Alex Iles, If You Could Only Have One Trombonist On A Desert Island…..

Forget about Alex being on the Paul McCartney’s video recording, “My Very Good
Friend, the (trombone-playing) Milkman”.

Forget about him playing trombone for Woody Herman and Maynard Ferguson before becoming a Los Angeles recording studio standout.

Don’t even think about principal trombone in the Long Beach Symphony, or for the Oscars, or even as a guest soloist for the International Trombone Association.

Just imagine, for a moment, that you are a record producer about to be stranded on a desert island for ten years, and can take only one trombonist with you; it might have to be Alex Iles.

Alex is a man of breathtaking versatility and significant depth, who gives one the impression of a gifted tinkerer. If the trombone were the tone color equivalent of the color blue, then it seems that while many other trombonists seem to be perfecting a single blue, Alex seems to cultivate a every conceivable blue. As a result, he is always in style…”1385″ tm is proud as a peacock to present master trombonist Alex Iles, enjoy!


1. Take us through the rehearsals and performance/recording of one of the many awards shows. How would you describe this experience to someone outside a major music center?

This varies from show to show, and the calls for these kinds of awards shows generally go out a few months in advance. The orchestra usually has a few sessions booked a week or two before the show airs live where they will prerecord much of the music in one or two six-hour-sessions. The music often includes opening titles, end credits, and a few other show numbers to be used at the discretion of the show producers, directors, and choreographers.

The orchestra also rehearses and records the main themes of the nominated films or shows. For most awards shows, the orchestra plays those tunes live for the winner as they come onstage. During the show the director will eventually cue the conductor over the headphones to cue the orchestra to play when the clock (clearly in view of the award recipient) runs out. Hopefully, this keeps the show from running too long. But the Oscars run notoriously long, even with the speeches getting cut off.

Alex Iles at www.davidbrubeck.com

Alex Iles at
www.davidbrubeck.com


There are some tech and dress rehearsals a few days prior to and on the day of the show. These rehearsals are not as much for the orchestra but for the directors and camera crew to get a sense of how everything runs in order. Depending on how much the directors use the pre­records, the orchestra may not even play live on the night of the show at all. The Oscar orchestra schedule and responsibilities vary a bit year to year, largely depending also on what the host/MC wants to do. The one year I got to play on the Oscars, Hugh Jackman, a great singer and all around entertainer, was co­-host t, so he was a natural to sing live with the orchestra and did a great job performing with his co­-host, actress, Anne Hathaway.

2. Jazz and classical both? Solo and ensemble both? How do you keep on top of four to six different quadrants of playing at a high level. Where is home base?
When people sometimes ask me, “What kind of music do play more of on recording sessions? Jazz or classical?” My initial snide response is usually…”Neither!”
The fact is, the musical demands can be anything on any given day and is often totally the opposite of what the call goes out for originally. I’ve played orchestral bass trombone on sessions I’ve been told ahead of time was going to be mostly small group 30’s era swing era jazz!

Also, within each so called “genre” there can be differences that players have to listen for and learn.

For instance, 20’s and 30’s Kansas City swing feel and style differs in certain significant ways from the music of the 40’s and early 50’s Swing Era Pre bebop. The phrasing is different, the improvisational language can be different and the time and rhythmic feel evolved quite a bit in those 20 years.

Many films scored for giant orchestras these days contain lots of intense ostinato bass lines and rhythmic grooves. These scores demand basically a symphonic sound, but they frequently require the players to be able to play rock, funk, hip hop, or swinging syncopated figures with the right kind of groove. It is definitely not a style of music which relates too closely to Brahms, Bruckner or Mahler…or Basie, or Kenton!

Trombone Alert at 1:40…

I also think that it’s important to discover and address the specific kinds of musical and technical demands beyond any label people attach to it. For instance, something labeled “classical” like Stravinsky’s “Firebird” or “Rite of Spring” requires certain specific musical skill sets (metric changes, rhythms across bar lines, extreme articulation and dynamics, etc) that many players first encounter in jazz big band music. On the other hand, playing a pretty jazz melody might make be easier to play by someone who has been regularly playing legato etudes and melodies in various registers rather than having spent that time blowing through “Stablemates” and “Giant Steps”!

Now, I am all for with delving 100c/o into exploring and growing your skills as an improviser, but again; playing a pretty melody with a great sound requires honing different skill sets.

As freelance trombonists, we also have to be flexible and comfortable playing different instruments depending on the kind of music placed in front of us as well. Tenor trombonists in the freelance world tend to have to stay proficient and prepared on small bore tenor, large bore tenor and bass trombone. And we often receive little or no warning which it will be. Many freelancers sometimes take calls for euphonium and even tuba. I also play alto for certain pieces in the repertoire that come up a few times a year.

A big part of my musical life and livelihood is performing live, outside the studio. I love my positions in the Long Beach Symphony (principal) and Hollywood Bowl Orchestra (2nd trombone). In a given year, I will play a lot of shows, concerts, and club gigs. I also love playing chamber music, salsa, trad jazz and new music. I like to prepare and perform recitals and guest solo concert throughout the year. These performances keep me honest and motivated to continue to explore and grow as a musician.

Many musicians become motivated solely by the lure of a paycheck or measure their success primarily in terms of their financial success or failure. I have always felt any work I get called for is largely a gift and if I don’t push myself a bit and get out to play music in creative outlets on my own, and in collaboration with the fantastic individual musicians I’ve come to know over the years, i have a hard time honestly calling myself a musician. I love getting paid to play, but I also find it is necessary getting out there and playing music for music’s sake!

Big musical challenges can come up with little warning. And you can only prepare so much for any given day. I think the key is to have a healthy exposure to a lot of different music on your radar starting out early and continuing throughout your life to keep expanding your musical awareness.

My students are great at keeping me informed of new stuff they’re checking out, but I also try to search out new and different music as much as I can. Some days, I think I have always enjoyed listening as much as playing music myself.

I have never listened for purely professional reasons or because someone told me I should. As a young trombone I realized that in order to maximize my chances to just get to play with anyone at all, I wanted to hear and understand every situation one might hear/see a trombone. I loved discovering and investigating all that music and continue to love hearing new music, composers and performers.

Developing this kind of flexibility just for basic survival turned out to be a critical component leading up to what I wound up doing for a living. I have been frustrated at times when I might only be performing at 75 or 80% of my best in any one genre, but for me, that has to be ok. What I do is sometimes like a musical decathlon!

3. How did the Woody Herman and Maynard Ferguson experiences differ? From the leaders personalities, to musical priorities and life on the road.
When I was a teenager, both these bands were my top two “dream bands”. They were the bands I went out to see and hear the most whenever they came through town. Both bands played incredible arrangements at a high level of precision and with plenty of world class musicianship on display. I followed the personnel lists on their recordings and from newspaper articles the way some people followed their favorite sports teams. I idolized their trombone sections and soloists. To be invited to play and tour with these two influential bands was a great honor.

There were differences and similarities, for sure.
Both bands were made up of amazing players and arrangers. Each of the band’s tours took them to many of the same venues. Life on the road, traveling by bus everywhere could be challenging especially if folks weren’t feeling very social with each other or feeling physically sick.

Maynard was an incredibly positive person, especially as a leader. His ensemble had to sound tight and polished but he also encouraged us by making sure each of us had solo space and felt a part of the “show”. His fans represented a diverse demographic. Some people in the audience were not yet fully realized jazz fans. But they loved Maynard because he and his music were exciting, accessible and often resembled the kind of pop music they were accustomed to.

But this was really kind of a beautiful con job on some level because Maynard was subtly delivering a healthy dose of jazz education in every performance. Instrumental soloists were always introduced and featured. He performed many works by legendary jazz composers. And he often pulled out classic arrangements from his own repertoire.

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I was invited to join Maynard’s band in 1985 with the departure of the fantastic trombonist/composer/arranger Steve Weist who was going back to UNT at the time to finish his master’s degree and start his illustrious additional career as an outstanding music educator

I learned many valuable lessons in my 2 years with Maynard. Probably the most important lesson of all was that we were all expected to deliver a highly energized performance of basically the same repertoire every single night. There were no excuses!! That is a lesson you really can’t get in school!!

Playing with Maynard was also my first real “name” professional experience. That gave me some professional “street cred” when I returned to my freelance life back in Los Angeles .
Woody Herman heard me play with Maynard at the long defunct Donte’s jazz club in LA and I suppose that might have put my name in his head when his lead/solo trombonist John Fedchock decided to depart after being such a critical member of the band for almost 8 years, playing incredible solos and also serving as Woody’s primary arranger and musical director.

I feel so lucky to have toured with both these bands. Woody’s band was a bit purer and perhaps a more authentic jazz band approach with the music they played. There was a respect for the past, but Woody never wanted his band to be solely in existence for “nostalgic” reasons. He idolized Duke Ellington and, in many ways I think he saw his band as having to always grow and evolve to survive. It was that way up to and after Woody passed away in 1987 when I joined the band. Woody was too ill to tour and passed away while I was on the band. Long time saxophonist Frank Tiberi led during my year with the band. He was very positive and encouraging as well. Besides concerts, club dates, and festivals, Woody’s band played a lot of dances. I loved these gigs because Frank would call some of the great classic big band tunes that made Woody’s band famous. “The Good Earth”, “Bijou”, “Woodchoppers Ball”, and all the rest. That was best danceband book ever, especially for trombone players. There were so many great parts and solos to play.

Again, the quality of musicianship in that band was inspiring every night.

4. What was it like to play for Sir Paul McCartney? Personally, musically, and historically?
I was called a couple of days before Paul McCartney recorded a live webcast to promote the release of a lovely CD called Kisses on the Bottom consisting of standard and show tunes that he had grown up hearing and had inspired him growing up in Liverpool.

My friend, colleague and fantastic jazz musician, Ira Nepus, played all the wonderful jazz trombone solos on that recording. For the webcast, the producers were not originally going to play any of the tunes with trombone solos, but then changed their minds decided to add one of them into the mix at the last minute. Unfortunately for Ira, he was already committed to another job out of town. So, he had to decline the offer and the call went out to me to cover for him!

