Few would argue the contentions that the trombone isn’t the world’s most popular instrument; that jazz isn’t the highest-selling genre of music; and that Edmonton isn’t the world’s biggest music market.

So how did Edmonton-based jazz trombonist Audrey Ochoa beat the odds to create a thriving career?

“By playing every possible style, with as many musicians, in as many situations as I can,” says Ochoa, who on May 5, 2017, released her second album Afterthought – a work of contemporary jazz, mixed with her Latin and funk influences. “I say ‘yes’ as often as possible – and enjoy accommodating odd requests like costumes, background vocals, dancing, jumping and whatever else, up to and including doubling on the Sousaphone at an annual cabaret show.

“I try to normalize the trombone in every situation. For example, playing ‘rhythm trombone’ in a blues quartet when I’m subbing for the harmonica; playing with pedals and loops when playing with hip-hop or electronica groups; and above all else, I try to honour the fact that every genre has its own language and conventions. I don’t want to stretch the musical situation before ingratiating myself first.”

“I try to normalize the trombone in every situation.”

Ochoa is a mainstay in the Canadian jazz scene, and a powerhouse trombonist.  Typically for a jazz musician, Ochoa has a degree in music – in her case, from the University of Alberta. Atypically, she’s performed with the likes of The Temptations, Dan Aykroyd, Carol Welsman, Hilario Duran, and more, as the “first-call trombonist” for touring acts passing through Edmonton.

Also atypically for a jazz album, there are no covers on Afterthought – it’s all originals. “I like to compose,” says Ochoa. “I find that most of my tunes are derivative of other standards anyway. The jazz medium is largely assessed on the improvisational language, so why not explore that on tunes of my own making?”

And what’s her composing process? “For this latest album, I wrote the bulk of the tunes using guitar and voice, finessing the tunes on [music notation app] Finale,” says Ochoa. “I always write alone, often singing voice memos on my phone while I drive, and then later adding grooves, and individual parts. It always begins with a melody. In the final stages I always rely on the mastery of [her trio bandmates Mike Lent and Sandro Dominelli] to add their personalities to their parts. It is jazz, after all.”

As befits Ochoa’s eclectic, open-minded musical approach, Afterthought includes two remixes by fellow Edmontonian, DJ Battery Poacher (a.k.a. Dallas Budd). “He produced and engineered an album by my friend, singer-songwriter Amber Suchy,” says Ochoa. “She showed me some of his electronic work one day, and I was so immediately taken with the sound that I demanded his contact info and texted him out of the blue. I asked if he would consider working with me on a couple of tunes, and he agreed, sight unseen. He’ll be doing the Edmonton album release show, and I’m looking forward to future live performances with him.”