Miami’s Own, DUO BRUBECK Becomes “Beyond Category” When They Realize That The Only Thing Better Than a Duke Ellington Composition Is TWO DUKE Ellington Compositions, Live on the Radio at WDNA-Miami, Love You Madly….
Stereograms are at the center of DUO BRUBECK, you can purchase Nos. 21-30 HERE.
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Just in time for Vacation Bible School, if you are so inclined, or perhaps you just want to check out the trinity of three melodies at once! It is a red letter day, live from the 2017 International Trombone Festival in Redlands, CA.
DUO BRUBECK is built around the Stereogram concept….Check out how to get this arrangement, which is part of Stereograms A-M, HERE
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The MDC Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Alberto Bade will present a concert under the stars on Thursday March 15th, 2018 at 7:30 pm in the evening. The program includes Thomas Sleeper’s Second Bass Trombone Concerto, performed by David Brubeck
All are welcome!
MDC NORTH CAMPUS
11380 NW 27th Ave.
Miami, FL 33167
c. 2015 Jeffrey Curnow www.davidbrubeck.com
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You may have never met anyone who loves the big band more than Ed Partyka. Lives it. Breathes it. While started out out as a side man, he now stands in front, not only as leader but as composer and arranger. But his ear and his heart are never far from his first love, the bass trombone. Join us as we catch up with the Award-Winning American abroad in “Seven Positions”…. Enjoy!
When did you first fall in love with the bass trombone and why did you stick with it?
I started playing the trombone at about the age of 10 and my first trombone teacher, Bill Chambers, was a bass trombone player. He introduced me to the instrument and I started to play bass trombone part-time around the age of 12.
In high school I continued to play both tenor and bass trombone as well as learning to play euphonium and tuba. I started taking private lessons with John Blane, one of Chicago’s top commercial Bass Trombone/Tuba doublers, at the age of 16 and the bass trombone slowly but surely became my focus. By the time I graduated from high school I considered myself a bass trombone player. The bass trombone just felt right to me. I fell in love with the sound and range of the instrument and I also realized it was a great to not be involved in the whole ego-driven jostling for position that the tenor trombone players were constantly involved in.
What do you look for in a horn?
I have been playing my Elkhart 62H since 1989. Even though the valve section is tight by modern standards I have never found an instrument that I like more. For me the ideal bass trombone should have a dark and warm sound that is centred and focused. The sound of the instrument should also hold together (remain centred and focused) at loud volumes and not break up. My 62h is a lot of work to play and very unforgiving if I am not in shape, but that is the price that I am willing to pay for the rich dark sound and focus/center at loud volumes. Many modern bass trombones are easier to play because they are lighter but they are too bright sounding for me and they usually lose their center of sound at loud volumes. I also feel that the 9.5 inch bell is the correct size for big band and commercial playing. As mentioned, I feel that a centred sound with good focus is very important. Bass trombones with larger bells often tend to sound more like slide euphoniums than bass trombones. I suppose that is fine for orchestral playing, but in my opinion it simply does not work for big band. The same applies to mouthpieces and lead pipes: Choose equipment that will help you get a focused and centred sound. Will a bored-out tuba mouthpiece and no lead pipe help you achieve that goal?
Who are your inspirations? Musical: My bass trombone inspirations: George Roberts, Kenny Shroyer, Ernie Tack, Alan Raph, Paul Faulise, Dave Taylor, Phil Teele, Erik van Lier and Tony Studd.
My composition/arranging inspirations: Bob Brookmeyer, Duke Ellington, Gil Evans, Carla Bley, Matthias Rüegg, and George Gruntz.
Non-musical: Rainer Maria Rilke, Victor Vasarely, Peter F. Hamilton, Seth MacFarlane
Stan Kenton, “Get Out of Town”, Please begin at 25’27”,
Kenny Shroyer Bass Trombone
What are your favorite bass trombone features?