It was a thrill to be there in the same room as Paul McCartney, Dianna Krall, Joe Walsh, John Pizzarelli, John Clayton and the rest of the amazing band!! Paul was very gracious and trusted all the musicians so much. When he walked into the studio, he walked right up to me and extended his hand and said, “Hi, I’m Paul.” I was paralyzed, of course and just shook his hand and said, “Yes, I know.” Dianna Krall, another hero of mine, later told me in a hushed tone, “I have known Paul and worked with him for a few months on this project and I turn into a giddy 13 year old every time I see him!” I played on a cool old Fats Waller tune, “My Very Good Friend the Milkman”. It was a thrill beyond words to get to play on this. Another example in my career of getting to do something as a substitute!!

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5. What is your secret to a good legato?

If and when I figure out a “secret” I will let you know!! But seriously, I think it first requires a strong mental image of how you want it to sound. It’s not enough to just think of legato and simply “connected” you want to have a sound picture in your head of a great legato and emulate that. It’s an exercise in listening first and foremost. Great trombonists in multiple genres have “cracked the code”. Tommy Dorsey, Joe Alessi, Urbie Green, Jim Markey, Bill Watrous, Dick Nash, Lloyd Ulyate, etc etc. But I also have been inspired by singers like Dietrich Fischer­Dieskau, Dawn Upshaw, Frank Sinatra, Kenny Rankin and Nat King Cole.

For me, legato is a way trombonists apply to creating phrasing and musical line, not only the mechanics of connecting one note to the next.

With that idea in mind, I think it is good to start learning how to articulate on the trombone by using no articulation at all. Keyed and valve instruments do this, why shouldn’t trombonists? Sure, there are lots of unmusical glisses when we move between notes on the same partial without articulation, but by doing this little exercise, a player can develop a model for an airstream we can use effectively with the tongue.

Gliss your way through a Bordogni etude or other legato melody. You can also focus on all the components besides your tongue; air, resonance, natural slurs, slide movement. What I suggest next is to gradually introduce the articulation JUST ENOUGH to get rid of the glisses. This way you can feel free to first play something the way you sing it or hear other people sing it.

It is also to “loop” between two notes on the same partial, say Bb and Ab and play back and forth, experimenting with where you place your tongue behind your teeth and gums, and perhaps what consonant sound you’re using [dah, tah and the degrees between].
I like using natural slurs whenever possible too. I strive to match my natural slur and legato tongue articulation so that they are interchangable sounding…in theory at least!!

6. Who have your main jazz teachers been, and what did each emphasize?

I would say my primary jazz teachers were JJ Johnson, Carl Fontana, Hank Mobley, Jack Teagarden, and Wayne Henderson. In other words, as Jamey Aebersold said, “All your answers to all your questions are sitting in your record collection!” I am 75­80% self taught. In some ways I regret not having really paid my dues studying one on one with a master teacher for a few years. But that said, there have been some incredible lessons I have learned. I attended the Aspen School of Music a couple summers when I was in college and took an improv class with Vince Maggio from the University of Miami. Great teacher. We sat in a circle and each played a chorus on whatever tune we were working on and he would give incredible critiques, playing back whole segments of our solos on the piano and giving alternatives for how to make our ideas more coherent.

I also highly recommend the books by Mark Levine, “The Jazz Piano Book” and the “The Jazz Theory Book”. These books are not “academic” like so many jazz texts which only offer too many alternatives. They are hands on and related directly to the music. He will give a pattern or harmonic or melodic concept that real players [Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock, Erroll Garner, etc] actually used to navigate a certain harmonic challenge or for a particular effect.

7. Which players and singers have you found so beautiful, that you have sought to emulate them to the degree that you hear aspects of their in your music making?
The jazz trombonists who have and continue to influence me are from a pretty wide variety of
idioms and eras…Jack Teagarden, JJ Johnson, Tommy Dorsey, James Pankow, Bill Harris, Urbie Green, Carl Fontana, Frank Rosolino, John Allred, Bill Watrous, Elliot Mason, Lawrence Brown, Al Grey, Marshall Gilkes,, Jim Fedchock, Jim Pugh, Albert Manglesdorff, Wayne Henderson, Bob Havens and several of my LA colleagues, Andy Martin, Bob McChesney, Bill Reichenbach and Scott Whitfield.
In the “classical” and orchestral world…Ralph Sauer, Joe Alessi, Michael Mulcahy, Paul Pollard, Christian Lindberg, Michel Biquet, Stefan Schulz, Alain Trudel, Mark Markey, Charlie Vernon and Jay Friedman.

In the freelance and studio world of playing, I have grown up surrounded by one of the greatest collection of talented and adaptable trombonists on the planet…
Dick Nash, George Roberts, Lloyd Ulyate, Joe Howard, Hoyt Bohannon, Tommy Pederson, Charlie Loper, Bill Booth, Bill Reichenbach, Lew McCreary, Alan Kaplan, Steve Holtman, Andy Martin, Nick Lane. The list is expanding all the time too with all the great up and coming players turning up here!

If I were to pick one trombonist who has inspired more than any other, that would have to be Dick Nash. He possesses the sound, musicality, phrasing, time, sensitivity, flexibility, technique, range, intonation, creativity and overall musicianship that appears in one person at one time maybe one in a generation. He is just as inspiring as a person as he is as a player

8. What are your most memorable sound recording sessions? Any stories involving composer/conductors or fellow musicians?

Merely showing up for what appears to be an innocent work call, can put you in some pretty musically rewarding or just whacky situations.
Recording the sound track for Star Wars VII with John Williams was a real highlight for all the musicians who were there. It was so musically rewarding and a laser beam­-like reminder to all of us of the things that inspired us to play a musical instrument in the first place! It was an honor to be asked and a thrill for all of us to live out our childhood fantasy.

I have performed on stage and in the studio with so many idols…Wayne Shorter, Pavarotti, Barbara Streisand, John Williams, etc. I really can’t believe I get to do this for a living.
Sometimes the actors show up to sessions. A few times they conduct for a photo op. Sly Stallone, Chris Pine and Tom Cruise actually did a pretty good job conducting. Tom Cruise conducted a pretty decent 5/4 pattern on the theme from “Mission: Impossible!”
Sometimes we record music that is supposed to sound like a middle school band or a slightly drunk party band. That can actually be tough in a nice studio with expensive mics and great engineers. Andy Martin and I had to mimic a pair of trombonists in on camera amateur brass band. I wound up playing left handed and out of the side of my mouth!!

9. Please comment on your Disney connection.
Disney has cast a huge umbrella over many of us. Growing up in Southern California, I spent several days of the year at Disneyland and there were always outstanding musicians performing in the “atmosphere” groups and the Disneyland Band, a re­creation of a turn of the century town band. There would also be many visiting groups playing dance or concert music all summer at the Plaza Gardens, an outdoor stage. A group of us would pile into a car with my dad driving just to hear the band playing that night. We would all sit in amazement as we sat on the dance floor being treated to some incredible concert performances by bands like Count Basie, Woody Herman, Buddy Rich.

When I was about 13, I heard a band of young players playing high energy choreographed music with great spirit and enthusiasm. I went to hear every one of their sets. This was the Disneyland All American College Band, a 12 week program to introduce select college musicians to the music business and provide a special type of entertainment that only a 20 piece band of great college musicians can create. Five years later I auditioned and was selected to play lead bone with the 1980 incarnation of the band.

Many alums of the AACB will attest that their summer in the band “changed their lives”. It truly did for me on so many levels.
I started playing jazz more seriously, learned what it was like to work as a musician, began developing a lead trombone concept, made lifetime friendships, expanded my overall playing abilities and began a connection to Disney which helped me establish and grow as a freelance career.
It was my friend from the band, trombonist, Dan Levine who called me, suggesting that I send a demo recording to Maynard’s band.

I started working and subbing in various groups at Disneyland after I got off the road. Many of the players I work with and play music with on a regular basis worked full time or seasonally at Disneyland. Wayne Bergeron, Andy Martin, Charlie Morillas, Eric Marienthal, Phil Keen, and Joey Sellers, John Allred have worked at “The Park” in their formative years.

I have mostly worked as an educational consultant the past ten years at the park, conducting clinics and workshops, including appearing at The Plaza Gardens stage as a guest soloist with All American College Band. That is always a thrill on multiple levels!!

c. 2016 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved. www.davidbrubeck.com

Images Courtesy of Alex Iles

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Pre-Elementary Method For Trombone and Trumpet Reboot!

UNDER CONSTRUCTION!

david brubeck.com has ended our three-year relationship with our former, plastic-instrument-manufacturing, sponsor. We wish them the best, and thank them for their past support.

September 2016, should bring brand-new, much improved and expanded versions of the “5-minute lessons for pre-elementary trombone” and the correspondent “5-minute lessons for pre-elementary trumpet”.

These are the same materials which have been featured in the recent ITG Journal, and at the International Conference.

This is a very exciting time, as davidbrubeck.com makes plans to greatly expand our educational offerings. Here’s to a new academic year!

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A Trombonist’s Tale…”1385″ tm Features Master Teacher Peter EllefsonPeter Ellefson

At any given time, there are a handful of universities that seem to be the most desired destinations and training grounds for young, accomplished trombonists; Northwestern University (NU) and Indiana University (IU) seem to be perennially at the top of this list. Can you imagine what it would be like to teach in BOTH great studios? At the SAME time? Peter Ellefson Has…

And now, (along with IU and UNT in Denton), NU has adopted a team studio approach for trombone. In recent years, they have boasted some of the greatest symphonic players from the great symphonies: Chicago’s Michael Mulcahy & formerly Charles Vernon (and now Christopher Davis), San Francisco’s Timothy Higgins, and Detroit’s Randall Hawes. Could you imagine having the “fly on the wall” vantage point? for ALL of the lessons, with ALL of the teachers? For several years? And how about playing in THAT trombone quartet? Peter Ellefson has…

If you ever imagined playing in a great symphonic hall, or with a fantastic orchestra, imagine playing in SEVERAL of these great halls, with a NUMBER of exciting orchestras. Peter Ellefson has done this, too…

At the apex of teaching music to young trombonists AND performing great orchestral music on trombone, is Peter Ellefson-a trusted colleague, tasteful musician, and dedicated teacher. 1385 tm, the tenor trombone interview series, is delighted to establish the arc and scope of our series, with this third interview of tenor trombonist Peter Ellefson. Enjoy!


1. What was the most important aspect of your playing that was influenced by each of your trombone teachers? How did they approach it?

