Dr. Joanna Hersey, Shares More to Each Story..Beyond Rosie the Riveter to SPAR

From ahead of you, calls the voice of a storyteller: equal parts Slaughter and Pilafian; leads a pioneer, for women, for new music, for women in brass; she beckons the scholar, did you know? The coastal trail is just ahead, from the wind swept shores of the Carolinas to the azured interior, Dr. Joanna Hersey beckons, leads and calls…can you hear it? “The Fourth Valve” tm is delighted to present the masterful JHR, enjoy!

1.  Tell us about “Shatterdome”.  What inspired it?  How did you arrive at the palette of timbres, harmonies and rhythms?

When I was ready to make my first solo recording I knew I had a point to make. I wanted to showcase an entire album for tuba of music by women, my own and others. If I could do it on tuba, if this music was available to be found, then certainly anyone on any instrument could program it. It doesn’t matter if someone programs only music by women, but the most common argument is folks don’t know where to find it, or think what’s out there won’t be good. So with O quam mirabilis, which I released in 2009, I wanted to do a somewhat normal classical album, with the goal of introducing new rep, so there’s Alma Mahler, and Libby Larsen, and music of a young composer named Portia Njoku.

After that was released I felt like I could do more what was calling to me, which was joining the movement of electronic sounds. For me, the loud and explosive side of that movement isn’t my style, I saw there was a place for a more gentle mix, the tuba is inside or even under the electronic element at times. That album, Zigzags, from 2015, was an exploration.  “Shatterdome” was one of four new tuba and electronic tracks composed for the album. featuring collaboration through both composition and improvisation.  Shatterdome”was inspired by the drama in film writing at climactic moments when good and evil collide and dark forces are at work, utilizing low resonances and long, lyrical phrases.  Composer and electronic musician William Bendrot worked with me, and he and I exchanged ideas, we would each try something, and then expand it, and sometimes I would improvise over chords he set out. He would take my motives and rhythmic elements and layer them into the texture, then I would create melodies. It was really fun to just listen and respond as a player, and see what came out of it.

2.  What drew you to Vaudeville?  What were the best and worst of it for women bands?

It all started with my doctoral dissertation, I wanted to showcase women making music in America before WW2. By the Second World War women were getting a toe into the business, and that has been well-researched, but before that we really know very little.  So women brass music before 1940? What was happening? I divided my findings up into the categories of large ensemble (orchestral and band), soloists, and small ensemble playing. The small ensemble playing was the most surprising, and I fell upon an amazing source. The University of Iowa has an amazing collection, more than one thousand boxes of materials, from the vaudeville era touring circuit (visit the Redpath Chautauqua Collectionhere: http://sdrc.lib.uiowa.edu/traveling-culture/inventory/MSC150.html) and this is a treasure trove of publicity flyers, photos, concert programs and all types of memorabilia from vaudeville touring groups.

It was interesting that because it was a variety show, the idea was to present something for everyone. So it was actually much more egalitarian that one would imagine for the turn of the century. While racially segregated, minority chamber groups were able to work, as were women’s groups. All that mattered was that it was entertaining, so it was more diverse by a lot than classical music at the time. These women’s bands and small groups were paid professionals, and they toured an established circuit, often by train. Now it probably wasn’t that comfortable, but they got to play their horns and see the country, and make their music on a national stage. By the time motion pictures began, and Hollywood became a new center for entertainment, these touring shows died out for the most part. I wrote about this in a book called “Women’s Bands in America: Performing Music and Gender”, edited by Jill Sullivan. 

3.  What was your most memorable discovery writing about the SPAR band?  Who were the driving musical forces behind it?

When I was in the United States Coast Guard Band, I worked in the music library. One day, I found a photo of an all-female drum and bugle corps taken in front of the White House, wearing Coast Guard Uniforms. I was astonished. How could this have happened, but I knew nothing about it? So I asked around and found the Coast Guard historians who could tell me about the amazing group of women in the SPAR Band, and the other bands of the other services who worked alongside them. 

The SPAR Band is part of a massive musical effort, the first of its kind in American music.  The American engagement in World War II forced the government leadership to admit that to win a war in the Pacific and Atlantic, women were needed in the civilian and military workforce.  For the first time in U.S. history, women became part of a military strategy.  Temporary women’s units were formed for all branches of the military, and a variety of jobs became open to women, such as positions in military bands.  These bands performed across the nation assisting the war effort. Their work marching in parades and performing concerts throughout the country resulted in the sale of millions of dollars of war bonds to the American public. Their presence on military bases and across America’s small towns gave comfort to those torn apart by war. In their collateral duties, they drove ambulances, worked as nurses, visited hospitals, filed paperwork and organized supply chains.  

After the war, these women were immediately transitioned out of the military. For the next thirty years, military bands were again all-male. It was not until the mid-1970s that women again were able to hold positions in the U.S. military band system. This project became a chapter in the book “Bands of Sisters: U.S. Military Bands During World War II”, edited by Jill Sullivan, who also edited the book where I wrote about the vaudeville bands. I interviewed the living members of the band, who sent me their photos and memories, and a rare recording or two. The most surprising to me was how the whole program was just cancelled. They had these amazing bands, with this beautiful camaraderie, that were supporting the military and non-service communities alike, and they just closed them and kicked all the women out. Their use was over. Bands were supposed to be just men.

4.   Tuba/Euph. Quartet Vs. Brass Quintet; what is the best and worst of each?

Brass Quintet is good because people accept it as a more normal ensemble grouping, like for a recital series or something. I like quintet but it can be very challenging to stand out, there are a million quintets! And to be the tubist, responsible for keeping the pitch center on track, can be a challenge. People also have varying ideas of what proper balance should be in quintet, which can be an issue. But, we have some amazing rep-like my new favorite is “Aspects”, by Barbara York, beautiful new music for the ensemble.

Now quartet, for me, is where it’s at. I’ve been a member of the Alchemy Tuba Euphonium Quartet for more than twenty years, playing with the same four people, Gary Buttery, Danny Vinson, and James Jackson. I love the ease of four players over five, and the ability to surprise listeners with the clarity and balance of these massive instruments. Often you’re presenting something some of the crowd has never heard before, and children love it! Challenges of course include clarity, which can be helped by careful arranging, and keeping the voices speaking clearly in spaces like churches. Alchemy has a yearly residency at the Horn Tuba Workshop in Jever, Germany each February, and all our concerts are held in churches, that can be a challenge to hear each other. Despite all that quartet is one of my biggest joys as a player.

5.  It is tough enough to be a musical artist, much less a tubist, let alone a female tubist.  Who and what has kept your creative flame alive?

Most of us sit in sections as either the only female brass player, or one of a small minority. We sit in those sections for our whole lives, our whole careers. Even with wonderful male colleagues, many of us feel we can never miss a note or be imperfect without putting on the line the rep of every single woman in the field. So we sit under the pressure of that at every single gig we play. Every conductor comment, every glitch, under a microscope.

Perhaps because of this, young women go into the career in lower numbers. They’re not willing to put up with the teasing and feeling different (young people want to fit in!) and don’t see it as something for them. I recently taught a set of tuba masterclasses to 94 tuba players from the nation’s top performing high school programs, schools with super supportive booster groups, great leadership and budgetary support. Even in a group of this level, only 11 of those tubas were female. So still 88% male in our most supportive American school music programs.

One of our challenges is we see that in the past we were not okay with regard to race and gender equality, but we think it’s fixed now. People often ask me if I teach male and female students differently, and I don’t, but I do teach some students differently. I divide them in my mind into two categories (that don’t have to do with gender). There are the students who are very driven and ready to find challenge and are pro-active. These students need help with balance and staying focused on fewer tasks, keeping from becoming overwhelmed, etc. The other group of students, especially with tuba, are the students who love it, but are not used to being super-challenged there in the back of the band, and are approaching life waiting for things to happen to them. This group needs different teaching, they need to be reminded about being proactive instead of reactive, and goal-setting and advanced planning would be helpful. Both groups need support but in different ways. As the teacher I have walked their path already, gotten bruised and disappointed, had the way blocked, but kept going…and now I can help them along, just as my teachers did with me. 

One very special thing that I am so proud of is that I have become involved with the International Women’s Brass Conference, an organization which helps provide scholarships,  and presents conferences for men and women, featuring many female brass soloists and educators. This helps me stay creative and focused. The group is made up of both men and women, and the mission is to educate, develop, support and promote women brass musicians while inspiring continued excellence and opportunities in the broader musical world. So, while we want to showcase women in performance, we also want to involve men as well as young male and female students in our educational outreach events, to try and break down separation by gender for all instruments.

As President, I am able to give back to an organization which has given me so much at a crucial time in my young career, having attended the very first IWBC conference in 1993 as a young military musician.  I see my role as a director of sets of people, committees and groups each working on smaller pieces of the puzzle, such as membership development, new composer commissions, educational outreach, etc. I can see the big picture and where things can overlap, and direct forward motion. We just completed the 27th anniversary conference last month at Arizona State University, my alma mater! 

6.  What do you look for in a horn?

I’m definitely one for consistency and comfort, my instruments have been with me a long time! I’m a Yamaha artist so those are my go-to instruments. I am one that believes in less discussion about this detail or that, just work to make the horn you have sound like yourself.  I’m also a big fan of buying used for my students, who don’t always have the luxury of going out to the showroom and plunking down their credit card. Don’t overlook an older instrument which has been well made, because it has a well worn look. Sometimes students fall for a new shiny beauty that’s at a medium price point, when they would have been better served with a top model that had lived a bit of life before it got to them.

7.  How does doubling on Euphonium inform your tuba playing?  Vice-versa?

I’ve been so lucky that I got my start as a young player in a military band, sitting beside the world’s top euphonium artists every day. For years on end I heard the beauty and flexibility of great euphonium playing from Dave Werden, Danny Vinson and James Jackson in my section and in my tuba euphonium quartet Alchemy. I have made three albums with that group by now, and so admire their artistry. So it’s big shoes to fill when I pick up a euphonium. I do love it though, and I feel strongly that as a teacher of both instruments, I need to play both in my studio teaching. I learn and arrange new rep and present euphonium on all my solo recitals. There are challenges, like remembering not to over-blow, but coming back to tuba it reminds me of the lightness of articulation, just enough and not more. I feel the ease of flexibility on euphonium versus tuba, and that challenges my tuba playing to be versatile and quick. I enjoy the euphonium very much and normally have more students in my studio on euphonium than tuba at any given time. 

