Don Bowyer’s “50+50 Trombone Triathlon”, NEW! FREE MUSIC for Bass Trombone is delighted to continue the tradition of free music for bass trombone with Don Bowyer’s “50 + 50 Triathlon”, for unaccompanied bass trombone, goggles, racing number, and bicycle helmet. Don is a mutlifaceted musician and humanitarian who now makes his home in Arkansas. A gifted bass trombonist, music writer, and educator, Don has graciously allowed us to publish this miniature in three movements. Each movement includes 50 notes for the first 50 years and 50 more, for 50 50 fifty more! Written for Carolyn of her 5oth birthday, and commissioned by Von Graves. Enjoy!

50-50 Trombone Triathlon-1

50-50 Trombone Triathlon 003

BowyerDon Bowyer is Dean of the College of Fine Arts at Arkansas State University, having previously taught at every level from kindergarten through university in the United States, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Sweden. Bowyer received his Doctor of Arts from the University of Northern Colorado, his Master of Arts from California State University at Northridge, and his Bachelor of Arts from West Virginia Wesleyan College.

Active in the fields of composition, music technology, and performance, Bowyer has published more than 60 pieces of music, developed an educational computer program (which has been used in more than 120 countries), and has performed all over the globe. Among numerous performing credits, Bowyer spent five years playing trombone on eleven cruise ships in the Caribbean Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Gulf of Alaska. The first ten didn’t sink; see, for an account of the eleventh!

2013-05-03 Composition List Sheet1

Bowyer and his wife, Donna, have also served as foster parents, having provided a home to eighteen foster children between 2003 and 2010.

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“GUITARZILLA VS. GUITAR KONG” tm, SUNDAY 10-19-14 at 6:00 pm


Trinity Episcopal Cathedral is located at North Bayshore Drive and the Venetian Causeway in Miami, next to the Marriott Hotel and across North Bayshore Drive from the Omni / Hilton Hotel complex. It is also conveniently located one-half block from the Omni Metro Mover and Bus Station.

Trinity Cathedral / 464 NE 16th Street, Miami, Florida 33132

Phone: (305) 374-3372

From the South, take I-95 and exit onto I-395 (SR 836) East towards Miami Beach. Take the Biscayne Boulevard/NE 2ndAvenue Exit and turn left (North) onto Biscayne Boulevard (US 1). Go to NE 15th Street and turn right and go one block to North Bayshore Drive and turn left. The Cathedral is on the right between NE 15th and NE 16th Streets, just before the Marriott Hotel.

From the North , take I-95 and exit onto I-195 (SR 112) East towards Miami Beach. Take the Biscayne Boulevard Exit and turn LEFT onto Biscayne Boulevard (US 1). Proceed South to NE 15th Street, turn left and go one block to North Bayshore Drive and turn left. The Cathedral is on the right between NE 15th and NE 16th Streets, just before the Marriott Hotel.

Parking is available behind the building and may be accessed from either NE 15th Street or NE 16th Street. Additional parking is available at the Omni Garage (across the street) for a charge and metered spaces are available on NE 16th Street. Reduced rate parking is available in the Omni Garage for services on Sundays and at most major events at the Cathedral.


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Seraph Alights Upon “FIVE!” tm Seraph+Brass-5-3567790189-O

Seraph is new. Five young women, extraordinarily well-versed as musicians and artists with solid philosophical underpinnings and chemistry. Their perspectives and hopes are inspiring and their individual accomplishments make the sum total of Seraph beam with promise. and “Five!” is honored to share the nascent flight of Seraph.

Who had the idea for the group?
Katy: Mary came up with the idea for a female brass group about 7 years ago. Between taking auditions, finishing school, winning jobs, and starting families it took a few years to find the right group of players at the right time. Once we did, the vision came together quickly.

How did it come together?
Mary: I wanted a chamber music group where all five members were equal owners of the group and everyone shared the same vision: to make fantastic chamber music and perform at the highest level. Everyone in Seraph contributes equally. I know all of the performers from different parts of my life and called each of them to see if they wanted to start a serious brass group. Katy and I went to Yale at the same time and Zenas and I started performing two seasons ago with the Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia Big Brass.
I met Beth and Ashley more recently-Beth lives not too far from me in Florida and Ashley and I shared a recital at the most recent International Trumpet Guild conference. We performed a duo piece and afterwards Jens Lindemann told us that we sound great together and that we should form a group. All five of us feel a great connection and we love playing music together.

Where is everyone living now? And how did you conquer time and space for rehearsals and recordings?
Katy: Ashley lives in the Midwest, Zenas and I live in the mid-Atlantic, and Beth and Mary live in south Florida. Conquering time and space issues for our debut recording was a labor of love (pun intended). We were limited geographically because Ashley was pregnant. There was no option other than for us to travel to her before the baby was due. Ashley has an extensive personal network and utilized her connections and resources to line up the recording and concert logistics in her town.

Please introduce the band, and talk about their backgrounds. teachers and brass playing philosophies.

-6Ashley: I am originally from Southern Virginia. I started playing the trumpet in the 5th grade and my mom was my first trumpet teacher. I won the Junior High Division of the National Trumpet Competition in the 7th grade, playing a Herbert L. Clarke cornet solo and fell in love with performing for people. I studied with Allen Bachelder in high school and went to the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music where I studied with Alan Siebert, Marie Speziale and Philip Collins. I won a job with the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra just out of undergrad, and continued to pursue solo performing on the side. I experienced some significant chop issues from 2003-2005 and eventually took a leave from the orchestra, moved to Boston, MA where I studied with Steve Emery for two years. During that time I learned not only how to use my air more efficiently, but how not to impinge the vibration of the top lip. After my time in Boston, I continued to pursue this new way of playing the trumpet with ease and freedom. I won the principal trumpet job with the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, and resumed my position with the Dayton Philharmonic. In 2008, I married an incredible life partner, Nathan Tighe, and today we celebrate 6 years of marriage and have two beautiful children, Morgan and Kevin. We currently live in Rochester, MN.

Zenas: I grew up kind of everywhere, various parts of New Jersey, San -5Francisco, Seoul, and the DC suburbs. I had played piano since I was five-years-old, but when the opportunity came to choose an instrument in the 5th grade, the trombone was an easy choice for me. I did not want to play something all the other girls played, and it seemed the most weirdly shaped instrument to me. I studied with Jim Kraft of the National Symphony in high school, and went on to study with Norman Bolter at New England Conservatory. Norman Bolter focused my attention on the idea of using out-of-the-box concepts to solve technical problems. It is amazing what the mind can do-if you use it! Then I crossed the pond to the Netherlands to study with Jorgen van Rijen, Pierre Volders, and Remko de Jager in pursuit of my Masters degree. During my second year in the Netherlands, I won the principal trombone job with the Daegu Symphony Orchestra. After a year, I came back to the DC area, and started my DMA at University of Maryland with Craig Mulcahy.

Currently, I’m working on the DMA, playing with Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia Big Brass, freelancing and teaching in the DC area, and this past summer I have married my best friend of 8 years, tubist John Banther! My main philosophy in brass playing is using phrasing to aid technique. I feel that often, naturally musical phrasing is not second nature to young brass players. I have found that when you give direction a string of notes, often times the air is used more efficiently (and much better supported), and in turn articulation and sound is improved. This allows a sense of ease in playing to set in. Not to mention that it’s just nice to make music, instead of playing just notes!

Beth: I grew up in Davenport, Iowa, and came to the tuba when I was around ten-years-old. I had been playing the violin for several years, and was honestly heartbroken when my dreams of being a flute player were crushed, and I was given a euphonium instead. Very shortly after, I switched to the tuba and haven’t looked back since.
I’ve been very fortunate to have three very influential teachers in my life — Marty Erickson at Lawrence University, Mike Roylance at Yale University (MM) and Rex Martin at Northwestern University (DMA-in progress). All three were great examples for me of strong work ethic, well thought-out teaching philosophies, and a demonstrated track record of success, and I’m fortunate to count them as friends and mentors to this day.

