Kalia Vandever

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  • New York, NY

Record Labels

Artist Biography

Kalia Vandever is a Grammy Award Winning trombonist and composer living in Brooklyn, NY. Her approach to the trombone is distinctive and defined by her sonorous tone and lyrical improvisational voice. She leans into the challenges of the instrument and allows patience and melody guide her process.

In her compositional practice, Kalia draws from her love of songs and improvisation, creating a landscape of sounds that resonate in the body and hold the listener. She released her debut ensemble album In Bloom in 2019 which has been described as "the rise of an exciting voice for the music" (Seton Hawkins, Hot House Jazz Magazine). Her sophomore album Regrowth released in May, 2022 on New Amsterdam Records and "confirms her strengths as a composer and bandleader with a distinctly contemporary point of view." (Nate Chinen, WBGO Jazz) Her debut solo album We Fell In Turn featuring her works for trombone, voice and electronics released on AKP Records in March, 2023.

Kalia received her Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Studies at the Juilliard School in 2017.  She has toured and performed internationally with her quartet, performing at festivals such as the Winter Jazz Festival and BRIC Jazz Festival. She is also known for her work as a side-woman, performing with jazz artists including  Joel Ross, Immanuel Wilkins, Fay Victor, to name a few. She has also performed with popular artists including Harry Styles, Lizzo, Japanese Breakfast, Moses Sumney, Jennifer Hudson, and Demi Lovato. She has appeared on Saturday Night Live twice, as well as Samantha Bee's Full Frontal.

Kalia is an awardee of the 2022 Next Jazz Legacy, a program founded by New Music USA and the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice. She was also selected to curate the 2022 Music Series for The Arts Center at Duck Creek in East Hampton.

Along with her performance work, Kalia has been commissioned to write works for groups and individuals including Tesla Quartet, The Westerlies,  Katherine Kyu Hyeon Lim, and Hats & Heels Duo.

She is also experienced as an educator, having led masterclasses at universities including California Institute of the Arts, University of Chicago Illinois, Cal State Northridge, Saddleback College, University of Maine Farmington, and University of Missouri. She has also led clinics for organizations including CWU Jenn, Women of Jazz and Creative Music, Women in Jazz Organization, and Live From Our Living Rooms.

Selected Press

Brooklyn-based Vandever has played with Harry Styles and Japanese Breakfast, and has led her own bands, but this solo album finds her opening herself up to unalloyed vulnerability with striking results ... If you've ever taken flight in your dreams, a track like "Temper the Wound" (and many others on the album) could be a fitting soundtrack. 
Her music is dreamy and free, her trombone lines float untethered like pink clouds drifting through the sky at sunrise. Vandever’s music accesses the feeling of being half-awake, fluttering your eyes open to see the sun streaming onto your bed, hearing the quiet of morning before everyone else has gotten up.
Bandcamp Daily
Who needs genres when you’ve got expression as pure as the sounds on Vandever’s upcoming improvisational album We Fell In Turn? 'Temper The Wound,' the project’s lead single, is basically ambient music — gorgeous, searching ambient music that you should hear.
Her sumptuous trombone sound, often using harmonics, is supported by subdued echoes, overdubs and minimal electronics that induce a sense of floating. This is compelling and original music, which has no immediate point of comparison. 
The New York City Jazz Record
Brooklyn-based trombonist, composer, and bandleader Kalia Vandever weaves beautifully layered musical tapestries using layers of her horn, electronics, and occasional wordless vocals.
WNYC New Sounds
Opening our ears to a new signature sound, Kalia sculpts a golden tone.
KCRW: Best New Music
The 31-minute set feels dreamlike and comforting, a woven shawl of sound. Vandever uses her spirits to make peace with her ghosts.
a closer listen
It feels like the soundtrack to a beautiful goodbye, the kind of sadness you’re grateful to have experienced.
Foxy Digitalis