8.  Is the search for relevance as a solo classical musician a consideration?  How universal is a classical soloist in the everyday breadth and depth of the every day life?  How do you connect?

I think my voice is necessary. And so is yours. All of us have something to say as artists. And for me, it’s about saying what’s in your soul as an artist, through whichever medium. It doesn’t really matter to me if it is someone else’s cup of tea, it’s ok if my playing, or your playing, doesn’t spark joy in a listener. It’s ok if my next tuba solo isn’t one you’ll run right out and buy, or if my student will download my latest track. I think we all create because it’s a response to what’s inside us, the desire to participate in the conversation. I look to my mentors, people like Sam Pilafian, and Susan Slaughter, and my teachers, brass players who do their best to showcase well the possibilities of the instrument and the power of it to express. I want to tell my story, and luckily for me that has connected across audiences over the course of my career, and given me the confidence to always be creating. I am in the midst of a new project at all times, excited about the next thing. We put it out there for the world, we let it go, and we get back to creating.

9.  What are your aspirations for your students?

My students in our small corner of rural North Carolina are often headed toward careers as educators, and tend to stay in the local area upon graduation. UNC Pembroke is an amazing place full of creativity and diversity, though set in the poorest county in the state, and one of the poorest in the nation. More than a third of the population lives below the poverty line, and most of the rest are not far above. For my studio, who are often first generation college students, their time with us can change the trajectory of their whole family, not to mention the generations of students they can influence as educators. I want them to see that there is greatness in them, I want someone to look them in the eye and tell them they can do it. I am so proud when they come to me at the start, often not having taken formal private lessons, and then progress through to the senior recital. It’s tough for sure. The dropout rate can be high, students have many additional challenges to attending school full-time. But for those that can make it work, my goal is that they can be a mentor and role model for those coming up behind them, those to whom life may not have been kind. 

10.  Can you tell us anything about your project with Bill?

Bill is from New Jersey, and attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he studied both jazz and classical performance.  He went on to be co-founder of Ember Music, an international artist-run label that focuses on electronic composition and production, and through Ember, has released several tracks as a solo artist. So the setting of his background was very different from mine, as a straight up tuba performance person. Our approaches were really different, opposite almost, but it was interesting to us both to see how the project developed. We co-wrote four songs for the album.

The opening piece, Tether, is somewhat sparse, with a slow, moody, rock influence, based on futuristic cyberpunk anime compositional imagery, such as Ghost in the Shell. This track features spoken word using text from several Emily Dickinson poems. I’m a huge fan of Emily Dickinson, who is a New England girl like myselfShatterdome was inspired by the drama in film writing at climactic moments when good and evil collide and dark forces are at work, utilizing low resonances and a focus on brass. One is upbeat, and incorporates brighter harmonies in fast-paced rhythmic development. Kakera, the Japanese word for a small piece or fragmentuses the tuba in the pedal register in combination with faster bass lines.

Three other works round out the album, including the title track, composed in 1988, a ten minute unaccompanied tuba solo by New York composer Faye-Ellen Silverman. The work showcases extreme register, set in a wide variety of tempo and mood, and utilizes extended techniques such as multi- phonics and flutter tonguing. The album also contains a new arrangement of mine of the music of Hildegard von Bingen, as well as a solo for unaccompanied tuba, entitled Convent Window, composed for this album. My first solo tuba composition, Convent Window envisions the composer Hildegard von Bingen pausing for a moment of calm reflection at her window, and utilizes the resonant, lower register of the instrument. 

Interested in more “The Fourth Valve” tm Interviews?

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Don Harry
John Stevens
Jim Self
John Van Houten
Demondrae Thurman
Deanna Swoboda
R. Winston Morris

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Beth Wiese
Aaron Tindall
Marty Erickson
Beth Mitchell
Chitate Kagawa

c. 2019 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved www.davidbrubeck.com

Images courtesy of www.joannahersey.com

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“1385” tm Features Tom Garling!

Many never find their “voice”, while others never even think to search for it. In a world of imitations and cheaper images of beauty, Garling is a beautiful original. A gifted writer, talented leader and inspired improviser on the trombone, Garling blew out of Chicagoland and into the jazz world with Buddy Rich and Maynard Ferguson. His solo album, “Maynard Ferguson Presents Tom Garling”, remains one of the freshest, most mature and satisfying debuts in jazz to be heard. And that was just the beginning! Now a leader of his own jazz orchestra, Garling’s voice is amplified with treasured colleagues and seasoned with lifes deeper meanings. If you don’t know Tom, you are in for a treat; if you do, a connoisseur’s delight! “1385”tm, is delighted to present the preemininent jazz trombonist of his generation, Tom Garling.

1.  Which players inspired you the most as a teen?  
When I was about 13, I hadn’t caught the jazz bug yet. I was into rock and played keyboard (and later added guitar) in rock bands until about 16 or 17. Here are just a few bands that loved: Boston, Led Zeppelin, Yes, Eagles, Joe Walsh, Pink Floyd, REO Speedwagon (early). This was music that my brothers and friends listened to. In high school, I made friends with the people in jazz band, and took a jazz class that met during “zero” period, around 7:00 am. I began to love jazz at this time. Here is a small list of people I listened to that helped me fall in love with jazz: Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Rob McConnel, Michael Brecker, Miles, John Coltrane, Bill Watrous, Carl Fontana…

Early in your career?  Adding to this list, as I grew into my college and Buddy years (keep in mind this is just a partial list, and not in any particular order of preference, but only as I think of them): later John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, Steve Grossman, George Garzone, Jerry Bergonzi, more Miles, Chick Corea, Bill Evans, Sonny Rollins, Kenny Wheeler, Weather Report, Tribal Tech, Frank Rosolino, JJ Johnson, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Herbie Hancock…..

Now?  Do you hear any of them coming out of your horn?I’m always adding new music to my list of influences. Some are older albums by established innovators that I’d never heard before, and some are new emerging artists. Here are some recent artists: Kenny Garrett, Roy Hargrove, Snarky Puppy, Steve Davis, Elliot Mason, Michael Dease. (again, just a partial list). I believe all of my influences are coming through my horn whether I recognize it or not.

Tom Garling on www.davidbrubeck.com courtesy of www.tomgarling.com


2.  You have enjoyed success as a leader, a trombonist, a soloist, an arranger and as a writer!  How do you go about balancing these diverse activities and maintaining such high quality?
I’m extremely grateful to have had a steady influx of jobs in music, but I never considered myself very good at managing my time. I just take jobs as they come-or don’t take them if I can’t fit them in. Like everybody, I keep a calendar of gigs, writing deadlines, and my teaching schedule, and try to give myself enough time to prepare for each event. For writing, I reserve days in my calendar for just composing-something I had to learn about the hard way when I found that time was not available. For gigs and teaching, I reserve days in my calendar to practice the material needed for the gig, or compile assignments and teaching material for classes and lessons. On top of that, I make sure to play my horn everyday to keep my chops up. Like a lot of people I know, I work best with a deadline! 


3.  What did Buddy Rich and Maynard Ferguson mean to you and the jazz era of the 1970’s and 1980’s?
Buddy and Maynard meant everything to me musically and personally. There is nothing like playing music at such a high level every night to hone your craft. Buddy’s band was my first experience at this, and it was exhilerating to say the least. After five years of playing with Maynard, my chops were strong! They both were responsible for helping to launch my career as a known jazz musician. I didn’t know it at the time, but playing with Buddy turned out to be a clear path to go to music school for free.  Maynard loved to promote his sidemen and be involved in music education. As a result, I was able to hone my skills at teaching, giving clinics and masterclasses around the world with Maynard and the band. He also produced my first album on Concord Records as part of his brain-child, the”Maynard Ferguson Presents” series. For all of this, I feel that I owe everything to them.


In the world of jazz, there still hasn’t been a drummer yet that could match what Buddy did, in my opinion. He was simply the best drummer I will ever play with. His time was more driving and energetic than anyone, and he set the bar for big band drumming-time, set ups, fills, solos, etc. When he was soloing, his sticks were a blur!  All of the great well known drummers that came after him have regarded him as an influence. Bud Herseth said this of Maynard: “He’s one of the greatest trumpet players of the 20th century”. I think that about sums it up. When Maynard played, he had a sound that was so big, it was like 10 trumpets playing at once! Like Buddy, all trumpet players will turn to him for influence.


4.  How do you see the trombone as an expressive voice? 
I think all instruments are expressive in the right hands. What is special about the trombone is the slide, giving it a “vocal” quality. It affords the player to easily bend and slide into notes much like a voice would do. In that spirit, the great trombonists have always looked to vocalists for inspiration in how they inflect their music.


5.  Who are some of your favorite band mates, their musical achievements and extra musical attributes?
I have played with so many great musicians over the years, it’s hard to just pick some and say they were my “favorite”. All of them were great to play with in their own way. It would be easier to ask: “Who were the musicians you didn’t like playing with”, and that would be a very small list. 

For a long time, people have been asking me “When are you going to put your own big band together?” and just recently, I’ve done that. Choosing the members for the band was not easy, but I decided to pick them based on something they did on a gig at one time that affected me in a deeply visceral and positive way-their sound on a single note, or a solo they played, or the way they communicated with the musicians around them, to name a few examples.

Their achievements have less to do with commonly perceived success in their careers, and more with their search for the divine through their instrument. You can hear the dedication and unconditional passion in every note they play. So, in short, without “name dropping”, these are my favorite band mates.


6.  Who do you look to as the great writers for 6-8 pieces?
Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Bobby Timmons, Horace Silver. Freddie Hubbard, Oliver Nelson. to name a few.

7.  What do you look for in a horn for various circumstances?
I’ve been playing the same horn for many years (King 2b jiggs). If I were to describe what I look for in a horn, I would say the obvious things, like good intonation, good sound, a horn that slots well in all registers. If these things are sound in my playing, the circumstances don’t matter much, whether jazz, rock, salsa, playing like Tommy Dorsey, etc. 