As for my own brass playing philosophy, the goal is generally to keep it as simple and musical as possible. Having spent almost 10 years in higher education, the transition to becoming your own musician can be a little daunting, but I have to say, it’s been the most exciting time as well. I try to vary my practicing as much as possible, incorporating sight-reading, études, or other things into my daily routines that will keep me engaged and focused on continually improving both as an artist and an artisan.

Seraph MaryMary: I am from the Chicago area, and I started on a Yamaha cornet when I was ten-years-old. I later studied with David Bilger at The Curtis Institute of Music and with Allan Dean at the Yale School of Music. Out of school, I won a position with the Richmond Symphony in Virginia and also taught at Virginia Commonwealth University. I am also an active soloist and chamber musician (you can read my full bio at

I am constantly looking for inspiring projects: this season I am performing my first Brandenburg 2 with my non-profit ensemble in Florida-the Chrysalis Chamber Players, and I’ve just finished recording my first solo album of all American works that will be released in 2015.

Making a beautiful rich sound on the trumpet has always been my main focus. When I warm up in the morning, I play soft lip bends to get the cobwebs off of my sound and find my center for the day. Hakan Hardenberger describes this as getting the “gravel” out of your tone for the day. I spend most of my time these days practicing basics (80% of the time). This is helpful with my crazy travel schedule and when I have a ton of music to learn and perform. If the basics are in place, then learning music is much faster. I spend a lot of time doing mental practice and visualizing what I want the music to sound like. Also SLOW practice has been a game changer for me when I have stacks of music to learn. I’ve learned a lot from Jens Lindemann who I’ve studied with at the Banff Centre. I switched to smaller equipment since I am doing more solo and chamber music work. I currently am based out of Naples, FL where I live with my husband, trumpeter Dave Dash, and our cat Duke.

Katy: I grew up in a musical family in Metro-Detroit, studying Suzuki violin from age 2-5 and beginning horn lessons at age 10. I was very fortunate to have an exceptional private teacher, Connie Hutchinson. My parents are both music teachers and they knew the value of a solid foundation at an early age. I studied with Soren Hermansson at University of Michigan, who taught me the strength of a musical phrase and to sing through the horn. Randy Gardner at CCM was my teacher for my Masters degree. In addition to the advantage of his orchestral experience, he has a great mind for teaching. He is meticulous yet his ideas are simple and focused on honing fundamental skills and learning repertoire. I then studied William Purvis at Yale and he was excellent mentor to me. He made me question the purpose behind every note I played. He asked a lot of questions and made me figure out how to approach horn from several angles. I have also studied extensively with Denise Tryon in Philadelphia, who is all about quality of sound, air quantity and air speed. These four people were incredibly influential in my approach to the horn and I consider myself very fortunate to be able draw upon the pedagogy of each while forming my own.

Where do you see the Seraph in 5 years?
Zenas: In 5 years, we see Seraph as an active chamber ensemble, not only in terms of concertizing, but also having established strong partnerships with educational and community organizations to foster the idea of empowerment to the next generation of young women. We are currently discussing our first recording project, so hopefully we will have one or two recordings in 5 years. We aim to record new commissions, and our own arrangements of audience favorites, as well as brass favorites! We hope to have completed a few tours, be it in the US or overseas.

Do you have any in-house arrangers?

Ashley: I am married to one of our primary arrangers! My husband, Nathan Tighe, is currently a fourth year medical student who loves to arrange music for brass quintet. Prior to his medical training, he completed over 20 brass quintet arrangements, many of which we include in our concerts! He still arranges new music for us and sees it as a fun balance to his medical career.

Which brass groups have inspired you?
Ashley: Mnozil Brass
Katy: Empire, Canadian, German Brass
Beth: Stockholm Chamber Brass, American Brass Quintet, Phillip Jones Brass Ensemble
Mary: Boston Brass and Center City Brass
Zenas: New Trombone Collective

Non-brass chamber music groups?
Ashley: Kronos Quartet, Time for Three, The Kings Singers, Chanticleer, Yo-Yo Ma and his numerous collaborations, Bobby McFerrin and his numerous collaborations
Katy: Prism Quartet, eighth blackbird, Roomful of Teeth
Mary: Seraphic Fire, Dover Quartet, Ensemble Intercontemporain

What is the biggest challenge for a tubist in a brass quintet (Beth), and what size tuba have you decided to use? Any thoughts of more than one tuba
Beth: The biggest challenge: portability. Jokes aside, for the stuff that we recorded, I used an F tuba, but I do really enjoy the sound of the bigger CC tuba in the quintet — repertoire permitting. I think one of the challenges we face as tuba players in a quintet is that our role in the group changes frequently, as so many composers and arrangers have differing ideas on the role, capabilities, and sound of the tuba — some envision a bass trombone sound, while others hear more of a large tuba sound, and everything in between. Navigating those differences can have a huge effect on how we perceive our role in the low end, and I think that’s one of the more exciting challenges of playing in a quintet.

(Or horn, or trombone for that matter? Does the portability of the trumpet give them an advantage of options for colors and ease?)

-3Katy: We could talk physics for awhile here, but suffice it to say that the length and shape of the tubing for horn and trombone give both instruments a wide array of colors in the right hands. Trumpets have the hassle of needing to bring an extra suitcase just for their horns! Sure, it’s portable if you only need one, but when is the last time you saw a trumpet player show up to a gig with only one horn?

Mary: I travel quite a bit and end up carrying a b-flat, c, e-flat, 2 piccolos (Yamaha and a scherzer), and flugelhorn plus a handful of mutes and mouthpieces…

Which types of trumpets will Seraph feature? Any plans for flugelhorn?
Ashley: Mary and I play all types of trumpets including the cornet, Bb, C, Eb, piccolo and flugel horn. When given a choice, Mary is the one who prefers to play the piccolo trumpet and Eb and I prefer to play the cornet or flugelhorn.

Any plans for cross-overs with vocalists? or, Other female instrumentalists?
Zenas: In the immediate future, Joseph Hallman, who wrote a piece for Mary Bowden on her upcoming solo CD, is currently working on a piece for quintet and soprano. We are hoping to premiere it in March, 2015.

More women than men are now graduating from Universities in the United States. Is the 21st Century shaping up to be the Century of the Woman?
Katy: One hundred years is a long time, hopefully the 21st century will be less about defining the differences between gender roles and more about acknowledging the differences in individuals based on their behavior and social conduct.

If you were to add a sixth instrument, what would it be?
Mary: I don’t think we would add a permanent member to the group but we would love to collaborate with other musicians. I could see us performing with percussion at some point and also organ. I am interested in collaborations with any instrument if it works!

Please list your favorite recording for brass!!
Ashley: Bay Brass, “Christmas CD”
Katy: German Brass, “Bach 2000″
Beth: anything by the Phillip Jones Brass Ensemble
Mary: Center City Brass, “Street Song”
Zenas: Empire Brass, “Class Brass”

c. 2014 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved.

Images Courtesy of SERAPH

Seraph Brass Quintet interview, brass quintet interview

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“Seven Positions” Salutes GEORGE ROBERTS-”MR. BASS TROMBONE”, with Jon Yeager George Roberts, Mr. Bass Trombone Courtesy Walt Disney World c 2012 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved

With the passing of George Roberts, Mr. Bass Trombone, it seems as if That Rainy Day is here. For all of us who ever heard or met Roberts, the loss is tremendous, and our horns are a bit heavier now. According to Jim Self, tuba studio great, “George Roberts was a sweet man, great musician and friend. I got to sit next to him on hundreds of recording sessions and concerts. He liberated the bass trombone and made it a beautiful solo instrument. He’s on my list of musical heroes.” “Seven Positions” tm is saddened to note the passing of George Roberts, a man who occupies a place that is perhaps unique amongst virtuoso of any instrument: he is universally acclaimed to be the inspiration and model for all bass trombonists, classical and jazz. He will be missed.