The Johnny Richards arrangements of “Get Out Of Town“ and “Stella By Starlight“ for Stan Kenton’s orchestra are still my favorites.
“March Of The Tadpoles“ by Toshiko Akiyoshi and all of the wonderful Kenton five part trombone ballads (“Here’s That Rainy Day“ etc…).
I also love all the trombone section moments that Ellington wrote for his first great trombone section (Joe “Tricky Sam” Nanton, Juan Tizol & Lawrence Brown) as well as the later Ellington trombone sections.
How do standing in front of a band and arranging change the way you approach playing the instrument?
It certainly gives you a better overview and helps you to see the big picture, things that are sometimes missing if you just see the world from the trombone section. It is also beneficial to your playing because you can approach the music of other writers with a bit more empathy and understanding.
How do you conceive of and negotiate the bari-sax bass bone relationship.
As a writer: There are several combinations and options and it all depends on what I need at the moment.
As a player: In my opinion the bass trombone player has to lead and the bari player has to follow. For me it is logical because the bari play sits in front of the bass trombone and can hear and adjust much better than the bass trombone player.
It’s like lead trumpet and lead alto, the lead alto automatically adjusts to the lead trumpet, not the other way around.
What is your favorite style period in jazz?
I love music from all styles and periods and as Duke Ellington said:
“There are two kinds of music, good music and the other kind.”
I have the great honor to teach at two excellent universities and I am extremely lucky to work with young composers/arrangers who are constantly reinventing the art form and moving the music forward, and that is what excites me the most. Even though I love so much music from the past, I can’t wait for the music of the future.
T1 Compare what you expect from an improvised bass trombone solo. Should it sound more like an upright, a sax or a tenor trombone?
A bass trombone solo should sound like a bass trombone solo, which is one of the biggest challenges still facing the bass trombone in jazz. Other than Bill Reichenbach there has been no one else, in my opinion, who has successfully been able to play convincing lines in a bebop or post-bop style on the instrument. This may be due to the physical limitations of the instrument, a lack of audience demand or some other factors. The free/outside style of bass trombone improvisation developed by Dave Taylor was an important development for the instrument and that seems to be a way for many bass trombonists to express themselves as improvisers.
c. 2018 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved. www.davidbrubeck.com
He played with the Tonight Show Band from 1962 to 1972, and performed and recorded in both New York and Los Angeles at the highest levels. From the Fania All Stars, to The Easter Seals Telethons, From JJ and Kai Plus 6 to recordings with his musical hero Urbie Green, bass trombonist Paul Faulise is an author as well, and has graciously agreed to sit down for a spell with “Seven Positions” tm…. Enjoy!…..
What do you look for in an instrument? Did it change over time?
For all my career my preference was for an instrument that allowed me to achieve a warm, centered sound suitable for both live and recorded work. For that reason I prefer red brass bells, valves with a bit of resistance, for brightness, and a standard weight slide.
Mostly Conns and Bachs?
Yes. I started on a Bach 50B then went to a Conn 72H, finally the Minick.
Having said this, I would like to give a more in-depth answer. My visual concept of the “bass trombone sound” is the sun sitting on the horizon just before it sets exuding warmth and brightness from its orange, golden hues.
Therefore, I prefer red brass bells for warmth, valves with a bit of resistance for brightness and a standard weight slide for a solid core sound.
GEORGE ROBERTS, SOLO BASS TROMBONE WITH THE
STAN KENTON ORCHESTRA
Who Are Your Inspirations?
My inspirations for making music on the bass trombone were George Roberts and Urbie Green.
My non- musical inspiration was Bernie Glow. He was one of the best lead trumpet players I have ever worked with. However, it was his professional approach to the music business that inspired me.
Was the Stan Kenton recording of “Stella by Starlight” featuring George Roberts the reason you switched to bass trombone?
What is your secret to a great legato?
My secret to smooth legato tonguing, especially in the low and pedal registers, is practice, practice and more practice.