If I were to get a call to play a classical gig, a bigger horn more suited for that style would be needed. It’s probably a good thing that I don’t get many of those calls, and if I did, I think long and hard before accepting it.  There might be a better horn out there for my needs, but I’m more of a “get personal with what you have” kind of guy. If there is an issue with some aspect of my playing, I tend to look in the mirror, rather than blame the horn. As long as there are no major problems with a horn, a practice routine that tackles the areas that need work is what’s needed. 

Tom Garling on davidbrubeck.com courtesy of MaynardFerguson.net


8.  Which is more crucial: listening versus transcribing in developing your soloing?  Whether transcribing or not, listening and mimicking is absolutely necessary. You’re not a musician unless you learn to play music of the past by ear. I have know many great players that never wrote down a solo on paper. They just listen and steal ideas from their favorite players.

Having said that, I think transcribing is important. I have found that by the time I’ve finished writing out a transcription, I have the solo memorized because I’ve listened to it over and over again. Transcribing also helps your calligraphy, sight-reading and rhythmic and pitch notation. It’s important as a musician to learn to sightread music, and link up what you see with what you hear.

9.  What inspires you now?
Playing music with great musicians always inspires me. In addition, music that I’ve never heard before that I enjoy helps to keep my creative juices flowing. I’m also inspired by hearing one of my charts  played by a great band, an impetus for writing. Also, new discoveries about the world, new perspectives, new knowledge, musically and personally.

For example, right now I am working on lip slurs to smooth out my lines. I always practice various things that help me to perform the music I’m asked to play, like fast moving scales and lines, tonguing exercises, interval drills, and playing a line in all keys. When I find something that is not coming out right, I concentrate on that for a while. 

c. 2019 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved www.davidbrubeck.com

Photos courtesy of:

www.maynardferguson.net & www.tomgarling.com





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The Brubeck Brass at Pembroke Pines City Center June 9th 2019 @ 4 pm,


THE BRUBECK BRASS IN CONCERT! 4 pm, June 6th, 2019 at The Pembroke Pines City Center

It’s HOT in South Florida! You want to get out of the house, take the family to something good, BUT into the AC! The Brubeck Brass has you covered. Join us in the spacious atrium of the Charles F. Dodge City Center on Sunday, June 9th at 4:00 pm for a fun concert with BRASS! AND IT’S FREE!

Join us in the first of a summer long series of professional musicians led by the Youth All Star Faculty members Richard Hancock, clarinet, Cornelia Brubeck, cello and David Brubeck, trombone. We will explore three of the major symphonic instrument groups in a fun, atrium atmosphere where you can relax and get close to the instruments and the musicians while being engulfed in the waves of their beautiful sounds. All under Air Conditioning! Enjoy…..

c. 2019 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved

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Duo Brubeck Live In Concert at Christ Church, Ft. Lauderdale at 2:00 pm on February 10th, 2019

Join the fun as “Miami’s Own” Duo Brubeck returns to this vibrant concert series set in downtown Ft. Lauderdale-one afternoon only! Duo Brubeck has redesigned the jazz duo according University of Miami Jazz Professor Tim Smith who says they have, “created a better mousetrap” when it comes to the jazz duo. Close your eyes and you might just imagine two or three musicians are playing instead of just two.

Duo Brubeck will feature the artistry of the incredible Lindsey Blair. Lindsay has been a staple of the South Florida jazz scene since his arrival more than thirty years ago to study at UM and was designated “best jazz artist” by The New Times in 2011. His 2018 release, “All Wes All Day”, has been climbing the jazz charts and regularly placed in the top of the charts worldwide! He is a consummate soloist, able to transmit electric emotion AND sophisticated cool.

Bass Trombonist David Brubeck has created a style of playing his instrument which has been published, recorded and imitated around the world. His “Stereogram” technique is reminiscent of jazz vocalist Bobby McFerrin, and Brubeck is able to give the impression of performing two parts at once. Mix in his subtle control of the classics with an energetic bolt of brass and shake well!

Duo Brubeck has been featured on WDNA, at international festivals, and for the concert series of Music in Miami, Arts at St. Johns, The Cleveland Clinic Distinguished Artists Series, Arts & letters and many others. Completely Unique and always refreshing, come and listen as Duo Brubeck sambas, swings and sizzles away the after noon. All are welcome at Christ Church! Suggested donation is $10.00 at the door.

c. 2019 David William Brubeck

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Brandon Jones Brings “The Fourth Valve” tm from the USAF to You!

From Kentucky to flying high with the United States Air Force Band, Brandon Jones always has a plan! Join the “Fourth Valve” tm as he shares his passion for music, keen insights regarding the euphonium and experiences with aplomb! Enjoy….

1. One embouchure, or pivoting?
I honestly try not to think too much about what my face is doing when I play. The whole “paralysis by analysis” can creep in if I’m not careful. Having said that, I try to think of everything being as much on “one embouchure” set as possible. I only pivot when I’m playing extreme loud dynamics on pedal notes. I try to use my ear 100% of the time and allow my air to do the work for me. If my aperture remains open and if tension stays away, I can generally play my full register with the same embouchure set.

2. Can you discuss the differing approaches you take to ensemble playing as opposed to soloing?
Ensemble playing versus solo playing are, in most cases, two different skill sets but with the non-negotiables being the same. There are four what I call “non-negotiables”. Those are tone, tune, time, and rhythm. Those simply cannot be compromised, ever, regardless of solo playing or ensemble playing. One can argue that when you’re the soloist, you can move the time around when emoting, but this must be purposeful and for enhancement of musical line only, never accidental. When I’m playing in an ensemble, whether it be with the United States Air Force Band or Brass of the Potomac, I’m always aware of what my role is at that time. American wind band euphonium versus British brass band euphonium are two different identities. When in the wind band, the euphonium is usually either doubling, supporting, or singing as the solo line.

If I’m doubling, I’m always listening down to the lower voice that I’m doubling (if it’s tuba, etc). If I’m supporting, I’m making sure I’m giving the trombones/trumpets/etc enough of a foundation. If I’m the dominant solo line (Colonial Song, Commando March, Planets, etc), I’m singing out and getting the sound to the back of the hall as quickly as possible. Unless it’s an expressive solo line in the wind band, I never use vibrato in the American wind band setting. When I’m playing solo/principal euphonium as I do in Brass of the Potomac, I find myself using a very vocal/operatic vibrato way more often, particularly in solo lines or lyrical lines with the euphoniums and baritones. Otherwise, the same rules apply for me as they do in the American wind band in terms of supporting, doubling, etc. When I’m on stage as a soloist, that is a different skill set to a degree as well. The euphonium is incredibly difficult to be heard over a band in general because of the conical nature and the fact that the bell is facing the ceiling and not the audience. I rely on taking massive amounts of air in so that I can play as big as possible without forcing my lips to overwork. Being a soloist with brass band and wind band, I find that I never really explore a true piano dynamic. I generally play a full dynamic bigger than indicated, even with great ensembles who understand to stay below the soloist. With string orchestra and piano, it’s a bit different, and I can generally play piano and softer without issue.

3. Who are some of your favorite musicians who can infuse expressive phrasing into music in such a way as to make it seem more meaningful or from a fresh perspective?
I’ve always loved listening to Luciano Pavarotti and Yo-Yo Ma. More specifically, the iconic recording of Pavarotti performing “Nessun Dorma”. The sheer power in his voice and his ability to remove himself from the confines of the ink are truly remarkable. Yo-Yo Ma’s recording of the Bach Cello Suites remains one of my all-time favorite discs. As for euphonium player influences, I would have to say Steven Mead’s recording with the J.W.F. Military Band with the Euphonium Concerto by James Curnow is what got me hooked on the euphonium. I always go back to that recording to renew my love for why I chose the euphonium.

4. Your articulation is very defined yet resonant. How do you strike the balance, and what is the concept you are going for?
Well, thank you. Ha! I actually used to be terrible with articulation. I find that most students and amateurs think of articulation being predominantly a motion of the tongue. I try to work on “ha” articulations and to coordinate the release of air to the initiation of sound. From there, I’ll slowly add in a very light “dah” syllable and increase the front/heaviness of the “dah” when applicable. I try to stay away from using anything “t” syllable as much as I can. Learning to truly control the air release/initiation of sound is of the utmost importance. I try to make sure there’s as much TONE in every part of the sound as possible, and less tongue noise.

5. Are there characteristic approaches or sounds of the five military bands? If so, how would you describe them?
First of all, every one of the DC premier military bands are truly phenomenal, and I am beyond blessed to have the opportunity to be inspired by all of my colleagues. I think that each band is filled with, for the most part, the same type of musician. I don’t subscribe to the idea that one is better/worse than the other, necessarily. There are many factors to what creates the approach to balance, style, etc. Most of it comes down to what the Commander/conductor is asking for in those regards. I think our band SOUNDS fantastic. I’m blown away with the level of maturity in our group on every musical level, but specifically in regard to tonal center, balance, and pitch. Having said that, all of the DC bands sound truly great.

6. Why did you pick euphonium, and why have you stuck with it; what attracts you and renews you?
My middle school band director, Ms. Karen Alward, asked me if I would try the baritone in 7th grade. I was one of the absolute worst trumpet players to ever grace God’s green earth. I immediately felt more at home with the switch, which naturally encouraged me to spend time practicing. I played then, and still do, because I truly love to play. That passion comes and goes in terms of intensity, and hearing great musicians can always renew that passion and drive it to become more intense than ever. I am very blessed to be surrounded by some of the absolute best musicians on planet earth day in and day out in the DC area, and that inspires me constantly. The euphonium has always been attractive to me because of the versatility and sound. In the right hands, it is capable of producing the most beautiful melodic lines and achieving fierce technical passages. It’s very unique.

7. Which other styles of music inspire you, recordings?
I was in a very competitive marching band in high school, so I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that I’ve had some inspiration from some great marching bands. I thoroughly enjoy hearing a group that does it the right way, meaning they don’t sacrifice true tonal center, balance and pitch to achieve a decibel level to appease a few judges for a higher score. Hearing recordings of the great Lassiter High School Marching Band with my good friend Alfred Watkins is certainly inspirational to me!