What do you do when the world’s greatest bass trombonist retires to your community? Jon Yeager, who was an aspiring young high school aged bass trombonist did what came naturally; he took lessons. Yeager was to forge a long lasting friendship with George Roberts, “Mr. Bass Trombone”, that persisted as Yeager went away to University, eventually publishing an impressive dissertation on George Roberts, his life and approach to music. Roberts immense talent manifested itself during his retirement years as he innovated the bass trombone duo with pianist Reg Powell. Later, Roberts would go on to present the bass trombone in live performances with pre-recorded backing tracks from Powell and friends like the great arranger Nelson Riddle.

Roberts Yeager OldHow did you first meet George Roberts?
George had just moved down to Fallbrook, California, and he did a clinic at my high school. I was a freshman, and I did not have any real concept of who he was or how important he was. However, he must have had a strong impact on me that afternoon, because I went home and asked my parents if I could begin taking trombone lessons—from him, of course.

How long did you study with him?
We did our mostly-weekly lessons until I graduated high school. I was very lucky—it turned out he lived about a half mile down the road, and we became pretty good friends. Of course, George has been friends with just about everybody he has ever met. On the weekends, George would play over his background tapes at various coffee shops. Eventually, I gave him rides down to Kaffeen’s on Coronado Island, and he would let me play a couple of tunes each week. We continued doing that every time I came home from college.

What kind of concepts did he work on?
George really avoided getting too specific about technique. It was all about singing songs and telling stories. He showed me how to phrase songs and how to be free with rhythm. Along the way, he would throw things at me like slide vibrato and how to fake notes and simplify things. He also showed me head vibrato, which he used pretty regularly at the time, but I had trouble with it at the time.

Materials were almost exclusively background tapes and lead sheets. Mostly, he would sit in our living room, I would play a tune for him, and he would comment and model for me, vocally. Occasionally, we listened to recordings by people like Urbie Green and Bill Watrous. Early on, he gave me a beginning tuba method book to work on my bass trombone playing. I think it was Best In Class, but I don’t think he ever listened to me play any of it.

What do you feel remains with you from his teachings?
Striving to be a master of the basics: sound, intonation, time, style.

Did he offer any insights into famous recordings or artists?
George and Nelson Riddle were friends, and Riddle called George one day. He told George he was trying to come up with some sort of Afro-Cuban type thing to incorporate into an arrangement he was working on. George sang him some of the opening of “23 Degrees North, 82 Degrees West,” which he had recorded with Kenton. After a few bars, Riddle told him that he thought he could do something with it, and he proceeded to write the trombone crescendo section in the middle of “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” for Sinatra.

What prompted you to do your research paper on George?
Strangely, it hadn’t really occurred to me to write my dissertation about George until Vern Kagarice at North Texas suggested it. After I thought about it, George and his style seemed like an obvious topic for several reasons: 1) George’s influence on the world of bass trombone has been profound; 2) no one had ever really formally analyzed his playing; 3) it was a topic I was interested in; and 4) I realized I was probably as qualified as anyone to do it.

I’m about to shoot myself in the foot, but now I question whether or not I should have written a formal paper about George’s playing. The good thing about it is that it is a tangible document that can serve to teach younger players about George’s importance and what was different about his playing. The downside is that reading a paper seems like a fairly clinical way to learn about George’s playing. The best way is to find recordings and just really listen to them. So instead of recommending people read my dissertation, I’ll point them to my website. has a discography I spent a few years compiling, and there are some comments about George by several very well-known players. If people still want to read my paper, there’s a link to it there. Actually, the last part of my dissertation is the best part, and something that people may find of interest. It consists of transcripts of my two interviews with George—great stories and advice.

Who were his musical heroes?

George has mentioned trombonists such as Tommy Dorsey, Bill Harris, and Urbie Green, but I think he really idolizes Jack Teagarden and how Teagarden didn’t try to play like everyone else.

Being a “vocalist” on the trombone, George often spoke of singers in our lessons. He referred to Sarah Vaughan, Nat Cole, Tony Bennett, and Ella Fitzgerald, but I think he had the greatest respect for Frank Sinatra and the way he interpreted songs.

What do you feel are the essential elements of his style?

Allison Yeager, Jon Yeager, George Roberts & Matt Litwaitis in 2009

Allison Yeager, Jon Yeager, George Roberts & Matt Litwaitis in 2009

George sings through his trombone, with a sound that projects “like a trombone.” He doesn’t try to play like a big, macho bass trombone, unless it’s really appropriate. Even in the low register, his playing shows his personality: beauty, lightness, sense of humor. He has told me many times that his idea was to play like Urbie Green, but an octave lower.

What techniques or ability allowed him to ‘get on tape’ so readily and easily?

That projecting sound. He tells a story about a recording session many years ago. I don’t remember all the details, but it was something like: someone asked the lead trombone player what he thought of the bass trombonist, and the lead player said, “I can barely hear him. He doesn’t play loud enough.” Then they went into the booth and listened to the take, and George’s sound just about dominated the section.

What do you remember about the horns he played?
He has developed instruments for Olds, Holton, Yamaha, Conn, and Kanstul, I think in that order. When I met him, he was working with Yamaha on the 612. My parents got one for me, and that’s what I’ve played for most of the last twenty-plus years. It’s a very light horn that speaks right away. Except for the Yamaha, I’m pretty sure his instruments have always been single-valve horns, because he doesn’t like the mass of a second valve section. I think he has always used a Remington lead pipe and 1 ½ G-style (maybe slightly oversized) mouthpiece—nothing too big.

What was it like to go to a coffee shop and hear George Roberts?
Those visits to the coffee shops are some of my fondest memories and when probably my most profound musical and “personal” instruction occurred. That’s not meant to take anything from some other great teachers I’ve been fortunate enough to have, but interacting with George and hearing him in person really inspired me as a trombonist and had an effect on the type of person I have become.

Why was he so important for the bass trombone?
He was the one who took the bass trombone from being basically a rare, heavy, background instrument in popular music to one that could be a versatile, expressive male voice. He’s the one that prompted arrangers to write interesting lines for bass trombone and proved that the bass trombone could be a beautiful solo instrument.

One of the things that you mentioned in our telephone conversation, was that George heard what he wanted before he played it.
I think George has a very clear mental image of the sound he wants, but much of what he does musically is spontaneous. Something else I should have mentioned was his emphasis on beginners establishing a great sound before learning a bunch of notes. He might say, “Learn to play the most beautiful sound in the world, then learn what to do with it.”

c. 2014 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved.

Images courtesy of Jon Yeager and David Brubeck

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TROMBA-The Ultimate Plastic Trombone, Glides Through The Big Apple

Slides in The City!
TROMBA took center stage, or rather center street last week in New York City as Trombone Freelancer and Runner Jennifer Wharton painted the town in TROMBA-Blue. At less than two pounds, you can take your TROMBA anywhere!

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TROMBA-The Ultimate Plastic Trombone, IN THE NEWS!