Warren Baker………….Consistency of attacks, bodies and releases. I learned to hear differently and to not give up until it was correct. He also gave me the gift of sincere encouragement at a critical time in my development.

Mark Lawrence………….The first world class trombonist I encountered. Free and easy approach and effortless upper register. I sat behind him for weeks during the Empire Brass Quintet Seminar at Tanglewood during the summer of 1982, absorbing his resonant sound, virtuosic slide technique and elegant musicianship. He remains my primary solo influence.

Frank Crisafulli………….My primary orchestral influence. That sound! I always made sure I began each lesson with a duet so I could be in the same room with that sound. It was contagious in a very positive way. Nothing fancy, just take a breath and blow.

Dee Stewart………….The magic of easy air and that “work effort does not necessarily equal decibels.”

Joe Alessi………….Although I have only had a couple of formal lessons with Mr. Alessi, I have learned volumes from listening and playing with him as well as watching him teach at the Alessi Seminar. He probably wouldn’t claim me as a student but his influence on me is profound. In my opinion, he set a new standard for orchestral trombone playing and his solo recitals are spectacles of virtuosity.

NY Phil Trombone Section Finlayson, Alessi, Ellefson, and Markey. www.davidbrubeck.com

NY Phil Trombone Section
Finlayson, Alessi, Ellefson, and Markey.
www.davidbrubeck.com

(James Markey Interview)

2. What are the biggest musical adjustments you make when preparing excerpts as opposed to solos? Mental concepts, strategies, musical approaches, etc..

Excerpts are about execution.

Consistent, predictable execution of masterful fundamentals within the style of each composer. Thank goodness I don’t need to prepare excerpts anymore but I do need to teach them to students who claim that they wish to play in an orchestra. There are five aspects I stress in every lesson, whether I have heard the student a hundred times or am hearing them for the first time. I also listen to the same five things during auditions and they guide me in my own practice:

1. Sound– playing with a great sound in all registers and in all dynamics.

2. Intonation– it’s either in tune or out of tune.
Being “a little out of tune” is like being “a little pregnant.”

3. Articulation– playing with appropriate articulation
to enunciate the music stylistically.

4. Rhythm– the ability to keep a consistent pulse
as well as accurately execute the rhythms within the established pulse.

5. Style/Artistry/Musicianship-
Given all of the fundamentals above, what is produced?
The paint is mixed. Now…what to paint?

Solos are about telling a musical story.

Too many people play solos like orchestral excerpts. Music is about communication. Identifying what we have in our hearts and brains and sending the message via pitch vibration through our brass megaphone, which is then captured through the ears of our audience and received in their brains and hopefully accepted into their hearts. We trombonists are generally “musically challenged.” Unfortunately, we listen mostly to other trombone players who are similarly challenged. We listen to the greatest players to hear great fundamentals but rarely do we encounter great music. We need to take the chance to INTERPRET. We seem to be deathly afraid to put ourselves out there because we have no experience being creative and we are too worried about what other people think. I urge students to take a chance! I try to convince them that a bad decision is better than no decision.

3/21/14 11:11:52 AM -- Peter Ellefson Portraits : © Todd Rosenberg Photography 2014

3/21/14 11:11:52 AM — Peter Ellefson Portraits : © Todd Rosenberg Photography 2014


3. NU under your tenure was famous for not only consistently excellent student experiences, but innovative studio logs that encompassed each studio. How did these come about? Which student reports of solutions did you find most intriguing drawn from the methods of your colleagues?

When I was fortunate enough to begin teaching at NU, the “quality ball” was already rolling very powerfully and distinctly. I just joined in and tried to learn as much as possible from my colleagues as well as teach the terrific students. Of course it was an honor for me to go back to my alma mater and share with them what I have learned since graduating in the mid-1980s.

The lesson reports you mention are a very effective way of getting the students to revisit their lesson throughout the week as well as keeping the teachers on task, knowing that the direction would be heard again—and read by colleagues. The summaries were in place before I arrived, I think. The ticket for admission to the lesson was a written summary of the last lesson.

One of the fascinating aspects was to read what my colleagues said to the students but perhaps even more fascinating was to read what *I* had previously said. I would go back and read the student lesson summary, often weeks after the actual lesson and think, “Wow, I said that? That is pretty good advice!” This is not meant to toot my own horn but to underscore the magic that transpires in lessons when the teacher and student are both “running on all cylinders.”

It was also curious to read how the students interpreted our words and what they chose to include i the summary. When I began, there were three of us: Michael Mulcahy, Charlie Vernon and me. When Charlie made an exclusive commitment to DePaul, Randy Hawes returned to NU. After a couple of years, as the numbers were climbing, Tim Higgins, the terrific principal trombone in San Francisco (and NU alum) joined us, which led to the faculty quartet in which I was honored to participate.

Prof. Mulcahy is a master of words and motivation. Prof. Hawes is a master of simplicity. Prof. Higgins embodies/espouses Prof. Mulcahy’s philosophies distilled through youth and practical application. I always learned from the summaries. I still have them all…hundreds of pages of gold. One thing I initiated was scanning all of the summaries. After removing as much identifying information as possible, I would make all summaries available to all parties. Pure gold. There were no luckier students than the ones at NU. What they received from us…and I am sure that which continues today, was the most pertinent information from some of the most active and important players and teachers in the country. I chose to leave in 2013. I had just turned 50, was still teaching full-time at IU and life was going by much too quickly. It was a very, very difficult decision to leave Northwestern. I think they have five teachers now!

CSO Trombone Section with Vernon, Mulcahy, Ellefson & Friedman

CSO Trombone Section
with Vernon, Mulcahy, Ellefson & Friedman

4. What DIFFERENCES have you noticed as a listener/participant in the wonderful orchestras of Seattle, Chicago, New York and others? (Tendencies, priorities, approaches?)

I always try to be a “contributing chameleon” wherever I play. I never really consciously think about the differences, only what I must do at the moment to be a good musical citizen and contributor.

Upon reflection, one of the biggest differences involves volume of sound. I could never play in Seattle the way I have had to in Chicago and New York—although sometimes in the opera pit for The Ring, we hauled it out quite well. Much of that difference has to do with the size/quality of the hall and the size of the orchestra. Boston has such a nice hall that, in my few BSO visits, I never felt that I had to push the sound. Similarly, Seattle’s Benaroya Hall is newer and much more efficient than the halls in Chicago and New York. It is easy to hear on stage and easy to blend dynamically due to the hall’s sonic feedback. It is more like chamber music there. The greatest challenge for me in Chicago was being able to hear across the orchestra and playing ultra softly. That orchestra (and the low brass in particular) has an incredibly wide dynamic range.

The CSO guys play really, REALLY softly.

Another difference is the timbre in different dynamics.

I find that the NYP section maintains a very similar timbre from their softest to loudest. The sound is still very broad at highest dynamics with very little “sizzle.”

The CSO section tends to change timbre at the highest dynamics. It gets pretty “fiery” in the red-zone. I believe that is at least partially due to the equipment they prefer…lightweight bass trombone slides for the tenors and a proportionately larger slide for the bass as well. To be a good citizen, most of the time, I would change slides when playing in the CSO. The last difference I’ll mention is note length and shape. Chicago has a lot of energy at the attack and not a lot of sustain.

New York has less emphasis on attack but lots of sustain. At this point, in case I seem overly analytical, I must declare that it is always the highest honor for me to play with these orchestras. You astutely ask about the differences which are very few, especially when compared to the similarities, which are many. These are the best trombonists in the world!

c. Peter Ellefson www.davidbrubeck.com

c. Peter Ellefson
www.davidbrubeck.com

5. Your Umbrella is a beautiful conceptual and visual aid. How do you use it to address student progress?

That was a concept I developed in my first or second year of teaching at IU to help students quantify their product. Thank you for finding it and noticing its value. I might change it ever-so-slightly now but the components remain the same. Student progress is about basic awareness and merely making them cognitively aware of the most important fundamentals immediately improves their product. I would add stress to the subjects of contemplation and focus. Currently, “Device Distraction Disease” is an epidemic, hindering the progress of every student I encounter.

6. What is your approach to a great legato on trombone?

It depends. For me, legato is not legato is not legato. It differs from style to style.

I have a different approach to legato than most. I will suspect that many people often find my legato too “smeary.” When I listen to singers, I hear portamento connections, not a “notched” articulation from one note to another. The trombone is better able to imitate a vocal approach than any other wind or brass instrument. I used to be sensitive about my “smeary” legato. Now I embrace it as espressivo. I can play cleanly (really, I can!) but often it is a conscious choice to play more vocally and lyrically. I don’t hear it so much from behind the horn as I am merely reproducing what is in my head but I do hear the portamento when reviewing a recording of myself. I am not sure I would recommend my style of legato to others because of the stigma of the smear but it works just fine for me. I also mix natural slurs and legato tongue, for variety, however, I have no set dogma as to when to use which. I just play. The above description applies to solo literature or other repertoire that allows for freedom of personal interpretation. When preparing excerpts, there can be no portamento in the legato. Clean wins.

7. What is your theory on Frank Crisafulli’s ability to maximize a players potential during a lesson? How would you describe his sound?

Humble, self-effacing demeanor combined with obvious joy of interacting with students. He was able to make us falsely believe as though we played better than he did. He was encouraging while still gently pointing out what needed out be improved upon. I accept that there are big differences in teaching styles but I have never been able to understand the “teaching by humiliation” approach that I know exists elsewhere. In my own teaching, I have completely adopted his style of positive reinforcement. He somehow knew what was most important at the time and what could be addressed later. I also believe that he had an instinct for what he knew we would fix on our own. He trusted us. I played my best during that hour each week and the rest of the time I was trying to recapture how well I played in those lessons—or at least how I perceived that I played.

Frank Crisafulli and Peter Ellefson www.davidbrubeck.com

Frank Crisafulli and Peter Ellefson
www.davidbrubeck.com

His sound was like no other I have ever encountered. Compact yet wide and very “meaty.” His sound was full, pure, direct and filled with overtones. He played relatively small equipment (by today’s trend) but he had a huge sound. I like to describe the ideal trombone sound as narrow and deep rather than wide and shallow (a la baritone horn). I believe that the narrow and deep sound is what projects and he certainly projected with apparent ease. I sensed that his air was slow but so well placed. There was nothing flashy, just the facts. His slide movement was a study. Slow but never late. How can that be? Even watching the videos of the CSO (what treasures!), one sees how he seemed to never move quickly but it was always in the slot.

