is not only our answer to the question of “what is jazz?”, but what I feel to be the next and natural evolution of the music. While there are many genres of music that operate within a “box”, “jazz” has ceremoniously never been one of those. 3rd Degree is an effort to breathe new life into the music by combining old world ideologies and traditions, with modern sounds and methodologies. It has been stated that “jazz” is a musical language and this is true, however it is not a stagnant one. It must evolve or perish like any other language, the creators of this music knew this. After all, who were they to imitate when the vocabulary they were creating did not previously exist. With so many new sounds on the “scene” it is imperative that we learn to use them to our advantage and integrate them whenever possible, as I think the masters would have wanted. The Odyssey is a collective of like minded individuals who are working to make this dream a reality. With each iteration of the band hailing from broad musical and eclectic backgrounds, we learn to work together to craft a sound that is familiar, yet decisively unique. We hope to open your ears to the vast possibilities that exist within instrumental music and “jazz”. From the most advanced listener to the most uninformed, we seek to bridge the gap between the audience and the musician. We hope you will take this journey of discovery with us, this odyssey, to expose just how connected we all really are.
-Roman G and The Odyssey
Having the opportunity to study at Berklee College of Music and absorb wisdom from masters such as Tanya Darby, Marshal Gilkes, Phil Grenadier, Bill Banfield, Livingston Taylor, and others has been no small benefit to the group. Beginning with a string of successful shows at the college, The Odyssey wasted no time in making its presence felt. After releasing their debut EP “Sketches” in 2019, the band would play venues across the greater Boston area, including the world famous Hard Rock Cafe. In addition to being superb instrumentalists, each member brings their own individual expertise and achievement to the ensemble.
Roman G and The Odyssey announce their return with "Gypsy Black", promising a unique perspective in instrumental music. Building on the foundation laid by “Sketches” an EP released by the band in 2019, this album hopes to be more than just a compilation of songs. Pulling from various artistic sources, the album tells a narrative of the artist in today’s social climate. Are we doing all we can to insure a positive legacy for those who will come after us?