Tromba winnersCongratulations Are In Order!
Laura Potter and Andrew Lyster won free TROMBAS at The 2014 International Tuba and Euphonium Conference held at Indiana University. TROMBA-The Ultimate Plastic Trombone sponsored David William Brubeck’s recital featuring his original compositions for solo low brass (Stereograms), mixed-low brass quintet and a special appearance by DUO BRUBECK at the 2014 International Tuba and Euphonium Conference held at Indiana University. Solo performers included Kelly Thomas, Beth Mitchell, photo-89Patrick Nyren, and David Brubeck, with special guests Peter Kienle and Chao-Chun Cheng. Other sponsors included the publishers of Introductory Stereograms A-M, Cherry Classics and the Publishers of The Original Stereograms Volumes I & II (Nos. 1-20) and Volume III (Nos. 21-30), The International Trombone Association Press.

c. 2014 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved.

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Chitate Kagawa Invites “The Fourth Valve” tm to Japan

Chitate Kagawa performed as the principal tubist of the Sapporo Symphony until his retirement in 2004. In 2010 he was awarded the ITEA Lifetime Achievement Award, and has been a strong advocate for the tuba throughout Japan as host of ITEC Saporo in 1990 and with the Hakkaido Euphonium and Tuba Association. A former student of Harvey Phillips, “The Fourth Valve” tm, Caught up with Mr. Kagawa at the 2014 ITEC at Indiana University, where he had been a student as a young man. It was evident that none of his enthusiasm for music, the tuba, or Mr. Phillips had waned. We are delighted to host Chitate Kagawa for “The Fourth Valve”.

Chitate Kagawa 1. How do you imagine an ideal tuba sound?
When an excellent singer sings a soft aria with an orchestra, the voice
carries great distances very naturally without having great power, even if it is soft voice. We listen for a very soft tuba sound on the stage, which seems well-balanced with other instruments, but most of the time we can’t hear the
tuba sounds at the seats. This means that this tuba sound doesn’t have enough core,but it is soft. Some say the tuba part should be mixed with the contra
basses, I agree with this concept, but I can’t agree those who say
the tuba should be always be melted in the contra basses. When we listen the
brilliant tuba in the orchestra concert, asa solo performer, or in the
brass quintet, some may feel that the tuba is the most interesting instrument. It is natural, as players, that we listen many types of sound colors produced by a variety of instruments or mouthpieces, and diverse playing techniques which are often quite different from one another. As tubists, we
should listen to many excellent performances, by not only tuba, but
also cello,voice, wood wind etc. This way, we can image an ideal sound on
tuba little by little. We should have good tonal image or ideal and practice every day toward the ideal tuba sound quality and not simply be shouldn’t satisfy present our sounds.

2. What do you look for in an instrument?
When we see or find a fine person, we want to talk with him or her; it is
natural. If the tubist can play very musically with beautiful sound,
then other players will want to play with this player- and not just brass
players. This beautiful approach may attract composers to have an interest in the instrument as well.

Recently, I have heard several tuba players who can play the tuba technically
well without any missing notes at all. It is more difficult, however, to find interesting players. Often,this is because the sound quality is poor and they do not approach the instrument with musicality in mind. Nowadays, I receive a lot of CDs which tuba players have recorded. Every player
plays very well, but I can’t find many of these CDs which I would want to listen to more than once or twice. Perhaps, tuba players should concern themselves with playing more musically, and producing an exceptional tone.. This is more is more important to me than mere technical playing. If we can achieve this, then Tuba will gain more of the spotlight.

3. How are Japanese orchestras different than American orchestras?
Unfortunately, I ave not listened the American orchestras recently,
but each time in the past, I felt the major American orchestras were really great,and played very musically. The brass players’ techniques were excellent
and I could hear their sound from the furthest seat from the stage. But, as a whole, I had not felt a significant or special difference as compared with the
Japanese orchestras.

4. How do you remember Harvey Phillips?
Every one has a hero(es) when they are young. When I was an university
student in Tokyo, I was very impressed by the tuba solo playing on
the records played by Mr.Harvey Phillips. He played: “The Elephant &
the Fly” by H. Kling, “Carioca” by V. Youmans, “Serenade No.12″ by V. Persichetti, “Sonata No.1″ by A.Wilder etc.on CC-tuba. There were no Japanese who could play the solo tuba pieces like him. As we know, Mr.Phillips was
the first tuba player who showed us that tuba was also a
solo instrument. His playing technique was tremendous, and I still find myself surprised when I listen to recordings from 1960 to 1970.

Although I joined with the Sapporo Symphony Orchestra in 1969, I
wanted to study with Mr. Phillips. I was very fortunate to be able to study with him for 9 months at Indiana University in 1973 and 1974; I was
selected and sent to the USA to study the tuba by the Japanese

Since I the day that I met him in September of 1973,I maintained close communications with him until he passed away in 2010. Although nine months at Indiana University was not long period, but I had many opportunities to see him work. Mr. Phillips was kind enough to bring me with him to regional Conferences, the Midwest clinic,etc.. I learned a great deal from both him and his wonderful family.

One time, Mr.Phillips told me, Chitate,”throw a stone in the middle
of the pond and see how the waves will expand in all directions”.
This idea was dreamed upon and later became the Hokkaido Euphonium
Tuba Association,founded in Sapporo in 1981 – and this camp has been
successful ever since.

Mr. Phillips introduced me to great tuba and euphonium players who were first
class musicians internationally. This allowed me to invite many tuba/
euphonium players for the annual Hokkaido Euphonium Tuba
Association’s camp. When Mr. Phillips presented a tuba recital in 1979 at
Sapporo, this was the first full tuba recital held by foreign tuba
player in Japan. Since 1984, there has been an unique competition for
the tuba at our camp named The Harvey G.Phillips Tuba Solo
Competition. It is a great honor for young students to receive
Harvey G.Phillips Tuba Solo Competition award.

There were a lot of difficulties to hosting the ITEC Sapporo, 1990, but
this Conference was very successful. Most impoortantly, an entire generation of young Japanese low brass players became familiar with the highest international standards for our instrument. Without
having the strong support of Mr.Phillips in particular, this Conference
could not have been realized. This was the first T.U.B.A.Conference to be held
outside of the United States. It was a very successful Conference
and it became a milestone for Japanese tuba & euphonium players in
our progress on the tuba and euphonium.

I was very honor to receive the Life Time Achievement Award of ITEA
in 2010 at ITEC in Arizona. For this ceremony, Mr.Phillips
commissioned a ceremonial fanfare for 2 euphoniums & 2 tubas named
“Fanfare Kagawa”, written by John Stevens. Later, I received a
photo of Mr.Phillips and Dan Perantoni who were checking up on the rehearsal of
this fanfare from a room of the hospital. This was really special, as
Mr.Phillips was at hospital, and his condition was bad at time
already. I couldn’t find another word to thank him except,Thank you
Mr.Phillips !!!

We enjoyed the great Conference held at Indiana University in 2014.I
believe, Mr.Phillips was also enjoyed this Conference from the grave.
I sincerely appreciate for the many years of kindness he extended to me and my


5. What opportunities do you see for young tubists in Japan in the
future? As soloists? As chamber musicians? In other situations?

In Japan, we have many young tubists who have graduated from our schools of
music and there are many more fine tuba players who has studied in Europe or in
the USA. But, most of them have no good position to play or to teach and
they are staying at big city like in Tokyo. Nevertheless, they know
that the positions with symphony orchestras, militaly bands etc. are
limited, but they are waiting for their turn. I understand their dream
because they are not old, but time is passing very quickly; they
should reflect on the appropriate time to leave the big city in order to find other jobs like teaching at high school or middle school.

It is easier to change jobs when they are young, say before the age of 30. If I am asked for my opinion, I will try to guide younger players with good advice on whether they should continue to study more toward becoming an orchestral player, or should consider becoming a teacher at school..etc.

6. Japanese people seem to love live music from traditional instruments
more than some other cultures. Why do you think that is so ?

I’m not sure Japanese people love the live music from
traditional instruments more than other cultures….
We enjoy a lot of recordings on CD and it is typical for us to listen to
recordings on electronic devices. When I listen to an old record, I can hear the difference of the sound quality. That is when I come to appreciate and prefer the sound by traditional record more than the CD recordings.