Interested in more 1385 tm interviews?
John Marcellus
Ralph Sauer

c. 2016 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved. www.davidbrubeck.com
Photos courtesy of Peter Ellefson

Interested in more “Seven Positions” tm Interviews?
Charlie Vernon
James Markey
Chris Brubeck
Doug Yeo
Jeremy Morrow
Tom Everett
Gerry Pagano
Ben van Dijk
Randall Hawes
Denson Paul Pollard
Thomas Matta
Fred Sturm
Bill Reichenbach
Massimo Pirone
Erik Van Lier
Jennifer Wharton
Matyas Veer

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on A Trombonist’s Tale…”1385″ tm Features Master Teacher Peter EllefsonPeter Ellefson

NEW ARRANGEMENTS, NEW VIDEO, DUO BRUBECK, LIVE IN CONCERT!

No sooner had DUO BRUBECK finished its premiere at Kendall’s Arts & Letters Day Festival last Spring, when we had been invited back to launch the following years festival-this is the result.

Both Guitar Masters Lippincott and Farber are on hand for a chill to sizzle evening of standards and originals, all done up in the inimitable fashion of “Miami’s Own”-Duo Brubeck. Tracks are listed below. Enjoy!

DUO BRUBECK
Featuring Tom Lippincott

0:00
And I Love Her
Lennon/McCartney
arr. T Lippincott

5:50
So Danca A Train
by Jobim/Ellington
arr. D Wm Brubeck

9:30
She’s Leaving Home
by McCartney/Lennon
arr. T Lippincott

16:05
Star Sapngled Banner
By J S Smith
arr. D Wm Brubeck

17:58
“ABC Song”
by W A Mozart
arr D Wm Brubeck

21:50
Yes, Jesus Loves Me
by A B Warner
arr D Wm Brubeck

24:30
I Dream of Miami Beach
by D Wm Brubeck

29:25
How Insensitive
by Jobim
arr D Wm Brubeck

DUO BRUBECK
Featuring Mitch Farber

36:40
Blue Bossa
by Dorham

40:00
Superstition
by Wonder
arr D Wm Brubeck

44:45
You Are My Sunshine
by Long
arr. D Wm Brubeck

47:30
Old Devil Moon
by Lane
arr D Wm Brubeck

53:00
Stereogram No. 6
by D Wm Brubeck
arr. M Farber

56:45
Go Tell Aunt Rhody
Traditional
arr D Wm Brubeck

58:35
Senor Blues
by Silver
arr D Wm Brubeck

102:30
Summertime
by G Gershwin
arr D Wm Brubeck

c. 2016 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved www.davidbrubeck.com

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JOHN MARCELLUS & FIVE CENTURIES OF “TROMBONERY”, BRIEFLY INTERRUPTEDunnamed

You may have heard of John Marcellus.

Certainly, almost any trombonist next to you has.

Perhaps, as Principal Trombonist with the National or Chautauqua Symphony Orchestras. Perhaps, as a soloist with the Eastman Brass Quintet or the United States Navy Band, or in dozens of appearances at the Eastern Trombone Workshop and International Trombone Festival-for both of which he served as a founding member. You may have seen Marcellus’ name on a journal article by-line, as an arrangers credit, or even on a mouthpiece.

It is even more likely that you have heard the results of his expertise and teaching on the trombone in the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Cleveland Symphony, National Symphony Orchestra, National Philharmonic Orchestra, Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Jacksonville Symphony, Florida Symphony Orchestra, Florida Philharmonic, Naples Philharmonic Orchestra, Toledo Symphony, San Antonio Symphony, San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Tulsa Philharmonic, Welsh National Radio Orchestra, La Scala Opera Orchestra, Helsingborg Symphony, Stockholm Philharmonic, Bournemouth Symphony, Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Dortmund Opera Orchestra, Rochester Philharmonic, the military bands of West Point, U.S. Marine Band, U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Navy Band, U.S. Air Force Band, U.S. Army Band, U.S. Army Field Band and the professional ensembles of the River City Brass Band, Brass Band of Battle Creek, Woody Herman Band, Buddy Rich Band, and the Glen Miller Orchestra.

Marcellus brings to bear not only his great experience studying and playing the trombone, but also the lineage of his teachers-William Cramer and Lewis van Haney and the tremendous trombone teaching tradition of the Eastman School of Music and his predecessors-Emory Remington and Donald Knaub. “1385” tm is delighted to present John Marcellus as the second installment of interviews with some of the finest musicians in the world who happen to play tenor trombone. Enjoy!

1. How important was the vocal direction for the trombone, which seems to have been established in the United States by Rochut and Remington?

THEIR INFLUENCE WAS VERY IMPORTANT FOR THE “SINGING TROMBONE” CONCEPT. JOHANNES ROCHUT PUBLISHED IN 1928 THE “MELODIOUS ETUDES BY MARCO BORDOGNI” BOOKS 1-3, AND EMORY REMINGTON (1891-1971) STARTED TEACHING AT THE EASTMAN SCHOOL OF MUSIC IN 1922.

AMONGST OTHER PERFORMING TROMBONISTS IN THE LATE 19TH AND EARLY 20TH CENTURY IN THE CLASSICAL STYLE, THERE WAS ARTHUR PRYOR AND CHARLES E. STACY. PRYOR, COMPOSER OF MANY SOLO PIECES, WAS THE MOST RECORDED TROMBONIST DURING THIS PERIOD AND STACY IS THE ONE THAT CODIFIED IN 1908 THE TECHNICAL ASPECTS OF THIS PERIOD, BASED ON LIP SLURS, IN HIS THREE BOOKS PUBLISHED BY DITSON OF BOSTON IN 1908 WHEN REMINGTON WAS 17 YEARS OLD!

IT’S NO DOUBT THAT THESE TWO (ROCHUT AND REMINGTON), INFLUENCED A “SINGING” APPROACH TO THE TROMBONE, WHICH HAD ALREADY BEEN ESTABLISHED IN EUROPE IN THE EARLY 1900’s, IN THE SOLO PIECES FOR TROMBONE AND PIANO OF THE PARIS CONSERVATORY AND IN OTHER COUNTRIES SUCH AS RUSSIA, ENGLAND, GERMANY AND ITALY. REMINGTON WAS ALSO INFLUENCED BY HIS STUDIES WITH GARDELL SIMONS OF THE PHILADELPHIA ORCHESTRA BETWEEN 1915 AND 1922.

HOWEVER, IN THE JAZZ FIELD IN 1922, MIFF MOLE, A MEMBER OF THE ORIGINAL MEMPHIS FIVE AND LATER WITH TOSCANINI AS 1ST TROMBONE IN THE NBC ORCHESTRA, WAS PERFORMING IN A CLEANER, SMOOTHER AND MORE TECHNICAL STYLE THAN THE EARLIER JAZZ TROMBONISTS. TOMMY DORSEY COMES ALONG LATER IN 1925 AND PERFORMS WITH THE CALIFORNIA RAMBLERS AND IN 1927 HE JOINED THE PAUL WHITEMAN ORCHESTRA, AFTER WHICH HE WAS KNOWN AS THE “SENTIMENTAL GENTLEMAN”. IT’S NO DOUBT THAT THESE TWO PERFORMERS ALSO INFLUENCED THIS “SINGING STYLE” THAT REMINGTON FELT WAS VERY IMPORTANT, AS WELL AS ROCHUT WITH HIS PUBLICATION OF “MELODIOUS ETUDES OF MARCO BORDOGNI.”

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2. Please talk about your concept of creating wind turbulence with articulation. Which elements outside of the tongue itself act upon articulation the most.MY TEACHER, WILLIAM F. CRAMER, FROM FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY, USED THE PHRASE “BLOW FREELY” ON MANY OCCASIONS AND HIS APPROACH TO BLOWING WAS TO USE NO TONGUE ON THE INITIAL ATTACK AFTER A BREATH TO ESTABLISH AIR FLOW.

WITH THIS CONCEPT, THERE IS A FULL RESONANT SOUND ON THE FIRST NOTE FOLLOWED BY BLOWING AIR FAST ENOUGH TO MAINTAIN A FULL SOUND ON THE REST OF THE MUSICAL PHRASE. IN THIS CASE, THE AIRFLOW HAS TO BE FAST ENOUGH TO ACTIVATE THE LIPS.

IF YOU PERFORM ON THE MOUTHPIECE THIS IS MOST OBVIOUS WHEN THE VIBRATION OF THE LIPS DO NOT HAPPEN BECAUSE THE SPEED OF THE AIR FLOW IS NOT FAST ENOUGH.

FOR EXAMPLE: BLOW A SMALL STREAM OF AIR INTO THE MOUTHPIECE, GRADUALLY INCREASE THE VELOCITY (FASTER SPEED) UNTIL THE LIPS ARE ACTIVATED. YOU WILL ALSO NOTICE THE CORNERS OF THE EMBOUCHURE WILL AUTOMATICALLY BECOME FIRM IN ORDER FOR THE LIPS TO BE ACTIVATED INTO A BUZZED PITCH.

SOME TEACHERS ADVOCATE FIRM YOUR CORNERS FIRST, THEN BLOW. WITH THE USE OF “NO ATTACK” THIS FIRM SETTING IS REACHED THE INSTANT YOUR AIR FLOW IS FAST ENOUGH.

TO PROCEED TO ARTICULATION OR THE “ATTACK” (IT’S ACTUALLY A RELEASE NOT AN ATTACK), THE USE OF VARYING PRESSURES OF THE TONGUE AGAINST THE TEETH AND HARD PALLET IS NECESSARY TO DEVELOP CONSISTENCY IN ALL RANGES OF THE INITIAL ATTACK.

THE MID-REGISTER REQUIRES A DEFINED “TAH” ATTACK AND CAN VARY FROM “DAH” TO “TAH” WITH NOT A GREAT DEAL OF TONGUE PRESSURE APPLIED TO THE UPPER TEETH AND HARD PALLET. THE UPPER REGISTER REQUIRES MORE TONGUE PRESSURE AND THE USE OF THE “TEE” SYLLABLE WHICH HELPS TO ARCH THE TONGUE FOR THE UPPER REGISTER.

