The band’s tracks combine jazz improvisation with hip-hop beats and melodies drawn from gospel and soul new music, and Woody resists slotting it into a single specific style. “All of this is Black tunes. The stuff with rapping has just as a lot inspiration from people like Miles Davis and John Coltrane, and the stuff with just trumpet from matters that aren’t necessarily deemed to be what persons contact jazz,” Woody claims. “I simply cannot put these genres on factors due to the fact that’s how folks institutionalize them.”
For Woody, Black new music comes from communities fairly than establishments. “You just can’t master it from a computer system or a book—that’s just not how it functions. You find out it from jam sessions and currently being all around elder musicians who move it on to you. Which is how it is and how it usually will be. And learning from men and women like Craig Alston has taught me that I should give it to the following technology and to my peers.”
Collectively with Prolonged, Woody has brought his tunes past the phase. In 2019, Calvin Klein arrived across music they had recorded and asked to use it for an advertisement campaign. That commenced an ongoing collection of movie scoring projects. “I appreciate viewing a thing on the monitor, staying encouraged by it, and figuring out how I can portray it musically,” says Woody. He and Long scored songs for Unwavering: The Electricity of Black Innovation, a documentary produced by the nonprofit Echoing Inexperienced about recipients of their Black Male Accomplishment Fellowship.
Correct to their character, quite a few of the duo’s scores have been collaborations with the Baltimore art scene, these as with doing artist Nia June and cinematographer Kirby Griffin. Woody and Very long composed audio for a film by June and Griffin known as The Unveiling of God (2021), a visible tribute to the filmmakers’ forefathers and the Black guys of Baltimore. The scoring do the job displays Woody’s determination to audio that not only will come from a community but can also be utilized to serve it.
Woody has quite a few new tasks ahead of him. He and Lengthy program to continue movie scoring jointly. He and an additional musician good friend, Brandon “Buz” Donald, have a instructing and carrying out residency at the College of Maryland. UPENDO performs weekly at the Metropolis Vineyard in DC and performs weekly at other venues around Baltimore. The major event this 12 months, nonetheless, will be the launch of UPENDO’s 1st album, as but untitled. The undertaking is years in the generating, subject matter to the trumpeter’s ever-higher expectations. He programs to release it in August, all over the time of his (and Alston’s) birthday.
Regardless of his many accomplishments, Woody locates his milestones at a far more personal stage. He cites assembly Extensive, forming UPENDO, and just remaining in a position to retain enjoying new music. “I do not want to converse about accolades as well considerably for the reason that that is not truly what it’s all about,” Woody states. “My audio is about celebrating existence and enjoy. Enjoy normally gets seen as a little something 1-dimensional, but there are so many unique types of really like and so quite a few unique strategies to appreciate. That is what my music is about.” Woody is strongly knowledgeable of the distinctive varieties of really like that have nurtured his music—the really like of a mom, of a instructor, of a mate, of the earlier keepers of a tradition—and through his tunes, he channels that love again into the group that to start with supplied it.