7. What is the best tuba playing you have ever heard?
The Hokkaido Euphonium Tuba Association has been inviting guest
artists from abroad for our annual camp since in 1985, and because of this I could listen many fine performances here in Sapporo. I was very happy to hear the duet played by Roger Behrend (euphonium) and Marty
Erickson(tuba) at the mini concert during our annual camp in 1997.
Their performance was the most impressive ensemble, very musically
with beautiful sounds and really well balanced intonations.

Also, I have listened wonderful performances at each ITEC and especially the solo tuba performances. But, the second movement of R.V.Williams tuba concerto
performed by John Fletcher at the World Brass Congress at Indiana
University in 1984 was some of the most impressive playing for me.
Other standouts include the tuba sound quality by Mr.Harvey
Phillips, Robert Tucci & Dan Perantoni. Their sounds have a clear core
with a beautiful sonority. I could listen the great sound, still the
CD, of Mr.Harvey Phillips (ITEA Legacy Series MCD-6069).

The performing of the Fantastique Symphony – H.Berlioz & Tanhauser
overture – R.Wagner as encore piece performed by Chicago Symphony
Orchestra about 30 years ago held in Sapporo was the most impressive
tuba sound I have heard with orchestra, as played by Mr.Arnold Jacobs.

8. What is the best tuba playing you have done so far?
I was not a first class tuba player like many of the recent younger players.
But I have had great memories. The second tuba recital I gave before I left the USA in 1974 (after studying the tuba with Mr. Harvey G.Phillips), was a hoghlight. It was my full tuba solo recital, but Mr.Phillips & I played one duet, Sonata for Bassoon and ‘Cello by W. A. Mozart, which had been transposed for two tubas. It was such an honor to play this duet with Mr. Phillips-yes I would have to say that this was the best playing for me.

c. 2014 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved.

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Spanish Brass Brings The Fire of Iberia to “FIVE!” tm Spanish Brass 2

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The Spanish Brass have plumbed the depths of standard brass literature for 25 years, adding choreography, innovative commissions and collaborations, and incorporating fresh jazz and bebop inspired arrangements. They present a formidable aural and visual experience that is exciting, fresh and of substance. is especially pleased to present The Spanish Brass Luur Metalls as the fifth installment of “FIVE!” tm, our chamber music series. This interview is presented in both English and Spanish.

Which were the chamber music groups that inspired you to form the Spanish Brass?
Philip Jones Brass Ensemble, German Brass, Canadian Brass…, but most of all Philip Jones…

How did you envision the identity of the group when you began? How has that identity changed?

We were all weaned, musically speaking, in JONDE (Joven Orquesta Nacional de España-The Spanish National Youth Orchestra), and developed a desire to do the same thing that our friends playing string and woodwind instruments were doing with chamber music.

With which large ensemble does Spanish Brass share the most similarities? Orchestra, Band, Jazz Band or other?
I believe that chamber music has its own identity and maybe we shouldn’t look for similarities…. instead create and believe in chamber music as something unique.

How important is blocking or choreography, and how do you approach it?
It is really important to us to be able to choreograph the music and through that make the music more interesting for the audience, that is the way we paint (draw) the music. Also, being able to play from memory helps us have a more direct contact with the audience.

Which currently active chamber music groups have made innovative presentations of interest to you?
Mnozil Brass

What is life like on the road with the Spanish Brass?
It is marvelous! To be able to visit and exchange ideas with other cultures and countries enriches us every day! Thanks to our audiences, we continue to develop as an ensemble and as people. I wish that all musicians could share this wonderful experience.

Which have been your most memorable audiences?
So many! Perhaps we remember the ones from Japan, United States, and Latin America with the most affection.

How do the heritage, perspectives and environment of the Iberian Peninsula inform or inspire the flavor of your group?

For us, it is very important to be able to work something in from our heritage and share our culture and the music of Spain. It is our privilege to represent our people, and it is important for us that all of our arrangements are of the highest quality and that we do not betray this heritage. International audiences love Spanish music, and it is our very important responsibility to continue making it known.

Which is your favorite SB recording, and why?
They are all like my children…. all of them are my favorites and good….; maybe we could talk about the latest one… This year Spanish Brass celebrate our 25th season! With our anniversary, we have a new release to celebrate the milestone, and have drawn inspiration from the beginnings of the Spanish Brass, giving great importance to the original repertoire for brass quintet.

In your opinion, who are the best brass players in the world today?
On the Trumpet
- Wynton Marsalis
Horn- Bruno Schneider
Trombone- Michel Becquet
Euphonium- Steven Mead
Bass Trombone- Stephen Schulz, Brand Attema… there are many…

Spanish Brass 2
¿Cuáles fueron los grupos de música de cámara que los inspiraron a formar Spanish Brass?
Philip Jones Brass Ensemble, German Brass, Canadian Brass…, pero sobre todo Philip Jones…

¿Cómo idearon la identidad del grupo cuando comenzaron? ¿Cómo ha cambiado esa identidad?
Empezó en el seno de la JONDE con ganas de hacer lo mismo que hicieron nuestros compañeros de la cuerda y del viento madera cuando hacían música de cámara. Nuestra identidad siempre ha sido poder crear nuevas músicas y ampliar el repertorio de música de cámara para quinteto de metales.

¿Qué tipo de conjunto mayor comparte más características con Spanish Brass?
Orquesta, banda grupo, grupo de jazz o de otro tipo?

Creo que la música de cámara tiene su propia identidad y quizás no deberíamos buscar similitudes…, si no crear y creer en la música de cámara como algo único.

¿Cuán importante es la colocación de músicos en escena o la coreografía, y cómo es que las abordan?
Es importantísimo para nosotros poder coreografiar la música y de esa hacer más interesante la música al público, de esa manera dibujamos la música. Además, el poder tocar de memoria nos ayuda a tener un contacto más directo con el público.

¿Cuáles grupos de cámara activos ahora han realizado presentaciones innovativas que les interesa?
Mnozil Brass

¿Cómo es la vida itinerante entre recitales con Spanish Brass?
¡¡Es maravillosa!! Poder conocer otras culturas y países nos enriquece día a día y gracias a ello evolucionamos como grupo y como personas. Todos los músicos deberían poder probarlo.

¿Cuáles han sido sus públicos más memorables?
¡Muchos! Quizás recordamos con más cariño los de Japón, EE.UU. y Latinoamérica.

¿Cómo informan o inspiran el estilo o sabor del grupo el legado, perspectivas, o ambientes de la península ibérica?
Para nosotros es importantísimo poder trabajar y difundir nuestra cultura y en consecuencia la música española. Es muy importante para nosotros que cualquiera de nuestros arreglos tengan una calidad del más alto nivel, para no traicionar así nuestra música. Al público internacional le encanta la música española y es muy importante poder seguir dándola a conocer.

¿Cuál es la grabación favorita de SB, y por qué?
Esto es como los hijos…, todos son favoritos y buenos…; quizás podríamos hablar del último… Este año cumplimos 25 años y con esta grabación lo hemos querido celebrar, volviendo en cierta manera a los inicios del grupo, dando gran importancia al repertorio original para quinteto de metales.

¿En su opinión, cuáles son algunos de los mejores músicos del mundo hoy?
en la trompeta.
- Wynton Marsalis
trompa.- Bruno Schneider
trombón.- Michel Becquet
bombardino barítono.- Steven Mead
trombón bajo.- Stephen Schulz, Brand Attema… hay muchos…

c. 2014 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved

Images courtesy of THE SPANISH BRASS

We would like to express our gratitutde for the English translations of the Spanish Brass Responses which were made with the primary assistance of Michael Nunez.

