“Seven Positions” Interview Series Launched with Charles Vernon, Chicago Symphony Orchestra Bass Trombonist

Seven Positions is a short, written, shoot-from-the-hip interview series launched by davidbrubeck.com. Each position is a response to a question. Positions one through five will remain consistent while the sixth and seventh positions will be tailored to each interview. We are very proud and pleased to have Charles “Charlie” Vernon respond to launch Seven Positions.

Mr. Vernon is best known as the bass trombonist in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO). As a student of Edward Kleinhammer and Arnold Jacobs, Vernon has worked to preserve their legacy through his performances with the CSO, through his teaching (currently Professor of Trombone at DePaul University) and as the author of “The Singing Trombone”. But for Vernon, excelling in what is perhaps the most storied low brass section in the world was only the beginning. In 1991 Vernon premiered a bass trombone concerto by Ellen Taaffe Zwillich in celebration of the CSO Centennial. In 2006 Vernon and the CSO premiered a concerto for alto, tenor and bass trombones by Christian Lindberg entitled “Chick ‘a’ Bone Checkout”. At a recent International Trombone Festival a long time attendee and occasional host commented to me that he thought the level of solo performances on bass trombone were about 20 years ahead of the solo performances on tenor- a trend that began with Vernon.

1st Position
What do you look for in an instrument?
An open, free blowing response with a great fundamental sound. The slide must blow and move well.

2nd Position
How do you conceive of, visualize or describe an ideal tone quality?
I think of the most beautiful tone quality, using adjectives that I can imagine while I’m playing.

3rd Position
What is your secret to a beautiful legato?
One beautiful note followed by another with nothing in between. The tongue, lips, and slide go exactly with the rhythm: Charlie Vernoneverything going at the same time.

4th Position
What helps you achieve musical expression?
Singing every note from my soul.

5th Position
Name two inspirations, one musical and one non-musical.
Ed Kleinhammer
Michael Phelps

6th Position, CV
What makes a great concerto for bass trombone?
A piece with great melodies and beautiful sounds with many moving atmospheric moments showing all the great aspects of the trombones.

Snging Trombone Vernon7th Position, CV
What would it surprise people to know about Jacobs, Kleinhammer, Crisafulli, and Friedman?
Four different styles of playing all going for a similar result.

What’s the best trombone playing you’ve ever heard?
Bill Watrous playing in my face.

What is the best trombone playing you have ever done?
Difficult to pick, even though there are a few choices. I have played beautiful ballads on the trombones.

C. 2012 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved. davidbrubeck.com
Photo credit: Steve Kagan/The New York Times/Redux

Interested in more “Seven Positions” tm Interviews?
Charlie VernonJames MarkeyChris BrubeckDoug YeoJeremy MorrowTom EverettGerry Pagano Ben van DijkRandall HawesDenson Paul PollardThomas MattaFred Sturm Bill ReichenbachMassimo Pirone Erik Van Lier Jennifer WhartonMatyas VeerStefan Schulz

c. 2013/2014 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved davidbrubeck.com

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