1) PRACTICE ON ONE TONE FIRST IN THE MID REGISTER, THEN EXPANDING TO 9 NOTES WITH THE SAME “TAH” OR “TEE” SYLLABLES. REMINGTON CALLED THIS “TONGUING ON A LINE”.

2) NEXT, START WITH THREE NOTES OF THE OVERTONE SERIES IN ONE POSITION UPWARDS AND DOWNWARDS… THEN ADD 4 NOTES, THEN 5, THEN 6-9 NOTES IN ONE POSITION. NOTES ABOVE D, ABOVE THE BASS CLEF STAFF SHOULD START WITH THE SYLLABLE “TEE” NOT “TAH.”

www.davidbrubeck.com

www.davidbrubeck.com

REMEMBER TO NOT STOP THE AIR WITH YOUR TONGUE AT THE END OF ANY TONE. THE DAYLIGHT BETWEEN NOTES IS MOST ADVANTAGEOUS AND TO DEVELOP A SHORT BURST OF AIR FOR VERY SHORT NOTES, USE THE ARBAN APPROACH…. THINK OF SPITTING A SEED OFF THE LIPS WITH THE TONGUE…THIS BURST OF AIR NEEDS TO BE DUPLICATED WITH THE USE OF THE TONGUE AGAINST THE TEETH AND HARD PALLET TO RELEASE A BURST OF AIR TO THE LIPS.

3. What kinds of qualities have you noticed in successful second trombone players in a symphonic setting?
FLEXIBILITY IN ALL AREAS OF PERFORMANCE ARE REQUIRED SUCH AS INTONATION (PROBABLY MOST CRITICAL AND THE ABILITY TO HEAR OTHERS AS YOU PERFORM), BALANCE, RHYTHM, CONGENIALITY, AND THE ABILITY TO COUNT WHEN THE 1ST TROMBONIST DOESN’T!

4. How were you able to balance jazz and classical playing at such high levels? Were the perceptions of peers a challenge?
BALANCING JAZZ AND CLASSICAL PERFORMANCE REQUIRES A DISCIPLINE OF EACH STYLE AND TO DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN THOSE TWO STYLES OF MUSIC WHEN PERFORMING. THE MAIN DIFFERENCE LIES IN ARTICULATION AND SWING RHYTHMS IN REGARD TO JAZZ, I.E. TO READ A DOTTED EIGHTH NOTE FOLLOWED BY A SIXTEENTH NOTE AND PERFORM IT AS IF YOU ARE IN A 12/8 RHYTHM. THE FREEDOM AND RELAXATION THAT JAZZ INHERENTLY GIVES TO MUSIC IS A GOOD GOAL TO ALSO USE IN CLASSICAL STYLES. THERE ARE TIMES YOU HAVE TO PERFORM IN BOTH STYLES SIMULTANEOUSLY AS IN “BOLERO” WITHOUT A JAZZ SWING TO IT!

5. Describe your involvement with King trombones,and Benge in particular.
THE BENGE 190 AND 190F WAS INTRODUCED IN 1985. I DID NOT DESIGN THE INSTRUMENTS, BUT DID EXPERIMENT WITH 17 LEAD PIPES TO PICK OUT THE “M” PIPE FOR THE BENGE 190.
KING ALSO DESIGNED THE “MARCELLUS MOUTHPIECE” DUPLICATED (BUT SMALLER) FROM THE VAN HANEY MODEL MADE BY GIARDINELLI MOUTHPIECES IN THE 1960’S. BY THE WAY, THE CONN REMINGTON MOUTHPIECE WAS DESIGNED FROM THE SAME KRUSPE MOUTHPIECE THAT LEWIS VAN HANEY USED TO CREATE THE VAN HANEY MODEL MANUFACTURED BY GIARDINELLI!

I BELIEVE THE KING 2B AND 3B WILL ALWAYS BE AROUND AS CLASSIC TROMBONE MODELS!

6. When you think of the four or five greatest symphonic trombone sections, who comes to mind? Jazz or studio?
OF COURSE GORDON PULIS, LEWIS VAN HANEY AND ALAN OSTRANDER OF THE NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC IN THE 1950’S IS THE CLASSIC WHILE LONDON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA WAS AN IMITATION OF THE CONN SOUND IN THE 1950’S. SINCE THEN, THE TRADITIONS OF VIENNA, BERLIN, CHICAGO, LOS ANGLES, BOSTON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA AND THE METROPOLITAN OPERA ORCHESTRA ARE SOME OF MY FAVORITE TROMBONE SECTIONS INCLUDING THE PRESENT DAY SECTIONS. IN THE STUDIO ORCHESTRAS OF LOS ANGELES OF COURSE ARE DICK NASH, LLOYD ULYLATE, AND GEORGE ROBERTS AMONG OTHERS THAT STAND OUT WITH THEIR STYLE.

7. How did your double bell come about? What are it’s specifications and best uses.
I GREW UP PERFORMING ON A CONN DOUBLE BELL EUPHONIUM SO THE “MARCELLA BONE” IS AN OUTGROWTH OF THAT INFLUENCE. IT’S SPECIFICATIONS ARE A TRUMPET BELL ADAPTED TO FIT INTO THE “F”ATTACHMENT, SO WHEN THE VALVE IS DEPRESSED, THE SOUND COMES OUT OF THE SMALL BELL. I WAS GIVING A DEMONSTRATION IN KANSAS CITY FOR THE KING COMPANY AND PERFORMED WITH THE “F” ATTACHMENT PULLED OUT OF THE TROMBONE TO DEMONSTRATE A DIFFERENT SOUND WITHOUT THE BELL. THE KING REP SAID TO ME, “WE HAVE TO GET YOU A BELL FOR THAT DEMONSTRATON.” WE PROCEEDED TO A LOCAL MUSIC REPAIR SHOP AND THEY CONSTRUCTED THE BELL TO FIT INTO THE “F” ATTACHMENT ON THE BENGE 190F. I USE IT PRIMARILY FOR ECHO EFFECTS WITH VARIOUS TRUMPET MUTES AND OTHER EFFECTS ON MY COURTOIS, 440 LEGEND SERIES.

Marcella Bone With Watrous, Roberts and Marcellus www.davidbrubeck.com

Marcella Bone
With Watrous, Roberts and Marcellus
www.davidbrubeck.com

8. How important of a musical outlet was the Eastman Brass Quintet? Any memorable moments on or off the stage?
WHEN I JOINED THE EASTMAN BRASS IN 1978, IT WAS A TRIO WITH VERNE REYNOLDS- HORN, CHERRY BEAUREGARDE-TUBA AND MYSELF. I HAD EXPECTED TO JOIN THE QUINTET, BUT THAT DIDN’T HAPPEN UNTIL THE APPOINTMENT OF BARBARA BUTLER AND CHARLES GEYER IN 1980 AS TRUMPET PROFESSORS. MY MAIN OUTLET OF PERFORMANCE BEGAN WITH SOLO RECITALS AND MASTER CLASS/RECITALS IN THE U.S. AND THE CHAUTAUQUA SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA, WHICH I JOINED IN THE SUMMER OF 1979, AS PRINCIPAL TROMBONE. OUR CONCERTS WITH THE EASTMAN BRASS BEGAN IN 1980 WITH NEW MANAGEMENT AND THIS MUSICAL PERFORMING OUTLET WAS VERY IMPORTANT TO ME SINCE I WAS ONLY IN MY EARLY 40’S.

THERE IS ONE MOMENT, ON STAGE, THAT STANDS OUT. IN 1990, DON HARRY HAD SUCCEEDED CHERRY BEAUREGARDE AS THE TUBIST IN THE EBQ. IT WAS ON HIS 1ST ENGAGEMENT WITH THE EASTMAN BRASS IN HILTON HEAD, S.C.

DON CAME ON STAGE LAST-SINCE WE CAME OUT IN ORDER OF TRUMPETS, HORN, TROMBONE AND TUBA LAST.
IN THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN HILTON HEAD, THERE WAS A STEP UP ONTO THE STAGE. DON IMMEDIATELY TRIPPED ON AND FELL FLAT ON HIS FACE! WHAT A PREMIERE PERFORMANCE WITH THE EASTMAN BRASS FOR DON!! VERY MEMORABLE, AND HE WAS LUCKY THAT HE WASN’T HURT OR SUSTAINED ANY DAMAGE TO HIS TUBA IN THE FALL.

ONE OF THE MUSICAL HIGHLIGHTS, OF MANY WITH THE EASTMAN BRASS, WAS THE PREMIERE PERFORMANCE IN 1983 OF THE “GERSHWIN VARIATIONS” BY RAYBURN WRIGHT FOR THE EASTMAN BRASS QUINTET AND THE ROCHESTER PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA. RAY WAS THE FOUNDER OF JAZZ STUDIES AT EASTMAN AND THE “GERSHWIN VARIATIONS” WAS COMMISSIONED BY THE EASTMAN BRASS. IT IS A VERY CHALLENGING PIECE, TO SAY THE LEAST, IN A MIXTURE OF CLASSICAL AND JAZZ STYLES.

9. With the advances in technique and range for younger players, do you see any setbacks perhaps in tone color, or feel?
WHEN ONE CONSIDERS DICK NASH AND CHRISTIAN LINDBERG, AND THEIR TECHNIQUE AND RANGE ON THE TROMBONE, IT IS DIFFICULT TO SAY THERE HAS BEEN AN ADVANCE IN TECHNIQUE AND RANGE OF YOUNGER PLAYERS.

TONE COLOR, ABOVE ALL, IS UNIQUE TO EVERY INDIVIDUAL AND IT IS MOST IMPORTANT FOR ANY YOUNGER PLAYER TO EMULATE THE GREAT PLAYERS WHERE THEIR TONE IS CLEAR AS A BELL (WITH NO GARBAGE AROUND THEIR SOUND!!) SOME YOUNGER PLAYERS MAY SACRIFICE THEIR TONE COLOR FOR SPEED AND/OR FEEL AND WE ALL LOOK FORWARD TO THE NEXT GENERATION OF TROMBONISTS. AFTER ALL, ITS ONLY BEEN WELL OVER FIVE CENTURIES OF PROGRESS OF A GREAT TRADITION OF “TROMBONERY.”

c. 2016 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved www.davidbrubeck.com
Images courtesy of John Marcellus

Interested in more Interviews?
Charlie Vernon
James Markey
Chris Brubeck
Doug Yeo
Jeremy Morrow
Tom Everett
Gerry Pagano
Ben van Dijk
Randall Hawes
Denson Paul Pollard
Thomas Matta
Fred Sturm
Bill Reichenbach
Massimo Pirone
Erik Van Lier
Jennifer Wharton
Matyas Veer
Stefan Schulz

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Listen In, As Steve Norrell Is Invited to Share Kleinhammer Sonata at NY ITA Festival!