The Spanish translations of the questions were contributed anonymously.

Spanish Brass Quintet Interview, Spanish Brass Luur Metalls Interview, Brass Quintet Interview

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Marty Erickson’s Design for “The Fourth Valve” tm

imagesMarty Erickson served as a concerto soloist with the Navy Band, is an accomplished jazz man with three jazz cds to his credit, and presently finds himself utterly devoted to chamber music (with the improvising Millenium Brass)and to his students. A thinking man’s tubist, Erickson draws upon his rich musical life to explore the chamber music ramifications of the euphonium and the tuba, and to contemplate the future young musicians on those instruments might encounter. Though rooted in firm foundations which reach back to Leonard B. Falcone, Erickson has consistently forged beyond convention. Bold, fresh and visionary is Marty Erickson’s design for “The Fourth Valve” tm.

1. Outside the tuba quartet, where do you think that the euphonium player can find meaningful chamber music expression as a student?
The euphonium player needs to think out of the box for extra chamber music experience. The obvious choices are to use the euphonium in brass quintet settings, subbing for the trombone, but with an ear/eye toward appropriate style, etc. However, this should be done in any setting where the euphoniumist can sub for the trombone parts, simply for the benefits of reading everything possible. There are more and more pieces being written for Tuba-Euphonium duet, as witnessed by the wonderful recording and arranging of the the “Symbiosis Duo” with Gail Robertson and Stacey Baker. There is the wonderful “Dancing With Myself” by Barbara York, and many more. Euphonium players should use the Telemann Canonic Sonatas (and there are transposed editions available), and don’t be afraid to read things like the Poulenc Trio, once again subbing for the trombone player. Purists may not approve, but any opportunity that brings the music of another composer to your experience is important. All music is your music!

2. As a professional?
Outside of the ideas mentioned earlier, be creative. One of my former students has helped organize and perform in a wonderfulnewshead Tango Band called Cuidado in Pittsburgh. Others have added theater to performances, creating characters and a sort of play using the euphonium as a focal point. In a bigger scheme, one of the preeminent euphonium players and teachers in the world, Toru Miura, created “The Euphonium Company.” This huge group of players has done programs like West Side Story with the euphonium players performing as the “Sharks and the Jets” gangs from the Bernstein show, and performing the entire production with soloists, the Maria and Tony duet, and accompanying vocalists. This WAS chamber music in the sense of each section featuring the euphonium in solo/duet/trio/quartet and the large group. Find a musician whom you respect and develop your own chamber setting. People have done it with euphonium and harp and with another instrumentalist and piano accompaniment. You are limited only by your own creative sense or “conjoined creativity” with a respected musician friend.

3. Why is the Eb tuba often overlooked?
What does it do better than other tubas? Naturally, I am a bit prejudiced in this category, since I have championed the Eb tuba for many years and love my (shameless plug) Willson 3400 Eb tuba. The primary reasons I have found that this works for me the following:
–Versatile solo instrument
–My favorite brass quintet instrument because of the way it blends with the trumpets, horn
and trombone and the Eb enjoys a robust low range that many smaller F tubas can find
challenging below the staff
–It IS one the brass band chair instruments of course
–Liked using it to double the BBb or even the CC tubas in the concert band as it tends to
fill out the middle range in much the same way it is used in the brass band
–Surprise! It was an awesome Opera tuba. When I performed several jobs with the Baltimore
Opera Orchestra (sadly now defunct), there were many comments from the conductors
and the string players about how they appreciated the full sound without feeling “over-
powered AND; string bassists and cellists cited it was easier to tune passages.

4. What should the young tuba/euphonium player of today do to seek out 21st century jobimages-1 opportunities?
Play with everyone! Experience everything! Regularly go out of your comfort zone to play with as many different ensembles and people as possible! Take improvisation classes (not only jazz but free improvisation) and sit in with funk brass bands, combos, other brass groups, a gypsy band—-do it all! Learn about what it takes for the euphonium/tuba to make its voice so valuable and interesting that it cannot be ignored.

5. What has it been like to help design instruments? What have you learned? What have you achieved?
I don’t really consider myself a designer, but rather the more mysterious “design consultant,” which simply means someone valued the way I played and thought enough to solicit my input for their instruments, in this case Willy Kurath and son Willi back in 1992. As it turned out, a lot of the thoughts worked for them as design improvements and they were incorporated. It should not be mistaken that I did the horns, the incredible folks at Willson did that! It was very satisfying that many of the thoughts DID work for many players, which was the goal; not simply to sell horns, but to make it easier for people to enjoy results from the hard work they put into practicing and growing as musicians.

6. Please name your inspirations:

My mother, Margaret S. Erickson. She started on trumpet and then played professionally as a french horn instrumentalist and violist. She was an award-winning composer and taught french horn and theory and composition before the Farkas days. She wrote the first music theory books for Blue Lake Fine Arts camp and a scholarship fund is set up in her name for annual scholarships.

My first tuba teacher was Edward A. Livingston. At the time I studied with him, he was the principal tuba with the Grand Rapids Symphony and taught at Godwin Heights Middle School in Wyoming, MI. Later, he became the tuba professor and director of the marching bands at Illinois State University.

My high school band director was Gilbert Stansell, who along with his son William F. Stansell founded Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Michigan. He was an amazing musician; fine trumpet player, superb cellist and classical piano player and founded the Old instrument museum at Blue Lake as well.

Finally, Dr. Leonard Falcone, my private teacher at Michigan State University. He was the euphonium and tuba teacher and Director of Bands for 40 years and is honored each year by Blue Lake Fine Arts camp and former students with the Leonard Falcone International Euphonium and Tuba Festival. We will celebrate THAT festival’s 30th anniversary next year, along with Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp’s 50th.
I was inspired further by so many of my Navy Band shipmates during my 26-year career in Washington D.C. There were so many wonderful performers nobody has heard of who each day not only “did their job” but brought passion and professionalism on a daily basis on the job, whether it was playing “Stars and Stripes Forever” for the 137th time or rendering a transcription of Berlioz’s “Roman Carnival Overture,” or playing “America the Beautiful” and “Eternal Father” at Arlington Cemetery to honor a veteran and their family. I am truly proud of that service, and continue to be fiercely proud of all of our military band men and women today.

Currently, my musical inspiration can come from colleagues or from a special effort from any of my students.

& Non-musical
I find non-musical inspiration in the quotes of many people, in the service of veteran, in the daily sacrifice of those who choose to serve others, and in the bravery of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. My family provides daily inspiration of a very personal nature.

7. How is your warm-up different now than as an undergrad?
I suppose I am more efficient in the way I warm up, but also much more creative in changes things up to keep things fresh for me. The basic things are there; slow, lyrical playing–I love the Concone studies and some of the Bordogni/Rochut vocalises, but more often than not, I’ll pull out a book of Italian Renaissance songs or some bass songs or walk down the hall to my voice colleagues for some of their goodies; most recently some Korngold arias and Butterworth songs got a workout! I DO like playing easy flowing tunes as the above, or sometimes a jazz ballad. Restful things at first and then adding more flexibility, range, etc.

erickson8. What was it like to play a concerto for the first time? How would you describe playing concertos to someone who only plays chamber music?
I was a regularly featured soloist with the Navy Band on many concert tours, but simply because of the way programming was handled on those tours, I was more likely to play a through-composed piece or only one or two movements from a concerto. Of course, there were the college jury concerto performances, but the larger pieces were not a part of my early professional experience.

One of the more significant performances was when I did the Vaughn Williams Concerto for Bass Tuba with the Boston Pops Orchestra in 1982. I treated that experience much like one might prepare for a marathon, starting with good warmups and short runs at portions of the piece, and gradually adding more intensity, playing larger chunks of music and expanding my concentration and energy level. From there, when the notes and music were flowing pretty well; I tend to go deeper into the various interpretations I’ve heard and the whys and wherefores of the composers gestures. Getting up close and personal with the score is essential, including understanding each composers’ body of work prior to writing that piece.