My technique is to practice scale lines and ballad type tunes in the mid, low and pedal registers.
The Tonight Show Band
Johnny Carson circa 1970
How did you approach warming up in your studio days?
Having time to warm-up when arriving to the studio was a luxury. If time allowed, I would do a 10-15 minute warm-up routine in a practice mute. Most of the time the first tune of the recording session was the warm-up.
Since my work as a bass trombonist was mostly limited to the mid, low and pedal registers it’s only natural that my practice routine would be concentrated in those registers. However, in my daily warm-up and maintenance routine I do practice exercises that include the upper register to high B flat and C.
Jay & Kai + 6
“A Night In Tunisia”
Which other players were in your regular group of studio musicians?
The musicians I mainly worked with were: Urbie Green, Frank Rehak, Wayne Andre, Bernie Glow, Doc Severinsen, Clark Terry and others too many to mention.
How would you compare the approach of Los Angeles and New York studio recordings during your tenure?
Having recorded in both N Y and L A, my observation was that L A musicians were more conscious of microphone technique where as N Y musicians recorded as they would playing a live performance.
Urbie Green, Twenty-One Trombones
“Here’s That Rainy Day”
Beside George Roberts, which bass trombonists do you see that have advances the instrument?
Today there are so many great bass trombonists that are contributing to the advancement of the instrument. I don’t know or have heard many of them, but two that come to mind are Bill Reichenbach and Dave Taylor, each great in their own genre of music.
c. 2018 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved. www.davidbrubeck.com
If you are a fan of Jazz, you may be well aware of the artistry of my father, Urbie Green. He is a legendary Trombonist and has had a career that can only be compared to those top performers who came before him; a career that has inspired millions and brought joy to so many. In his early days, he was a prodigy and went on the road to support his family during the Great Depression. After being scouted and joining Big Bands, he played with the likes of Benny Goodman, Gene Krupa, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, and Frank Sinatra. It is now, in his senior years where we find ourselves as a family, struggling to support him, as he has fallen on several medical challenges. Over the years, it has become increasingly difficult to keep up with medical bills, as Urbie has had several health problems at the age of 91. We ask, humbly, as a family striving to support him, to contribute anything you can to assist him in his later years. Without going into detail, you can imagine at this age, there are many issues he is facing. Proceeds will help pay for doctor’s visits, medical procedures, medication, physical therapy, assisted living, etc. We ask, please, that you find it in your heart, to contribute to his well being, and help support the challenge of allowing him to remain comfortable in these golden years. Thank you so much for your generosity! ~ The Green Family
You might have heard Terry Cravens with the Pasadena Symphony and Los Angeles Opera, or even the LA Philharmonic at times. Perhaps it was one of two hundred nights of the Phantom of the Opera or in other musicals and orchestras. For any, Cravens is a name not only synonymous with the LA Bass Trombone scene, but with his tenure as Professor of Trombone at the University of Southern California. While the watermark of experience and accomplishment is high, the air is a bit dry. Grab a beverage as Terry Cravens takes “Seven Positions” tm on a tour of the Golden State of the Bass Trombone…
1st Position What is your secret to a great legato?
Practice Remington on repeated tones with a light da da da tongue
Then the same tongue with half steps, etc. I want it to sound like a natural slur so I then encompass a natural slur along with a legato tongue and try to match them up.
2nd Position West Coast trombone player’s strengths and dispositions versus East coast. Break it down for us. What have you noticed?
I don’t really know if there’s that much difference? The air is dryer out here and years ago John Clyman told me that the sounds are different related to that. Maybe a little brighter perhaps? I don’t really think there is much difference.
3rd Position What do you look for in a trombone?
I like one that speaks pretty easy but one that can get a nice round sound as well. James Conlon, Music Director of the LA Opera, is always asking for that.
I am playing on a Yahama Xeno currently and I like it.I also have used a Bach, Holton, Edwards, and Shires.
