Pick your favorite tenor valve man. For those who have left their mark in jazz, the list must include the legendary valve trombonist Bob Brookmeyer, who was a co0l jazz sideman turned leader, composer, educator, and master of the jazz duo. Perhaps the earliest “Titan of Tenor Valves” was the solid valve-trombone playing sideman of Duke Ellington-the composer, soloist and studio musician Juan Tizol.
The greatest exemplar of the craft of tenor valve jazz on euphonium was Rich Matteson, whom emigrated from playing bass horn(tuba), in the Dukes of Dixieland, to trading it in for the tenor horn as a sideman with Clark Terry, Phil Wilson and others. A leader and world renown educator, Rich established the jazz programs at the then North Texas State University and The University of North Florida. The current occupant of the “Rich Matteson” Chair at UNF is the hard-swinging Marc Dickman. A longstanding and well known advocate of euphonium, “The Fourth Valve” tm Bops with Marc. Come along for the ride!
1. How do you conceptualize the ideal solo euphonium sound?
It depends a little on what playing situation I am in. Brighter for jazz, but still sounding like a euphonium. Darker for classical. Too dark and you can sound tubby. Listen to great players and emulate their great sound. You will discover that it takes a lot of air!
2. As far as we can tell, you are one of only about five full time tenured professors who are euphonium players nationwide. Why is there such a disparity in numbers as compared with tuba?
I have also doubled on trombone most of my life. I would not have this job if I did not play and teach trombone. You may be surprised to find that some of those other guys double some as well. The common college set up is to have a faculty brass quintet with the traditional instrumentation. That leaves us out of luck. Just this year UNF formed an excellent quintet with bass-trombone on the low part and I play the trombone part on euphonium. It sounds great! Your colleagues need to be open minded about instrumentation. Great players will find a way to blend and sound great on any instrumental combination.
3. What did Rich Matteson in particular and Jack Peterson mean to you?
Everything! Rich hired me at the age of 26 to come to the University of North Florida. Jack is the Yoda of jazz education and a great friend. Rich set such a high standard, few people will ever achieve it. That doesn’t mean we can’t try!
4. Clark Terry used euphonium as a complimentary instrument with trumpet in the place of saxophone or trombone. Where can euphonium work best in jazz?
I think it is up to the leader! The possibilities are out there. Everyone that hears a jazz euph says what a great sound it has.
5. It seems that the Trombone Studios at Indiana University, The University of North Texas and Northwestern University have popularized the “team” approach to teaching. How do you handle it at UNF? How does it work best? What are the pitfalls,
It is great to have some great colleagues. We talk about teaching a lot and everyone is a team player. Everyone has a total commitment to the students.
6. What is the best jazz euphonium playing you have done?
I had a great time playing with my friend Joe Dollard (video of Joe at ITEC below),at the ITEC last summer. The rhythm section was amazing. Jazz seems to be a little more of a team sport than soloing with a piano or band. It is cool knowing that after my solo, the pianist will kick some butt, too.
8. How do you view Bob Brookmeyer’s playing, and do you ever use valve trombone?
I love Bob and have a bunch of his records. If Rich was the Clifford Brown and Frank Rosolino of the euphonium, Bob was the Chet Baker and Miles of the valve trombone. I used to play valve bone when I soloed with the UNF Jazz Bones, but other than that I don’t play it anymore.
If you are a euphonium player and want to play in a jazz band and don’t want to play slide, it is the way to go. Bass trumpet anyone?
c. 2015 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved. davidbrubeck.com
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