8. Have you seen a future for brass instruments that compliments the trend toward increasing electronics?
I’m honestly not the best person to answer this question. I have very little experience in this regard. However, friends of mine such as Michael Parker have found an innovative way to incorporate electronics into their performance and I think it works well given the right circumstances and audience.

9. How do you conceive of tuning in an ensemble?
My thoughts on tuning are that once you learn your instrument and its tendencies, you shouldn’t use a physical tuner ever again. I teach the marching band wind section at Thomas Jefferson HS for Science and Technology in Virginia (have been music caption head for 5 years now) and we don’t use tuners past the first few rehearsals. There are two ways of tuning in my opinion: internal and external. External is where we look at a device or get approval from someone else telling us that we are “at A440”. Internal is where we are internalizing the pitch and adjusting to another sound source, ie drones/etc. I find this much more beneficial in a practical application setting being that we should never be performing with tuners on our stand or clipped to our bell. Pitch will always change, slightly, based on the temperature of the venue, etc. I also subscribe to using just pitch as well, meaning that the third should be lowered, the fifth raise, etc. I find this to really make a difference in any ensemble setting.

c. 2018 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved www.davidbrubeck.com
images courtesy of Adams Euphoniums online, USAF and YouTube

Interested in more “The Fourth Valve” tm Interviews?
Don Harry
John Stevens
Jim Self
John Van Houten
Demondrae Thurman
Deanna Swoboda
R. Winston Morris
Beth Wiese
Aaron Tindall
Marty Erickson
Beth Mitchell
Chitate Kagawa
Aaron McCalla

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Erik Lundquist Teaches “The Fourth Valve” tm to Listen…

Somethings are just delightful combinations to come across. Even more so, when they are unexpected. Mature and humble. Aware and prepared. Focused and yet omnivorous. You can almost hear it, just listen….The Fourth Valve is pleased as punch to be delving into music, auditions & excellence with Erik Lundquist. Enjoy!


1. You have had three main teachers: Bowman, Lipton & Lundquist. What did you learn from each?
My first teacher was my father, Rick Lundquist. He is currently a retired middle school band director. He was my beginning teacher and also, along with my mother, instilled a love for music within me. Through playing in the community band that he conducts and conversations around the dinner table I learned quite a bit about wind band literature throughout all levels.

My first euphonium teacher at the University of North Texas was Dr. Jamie Lipton who currently teaches at Henderson State University in Arkansas. While I was at UNT to study with Dr. Brian Bowman, as a freshman, I took private lessons with Jamie and we had freshmen group lessons with Dr. Bowman. Jamie prepared a scared little freshman to be able to play for Dr. Bowman throughout my first year of study. When I think back to the different teachers that I’ve had a lesson with I always try to think of at least one thing I learned from them. One of the best things I learned from Jamie is that not all notes in a measure are created equal. That was really the beginning of the serious attention that I gave to learning style in wind band excerpt preparation.

My major euphonium teacher at UNT was Dr. Brian Bowman. He has created me to be the player that I am today. I experienced and learned from his tireless work ethic, commitment to improvement, exceedingly high standards, and seemingly endless amount of euphonium knowledge. I admire him as a player and teacher, but most of all I admire his character. He’s the kind of person that makes you want to be a better person. The most important thing that Dr. Bowman taught me to do, and one that requires continuous work and improvement, is to listen. One of his most famous quotes is, “Do you hear the difference in that?” My most common response was, “No.” At that point we might spend a large majority of the lesson playing the opening interval to the Boccalari Fantasia di Concerto, or Holst’s First Suite in E Flat. That was when I was lucky enough to play more than one note in a row before he corrected me. He was unrelenting in his standards. Another one of the things that I looked up to the most was the fact that he was still practicing and working on fundamental aspects of playing. I believe that we as students have an even greater respect for our teachers when we see them working as well.

2. The ITEA Mock Audition, 2nd in The Falcone; you had some success with competitions early on. What was your youthful mindset and preparations like for these? How did they help with auditions?
My mindset in participating in competitions is quite simple. They provide a concrete goal with a firm deadline. Like many people, I work best with a clearly laid out objective and a time period in which to complete it. I also find competitions to be quite exciting. It’s a great way to be active in our field and to meet other people along the way. It’s rare that a euphonium competition or professional audition isn’t a fun reunion with friends! I also think that competitions helped with auditions because auditions work very similarly except that instead of solo music it’s excerpts.

3. What is your ideal tone, and how do you work towards it?
My tone that I strive for is based on Dr. Bowman’s Seven Characteristics of a Good Sound.
1 Center (Core)
2 Intonation (Pitch)
3 Shape
4 Consistency
5 Clarity
6 Air Support
7 Air Flow

I work towards these things by listening to great players on many different instruments. I do listen to great euphonium players of different eras, but I also listen to great players of strings, woodwinds, brass, and vocalists. Usually I find out about these people by looking up recordings of solo pieces that are on the calendars of major symphony orchestras. I think of the sound of a great player being involved with my euphonium sound to create my personal tone quality.

      1. Flory Euph sonata mvmt 3 - Erik Lundquist

4. How do you conceive of breathing in general, and especially with regards to phrasing?
I try not to overthink when it comes to breathing. I tend to have the problem of paralysis by analysis, so I try to keep it simple. I’ve been to so many masterclasses with great players and teachers that discuss breathing and I’ve taken things that work for my situation. When it comes to something physical I just try to think of an unobstructed airway with my inhale striving for an “oh” syllable. I think of the lungs as balloons that fill up 360 degrees and expand the ribs all the way around the body instead of a pitcher that only fills up vertically. With that in mind I think of the simple phrase, “Air in, air out.” I try not to focus too much on the inhale and instead think of how long I need to play and let my body naturally take in air. The phrase I think of here is, “Blow until you stop.” That helps me keep my air moving throughout the entire phrase. Unfortunately, in this case the conical-bore euphonium can be more forgiving with stagnant air than something like a cylindrical-bore trombone, so from time to time I need a reminder. I like to think of the air moving horizontally through the phrase while the time remains vertical.

5. I have a few mindset approaches to teaching. The first is: all students can learn and it’s our job to teach them. I prefer to think of an inward-looking approach when a student I’m working with is experiencing issues. What can I provide for them so that they can improve? Also, have I skipped a step in teaching them a concept that allowed for an unsuccessful result, and if so, what is it? One of the other approaches is that I must meet the student on their level and teach them in their most successful learning style to improve. Lastly, not all students learn at the same pace. Continuous quality improvement is what is most important. One of the phrases that I think of here is, “Not all cookies are done at the same time.” The people that have really taught me these approaches to teaching are my euphonium teacher Dr. Bowman, as well as my cooperating teachers that I worked with during my student teaching in Richardson, TX. Those people are Frank Troyka, Chris Pineda, and Lynne Jackson.

6. Over the years you’ve taken several auditions-many successful; how has your approach changed?
For each audition that I took over the years I strived to work as hard as I could at the level where I was at that time. For some auditions I did many mock auditions with friends at UNT, and for others I focused more on individual practice. The biggest aspect that became the most refined throughout the whole process was back to what Dr. Bowman was trying to teach me all along: listening. I became better at listening back to recordings of myself and pinpointing what it was that needed to improve. Along with that, I learned how to perform in the correct style of each excerpt that was asked of me. I shouldn’t play a march in the same style as Grainger’s Colonial Song. I learned how to better differentiate those pieces by something more than tempo and dynamics. I listened to high quality recordings of pieces that I could use as a model. Being confident in the work that I was doing with listening and style really helped me to make improvement with auditions.

7. Which three or four recordings have influenced you most as a musician?
There are so many great recordings out there that have had influence on me. Some of them are:
The Sacred Euphonium – Dr. Brian Bowman, euphonium, Dr. James Welch, organ.
American Variations – Dr. Brian Bowman, euphonium, Cincinnati Wind Symphony, Eugene Corporon
Edouard Lalo – Symphonie espangnole – Itzhak Perlman, violin, Orchestre de Paris, Daniel Barenboim
Bela Bartok – Concerto for Orchestra – Chicago Symphony Orchestra – Fritz Reiner

8. What has your ITEC experience been, and what do you tell students who think of attending? Any favorite memories?
My ITEC experiences have been fantastic! I couldn’t recommend attending enough. This is where the top players and teachers in our field come together to share and learn with others. It’s a great place to meet other people just like you who are crazy about the euphonium or it’s a place to get inspired if you’re feeling lackadaisical about the euphonium! I recommend that all euphonium and tuba players attend at least one ITEC in their lifetime. One of my favorite memories was performing with the UNT Euphonium Choir at ITEC 2014 at Indiana University. It was a great tribute to the work that Dr. Bowman has done for the euphonium and for all of his students.

Interested in more “The Fourth Valve” tm Interviews?
Don Harry
John Stevens
Jim Self
John Van Houten
Demondrae Thurman
Deanna Swoboda
R. Winston Morris
Beth Wiese
Aaron Tindall
Marty Erickson
Beth Mitchell
Chitate Kagawa
Aaron McCalla

c. 2018 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved www.davidbrubeck.com

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Heart & Mind, Wayne Coniglio Inspires “The Jazz Bass Trombone” tm

It is difficult to do justice to someone so deeply and broadly talented as Wayne Coniglio: Bass Trombonist, writer, engineer, bass player, band leader, producer, and probably a few things more! The Jazz Bass Trombone is elated to highlight his accomplishments on the bass trombone which include a duo with Scott Whitfield, tours with Ray Charles and performances in NY with the great Thad Jones and Mel Lewis Orchestra. Deeply inspired and inspiring, “The Jazz Band Trombone” is delighted to welcome Wayne Coniglio to our series….Enjoy!

1. How did you begin your musical journey and when did you switch to BASS trombone?
Long story. My folks really liked the big band era so I was exposed early to that. I grew up in mostly Phoenix and attended an amazing inner city public school called Longview which was a K-8 school so continuity was ever present. The school had choir and recorder classes that started in 2nd grade and band started in 4th. Longview featured a couple of music teachers that were be beyond compare. They established a program that featured a full big band that played real charts and would performed live frequently throughout Phoenix. At these performances we would play a half hour set then break down and sing SATB songs with choreography. This seemed normal to me and I later found out that this level was unheard of then and even more so now. Remember this was a group of mostly 7th and 8th graders and a couple 6th graders. The program was run by William E. Wells “The Oz” and Debra Gunby (who has just recently passed) and they have become legends among their former students to this day.