4th Position What are your favorite classical concertos and solos for bass trombone?
I have a strong affinity for those written for me, and that I was fortunate to premiere.
Trombosis (for 12 Trombones )
by Robert Linn— it’s a great work for trombone choir.
Concerto for Bass Trombone and Winds by Nelson Keyes ( 3 Mvt work—I performed it at the University of Louisville and the University of Southern California
By Randell Croley
It’s a one mvt unaccompanied work
Partita on Hammering
By William Schmidt
Composed for me
Concertino for Bass Trombone and Woodwind Quintet by William Schmidt
Premier Spring of 1977
By Robert Linn
For Bass Bone and piano
Premier fall of 1976
There’s one more, Brass Abacus by William Schmidt
Written for me Tony Plog and Calvin Smith
We recorded this also
5th Position What is the best bass trombone playing you have ever heard? Done?
There are so many great players today that I wouldn’t want to start down that road for obvious reasons.
My first examples when I was young were John Coffey, Allen Ostrander, Edward Kleinhammer, Lewis Van Haney and George Roberts. I took lessons from all of them except John Coffey and they really helped me a lot. Today there so many that I shouldn’t go there as to who is the best or I would for sure leave someone out and I don’t want to do that.
6th Position How do you approach chamber music for the bass trombonist; what is it’s value and how do we get there?
I have played in brass quintets both on the actual trombone part and the tuba part. I have done trombone trios, quartets, etc. and have benefitted from all of those combinations.
William Schmidt wrote a work for me for bass trombone and Woodwind Quintet which helped chamber music wise in that I was playing with the woodwinds instead of brass.
I approach chamber music like I would any other kind in that I try to decide what I want to sound like and practice accordingly.
7th Position What do you imagine for the bass trombone that has yet to come to pass?
That’s hard for me to predict the future.
I’m sure it will still be used in orchestras, musical shows, chamber music and as a solo instrument. I do believe that it is a wonderful instrument and will forever be utilized as long as there is music being played.
c. 2018 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved www.davidbrubeck.com
2. What are two things you remember learning from each of your major teachers? Frank Crisafulli was and still is a great influence on my approach to the instrument. One major lesson from Mr. C was that no matter what the slide has to navigate the air flow must be beautiful like the bow of a stringed instrument.
The other important lesson he taught me how to acknowledge progression and accomplishments. As a student striving to become like your idols on the horn it is easy to constantly feel dismayed with your trombone playing. When I studied with Mr. Crisafulli he was over seventy years old and his wisdom was always present. He knew that my striving for perfection was a hindrance to my progression. I remember his telling me several times “Stop trying to be perfect” Such valuable advice that I really could not comprehend because I desperately wanted to be perfect and succeed.
Eric Carlson was another major influence on my playing. He is a fabulous trombonist and I really enjoyed hearing him play alone and in the Philadelphia Orchestra. Mr. Carlson really impressed upon me the importance of great fundamentals. Having fluidity and great even sound in every register of the instrument was a major goal. Working on orchestral excerpts was also a major focus of my studies with Eric Carlson. He stressed the basics of great orchestral performance and how to practice the excerpts.
Another trombonist that I loved hearing was Glen Dodson. Mr. Dodson had a beautiful, clear sound that was captivating.
3. What are your favorite orchestral trombone solos?
My favorite pieces to perform with the orchestra are the solos in Mahler 3, and Sibelius 7. In these solos a musician has the opportunity to show a great range of expression that is not typical in the orchestral repertoire. I always love performing any of works by Mahler, Shostakovich and Bruckner.
4. A life of orchestral playing can be completely musically satisfying . How do you motivate yourself to accomplish additional musical project and what are your favorites?
