What do you look for in an instrument?
I look for a few things: resonance, clarity, even playing across all registers, how the horn slots, if it is easy to center, and consistence at all dynamics.
How do you conceive of describe, or visualize an ideal tone quality?
I conceive of sound as perfect resonance at each pitch level with fulness and some life. You might think of this as what a church bell sounds like when rung.
What is your secret to a good legato?
(If I tell you the secret to a beautiful legato, then it won’t be a secret anymore!) To me, its continuous air, and smooth fast slide movements.
What helps you achieve musical expression?
I try to always hear what I play in my head as I’m playing bass trombone. Being able to get away from reading music helps!
Name two inspirations. One musical and one non-musical.
Musical inspirations would include Coltrane, Stavinsky and many others. Definitely my colleagues in the St. Louis Symphony Trombone Section: Tim Myers, Jon Reycraft and Vanessa Fralick. I find new ones all the time; there are so many great musicians.
If you keep your eyes open, you can be inspired daily. I saw a woman working the cash register at a Walmart, who had to be in her 70’s. She smiled, and was cheerful to everyone. Wow, that’s inspirational
Why do you think that the bass trombone is such a compelling solo bass instrumental voice and what are its closest rivals?
(You, of course, have assumed I find it a compelling solo voice!) I find the beauty of its rich sound, with its wide range and expressive quality to be unique. The bass trombone is really just starting to get some music written for it. And it has no rivals!
Is there any musical setting where you can imagine, or would like to see the bass trombone put to greater use?
I would like to see greater use of the bass trombone in small chamber settings, and not just with other brasses.
T1 Best trombone playing you’ve ever heard?
Again my colleagues-(Tim, Jon, & Vanessa), Charlie Vernon, Jim Markey, Joe Alessi, Steve Lange for Classical music. For Jazz: Jimmy Knepper, J.J. Johnson of course, Andy Martin, Dennis Rollins, and JIM PUGH! But this is only a partial list!
T2 Best playing you’ve ever done?
I still haven’t done my best playing, so far I’ve not been all that impressed with what I’ve done.
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