Tiner’s musical talents exist beyond BC campus


Kris Tiner plays his trumpet at Bakersfield College, March 5.

Breanna Fields, Reporter

Bakersfield College music instructor and critically acclaimed jazz trumpeter Kris Tiner does a lot more than grade papers in his spare time.

When he’s not teaching music appreciation or directing the jazz ensemble, Tiner is involved in a number of projects including Tin/Bag, a duo with guitarist Mike Baggetta from New York. Tin/Bag plays an inventive form of jazz, traditional and contemporary music melded together by the improvisational skills of both Tiner and Baggetta.

Tin/Bag has released three albums dating back to 2005; only a year after the project began. The duo’s second album, “And Begin Again” features special guest appearances by LA clarinetist Brian Walsh and NY jazz percussionists Harris Eisenstadt. Tin/Bag’s flare for an unusual and experimental sound has pushed the boundaries of this unique style through original compositions as well as works by Bob Dylan, Anthony Braxton, Sun Ra and Thelonious Monk.

“This is a very quiet, almost ambient project,” said Tiner, “The original material can almost be classical or chamber music.”

His most recent project, the creation of Epigraph Records, is a label that presents the talents of some of Bakersfield’s most stylistically inventive artists as well as international musicians that come to town. The label is co-owned and operated by Ron Ramirez, the owner of Going Underground Records in downtown Bakersfield.

The record label’s debut release, “Ritual Inscription,” is just a taste of what is to come from Epigraph Records which will incorporate experimental jazz, electronic music, classic music and a number of other styles that involve original composition derived from artistic creation. The album “Ritual Inscription” was recorded live at a midnight concert at Metro Galleries, featuring Tiner on trumpet, percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani from Japan and guitarist Jeremy Drake from Los Angeles.  There are a limited number of albums available, released strictly on vinyl format.

“Every time we do a concert, I get to encounter people who are hearing this music for the first time. As an artist, that excites me because it makes me feel like there’s some relevance to this thing that I’ve been studying and doing,” said Tiner.

The next live performance scheduled to be recorded and released under Epigraph Records is local musicians the Invisible Astro Healing Quartet. Their eclectic style ranges from electric jazz to funk with a psychedelic element thrown in the mix. Members of the quartet were all former students who have gone through Tiner’s music program.

“There is a great audience here who are appreciative of unusual music. With the record label, I want to prove that it’s happening and also have something to give to the local community as a way for people to see what’s going on,” said Tiner.

Tiner’s ambition to bring awareness and deepen support in Bakersfield has extended beyond the creation of music and into the realm of booking agent for venues around town. He has made a number of connections along the way, leading to projects that have afforded him the opportunity to travel across the country and to Europe.

While at first the improvised creations of jazz music may have been foreign to the local music scene, Tiner hopes that this is no longer the case having been involved in it for 25 years. He explained that local audiences are often enthusiastic.

As a music instructor working at BC and part-time at CSUB, Tiner is constantly producing ideas that are customized to his student’s particular interests. As the director of the jazz ensemble, he explained that oftentimes he doesn’t know which direction they will go until they meet and decide if they would like to take a more traditional or progressive route.

“I try to engineer my appreciation classes so that students who aren’t musicians come away with a deeper sense of what music is,” said Tiner.

Born and raised in Wasco, Tiner began playing the trumpet at the age of 10. He played in school bands and received his first trumpet lessons from his father. He played a broad range of styles and, by the time he was a teenager, he began to focus solely on jazz music. He received his degree at CSUB in music and attended the California Institute of the Arts for his master’s degree in African-American Improvisional Music. He’s been a music instructor at BC since 2004.

The decision to teach music was made early on in Tiner’s career, opting not to struggle as an artist trying to make it. As a result, he has been able to share his knowledge with aspiring musicians and perform the music that he loves.

“When you do a performance, you don’t have to worry about making a thousand dollars. You can put more time and energy and thought into the artistic side of it,” said Tiner.