I get a lot of musical satisfaction from playing in the orchestra. There is always something I can enjoy from playing in the orchestra – I am often inspired by my colleagues to play better and to strive for a new level of expression. I really enjoy getting outside of the orchestra and exploring new solo repertoire and continuing to push for development. The ability to completely let your own voice be heard in a solo setting is extremely satisfying. Performing recitals and in chamber settings has really added another dimension to my musicianship.
4. Can you discuss the development of your “out-of-the-box” approach to soloing-almost a new genre, “micro-opera”, with sets, plot and electronic accompaniment to your singing, acting and trombone playing?
It all started when my composer/husband, William Osborne, couldn’t find a soprano willing to sing one of his music theater pieces, called Winnie, a character portrait from Samuel Beckett’s play, Happy Days. He was originally going to have me play the trombone solos dressed as Winnie’s husband, Willie and a soprano would sing Winnie.
He said, ok you have a year to learn how to sing and work up this piece. Now, I hardly had a speaking voice, let alone a singing voice! But serendipity brought me to a wonderful voice teacher I met in the dorm at a music festival in Switzerland. It turned out she also lived in Munich and she offered to take up the challenge.
It took weeks before I could stop making an embouchure when I sang!
I had to learn to back off a lot in in terms of support so as not to force my voice and wreck my vocal chords. She was patient but relentless and taught me classic bel canto technique. She told me I was a dramatic soprano and that if I worked hard I could be an opera singer. My goal was specific and she brought me to the point where I could sing this difficult 45-minute-long piece and play the tricky trombone part as well, not to mention acting Beckett…a year later we premiered Winnie in Rome.
I should mention that I could not have done this without the Alexander Technique. It helps a person learn new things. One is then able to transcend preconceptions and assumptions about how to do something and truly open to the new. It allows you to be a clean slate. After Winne,came The Miriam Trilogy, a 90-minute program without pause that included: pantomime, having clamps come down on my wrists, and baring a breast for 25min…among many other things.
After Miriam came Street Scene for the Last Mad Soprano—about a homeless woman who thinks she has an audition for the Met. Then came Cybeline, an odd combination of Schubert, Electronics and cartoons. Cybeline is a cyborg who tires to prove to the scientists that she is human by being a talk show host. Wacky.
Aletheia is the new one we just premiered at the ITF 2017. She is in a cage the whole piece. She is an opera singer who doesn’t want to sing for the patrons and who searches for transcendence thought truly being herself and living her truth.
In God’s Eyes, by Abbie Conant
In God’s eyes
I see my body
Running wild into the sea
In God’s eyes
I see a river
Sparkling dark over the rocks
In God’s eyes
I see a spring
Erupting sweet from red earth
In God’s arms sleep our mothers
And in their arms we sleep
Come young soul and drink from the spring
Come old friend and swim in the stream
Dance my feet and twirl into smoke,
Whirl my body back to the sea, the sea.
5. What did you learn recording a CD? What would you do the same and differently next time?
I learned that it is nearly impossible to get everything perfect, and that is ok! I am hard on myself when listening to takes. It is especially difficult in a dry recording studio where you hear every little thing. If I record another CD, I would record in a nice hall with good acoustics. It would allow me to enjoy the music more and direct the focus away from my critical thoughts. As I went, I got better at thinking less and focusing on the music more. What I set out to do was get people excited about new composers and new music. To me, that is the most important and rewarding part of recording and performing.
6. What has your rich career in the military added to your resilience and outlook that you emphasize to students?
There were many days in the Navy Band that I struggled with fatigue, the weather or the physical demands. At the end of the day though, I always tried to remember how grateful I was to be able to play trombone for a living. After all, how many people can say that? I try to carry that gratitude with me in every part of my life. It keeps things in perspective. We may find ourselves on some pretty terrible gigs (I once marched dressed like a clown in a rainy parade through Newark, NJ!), but we are still lucky to do what we want for a living. On the same note, I hate to see students take the trombone so seriously that they are brought to tears or depression. Being grateful and remembering the original joy in making music can help with that mindset.