Nabaté Isles

Talking with Grammy-Winning Trumpeter Nabaté Isles about His New Album ‘En Motion’

New York City-based Grammy-winning trumpeter/jazz artist, composer, and producer Nabaté Isles recently released his new album, En Motion, via Ropeadope Records.

Featuring “Black Girl Magic,” a collaboration with Badia Farha and MuMu Fresh, Isles created a song that black girls and women can embrace, a song offering confidence, jubilation, and celebration.

En Motion follows on the heels of Isles’ album, Eclectic Excursions, which landed in the Top 50 of JazzWeek’s charts for six straight weeks and received vast praise from elite outlets.

Along with performing, touring, and/or recording with artists like Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def), Christian McBride, Chuck D, Fantasia, Jill Scott, Leslie Odom, Jr., and Robert Glasper, Nabaté Isles is a treasure trove of sports trivia, being the only person to Stump The Schwab on ESPN and be crowned a Sports Jeopardy champion on

In addition, Isles is the host of the ‘Where They At’ podcast, which profiles famous, retired athletes such as Chuck D, Dr. John Carlos, Chris Evert, Darrelle Revis, and Warren Moon.

CelebMix spoke with Nabaté Isles to discover more about the inspiration for En Motion, how he got started in music and his writing process.

What three things cant you live without?

Family, Music, Health.

What inspired your new album, En Motion?

The music created was inspired by the music I was listening to while growing up in New York City. Growing up over the last two decades of the 20th Century, Black music developed, and I was able to visually and aurally observe this development via the radio, live concerts, and dance clubs. During the pandemic, I reflected on the music that inspired me to want to pursue music as my livelihood. I wanted to create tracks that captured those sounds and emotions.

How did you get started in music?

At age 8, I started the trumpet at P.S. 13 in Elmhurst (Queens), New York. I wanted to play bassoon since no one was playing it; Mr. Artie Miller (who I still keep in touch with) didn’t have a bassoon. There was a trumpet left. At the same age, I played guitar at Harlem School of the Arts. I wasn’t serious about music and the trumpet until I was 12 years old at Louis Armstrong Middle School. My father hosted a jazz radio show on WBAI, and I was blessed to meet many jazz greats as well as see them perform. These greats included mentors and legendary trumpeters, Jon Faddis, and my musical father, Jimmy Owens.

Where are you from?

Born in Manhattan (NY) and raised in Queens.

Did your hometown impact your sound?

Absolutely, as mentioned earlier for the inspiration behind my latest album, ‘En Motion.’ All types of genres from Jazz to Hip-Hop to R&B to House to Caribbean to Funk.

If you had to describe your sound to the uninitiated, what would you say?

The sound of my music is bright, rhythmic, and soulful. I aim to paint a vivid picture through the sonic vibrations.

What inspires your writing? Do you draw inspiration from poems, music, or other media?

I definitely draw inspiration from cinema as a film music aficionado. My music is very programmatic.

What can you share about your writing process?

Melody is the foundation of my compositions as the harmonic, rhythmic, and counter-melodic aspects follow.

I’ve often wondered if trumpet players are as selective about the instrument they play as guitarists. Are they? And what kind of trumpet do you play?

Trumpeters are very selective with not just trumpets but with mouthpieces, very important to us as our lips are all shaped differently as well as the type of sounds we aim to exhibit. I play on a Monette trumpet and a Greg Black mouthpiece.

Which artists in your opinion are killing it right now?

So many artists like Robert Glasper, Thundercat, Kendrick Lamar, Terence Blanchard, Kris Bowers, Samara Joy, Domi and JD Beck, and Christian McBride, to name a few.

How do you define success?

To do what you love every single day, on YOUR own terms.

Looking back over the last few years, what have you learned?

I learned to be consistent, and use every day to add something new that I didn’t know before within my craft and life. Find the parallels as well.

What can your fans look forward to over the next six months? Music videos? Live gigs?

I’m going to be performing with my band on:

March 30th: At the Paramount Theater in Los Angeles, California as part of the Just Jazz TV series.

April 14th and 15th: At The Velvet Note in Alpharetta, Georgia (outside of Atlanta).

April 28th: At NuBlu in New York City.

Also, I’m working on an ‘En Motion’ Remix album to be released sometime during the Summer of 2023.

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Written by Randy

Randy Radic is a Left Coast author and writer. Author of numerous true crime books written under the pen-name of John Lee Brook. Former music contributor at Huff Post.