I do consider myself more of a chamber music player now, but the main difference is in the long-range planning, intensity and focus when taking on a concerto. I feel most comfortable when I am able to play through the concerto several times comfortably with major issues, and tweak things as they progress.

images-19. How do you envision the future of brass chamber music?
It is a bright future indeed! Rather then bemoaning what we are losing or may lose, this can be a time of amazing opportunity! I strongly urge all brass students to be a part of a brass quintet/quartet or chamber group if any kind for all kinds of reasons which we can go into another time perhaps. The bright future will be because of the creative young people who are able to find in there OWN area, teachers of great skill and passion. It will happen because young composers are getting more opportunities to have their music heard and students and aspiring professionals are eager to gobble it all up! It will continue because music lifts all of us in ways that cannot always be explained, but as long as we can get instruments into young hands with passionate mentors leading the development, the exploration and creativity and curiosity will continue. Young people want to express their individuality and emotions and music will always be a way to do just that.

10. Whatsoever things..
At this point in my life (67 at this writing) I still can’t wait to pick up my tuba and play with a student or a colleague, or……..just play, and travel and interact with caring musicians around the world. What a gift my parents and early mentors gave me! To be able to enjoy each day so fully because of the music and the opportunities a career in music has afforded me. I wish everyone the same joy!

c. 2014 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved

Images courtesy of and

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Distinguished Artist Series To Host DUO BRUBECK featuring Mitch Farber

sunfe162The Distinguished Artist Series of The Arts & Medicine Program at The Cleveland Clinic, Weston will host the popular DUO BRUBECK on Wednesday October 8th, 2014 at 12:30 in the afternoon on the clinic side of the Weston Campus.

Original arrangements will be premiered and presented in this intimate setting where admission is free. The duo will feature specially selected compositions from Bill Withers, Chick Corea, Burton Lane, Duke Ellington, Juan Tizol, Miles Davis and Horace Silver in the single set appearance in Broward.

-1This DUO BRUBECK performance performance is dedicated to the memory of bass trombonist, arranger and educator Fred Sturm. Fred was the founding bass trombonist of the Jazz Fusion group Matrix, served as the Director of Jazz Studies at Lawrence University in Appleton, WI, on the jazz faculty at The Eastman School of Music, and as Director of the Academy Band at Birch Creek Music Academy in Door County, WI. Fred recently passed, and his great musicianship and humanity are remembered by all who knew and loved him.

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Stephen Bulla in “The Arranger’s Chair” tm

bulla_new_photoAs arranger for The United States Marine Band for thirty years, trombonist and master arranger Stephen Bulla has been called upon to realize John Philips Sousa’s final composition and work with the legendary John Williams. As one of the leaders and performers in the world famous jazz trombone ensemble Spiritual to the Bone, Bulla’s efforts garnered praise from none less than LLOYD ULYATE (Hollywood Studio Trombone Artist) who commented “What a wonderful album! Great playing! Great arrangements! Great recording!” Hundreds of arrangements and performances ahead of him, and behind him, master musician Bulla takes a moment to share his musical life with as the second installment of “The Arranger’s Chair” tm-our series devoted to the significant number of great composers and arrangers who happen to play the trombone.

What are your chief inspirations, both musical and non-musical?
As a composer/arranger, my inspirations are the great writers of many genres.

Rembrandt Etching, "Raising of Lazarus"

Raising of Lazarus, Rembrandt

I study the orchestration of Ravel and Hindemith, and on the commercial side I marvel at the work of Robert Farnon and Peter Knight, Nelson Riddle and Marty Paich. As a film score follower I listen deep into the work of Jerry Goldsmith, Alex North, Bruce Broughton, and of course John Williams. There was a band in the fifties whose recordings are now on CD, and they inspire me both as a writer AND as a player; the Sauter-Finegan Orchestra.

To the second part of your question, I study the work of Renaissance artists and the historical masters. My wife and I own Rembrandt etchings, and visit the great art museums of the world whenever we can.

When did you fall in love with the sound of the trombone?
I’m not sure when I fell in love with the sound of the trombone. I do remember playing euphonium in all my early school years, and wanting to make the switch to trombone all along. It finally happened in the 11th grade and I never turned back. At some point I came across Urbie’s “21 Trombones” recordings, and that sealed the deal. On another occasion (when I was auditioning on piano for an Eastman audition), I heard Jim Pugh rehearsing the Creston Fantasy with the orchestra there. That absolutely blew my mind, the combination of the orchestration and the trombone. It was a gorgeous sound, like none I’d ever heard.

public domain via Wikimedia Commons

public domain via Wikimedia Commons

What was it like to be asked to realize Sousa’s final score? What did you discover about the man, his band, and his music by studying his approach to composition and orchestration?
This was one of those rare career opportunities that come along, and I see it as a great honor being asked to do it because of the historical context. It was a fascinating experience studying the Sousa fragments for this march, as well as other scores from his late period. Although I was immersed in Sousa’s music with my position in the Marine Band, this was an opportunity to study his melodic genius as well as the orchestration style that he used (or directed others to use), for the scoring of his works. Perhaps the rarest gift was his ability to portray an idea musically. Think “Stars and Stripes” and you’ll understand how he could convey a feeling.

The process of completing his final march with authentic nuance and gesture was the challenge. Except for one page of full score, I worked from piano sketches and manuscript fragments. I conferred often with my friend Loras Schissel (at Library Of Congress), a fountain of knowledge on the subject. On a separate occasion, I also had opportunity to meet JPS IV who is the great-grandson of the composer. Finally, the Marine Band itself was a world class laboratory for insuring that the completed march had the right “sound”, the percussion used the right rhythmic punctuation style, etc. It is their recording along with the sheet music that is posted at

Stephen Bulla with John Williams

Stephen Bulla with John Williams

Could you describe the experience of arranging for the Marine Band in general, and your long association with John Williams (the man and his music), in particular?
At times, writing for the Marine Band made me feel like a kid in a candy shop. These are very fine professional musicians, many having already moved on to the world’s top ten orchestras, and every note that I wrote was played with artistic attention to detail. The technique and intonation simply must be heard to be believed. I’ve held on to many rehearsal recordings just to remind myself how good this amazing ensemble really is.

I did have the opportunity to work with John Williams on two occasions. Both were for Marine Band anniversary concert events, and he sent ahead multiple scores from his popular films to be transcribed from orchestra to wind band instrumentation. You can imagine how I absorbed the scoring of the original, and made every effort to translate it for the occasion when he would be conducting. It was quite a challenge, particularly when translating multi-divisi string section writing for the upper woodwinds of the Marine Band. But John was pleased and we formed a friendship from that time. His knowledge of music of all styles is staggering. In conversations we discussed everything from violin bowing to the different mute techniques used by the trumpets of the Ellington Band. A real gentleman, and very entertaining both in front of an audience and in a rehearsal setting.


What are some the best arrangements you’ve ever heard?

That question is so wide, I don’t even know where to begin. I love the way Gershwin set his songs in the large scale orchestral works (Porgy, American In Paris, etc). I love the way Peter Knight wrote those beautiful links and orchestration for the Moody Blues (Days of Future Passed, Knights In White Satin, etc). I love the way Claus Ogerman surrounds a jazz piano with orchestral color on his Bill Evans Trio with Symphony Orchestra recording.

Which are some of the best ones you have ever written?