After performing the New York premiere of the Edward Kleinhammer Sonata in recital at the Manhattan School of Music in November of 2015 with pianist Hanako Yamagata, bass trombone virtuoso Steve Norrell has been invited to encore the sonata at the 2016 Festival of the International Trombone Association. The Norrell/Yamagata collaboration is planned to be held at Juilliard, on Friday the tenth of June, 2016, as part of the international festival’s emphasis on trombone solo artists.

The new sonata, which was written by composer John Stevens, is dedicated to one of the finest orchestral bass trombonists and brass pedagogues of the past hundred years-Edward Kleinhammer. Published by Potenza Music, the Stevens composition combines an intimate knowledge of the capabilities of the bass trombone (which the eponymous Kleinhammer did so much to define), along with expressive lyrical settings, a wide range of timbrel colors, and distinctly virtuosic passages combined with a hypnotic piano accompaniment.

CLick here to watch and listen to the premiere…

Norrell will showcase the work again on Thursday, July 21st, at 8pm at the Grand Teton’s Music Festival in Walk Hall, with pianist Jason Hardink. This select recital series normally features either the music director, the festival’s featured soloists, or select string groups. Rarely is a brass player invited to perform, and this is believed to be the first time, in the festival’s 55 year history, for the series to feature a sonata for bass trombone.

By our special request, davidbrubeck.com is honored to offer the exclusive published offering of the presentation of the premiere New York performance by bass trombonist Steve Norrell and pianist Hanako Yamagata, via drop box-enjoy!

“Thanks so much for sending along this wonderful performance video! Nice for
me to be able to see as well as hear it performed so well. Glad to hear it
was well received.

Please share my thanks and congratulations with your
pianist for performing her collaborative role with such great energy
thoughtfulness and care. I don’t always hear that form the pianists playing
my music, and it is much appreciated indeed.

It is very special to me to see and hear a performance of this work by someone
who I have known and admired for so long.”

John D. Stevens, composer

c. 2016 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved www.davidbrubeck.com

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“Seven Positions” tm Keeps Moving, as Jason Sulliman Joins Bass Trombone to BLAST! With Kinesiology…….

Jason Sulliman is a bass trombonist with a passion and a purpose. Original cast memebr for BLAST!, and now its conductor and manager, Jason has explored symphonic and commercial music with aplomb and sought to integrate his personal experiences as a performer with his passion for helping others through education. Along the way, kinesiology just sort of “happened”, and has become a growing area of fascination and expertise. Stretch out and relax, as Jason Sulliman works out all of “Seven Positions” tm. Enjoy!

1. What drew you to kinesiology (motor learning/motor control), and who have been your mentors?
I first learned about kinesiology after I re-joined with Blast in 2005. The job was very demanding physically and mentally, and I worked extremely hard to condition myself for the rigor. I was amazed at the effect this had on my playing (both mentally and physically) so when I returned to grad school at the University of New Mexico, I sought out people to learn more. I connected with Dr. Mary Virginia Wilmerding who is on faculty at UNM for exercise science and dance. She introduced me to kinesiology and I was hooked. I found myself running over to other buildings sitting in on biology classes, exercise physiology classes, and I enrolled in a few classes such as motor learning and kinesiology for dance majors (that Dr. Wilmerding taught herself). Every day was filled with new discoveries.

When I applied for doctoral studies, I applied at schools for both music (DM) and kinesiology (MS) (as if I was two separate people). I continued graduate studies at Indiana University in the master’s program for kinesiology.

2. If movements are like fingerprints, and each is different everytime; can there be any constants in trombone technique?
This is a difficult question to answer in that the product and the process to get there have different spins on the same answer, and to many this will sound like an academic quibble of semantics, but I disagree. I find the whole concept fascinating.

Technically I don’t think any two sounds made in the natural world are identical. Movements are all different (even if it is so slight that it is unperceivable to the human ear) and thus their fingerprints in sound are unique. Musicians will usually get to a point where for all practical purposes, a consistent sound is heard because the nuances are so minute that they aren’t significant in terms of job performance, etc. For that part of the conversation, I do think one can approach playing with a consistent mindset and achieve consistent results, but only if we use the terms loosely. I don’t think there’s any real harm in talking about a consistent product as long as we agree it is a matter of scaling.

I think the word ‘consistent’ can be dangerous though, when talking about the process. If we get so wrapped up in trying to manipulate our bodies the same exact way every time, we might actually be hindering our bodies’ natural ability to adapt to the current environmental parameters and take aim at that ‘consistent’ goal from a slightly different vantage point. Your body’s components must function from their current state, and to interfere with our natural ability to function might limit the freedom of adaptability. The only ‘consistent’ thing about my playing is I am constantly trying to be better than yesterday. I think the whole concept of ‘consistent’ sets limitations and throws our focus off of the real goal.

3. Who do consider the most influential brass pedagogues-both personally and globally?
As teachers, we have all experienced telling a student ‘exactly’ what they needed to hear, but for some reason they weren’t ready to really hear it in a meaningful way. The next thing you know they had a lesson with another teacher or attended a master class etc. and heard the same exact thing, and react as if it was something that they never heard before.

Names surface to the top of a short list: Arnold Jacobs, Emory Remington, Joe Alessi, and Carmine Caruso, but if the art matters more than the people that create it, than we have to remember that anyone can make a breakthrough happen for anyone else and it is those breakthroughs that matter most. Therefore the list of influential brass pedagogues is massive, as it should be.

My personal breakthroughs were with Darcy Davis, David Sporny, Karl Hinterbichler and
Car Lenthe.

4. How do you view the re-affirmation of many of the teachings of Arnold Jacobs in light of cognitive theories?
In a word: accurate. The more I study, the more I find that Arnold Jacob’s work lines up with emergent cognitive theories of today. Sadly, it is not that he was so far ahead, it is that we are so far behind. He stayed with the curve.


5. What has Blast! meant to you?
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In one way, Blast! Has meant the opportunity to ‘stay in the game’ of trying to improve and become a musician. I started significantly later than most ‘successful’ musicians and I spent most of my college years playing catch-up. I will probably always feel that way. I am forever grateful for the time, the experiences, the friendships etc. that I have gained from that chapter in my life. In a much larger way, Blast! Was an amazing opportunity to reach audiences in ways that ‘sit-down’ performance can’t. Blast! Is usually compared to marching band, but I think it was so much more than that, and I am thankful to be a part of it.

6. What do you look for in a horn?
I want something unique. I know many folks out there want ‘an orchestral’ sound and try to blend in with what is winning the jobs etc., but I want to bring something unique to the table. Frankly I don’t want to sound like everyone else. I want to sound like me. I think if I do that well enough, someone will want to buy that.

The two most common directions people go when deciding on equipment is either a horn that helps one’s weaknesses, or a horn and amplifies one’s strengths. I can see merit in either case. For me I want vibrancy in the sound. Like a complex Belgian Tripel, I want complexity in the sound. I feel like then I can do so many things with it. There was a time when I gravitated towards equipment that sounded louder or was easier in the high register, but I have since gravitated more towards what I call ‘home’. I recently purchased an M & W and it should be arriving soon. I am really excited about the possibilities.

7. How do your studies movement influence your approach to slide motion?
My slide movement needs a ton of work, mainly because I am still searching for the best set-up in the left hand to hold the horn. I think this matters with bass in particular. It is a heavier horn, and if your left hand doesn’t feel comfortable supporting the instrument for long periods of time, then it will start shifting in a way that eases the discomfort. When that happens the right hand will naturally make compensating adjustments with how it helps to support the weight of the instrument, which will change the slide technique.

Having said that, I try to hold the slide with my fingertips. After that, I really try to ignore the physical characteristics and focus solely on the sound that is created when changing notes. If you are really listening, you can hear a difference between effective slide technique and ineffective slide technique on all sorts of levels. This goes back to ‘no two movements are alike’. I challenge you to find two trombonists that do it the same exact way. I guarantee if we hook them up to measurement equipment (like EEG), we will find differences.

I remember watching the National Brass Ensemble concert in Chicago last year. Some of the Gabrieli pieces were set up with two choirs, so their angles were such that I got a great look at slide work. There were times where I saw some of the most accomplished trombonists playing unison lines right next to each other. Slightly different hand positions, different speeds, but wonderful results. I could only tell a difference visually.

8. How do you foresee the future of the trombone in drum corps?
I really haven’t thought about it.

9. What is your secret to legato?
Legato is my default warm-up articulation of choice these days, as it has been for several years, because the longer and more-connected two sounds are, the less you can hide “junk” in-between them. I spend a disproportionate amount of time on legato, and would say the other big factor is I have recorded myself and others a ton. I have developed some skills with audio-editing over the years, and I would go into the sound files and cut-out transitional space between the notes of my playing and others. I would then create call-and-response tracks with this “super-connected’ version of playing and I would use it as the model for my current playing.

I never could get rid of the transitional sound completely, but I realized that shouldn’t be the goal. Rather than thinking about continuous air, I try to think about continuous sound, and the transitional moments in between notes has its own sound. I let that sound thrive now (albeit in a very short time-span). So the ‘continuous sound’ is really three different sounds (first note, transitional sound, next note). All three need to be beautiful.
Obviously there are two issues with legato- first the tonguing thing, and then the sliding thing. But I feel like I touched on the slide already.

Unknown10. How do you teach performance blocking and movement in order to least disrupt or provide a deleterious effect on brass technique?
There will be a trade-off. We will always sound better when not simultaneously engaged in gross motor movements (like marching for example). I say it that way because we are in constant motion on a fine motor level, and I encourage that type of movement. I play on a wobble board almost exclusively in the practice room so my body is free to move as it needs. But for things like marching, there will be trade-offs.

That being said, certain aspects of movement technique will sound better while others will look better. In many ways it is a game of ‘slight-of-hand’ that we play with the audience. I think many marching bands spend way too much time refining the engagement of the knee vs. straight-leg for example. I just find it funny when the same band will then have kids rolling their shoulders forward and taking small breaths, not rolling their toes to smooth out their landing, etc. Their feet will be out of time anyways, who cares how their knees are!?!?!

