Although at this concert she will have a stage to perform on, she jokes she might pass around out a hat for old times' sake.
Franks' music has been compared to the sounds of Blue Mitchell, Kenny Dorham and Chet Baker. But Franks says that despite her influences, her sound is unique.
"When you say, 'I play the trumpet,' everybody already has a vision of loud music, but I don't think that's interesting. I approach my playing more like a vocalist melodically," Franks said.
"I use my improvisation like I'm trying to say something, and I think of it in phrases. To me, it's not about how many notes you play or how high you play; it's how you play and what you're trying to say."
Born in Palo Alto to a family of trumpet players, Franks was drawn to music from an early age. She started playing the trumpet in fourth grade at Crescent Park Elementary School. As a child, she was involved with the Palo Alto Children's Theatre and Peninsula Youth Symphony. She also found an inspiring band teacher and music program at Wilbur Middle School.
Franks was first introduced to jazz at school -- in 7th grade when she joined her school's jazz band -- not at home.
"I didn't grow up listening to Dizzy and Clifford," Franks said. "(At home) we listened to more traditional Big Band-y type of stuff: Woody Herman, Glenn Miller."
Franks was offered a scholarship to the University of Southern California, but turned it down to go to Venezuela to play in a salsa band. Her mother didn't approve of the choice, but didn't try to talk her out of it, Franks said. So Franks spent a year and a half on a tour bus traveling and gigging through South America.
She then spent her early 20s in Northern California and played freelance with the Santa Cruz Symphony and a few Latin groups, and gigged a lot in San Francisco. A few years later, she drove her VW bug out to New York for college.
Franks spent 10 years living in New York City, from 1987 to 1997. She obtained her bachelor's of fine arts degree in jazz performance at the New School of Social Research. Then she went to New York University for one year for a master's program, which she did not complete.
But she spent a lot of time practicing her horn when she moved to New York because, "it gets really cold and there's nothing else to do," she said.
Nothing else, besides wandering from jazz club to jazz club with trumpet at her side, sitting in on performances with jazz greats Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers, and Tito Puente.
Franks did not have trouble introducing herself to musicians and asking to sit in. She recalls fondly the night she sat in on an Art Blakey concert.
"I said, 'I play the trumpet; is there anyway I could sit in?' He looked at me kind of shocked and said, 'Oh, sure.' He probably doesn't get too many people asking that," Franks said. "I was flying. There was something about that night. ... I don't remember how I sounded or what I played, but I treasure that moment."
By the end of Franks' 10 years in New York City, she had enough. Franks loved the city, where she supported herself by performing at club dates, weddings and other gigs. But the city grated on her.
"My health was going downhill. I had this really bad case of panic disorder, and at the time they didn't know what it was," Franks said.
So she picked up her things and moved back to California, where she began teaching and started to settle down. But like the notes of a jazz melody, Franks' life took an unexpected turn, and she decided to move again.
She now lives in the Hudson Valley of upstate New York, where she teaches at a community college and works on recordings with her band. Franks has found that balance between teaching and performing keeps her grounded.
What: Jazz trumpeter Rebecca Coupe Franks performs at the Summer Jazz Series 20, organized by Stanford Shopping Center and the San Francisco Jazz Festival.
Where: Clock Tower Plaza at Stanford Shopping Center (near Neiman Marcus)
When: Aug. 10, from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Info: Call 650-617-8240 or go to www.sfjazz.org. Franks' Web site is at www.indie911.com/coupe-and-her-groovemobile.
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