My first year at West Phoenix High I was a member of the senior choir, the orchestra on trumpet, lead trumpet in the big band and bass trombone in the concert band. Again and outstanding program. It was at this time time that my folks accidentally bought me a Holton TR 183 single valve bass bone. My parents then moved back to Springfield, IL (where I had been born), before my sophomore year and I was stunned by the lack of opportunity at the school. The only great thing was a fantastic choir director named Dan Sprecklemeyer who was a great and funny guy and a basso profundo who would travel to sing around the country. At the same time I became acquainted with local pros and joined the union at age 14 in order to play with different groups like the Municipal band, summer theaters and the Springfield Symphony. I’ve been in the union ever since.

The choir involvement at Springfield High was excellent as it honed my skills as a musician in ways that I would only fully understand later. My playing and exposure to important music went through the roof. It was at the same time I was buying as many Coltrane, Frank Zappa and (you name it) records as I could find. I became exposed to pretty much any kind of great music buy going to the public library. My private teacher Larry Neihaus had just gotten his bass trombone modified by Larry Minnick to an inline horn in F&G, so I sent my horn to Giardinelli and they did the same for me. This was a major turning point in my playing. More about this later. I made Illinois All State Jazz Band One both years that I was eligible. I also auditioned for All State Choir and received a perfect score but didn’t attend as I had a gig.

I attended Illinois State University for a year, St Louis Conservatory for a semester, lived in Urbana, Il and played as a walk on with the famous John Garvey band at the University of Illinois which was amazing. Also, while at Urbana, I performed at the infamous “Natures Table” jazz club a ton and developed my small group chops. I did attend St louis Conservatory for a semester but found it quite lacking.

I later attended William Patterson College where Steve Turre was teaching along with Joe Lovano and Rufus Reid. I arrived there at the same time as drum phenom Bill Stewart. We hit it off and I played many hours of duets with him further developing my concept. While in school, Rufus Reid recommended me to the cats on The Mel Lewis Band and I got to play with them at age 22 at the Vanguard Thanks to Earl McIntyre and Douglas Purviance. They were playing some quite difficult Brookmeyer charts but luckily I had worn out that record called “Make Me Smile” and I could have read it blindfolded. I loved playing in that band!

New York was rough and great at the same time so for a bit I worked cruise ships then eventually back to Illinois. While in NYC I played in Dick Loeb’s rehearsal band and one of the trombone players was Armin Marmallejo who was on Ray Charles’ band. He suggested that I give him a tape so I did. After the cruise ships I got a call from Ray himself and I joined the band. Oddly I originally got called to play lead but the bass bone player quit suddenly so I was called on bass. My great friend Steve Sigmund took over and played lead for the remainder of Ray’s life and did an amazing job. (He’s currently keeping Ray’s torch going with a series of concerts featuring members of Ray’s band and Maceo Parker.)

After a few years off from Ray, I was back in New York in 1996 and I had a great time playing just about everything including some time with the Big Apple Circus.

I now have a great career in St Louis, MO. I play as much as I want, subbing in the St Louis Symphony, I play in a couple of brass quintets, my own 36 piece studio orchestra that I conduct and write for and a bit more. I have engineered/produced numerous recordings for myself and other artists. I’m currently working on an album featuring Opera star Christine Brewer.

I write full time and I teach privately and REALLY enjoy it. I also play string bass in and write for my sweetheart’s band, The Poor People of Paris.

2. What was the moment you decided bass bone was for you? Who were your influences?
When I got my horn modified to inline F&G since I was good at transposing and playing trumpet I drew a correlation between the F&G valves and certain valve combinations on the trumpet. This way I could read Trane, Freddie and whomever transcriptions and adapt them to the horn. Again more on the jazz playing later. I got the album “Road Time” by Toshiko Akiyoshi and there was Phil Teele playing those gorgeous tones. I later met him and he said play long tones all day. I started that night after seeing him. I later fulfilled a dream by getting to sub numerous times with Toshiko’s band in New York at Birdland. She was one of the few band leaders that respect and expect the bass bone player to be just another jazz player and not just a role player.

The bass bone players on those great recordings from the 1960’s like Tony Studd, Paul Faulise, George Roberts, Joe Randazzo had an influence on my section playing but I had no real players to copy for jazz so after some Carl, JJ, Frank and many others, I moved right on to Trane, freddie etc. I have also studied clasically and was influenced by Kleinhammer and Premru and the lot.

There was a nice bass bone feature on “Wave” recorded by Bill Reichenbach on a Buddy Rich album and I really liked it but was disappointed that he didn’t get to blow because he’s such a bad ass player.

3. When and why did you decide to play jazz on the bass trombone?
There really wasn’t a time that I haven’t played jazz so, I have played jazz trumpet, trombone, bass trombone, string bass, tuba. For a time I played clarinet and some sax and I played jazz on those as well. We have a nice piano and I’ve been trying to work that out, a task that I’ve put off for too long.

3a. What are your successes?
I suppose maybe I’m influencing some younger players to go ahead and play solos especially in a big band. I’m a full time writer so I’ve written several charts that either feature the bass bone or at least allow for the opportunity to solo.

I have had some on the most amazing students in my private teaching career and I do my best to supplement the things that a formal education does not provide. (there’s a lot BTW)

Besides Ray Charles, I’ve played and recorded with many artists that I have much respect for.

A couple of years ago I was asked by Jazz at Lincoln Center to recreate an entire nights worth of Ray Charles’ book for some shows in New York. I also performed and it was a great success. The great Dianne Schuur was in the role of Ray and since then we have collaborated a bit.

For a bit I played in NYC with the Chuck Clark Little Big Band in the East Village many Monday nights. That band was like dream as Chuck, who had seriously deep writing chops, really saw all of the potential for me as a soloist. He made sure that I got to play in an equal setting as the other players and even wrote a couple of features for me.

The previously mentioned opportunities to play with some dream bands in NYC. (Mel Lewis, Chico O’Farrill, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Mingus Band.

My album with long time cohort Scott Whitfield entitled “Fast Friends” on Summit Records came off very well reaching #31 on the jazz charts in 2014. I producer/engineered it. I liked the CD because our voices are both unique and it didn’t really come off as a 2 trombone album. (BTW my nickname is Count Kakula and Scott’s is Chip Kakenstein ; ) )

I also appear on an AMAZING big band album with The Pratt Brothers Big Band and Roberta Gambarini called “Sixteen Men and a Chick Singer Swingin’ ” . I wrote for this CD as did some other amazing writers and Dean Pratt made sure that I got featured. The bass bone section writing is sublime. It’s on CAP records.


4. How do you envision bass trombone best utilized in jazz?

Just as another voice in the jazz world, especially in a small group.
It’s getting a lot better finally with more plyers committing to it and I love it!

I have some very strong opinion regarding how the bass trombone has developed over the past several decades….

Well, here we go. Ever since the 1980’s the bass trombone has developed to the direction of “Slide Tuba” and so many people had glommed onto that sound concept that for a long time there was separation of the bass trombone from the rest of the section. Huge mouthpieces, heavily reinforced horns and giant or even no lead pipes had prevailed and still do somewhat. This caused writers to hear the instrument in an almost gimmicky way so much of their feature writing is like “isn’t that special” instead of just another jazz voice. There are many exceptions though that I will talk about later.

The way I see it and have lived it for almost 40 years is thus:
The original 2 valve horns had a non-uniform design for the deployment of the 2nd valve. Some were in E, Eb, D and even C but all were dependent meaning you could only use the 2nd valve with the 1st valve engaged.

I’m not sure who did this, (Minnick?) but in the 1970’s someone came up with the in-line valve (independent) design tuned to F&G which I’ve luckily enjoyed since my Sophomore year of High School. In that horn I found not only a fully functioning bass bone but a quite facile instrument that I could get around on throughout the entire range like a trumpet or sax. What happened was this though; many of the dependent valve players settled on the D tuning because they could play a Bb arpeggio in first and they got a Bb in seventh which is great in the classical world but when those people wanted an independently valved horn, and the option was 2nd valve in G which gives Eb in first when combined, they started asking for a 2nd valve in Gb which gives D in first when combined. Again there are many great players and horns that utilize this combination but my opinion is there’s quite a lot of facility that is lost with that set up. People aren’t quite sure what to say to this because now the majority of horns don’t even come with a tuning slide option for a valve in G so they are not exposed and they haven’t done what I’ve done.

They don’t even have the option to try out many of the ideas that I’ve worked out.

Here’s why I believe there is an issue with this design: On a technical note the F/Gb valve set gives an unequal placement of note options along the slide. Ex: low F in 1st, low F in 2nd then low F in 6th. The G valve allows low F in 1st, low F in 3rd and low F in 6th which is a more equal distribution on notes and “pivot points” are evenly spaced along the slide. That’s just one advantage.

The poitive results as far as I see it: I potentially can play a chromatic scale (except low C and B) along the entire horn in 3 positions. With a Gb valve one must go to 4th a few times. I can play entire major scales in only 2 positions.

The Gb valve, when related to the trumpet, is like have the valve combo of 2 and 3 whereas the G valve is related to the valve combo 1 and 2. When a necessary chromatic motion is needed all you need is a one position change either up or down.

I also must mention that I use the valves all over the horn, not just below the staff.

To sum up, the modern jazz bass trombone design has gotten backed into a corner a bit based on functionality.

5. What is your essential listening list for a young jazz bass trombonist?
Except for the handful of folks that actually play jazz like an artist, I’d say anything BUT the bass trombone.
If you’re looking for big band/orchestral playing influences, and not improvisatory, that’s a different animal and I don’t think quite on this subject.

6. What do you look for in an improvised solo?
Do I like it. Is there Heart and mind? Is the soloist engaged with the the band as a whole?