Let’s get everyone’s feet in time and on the downbeats. Let’s get everyone standing with an elongated spine so they can take a good breath, etc. I try to put my eggs in the basket of sounding good, looking good, and being efficient with our time. I think it is impressive when a band has a real level of detail to their uniformity, but most high school bands spend too much resource focusing on aspects of marching technique that are too expensive (too much time to clean it, not enough pay-off). I think 30 minutes of good stretching and body movement followed by 30 minutes of marching technique is far better than 5 minutes of poor stretching and 55 minutes of marching technique. Sadly, the latter is what most programs do.

11. What are your musical inspirations?
I will always have a soft spot for the work of the Tallis Scholars, the Chicago Symphony, the German Brass, Fleetwood Mac, the Cleveland Orchestra, Bela Fleck (both solo and with the Flecktones), Bruce Hornsby, the Vanguard Orchestra, J.J. Johnson, the Kings Singers, Louis Armstrong, Eminem, Tim O’Brien, David Wilcox. Specific to bass trombone I would say Randy Hawes, Jim Markey, and Stefan Schulz.

Non-musical?
I am a sucker for so many stories of people overcoming adversity. Underdogs. I think we can all relate in some way to an underdog. When you are one person out of a hundred auditioning for a job, it is simple math. The odds are not in our favor if you just look at the simple math.

I have found quite a bit of inspiration from many movies based on a true story such as “Rudy”, “The King’s Speech”, “The Imitation Game”, “Invictus”, as well as other amazing life accounts of people such as Mother Teresa and Gandhi. I think they all share the theme in that at one point there was an overwhelming impression that their ideas and actions made them a ‘minority of one’ and yet they pressed on if for no other reason than they felt it was right- it was what they believed. It was the only way to be true to themselves. I am constantly inspired by others and they fuel me to just keep moving in a direction that is right for me.

c. 2016 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved www.davidbrubeck.com

Interested in more “Seven Positions” tm Interviews?
Charlie Vernon
James Markey
Chris Brubeck
Doug Yeo
Jeremy Morrow
Tom Everett
Gerry Pagano
Ben van Dijk
Randall Hawes
Denson Paul Pollard
Thomas Matta
Fred Sturm
Bill Reichenbach
Massimo Pirone
Erik Van Lier
Jennifer Wharton
Matyas Veer
Stefan Schulz

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Kendall Campus Trombonist, Guillermo Ramirez, Tours with BLAST!


In the world of drum corps, BLAST! is legend. Blast, along with EPCOT’s Future Corps, is one of but two drum corps to transition into a professional ensemble. The championship drum corps BLAST, formerly known as Star of Indiana, began their journey in 1998, and by 1999 met with sold out runs at London Apollo, Hammersmith. In 2001, Blast stormed Broadway, where they have won both a Tony and an Emmy. International tours have followed, and the feverish following has remained fresh amidst an ever-changing show. davidbrubeck.com is pleased to call upon on Guillermo Ramirez to share his experiences in Blast

1. What have you learned about music and brass playing from touring with BLAST?
I’ve learned to tell a musical story. Not only through dynamics, style and expression, but also through my eyes, and the way I move to the music.

2. What is the group’s typical instrumentation, and how important has doubling been to you?
The current touring group is made up of 6 percussionists, 5 trombones, 2 euphoniums, 2 tubas, 2 French horns, and 7 trumpets. Doubling on multiple instruments has been extremely important because it has opened more performance opportunities for me. Currently, I am playing trombone, marching baritone, marching snare drum, concert and world percussion.

3. How do you approach flipping from classical styles to jazz?
We rehearse, and train ourselves to simply “flip the switch”, we do a lot of singing and can really hear the styles that we are going for. Also, everything is exaggerated; articulations, dynamics, etc.

4. What are your best memories from tours?
Best memories? That’s tough! It would have to be getting to perform in a packed hall just about every night and all the free time we had as a cast to hang out together!

c. 2015 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved. davidbrubeck.com

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DUO BRUBECK, Tuesday April 5th at 7:00 pm at the MDC Kendall Campus Coffee House sunfe162

A & L 2016 DUO BRUBECK copy

New stuff you haven’t heard before, from DUO BRUBECK or anyone else!

A & L 2016 DUO BRUBECK copy

Sizzling standards include brand new jazz arrangements of Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” and Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “How Insensitive” alongside the music of the Beatles, Ellington and Jule Styne.

Simmering originals include Brubeck’s dreamy homage to Jackie Gleason “I Dream of Miami Beach” and the entrancing “I Didn’t Love You Girl”. Each features the vocal infusions of Kat Reinhert and Maria Pinagel.

Smoking guitar virtuosos Tom Lippincott and Mitch Farber will make you want to move, as Brubeck’s spicy-cool bass trombone fans the groove.

A new concert feature includes evocative “jazz puzzlers. As Duo Brubeck presents shimmering soulful weaves of sound, audience members are invited to peel back the layers of musical delights to reveal familiar songs in refreshing new settings.

A & L 2016 DUO BRUBECK copy

c. 2016 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved

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Center City Brass host MDC Romero Brass at Weston Christian Academy

Center City Brass MDC at WCA

Cleveland Orchestra Hornist Richard King, Pittsburgh Symphony tubist Craig Knox, and Hollywood Trumpeter and Film Composer Anthony DiLorenza have been together since their student days at The Curtis Institute of Music where they petitioned the Curtis administration for a brass chamber music group. With the additions of the Buffalo Philharmonic’s Geoffrey Hardcastle on trumpet and the Seattle Symphony’s Ko Ichiro Yamamoto on trombone, they have spun musical gold. After thirty years of individual musical accomplishment and outstanding collective work through recordings and tours, the Center City Brass are a fully matured and sophisticated vintage best caught in season.

On the crisp morning of March 3rd as part of their recent trip to South Florida, the Center City Brass performed a beautiful showcase for the community of Weston Christian Academy, Bobby McCann-principal and Dr. Steve Kitchens-headmaster.

The program included a concert prelude on Fiddler on the Roof, performed by the Miami Dade College Brass-The Romero Brass.

Anthony DiLorenza’s incredibly virtuosic and masterfully composed Nexus & Siren Song astounded and inspired concert goers, and having a trumpet virtuoso and accomplished composer such as DiLorenza at the helm of the group while supplying their compositions was somewhat reminiscent of what it must have been like to hear Haydn lead a string quartet. The virtuosic brass writing abounded, and was beautifully executed by the CCB. Of particular note were the fantastic blend and clarity of the group, and the equally virtuosic writing for all five parts. This was perhaps most starkly evident in the horn and particularly the trombone writing of DiLorenzo.

Habanera was performed next, again by the Romero Brass, which prompted Mr. Knox to pronounce the group “terrific”, and was followed by an ad hoc suite of three pieces from composer Tony Plog by Center City. The CCB responded to enthusiastic questions from the audience, before finishing their recital with arrangements from Bernstein’s West Side Story: Maria & Tonight.

At the conclusion of the event, the entire Center City Brass took the better part of an hour to coach their collegiate counterparts on an Allegro from Ramsoe No. 4. The Romero Brass, coached by MDC Chamber Music Coordinator David Brubeck, had previously been coached by the Boston and Dallas Brass, and newly named Imperial Brass 1st trumpeter Chuck Lazarus. Members include: Jose Romero, Alain Rodriguez and Kevin Thelwell, trumpets; Brandley Gagne, horn; Xavier Puig (not pictured), Danny Delacerda, Guillermo Ramirez, trombones; Javier Ayala bass trombone and Armando Alicandu, euphonium.

c. 2016 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved
www.davidbrubeck.com

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Dan Perantoni and “THE FOURTH VALVE” tm, A Beautiful ThingUnknown

Dan Perantoni has a habit of being involved with first-rate musical organizations, and one suspects that he just might have something to do with their successes. It may have begun when he started studying tuba with the legendary Paganini of the Tuba-Harvey Phillips. An impressive soloist, Perantoni established a long standing chamber music relationship with the St. Louis Brass Quintet, and was a founding member of Summit Brass. As a teacher, he has graced the University of Illinois, Arizona State, and is currently provost-professor at The Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. “The Fourth Valve” is delighted to listen as provost professor Perantoni perfectly picks his points. Enjoy!

Summit-Brass
1. Who are your inspirations?
Musical?

Harvey Phillips, Arnold Jacobs,
Bill Evans, Frank Sinatra.

& non-musical?
Fred Marrach, Gerhard Meinl, Perter Hirsbruner Sr.

2. What does it take to have a really happening studio beyond being a great teacher and performer?
Effective recruiting, Communication

3. How do you approach solo tuba differently with regard to classical music and jazz. How do you attract or find audiences most effectively?
Same approach for all- listening and singing.
Building an audience –Years of marketing – name recognition- good products- commissioning good new works- word of mouth.

4. Who are the most interesting young orchestral tubists out there today?
Jeff Anderson, San Francisco; Steve Campbell,
Minnesota—my all time favorite orchestra Pro—Gene Pokorney, Chicago Symphony

5. What do you look for in a Bb, C or Eb tuba?
For all- evenness of good sound and response in all registers- great intonation- quality workmanship.

Saint Louis Brass Quintet
6. How would you compare the approach to brass quintet of Charles Daellenbach, Arnold Jacobs, and Harvey Phillips?

Harvey Phillips was really the most important person for the future of the Brass Quintet with the founding of the New York Brass Quintet [replacing Julian Menken-bass trombone-ed.]. There were the brass version of the “set”, famous String Quartets. There were hardly any serious music for brass quintet other than Ewald and then the many Robert King arrangements. So NYBQ commissioned numerous new works by serious composers such as Gunther Schuller, Alvan Etler, Eugene Bozza, etc. They were the first to introduce performing for young audiences. They were the first Bras Quintet group to be presented by Columbia Artists. As a result, they did many concerts at Major Universities and concert halls throughout the United States. They were the inspiration for the many groups in the world today.

Arnold Jacobs. The CSO quintet was a spin off of the Chicago Symphony.
They played mostly standard transcriptions and never was never that actice as compared to the New York Brass Quintet.