It’s difficult to list things that I like best; I tend to move on and enjoy what I’ve written in the moment. Looking back, perhaps some things came out more easily and naturally than others. I suppose those are the ones that linger in my mind, and are performed more often. As it turns out, these are works for brass. “Chorale and Toccata”, “Shipston Prelude”, and “Images For Brass” might fall into that category.

sttb_01_smallHow were you led to begin Spiritual to the Bone? How has this jazz experience enlivened your other musical experience, and how does being a player inform your arranging?

This group came together because I had a number of trombone playing friends crossing paths frequently, all of us working as clinicians at Salvation Army summer music camp programs. We all loved jazz and kept talking about making a recording together. I finally organized the project, and named it. My plan was to pattern it after the “Tutti’s Trombones” recording of the 1960′s and so that became the template. The five CDs became very popular and as a result the group traveled and performed all over Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, and North America.

The second part of your question is important. I do in fact switch hats often when I’m writing. That is to say that I will look back at what I’ve just written and consider it from a player’s perspective. Sometimes I’ll do the same from an audience point of view as well. So being a player certainly does have an effect on what I write.

How did your early preparation and studies at Berklee prepare you for a career as an arranger?
Berklee allowed me to learn the structure of creating an arrangement, as well as the business end of marketing one’s work. Plus it didn’t hurt to be immersed in a culture surrounded by great jazz musicians and faculty. My most influential teachers were Herb Pomeroy (composition) and Phil Wilson (trombone).

How important has the piano been in your efforts? Has technology changed this?
The piano was really my road to being a writer. I would take orchestral or band scores as a teenager, and try to learn the transpositions so that I could play them at the piano. Although I wasn’t very successful with those efforts, it did open my ears to a bigger world of music. Although I still write at the piano, without using computer-playback as a crutch, I did have to learn to write instrumentally. Through those efforts I discovered a great love for counterpoint and appreciation for independent lines within the score. That must be the player side of my brain talking.

When did you decide to add educational music to your palette of arrangements?

As a wind band composer the largest publishing market is for younger bands. I was already familiar with those technical limitations from my experience writing for Salvation Army youth band publications. So the transition into the educational market was an easy one. I still enjoy an ongoing relationship with Hal Leonard Music, the largest sheet music publisher in the world.

With Jordin Sparks

With Jordin Sparks

Many of your efforts have been quite prominent including collaborations with famous artists, or for prominent occasions. What have these opportunities and triumphs taught you?
Working with prominent musicians was indeed inspiring. These are usually people that have been around the block a few times, and figured out where they want to be and who they want to work with. The Manhattan Transfer is a good example; wonderful, friendly people that were easy to talk to while at the same time very professional as soon as the microphone went on. Jordin Sparks was another. Lovely young woman with incredible vocal gifts and great ears. She knows all the styles. But all that American Idol TV fame has not changed her sweet spirit.

What is the first thing that comes to mind when considering these famous composers and arrangers who also play(ed) trombone:
Gustav Holst

England. The Planets. A trombonist before the royalties came in! Early work, Moorside Suite (1928).

Sammy Nestico
A friend, a colleague who once held my position with the Marine Band as Chief Arranger. Notable work for Basie.

Nelson Riddle
One of my heroes. Tasteful writer, troubled life. His work with Rosemary Clooney (in her prime) is some of the best, even compared to his Sinatra work. He could write the most clever counter-lines that were themselves melodies inside the score.

c. 2014 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved

Images courtesy of STEPHEN BULLA

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DUO BRUBECK: All You Need Is Love! (And a Little Bit of Guitar….)

It is an epic night for the guitar, as the monsterous month of October brings the fretted equivalent of “Guitarzilla” and “Guitar Kong” to downtown Miami. DUO BRUBECK, featuring both master guitarists Tom Lippincott, AND Mitch Farber will be appearing as part of the prestigious Music in Miami Concert Series at Trinity Cathedral Miami on Sunday October 19th at 6:00 pm. Music of the Beatles (including music from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band), will be presented alongside original duo arrangements of specially selected compositions by Bill Withers, Stevie Wonder, Duke Ellington, Jule Styne, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Burton Lane, Chick Corea, Miles Davis Juan Tizol and George Gershwin in this eagerly anticipated concert event. DUO BRUBECK helped to launch the Distinguished Artist series at the Cleveland Clinic, and the popular duo has performed in concert throughout South Florida. Admission is free! DUO BRUBECK SGT PEPPER 1

This performance will be dedicated to the memory of “Mr. Bass Trombone”, George Roberts who has been promoted to glory. Best known as a signature sideman for Frank Sinatra, Robert’s bass trombone can be heard on the classic Sinatra/Riddle recording of Cole Porter’s “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”, and on countless record and film sessions. Roberts was the first to recognize the melodic nature of the bass trombone, and pioneered, popularized and perfected the instrument. He was kind, and funny, and his position on the bass trombone is unique amongst virtuosi of ANY other instrument-he is universally listed as the greatest player and inspiration by all bass trombonists everywhere, both classical & jazz. He will be missed!

DUO BRUBECK, featuring Tom Lippincott, is an exciting and innovative musical setting which re-imagines the jazz duo!
Inspired by the jazz duos of trombonist Bob Brookmeyer and guitarist Jim Hall, Tuck and Patti and pianist Bill Evans with Jim Hall, Brubeck and Lippinocott met while playing in the Concert Jazz Band (CJB) at the University of Miami in 1989. Both musicians played guitar and trombone in their youth only to choose different paths. David & Tom’s love of these timbres and their combination have led to the creation of ‘Duo Brubeck’.

A lifelong devotee of jazz improvisation, Lippincott was inspired by the piano, “Although I love the guitar, I’ve often been envious of some of the things pianists can do that guitarists cannot. In my quest to be able to play more extensive contrapuntal ideas and play chords with more notes that cover a wider range, I thought: why not have a guitar built with both?” Lippincott’s solution was to seek out an eight string guitar. The guitar he chose features an additional B, (a fourth below the traditional low E), and another A a fourth above the top string.

Brubeck’s divergence came at the age of 14, when he fell in love with the bass trombone, rather than the more typical tenor trombone. This lower voiced instrument is typically melodic, or provides a rhythmic bass. Inspired to combine both melody and bass lines by alternation, Brubeck created an implied homophony reminiscent of jazz vocalist Bobby McFerrin. Brubeck’s original solo compositions for bass trombone using this technique have been described as “Bobby McFerrin meets the Bach Cello Suites”and are entitled ‘Stereograms’, and have been performed and recorded around the world. More than 50 Sterograms have been published by the International Trombone Association Press, Cherry Classics, and the journals of The British Trombone Society, The International Tuba and Euphonium Association, The International Double Reed Society and The International Trombone Association.

DUO BRUBECK combines both of these approaches to create a truly unique and seamless weave of melody, chords, and bass lines from instrument toDUO-BRUBECK-featuring-Tom-Lippincott instrument. The glistening sound of DUO BRUBECK is a fascinating and pulsating rhythmic melange of complimentary waves of sound.

Guitar phenom, Mitch Farber, was added to meet the increased demand for the popular duo. Mitch brings hard grooving Latin Jazz, Soul and R & B to his rhythmic infused grooves and solos. A perfect counterpoint to the vast harmonic landscapes of Lippincott, this concert will feature two of Miami’s finest guitarists alternating in the DUO BRUBECK setting.

c. 2014 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved

Images Courtesy of Mrs. Anna Ukleja and David Brubeck

Trivia question?
(Originally formed as a trio with bass trombone, guitar and drums, the first DUO BRUBECK performance (without drums) was of “There Is No Greater Love” and occurred for a Miami Television “Cable Tap” fundraiser. Lippincott couldn’t make the date, and he sent a sub.)
Who was the first guitarist presented in the jazz bass trombone/guitar duo setting?
a. Sandy Poltarack b. Mitch Farber c. Jonathan Kreisberg d. Peter Kienle e. Charley Harrison

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