More on that; Regarding practice and backing tracks; one of the teaching techniques I employ is to have the student imagine that they are the horn soloist in the isolation booth that the rhythm section is reacting to. (that’s how most of those tracks are recorded) I tell them to try to react to the accompaniment as if it were live with the added advantage of being able to rewind it and examine. I also tell them to corroborate each lead sheet with, not only the original recording of the song, but with the backing track itself. This helps them to be able to constantly examine their role in any live situation and be much more involved. This is paramount if you want to become a true communicative artist rather than one blurting out the latest licks you’ve been working on.

7. How did/do you practice jazz?
Early on I listened, transcribed by ear and wrote it down.
I was influenced by: Scott Joplin, the big band era, John Coltrane, Freddie Hubbard, Booker Little, Rhasaan, Frank Zappa, Joe Henderson, Joe Lovano, Herbie, McCoy, Pepper Adams and the list goes on and on and on. At one point for a couple of years all I could listen to was Coltrane and, as I mentioned before, I played from transcription books Coltrane solos. “Giant Steps”, “Blue Trane” etc. All of these solos lay right in the wheel house down an octave which puts these solos right in the staff and just a bit above and below, Basically the range of the Tenor Sax down an octave. I do believe that the best functional improvising range is similar to Bari sax.

I don’t transcribe solos as much any more except that I do quite a lot of transcribing of arrangements as well as my own writing.

I also believe in singing, I do a bit, and I also think that jazz musicians should also learn a rhythm section instrument in order to gain perspective, develop awareness of changes and interaction, empathy. With regard to singing, I believe it’s a major game changer as far as developing confidence, phrasing, breathing, pitch memory and score reading.

“Jazz Education” has suffered a bit by the over specification of harmonies at times, especially when it speaks of the dominant chord and the alterations associated with it. Most altered dominant chords can be gleaned from the diminished scale related to the diminished chord. As you know, most popular music has abandoned the varied emotionally nuanced dominant chords so young folk just aren’t hearing them on a regular basis.

Also the Be-bop “side step” ii-V7 (the chromatic foreshadowing of an upcoming ii-V7) has somewhat marred the utility and austere beauty of the passing diminished chord and it’s derivatives. Not going to detail this as I’m getting long-winded here.

8. What are your favorite bass trombone features?
I’ve written a few as I mentioned. Mantooth wrote something really nice on “Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square” that doesn’t have you play in a gimmicky way and has changes.
I played “I Ain’t Gonna Ask No More” with Toshiko’s Band numerous times and she had the bass trombone blow.
Matt Finders and later Tim Newman who both occupied that chair and are strong improvisers were probably responsible for that.
When I was with Ray Charles I wrote a few charts that featured bass bone mainly because there wasn’t much in the book. Ray actually encouraged me to write and I credit him with stimulating what has become a nice career in writing. Whenever I spoke with him it was mostly about writing and a bit of sports.

9. What instruments blend best with bass bone?
Vibes are really cool in the jazz world. Guitar, trumpet, sax. Hard to really pin it down though.
With regard to classical playing; I believe that, when working with tuba, one must consider the composers idea behind the use of bass bone and tuba in exact unison as opposed to being in octaves. I’ve found that, as a writer myself, I like the bass bone to provide the edge (pointed sound) when in the same octave as tuba but be more tuba-like when in octaves. Also when just being the 3rd bone to the tuba just to be a trombone. I’ve done this for years and the sections and tuba players love it.

10. What are your thoughts on bass function for bass bone? When does it work well, when should it be avoided?
Again you have to play in context to the style, voicing and such.
Sometimes you’re the tuba to the bari sax and need to provide width to the sound and sometimes you’ll have a line that really needs to cut. When you’re playing 4th trombone rather than providing a bass function you really need to adjust your air stream

When I was touring with Ray Charles, there would often be impromptu jams in the dressing room or even on the street. Since the bass player’s amp was not available I got to play a lot of bass lines and, since I’m also a string bass player, I drew from that. I did that with my brother Trumpeter Kenny Rampton quite a bit because we were just hungry to play.

c. 2018 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved. www.davidbrubeck.com

Images courtesy of Wayne Coniglio.com

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Ben van Dijk, The Gentle Giant of “The Jazz Bass Trombone” tm

I have become convinced that Ben van Dijk is something akin to the James Bond of the bass trombone. At home in any castle or sanctuary where the bass trombone resides, van Dijk is always appropriate and never out of place. He can, and most likely will, master any and all the utterances of bass trombone within.

Words come to mind: An inspiration. A gentleman. A musician. Ben van Dijk makes music where others may be distracted by technique, finds meaning when others might be lost in debate, and offers of himself and his musical bounty with the greatest generosity. Supportive. Kind. The source of beauty in his playing is undoubtedly fed by his personality, and his high professional standards are exuded in all of his presentations.

I came into contact with Ben van Dijk personally as he began to master my “Stereogram” compositions. No. 10; No. 3; No. 34.; Wow!

Later, as I explored jazz guitar and bass trombone in Duo Brubeck, van Dijk made one of the most ingenious adaptations of a Flamenco Stereogram with HIMSELF on flamenco guitar, and palmas. His arrangement greatly amplified the meaning of the original piece. Amazing!

Ben van Dijk joins the “Jazz Bass Trombone” in celebration of his newest recording of Flamenco music principally for trombones and guitar-seemingly his two favorite voices. Enjoy, as well, the words of the gentle giant of the bass trombone…

1. Why come to the United States to study trombone? And why Los Angeles instead of New York or Chicago?
Although already being a fan of the Chicago Symphony sound I heard on records (Fritz Reiner RCA Red Seal recordings), which my American teacher at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague made me aware of and the live performances of Mahler 5 and Bruckner 9 in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw under Solti, the solo LP “The Big Trombone” and LA Symphony album with the Alpine Symphony with Jeff Reynolds impressive playing on bass- and contrabass trombone made me decide to go to Los Angeles extend my study time.

2. Who were your heroes in LA? And what did you learn from them?
Of course the man I came for, Jeff Reynolds, was my biggest hero, but being there many others impressed me. Roger Bobo, Ralph Sauer and Tommy Stevens all made big impression on me.

One of the things that always keeps in my mind is their collective balanced singing sound in an orchestral tutti! Breathing together, starting on the nose and shaping the notes with nice endings.

I have been and still are a intuitive player, not thinking too much about why and how but just going with the flow. Jeff made me analyze pieces better and I see the benefit of this more.

3. Please tell us about your latest project.
May I use part of the liner notes from the booklet of my new album for this? It says exactly how it is:

I think it’s been over 8 years ago that I asked my friend Ilja Reijngoud if he would like to write me a very specific composition. I’ve known Ilja not only as an amazing jazz trombonist, but also as a great composer and for me, he was the perfect man to compose a flamenco-jazz suite for bass trombone solo, trombone ensemble, flamenco guitar and percussion, based on a theme by one of my flamenco heroes: El Camarón de la Isla.

My idea was to play all trombone voices, including the flamenco guitar, myself. I’ve been playing guitar since my younger years, back when I fell in love with the art of flamenco after hearing the legendary singer, El Camarón de la Isla, together with the great guitarist Paco de Lucía.

I couldn’t be more happy with the suite Ilja wrote me, as it exceeded my expectations completely and even left room for some extras that makes the piece even more interesting and authentic.

Due to many personal and non-personal circumstances it took me many years to finally start with this time consuming dream project, but with the helping hand in editing and mastering of my friend Martin van den Berg, I can now proudly present you the end result.

The composition is titled “Brisas Andaluzas”, which translates into “Andalusian Breezes”, because of the many Andalusian influences that helped form this album.

Posted by Ben van Dijk on Saturday, 18 August 2018

4. How big a part have your interests in tenor trombone and guitar influenced your forays into jazz and commercial music?
Of these 2 instruments mainly the tenor trombone had the biggest influence in this interest of mine.

Starting with Urbie’s 21 trombones, Tutti’s “Camarata” trombones, Frank Rosolino (love his playing ), Dick Nash, Bill Watrous, Jiggs Whigham, both Dutch legendary bone brothers Bart and Erik van Lier but also Blood Sweat & Tears, Chicago and Frank Zappa are huge influences in my musical life.

The guitar was mainly focused on that completely different art form, Flamenco.
Although I loved to listen a lot to Joe Pass but simply couldn’t get all these chord changing in my system:-))

5. Tell s about your favorite non-classical pieces that have been written for you?
Haha well at this very moment it is “Brisas Andaluzas” by Ilja Reijngoud, it’s completely in my blood right now. This very evening we have the last mixing session and in a week the mastering will be done and of it goes to be pressed:-))
Also Ilja’s masterpiece “Mr Roberts”, a tribute to the one and only Mister bass trombone, George Roberts, for bass trombone solo and jazz trombone quartet which I recorded on my first Album Nana, is a treasure.

6. Tell us about your spiritual journey towards greater humanity and kindness, How have music and your quest influenced one another?
Serious and difficult question David!

I think I have been a lucky guy with having such a wonderful family. Starting with my parents whom have been a stable, loving inspiration for me in my youth. Than I met my wife Aaltje ( coming September 40 years my wife) who has given me everything I needed in life. Of course our two amazing sons who are my 2 best friends ever but she also gives me a warm home, love, respect and a healthy realistic view on everything. She adores me but also puts me in a healthy way with my two feet on the ground. She is my inspiration in everything. Having 2 extra children, our beautiful sweet daughters in law who gave us four adorable grandchildren whom are for me a daily gift and inspiration to stay a child for ever.

My family is my soul!

Of course all the years of making music, coming season will be my 43 orchestral year as Symphonic bass trombonist, all the ensembles I played in, the 5 solo albums I’ve made, the teaching I do etc etc are a lifeline which probably also made me the way I am.

Like I earlier said I’m a intuitive player but also in life I follow mostly my intuition based on love, respect, listening, health, inspiration, these are my keywords in life with since my heath dip of 2 years ago “Carpe Diem” on top!

7. What can you tell us about your interest in recording, editing, electronics and the very high production values you are able to attain for your many projects, both professional and at home?

This goes back to when I was around my 17th. I had this Philips multi track tape recorder and started to make my first home recordings.

Made my own arrangements and remember making some 4 trombones, 4 trumpets, piano and high hat recordings together with my dad. We recorded the trumpets on trombone half speed so when we played it normal speed they sounded like trumpets ( with some fantasy ) and had a lot of fun doing this. I learned a lot from this and having an amazing trombonist at home made me be critical on everything I did.
For a very long time I didn’t do much with this besides making frequent study recordings.

I always had the dream to once in my life make a cd and after a lot of doubts this became reality in 1999 when I recorded my first album Nana. Of course I had ideas about sound etc etc but I wasn’t and still aren’t a technical person.
One of my former students and now very good friend, Martin van den Berg, is. He is the bass trombonist of the Metropole Orchestra and the dud that nailed “Saturday night is the loneliest night of the week” on this meg hit on YouTube.

Martin and me discussed what, how and where to record and he was my ears in the recording sessions and until today he still is. After doing the first 3 cds with recording companies Martin decided to start his own recording company. I helped him to set up and because of this I have the possibility to record on the highest level.

In the meantime I got myself a Mac computer with on it Garageband and started to do some home recordings for fun. After a while I wanted to go to a bit higher quality and more options to work with so I bought Logic Pro X, a nice interface and a microphone and started to do more myself with the guidance of Martin on distance. When I work with this again I go for intuition and simple use my ears where to go for. So much fun to do but also very time consuming which makes me sometimes study not enough.

For video’s I use these days Final Cut and learn in every project I do. YouTube is so valuable in this with all the tutorials you can find there.
With this story I send you the video teaser I made for my newest album I hope you like.

8. What are your thoughts on the jazz and commercial trombone? Any directions you would like to see pursued or see pursued yourself? Any thoughts on where the instrument sings best?

First of all I’ve always loved and envied the more freedom one has in jazz style material, specially in playing solo. As player who has the Symphonic Orchestra as main core business I always have to follow the score, the conductor and my colleagues in a very disciplined way with not much room for a personal touch.

One of the serious problems of today is electronics (use of samples), in music making. When I think back of the time when I entered the music scene back in the early seventies and see how many jazz-commercial trombonists had work in Holland and you see the business today it looks like a catastrophe.

In these days every television or radio show had a live band, studio work was full with live musicians but today you barely see this happen.

It would be a dream come true if a new Tommy Dorsey, Dick Nash or Urbie Green would standup like what we had with pop groups like Blood Sweat and Tears and Chicago and make our instrument hip again!

Writing this I also realize there is still a big crowd that appreciate the jazzy bone and we have to cherish them. My personal hope is that the big audience will start to recognize again the beauty of the trombone sound!

We have some nice things happening here in Holland with younger players like my former student bass trombonist Brandt Attema making steps in the pop scene, adding the bass trombone to the accompaniment of some pop singers. Not yet reaching the big audience but still nice attempts.

I see interesting new input in for example the flamenco scene. Flamenco already has, since many years, been influenced by jazz musicians. The famous Paco de Lucia working together with people like Al Di Meola and Chick Corea made huge impact on the music. We have for instance here in Amsterdam a real Flamenco Big Band which is very successful . Have a look at www.bvrflamencobigband.com and see their work. By adding some typical flamenco rhythm instruments like the cajón, hand-clapping, flamenco singing and flamenco guitar they created complete new vibes to the big band sound.

With my latest project I hope I also give the world a bit of a new look at the posibilidades of the trombone:-))

9. How would you say the reception for jazz and crossover music has been in Europe as opposed to the United States. Is it mostly recordings, or live events as well.

I think most of this I more a less answered on your previous questions:-)) Difficult for me to see how it works in the States but of course I see interesting things happening like your bass trombone – guitar duo and young players like Christopher Bill and Paul the trombonist making nice videos that might attract young people to our beautiful instrument.

About the equipment I use:
At home it is a Focusrite interface and a Se microphone with Logic Pro X.

c. 2018 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved

Interested in more of “The Jazz Bass Trombone”? Look Below:

The Jazz Bass Trombone No. 1, with Big Band Arranger, Leader and Bass Trombonist Thomas Matta and highlighting bass trombonist extraordinary-Charlie Vernon!

“The Jazz Bass Trombone” No. 2 features a beautiful discussion of Duke Ellington with Marc T. Bolin and Bass Trombone Soloist and Big Ban Leader Demetri Pagalidus’ “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” arranged by Tom Kubis as discussed by bass trombone virtuoso Major Bailey.

The Jazz Bass Trombone No. 3, features Eliezer Aharoni and his moveable compendium of all things “non-classic” bass trombone.

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World Premiere, Live Recording of Thom Sleeper’s Concert No. 2-LISTEN HERE!

      1. Sleeper Bass Trombone Concerto FAUSO 12.1.16

I enthusiastically recommend this piece as a primary consideration for ANY bass trombonist who has the opportunity to perform a concerto or compete in a concerto competition. It is masterfully orchestrated with the capabilities and vulnerabilities of the bass trombone front and center. The colors are extraordinary, the themes expansive, and the fresh harmonic approach and rhythmic treatments are infused with Russian and American spirit. Sleeper, a bass trombonist himself, has written a concerto for his native instrument that is a tour de force of expression and meaningfully connects with audiences and accompanying musicians alike. His Bass Trombone Concerto No. 2 is at once exploratory and unified, inspiring and bound with the hearth fires of genuine humanity.

In the first movement, the heroic voice of the bass trombone elicits thematic stringed responses frozen in homorhythms and fateful pulsations alternating with aqueous dissolutions of polyrhythms. The violins become mournful and sweeten and slow the first movement to a climactic nadir and brief soliloquy interposed with the depth of perfectly placed percussion which howls into regular accentuations as the accompaniment forms to include brass and woodwinds.

The second movement is warmed by strings and spiced with textured and deep, yet sparing, percussive effects. Breathtakingly cinematic with the interrogative melodic juxtaposition of strings and a bass trombone line that simultaneously moans and soars.

The third movement is steeled with resolve and yet optimistically takes flight. It begins with the notes of the woodwinds seemingly perched on the head of the timpani, only to scatter at its first sounding. At one point the bass trombone has strewn sixteenth notes like bread crumbs which the strings devour with birdlike entrances, until the soliloquy returns. Richer, deeper, infused with with textured meaning and recapitulated variation.

Thanks to composer Thom Sleeper, conductor Dr. Laura Joella and the many fine musicians of the Florida Atlantic University Symphony Orchestra.

Both the music-making and the dedication are more meaningful because they are shared with friends.

My performance here is dedicated to my dear and beloved dad, James Brubeck.

Text: c. 2018 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved
Concerto: c. 2016 Thomas Sleeper All Rights Reserved. www.davidbrubeck.com

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Beau Soir, Rutter-Brubeck Duet

Pianist Bronwen Rutter leads this ensemble duo with bass trombonist David Brubeck in tow. Listen for the interweaving melodies and clarity of ensemble inspired by the virtuoso accompanist.

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“USE ME UP!” DUO BRUBECK with Lindsey Blair

DUO BRUBECK featuring the hippest Hoosier I know know, Lindsey Blair. Feels like the 70’s all over again…

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Israeli Bass Trombonist, Composer and Author Eliezer Aharoni, Cultivates The Jazz Bass Trombone…..

c. 2008 Eliazer Aharoni
permission granted
www.davidbrubeck.com

Eliezer Aharoni has the spirit of an explorer, the palette of a musical omnivore, and the depth of a French Encyclodepist. An “interest” in non-classic bass trombone and methods for the instrument led this classically trained bass trombonist of note, with the Jerusalem Radio Symphony Orchestra, to produce hundreds of pages of music and words in honor of his instrument. Aharoni’s careful irrigation and cultivation have broadened new lands, and have charted unfamiliar territories for all who follow his guideposts. Come along to whaft the favorite fragrances of his florid collection of music and marvel at sonic delicacies he has gathered, grown and transcribed. Enjoy “The Jazz Bass Trombone” tm with Eliezer Aharoni….

1. Where do you draw the line between jazz and non-jazz commercial?
This is a rather complicated issue, as there are today many different fields in music, many styles, and a lot of combined styles and hybrids of different styles, so it is really very hard to draw a line between “true” jazz and commercial jazz flavored music, which is often regarded, sometimes with a bit of patronization, as artistically inferior. The distinction depends on many factors, such as: context, target audiences, type of ensemble, (for example: if it’s a big band or a combo – it will most likely be categorized as jazz; If strings are involved – it might be viewed as commercial) and many more.

Many of the jazz standards came initially from musicals, and as such were considered as commercial music. Then, they were performed as standard repertoiry of jazz musicians, and acquired the tag of “jazz”. We can hear recordings of Sinatra, Four Freshmen, Elgart Brothers, and many more, that are regarded as commercial music, but nonetheless are great jazz, so in my view music can be sometimes simultanously jazzy and commercial, and we don’t really have to draw a line between the two.

2. Which applications and expressive outlets for the non classical bass trombone have you found most interesting and why? Any future trends you are keeping an eye on?
For me, the most enjoyable and interesting application is jazz ballad, where the bass trombone is displayed at his best, with a warm, expressive singing sound.

A relatively new trend that caught my attention is the bass trombone finding its niche in ethnic music. The most interesting example is the Australian marvelous bass trombonist Adrian Sherriff, who is a multi-instrumentalist and multi-stylist player. In addition to his great jazz playing, he is a member of the Australian Art Orchestra and also plays the flute, percussion and some ethnic instruments like Shakuatchi (a 1.8 foot Japanese flute), Javanese Gamelan, and Mridangam. Sherriff combines jazz and ethnic music from West India, South India, Japan and Indonesia, and performs with quite a few ethnic and jazz ensembles.

Another interesting ethnic playing is the Turkish trombone player Hasan Gözetlik, who plays Turkish and Arab styles. He plays “Taxim” which is a sort of oriental improvisation. Hasan has many video clips. He uses a double valve instrument, but is rarely heard in low register.

In Klezmer style we find bass trombonist Michael Brown of the Dor L’Dor band (heard on Not Your Father’s Klezmer Band and Dance for Your Life Cds. Tenor trombone and tuba are often heard on the Klezmer scene, but a bass trombone is a novelty.

Paul Munger with the Aharonis at ITF 2008

3. What made you decide to write your book?
As you know, before writing this book I wrote a bass trombone method called “New Method for the Modern Bass Trombone”, (NogA Music, 1975). At that time, there were only few bass trombone study materials in general-almost nothing for “non-classic” bass trombone. (This situation has slightly improved over the years). At that time many improvements in bass trombone design came out – different valve set-ups, dependent and independent double valves, and there was no method or consensus as to how to annotate the different positions. I felt the need for more comprehensive study material for the bass trombone and felt that I had something to contribute in this field, especially my ideas for a clearer, more organized annotation system, so I decided to go ahead and write my Method which I hope many of you are familiar with.

Later on, around 2010, I began to realize that there was really very little bass trombone material to study jazz and related styles. I started putting together some ideas how to approach the situation, feeling that despite of the fact that I was primarily a classical player, I have the ability to contribute to enhance the literature in that niche. So I came to the decision to put together my own book. Though I was aware that I am dealing with an area that is not exactly within my area of expertise, I felt that I can write study material that would be both challenging and fun to play, and provide good preparation for players seeking to improve in these fields.

During writing the book, some of the basic concepts were changed. The primary idea was to focus only on jazz, and write a 4-5 pages of introduction. Then, realizing that there are more fields in light music that should be covered, I decided to expand the scope and cover more related styles, such as Pop, Rock, Latin, ethnic music, world music and more. At this time I realized I knew very little about these styles and the background, so aside my bookwriting I started a research to get the bigger picture. I was amazed with the wealth of information I came up with – I thought I’ll find a lake, but found an ocean… I had some help from friends and colleagues, but some of them specializing in jazz fields, could not help me with information about bass trombone in other fields. However, occasionally I received some good tips. For example, Alan Raph mentioned that a former student of his, Marty Harell, played with Elvis, which directed me to learn about bass trombone in Rock. This correspondence with Alan Raph also led to have him write an eye-opening introduction to my book. As a result of this research the info swell into some 50 pages, as I decided that background, history, equipment issues, recording info and information about the main players was also very important and relevant.

Another factor that helped the birth of my book was the collaboration with my friend and former student, Micha Davis from the IPO. I used to send him some etudes for feedbacks, and at a certain point he offered to record them. Then I realized that I need to prepare playbacks for the etudes, which directed me to do the arranging of the accompaniments. So, finally, after nearly seven years of
“pregnancy”, the book came out just in time to be displayed at the ITA workshop
of 2008.

The Non Classic
Bass Trombone
www.davidbrubeck.com

4. Who are your favorite jazz bass trombonists and their recordings?
Well, it’s a long list, but I’ll name a few of them.

My all-time favorite would always be George Roberts. I love his singing style, as well his rich tone and his accuracy and clarity when executing all sorts of bass trombone “licks”. Especially I enjoy his Nelson Riddle recordings “The Joy of Living” and “Life is a Game of Poker,” His albums “Meet Mr. Roberts, “Buttoms Up“, “The Other Side Of The Horn”, and Tommy Pederson’sAll My Friends Are Trombone Players“.

Alan Raph is an incredible player and a respected authority on jazz playing and on bass trombone. Allen can be heard on many recordings of George Benson, Quincy Jones, Gil Evans, and Urbie Green’s “21 Trombones,” to name only a few. On Youtube he is featured on Billy VerPlanck’s “In Summer You Get That Warm Bass Trum-bone Feeling“. He also composed “Rock” for solo bass trombone – a very appreciated and widely performed piece, which demonstrates the way a bass trombone fits in that genre.

I like very much

      1. Rich Bullock's
playing. Some samples of his playing are available on . As well, you can find on “The Usual Suspects his website page, An MP3 collection called 12 Legendary Performances By Rich.

Phil Teele is another favorite of mine. Phil can be heard on Sinatraland W. Patrick Williams Big Band, Toshiko Akiyoshi Big band recording “Tales of a Courtesan” in “I Ain’t Gonna Ask No More” (contrabass trombone), and his two albums Low & Outside and Syntheticdivision.

Demetri Pagalidis released a beautiful solo recording “Demetri” With big band, Frank Comstock conducting. This recording demonstrates nice sonority and singing style of the bass trombone. “Silverware” is another recording of him in a big band. [Another Setting]

Ron Wilkins is very active as player and educator. He can be heard “All the Things You Are” with Dr Donald (Donnie) Pinson, on Sonny Rollins “Tenor Madness Charles Mingus tune “Boogie Stop Shuffle“, “Tribute to the Masters” and “Bundee Brothers Bone Band” .

NYC player, Max Seigel, played with Slide Hampton on the Trombone All Stars. He is featured on Slide Hampton’s album “Spirit of the Horn” solo on Walkin’-N-Rhythm.

Ingo Luis is currently the bass trombonist of the WDR (West German) Radio Orchestra in Cologne. He has contributed greatly to the jazz brass literature both as an arranger and as a recording artist. His unique stylistic playing can be heard on his two albums with tenor trombonist Ludwig Nuss: “Horn Players Can’t Eat Garlic” and “The Two-Bone Big Band – The Return of the Horn Players.” Both players are overdubbed, forming a larger ensembles. Contrabass Trombone.

Massimo Pirone is a great Italian tenor and bass trombonist.
He has released quite a few albums “A Portrait of Trombone, Portrait of Roberts, The ballad Album, Directly From The Heart, Like the Wind and Two Brothers With Bill Reichenbach

Ido Meshulam is a very talented young Israeli trombonist (+bass & contra), residing now in the US. He can be heard on contrabass trombone
In ensemble and
on Petit Chien (Shadowing Joe Alessi an 8ve below)
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=OuvTPS1-Nlo.

5. How do you feel about the use of mutes, looping and live processed sound? Main course or side dish?
The use of various mutes has always enhanced the variety of tone colors of trombones, both in section playing and on solo playing. On the tenor trombone,
One type of mute – the plunger – has created its own special style (noted by artists like Al Gray and “Tricky” Sam Nanton).

For the bass trombone, there is a unique example of focusing on a mute – this
Is George Roberts’ album “Bottoms Up”, featuring the bucket mute, which has a special delicate tone color and enables an uninterrupted expressive singing playing.
Henri Mancini used frequently a cup-muted bass trombone, which made a special effect of mystery. The bass trombonist Karl Deskarske was mostly the player.
Other than that, bass trombone mute use in solos is rather rare, and is definitely a side dish.
In my book, in addition to describing the different mutes, I also wrote a little suite called “The Mute Shop”, featuring 6 types of mutes. You can watch it and listen in YouTube at:
The Mute Shop part 1

About looping and live processed sounds I occasionally watch some YouTube clips.
People like Pharrell Williams, Christopher Bill and Robin Thicke do some amazing things. Some of them use bass trombone as a part of a track, which sounds amazing with all studio facilities. This guys have amazing skills of instant arranging, too, and the whole project sounds very interesting. However, I do not delve too deeply into it, for me it’s just a curiosity.

6. What has the non-classic bass trombone meant to you throughout your life?
As a teenager, still when I played the tenor trombone, I used to listen to trombone recordings (in Israel, at that time, there was no way to hear non-classic bass trombone in live performance, as there were no active bass trombone players other than in the symphony orchestras) Some of the recordings were of trombone ensembles, mostly J & K. As well, I had access to some Nelson Riddle recordings. These were my first exposures to the bass trombone sound, which I enjoyed very much.

A turning point for me was the purchase of a recording of “The Four Freshmen,” backed by a trombone ensemble with arrangements by Pete Rugolo. Listening to the tasteful bass trombone playing (mostly by George Roberts) was very fascinating for me and made me switch to bass trombone. At that time I played in the Jerusalem Municipality Band and later on joined the Army Band. The conductor – the legendary Itzhak(Ziko) Graziani, was also a great arranger and wrote some really nice bass trombone parts. During my service I also had the chance to play in a big band lead by Mel Keller – an American born sax/clarinet player who was THE jazz pioneer in Israel.

After service I joined the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra and played mainly orchestral classical and contemporary music, but the orchestra also did some amount of recordings of Israeli songs and song festivals, and in some of them there were some nice bass trombone parts. As well, I did some free-lance work, including the Mel Keller Band and later the Tel Aviv Promenade band.

All these opportunities to play “non-classical” music were for me very enjoyable, and a kind of a different musical journey contradictory to the classical orchestral playing, which had some great moment, but also a lot of routine playing (where you get to count a lot and play very little)…
so basically non-classical music was for me a refreshing change, many times more fulfilling and challenging to play.

The Mute Shop part 3

7. What are your thoughts on the style of soloing various bass trombonists use? The style of post bop saxophone soloists, traditional upright bass, cool style, bluesy tenor trombone or funky electric bass?

All these styles are great models to absorb plenty of ideas and inspiration for solo bass trombone, though players usually do not relay on one model.

The string basses – electric or acoustic – are harder to emulate on bass trombone, because of the difference of character between a string and a wind instrument. There are more inspiring style models, like the style and sound of the baritone saxophone, especially Jerry Mulligan’s playing, or the jazz tuba – players like Joe Murphy, John Sass and Howard Johnson. But the main and natural soloing model is still the tenor trombone, which a bass trombonist has to figure his way how to expand it to the low register. Some players, like Chris Brubeck, choose to improvise mainly in the high register, with some “visits” to the low register. Others, like Massimo Pirone, who has an incredible fluency and agility, choose to stay longer in the low register.

Eliezer Aharoni

8. Tips for selecting literature?
For me, selecting a piece is about the appeal of the piece to me – some kind of chemistry, a click that makes me want to try the music. I look for pieces that utilize well the singing character and sonority of the low register. I look for pieces that have a logic structure, that are in not too technically demanding, and well suited in register.

I transcribe a lot, borrowing music mainly from low instruments, like tuba, bassoon and cello. I also like to play vocal music for bass and baritone. A great source of inspiration, for me, is the Russian basso profundo singer Vladimir Miller, who sings a lot Russian liturgical music, and I intend to explore and transcribe a few of the works he sings, for bass trombone and tuba.

Like “The Jazz Bass Trombone”? Read the interview and article that launched it all Charlie Vernon and George Roberts (of course), Thomas Matta and more! …HERE.

How about some more Tom Kubis for bass trombone? The Jazz Bass Trombone features “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore”, featuring bass trombonist AND bandleader, Demetri Pagalidus, HERE.

c. David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved www.davidbrubeck.com

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