Charles DaellenbachWith Canadian brass you have a full time Group. Charles took his young audience show and used it for mature audiences-made entertainment part of their show.

Over the years, he commissioned over 250 works!

The group has always kept high standards of performance.

Daellenbach hired gifted composers to do Canadian Brass arrangements-Luther Henderson, Arthur Frackenpol, etc. It helped that the Canadian Government supported them through grants.

7. What do you remember most of your professionals chamber music groups? What made the great ones great?
The Phillip Jones Brass Ensemble was a big influence into David Hickman and the members of the Saint Louis Brass to form the Summit Brass. We put together the best perfumers in the United States and got a record Contract before we had even played our first Concert.

What makes a group great is Great performers, Great arrangements and compositions, and musician who are always part of the team.

8. Baadsvik, Childs, Mead-most full time brass soloists seem to have four valves. What are they doing right that solo trumpeters, hornists, and trombonists are not?
Baadsvik and Childs are supported mostly by funding by their countries. David Childs, in particular, comes from the famous Child Brothers who are today the major conducotrs of the British Brass Bands.

You did have many soloists on trumpet in the past, such as Maurice Andre, and on horn, like Dennis Brain.

9. What are they key ingredients to a great music school at the University? What do IU and your other previous institutions do best?

imagesThe University of Illinois
New Music and Music Education

imagesArizona State University
Music Therapy

Indiana University
UnknownIU is rated the number one school in the country—a major university and conservatory tied into one. It is particularly known for its Opera Department
and its outstanding faculty on every instrument.

c. 2016 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved. www.davidbrubeck.com

The Fourth Valve tm is an up-close, shoot-from-the-hip interview series dedicated to musicians who play the tuba or euphonium. We at davidbrubeck.com are delighted and grateful to share the musical, professional and personal insights of some of the world’s great musicians and masters of low brass. The interview series was launched with an interview of Deanna Swoboda as a tribute to our first published article-an interview with Connie Weldon. For now, let’s just focus on tuba, and leave the fantastic euphoniums for another post. You wouldn’t believe how many terrific tuba interviews we have, so we’ll tell you: Craig Knox, Mike Roylance, Sergio Carolina, Beth Wiese, R. Winston Morris, Aaron Tindall, Aaron McCalla, Chitate Kagawa, Marty Erickson, Oystein Baadsvik, Don Harry, John Stevens, Jim Self, Beth Mitchell, John van Houten, Mike Roylance and Deanna Swoboda!Enjoy!

Canadian Brass, Windsync, Boston Brass, Mnozil Brass, Spanish Brass, Dallas Brass, Seraph, Atlantic Brass Quintet

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Triton Brass Visits “FIVE!” & Heralds Tritantic Summer Workshop

After fourteen years, Trtion released its first cd, “Triton Brass”, which was celebrated with their first performance in New York City. Triton Brass has re-emerged, like a fine wine whose best vintage is yet to come. Re-tooled with bass trombone and a formidable line up, they plan to perform and teach with The Atlantic Brass Quintet at the 22nd annual International Atlantic Brass Quintet Summer Seminar. Former Fischoff and Lyon chamber music competition winners and the brass quintet in residence for five years at Tanglewood, “FIVE” tm is pleased to bring you The Triton Brass…Enjoy!

UnknownShelagh Abate, Horn
1. How does a New York girl end up going to college in Boston? Can you compare performing as a freelancer in New York to Boston?

Oh, man…when I graduated from high school, I could not WAIT to get away from home. Boston was perfect for me at the time as it was “far away” from Long Island without being “far away” 😉 As soon as I got to Boston the first time, I felt the energy and the vibe that all those students in ALL THOSE SCHOOLS (!!) within the city’s limits creates. There’s no city like it. I miss it terribly when I’m away for long periods. Thank god for the quintet, I get to see it on a regular basis and still consider it “kind of” home.

As for freelancing, Boston is an amazing place to study and an amazing place to work…the players are every bit as fierce in Boston as they are anywhere else. The top of the top of the top. Especially brass! I mean, NEC, The Boston Conservatory, BU, Berklee, Harvard, Longy, MIT, the list goes on and on, and there are amazing players at all of these places. The only difference I notice now in NYC, is that I put less miles on my car. When you freelance “in Boston,” unless you hold a major gig (BSO, Ballet, etc.), you’re actually freelancing all over New England. Which is awesome, truly…because, I mean, it’s New England. But it also means 40,000 miles per year on a car. No lie. I went through quite a few cars (and clutches) during my tenure in Boston… 😉

2. You had a double major in English. How has it helped your music career both on the business side
and on the artistic side?

My experiences at Boston College and getting a B.A. in the liberal arts have equipped me with a breadth of perspective and skills that help me through life, no question. I use my writing skills on a regular basis, and the broad perspective I got there enables me to 1. withstand life’s ups and downs better than if I were to have a really limited view on things and 2. provides a greater artistic vocabulary to better express musical ideas through the horn. As soon as I finished my Bachelor’s, I plowed full steam ahead into the horn as a graduate student and a mature adult that had a handle on what I needed to do, how I needed to go about it, and where I wanted it to take me. I may not have known it at the time, but it was the right path for me. There was no way I could have sussed all that out at 18. I was a mess at 18. We’re all a mess at 18, lol. Ok, maybe not all of us, but I definitely needed a little more time to steep.


3. As a horn player, your instrument and the tuba share a conical timbre. The bass trombone presents an evenly matched quartet of cylindrical instruments. How do you change your approach when blending with a tuba-bottomed brass quintet, as opposed to one with bass trombone?

For me, in Triton, having a bass trombone as opposed to a tuba totally establishes a fat, homogeneous, giant bass foundation upon which I can do exactly what I want musically, which is amazing. I can just ride, blend into, push up against, or battle all the sound around me – whatever the music calls for. I love it, it’s freaking awesome. It’s really a giant, warm, musical canvas. When Triton dealt with a personnel change a few years ago, Angel was the logical choice….I don’t think we actually ever even had a conversation about it as a group. It was that easy, and we’ve not looked back since.

Unknown-1Angel Subero, Bass Trombone
What strengths and weaknesses do you see in the US and Venezuelan music education offerings?

This is a very hard question but I will do my best to explain as concisely as I can but this is just my humble opinion on this matter and could (and probably should) be discussed much further in detail.

The three main differences that I notice between Venezuelan (El Sistema) music education and the United States music education are: the funding, the performance opportunities and the importance placed on music in society.

El Sistema is a forty year old, free music program open to the public that is sponsored fully by international institutions and the government. The students are provided with great instruments from the beginning of their studies. It is an after school program and since El Sistema has become such a powerful and successful program, classical music has become very popular. It is now a huge part of the culture in my country. There are a lot of concerts and weekly performances. Even the kids who have been playing for a few weeks perform on the regular basis, sometimes even twice a week. This keeps the kids excited and wanting to get better for the next performance. The better you are, the more opportunities you are allowed. You play with better orchestras, musicians, participate in national and international tours, etc. This is a huge motivation.

Also, all the concerts are sold out. The main stream culture places a huge importance on these events for both the performers and the audience members. They are excited to be there because people know that there is a big chance that even kids who are just starting out could, in a few years, become super stars. I remember Edicson Ruiz, now a bass player in the Berlin Philharmonic, running around and playing soccer every time the youth orchestra had a little break from their rehearsals. I believe he was 7-8 years old at the time. And who would have guessed that he would become the youngest member of the legendary Berlin Phil just a few years later.

From what I can tell, it is very different in the United States. Music programs are part of the school and unfortunately, many of them are poorly funded, if they are funded at all. Instruments are rarely provided by the school and if they are, they are usually in poor condition. The playing opportunities are very limited, with maybe one to two concerts a semester. These are usually also poorly attended because the music is not appreciated by the general public in the United States. This is also true for professional groups as well.

I don’t think is fair to compare because the culture and the way the systems work in these two countries are very different. There are a lot of great benefits about being a musician and studying here in the US. Certainly my success and the career I have, I owe it to my teachers and mentors. And I am very thankful for the schools (Boston Conservatory and New England Conservatory), that gave me the opportunity to experience the structure of being a student in America. Even though I believe there should be changes and more flexibility for every individual case, since we are all different, without this education and structure that comes with it, I would not have had the opportunities that have come my way. Yes, I worked hard but being in the right place at the right time and being ready is the key. You never know when you are going to get “That call”.

Again, this is a fascinating topic and should be discussed much more than this but I feel that this is the best opinion I can give on the matter for now.

2. What are your doubles, and how do you practice switching back and forth?
Tenor Trombone and Contrabass Trombone. I have a very particular daily routine which is all on Bass Trombone. When that is done, I make sure I spend time on tenor. The work I do on tenor is mostly playing lead trombone in Latin bands. When I play these gigs, the physical and mental approach to playing this style of music is a total one eighty of what I do when I play Bass or Contra in any ensemble, especially in the quintet setting. After my routine is done, at some point in the day, I aim to have a session where I practice going back and forth 10-15 minutes on each horn and do that for an hour or two. I love practicing so I enjoy the process. But I should stress the importance of also spending the time to get to know each instrument well on its own before you try and go back and forth too much. Now, according to Facebook I play Harp, Tuba, Double-Bass, Contra Bassoon, English Horn, Bass Flute, Piccolo and Tambourine, also I am a very successful conductor. If it is on Facebook, it must be true.

3. How do you approach articulation in the quintet, especially low and fast?
Well, The beauty of playing in a brass quintet is taking advantage of the variety of articulation and colors the group can have. I’ve always loved playing different styles of music Latin, Jazz, Classical, Funk, etc. When I am playing in the quintet, I experiment using different types of articulation until I find a sound that I feel blends with everyone else in the group. Obviously, listening to and playing different styles of music has influenced my playing. And depending on the difficulty of the passage, sometimes using a combination of double and doodle tongue on a low-fast passage makes it sound more clean and easier. Having all these different colors and articulations in your playing makes practicing and playing much more fun. And sometimes, you just have to practice articulating low and fast.

Andrew Sorg, trumpet
1. As a member of two accomplished brass quintets, both Triton and Atlantic, you are in a unique position. What have you learned from the competitions won with each group.

-I’ve learned that winning a competition is less important than preparing for a competition. Preparing for a competition in a chamber ensemble allows you to get to know your colleagues intimately, and how the dynamic of the group operates as a unit. The marriage of chamber music makes or breaks an ensemble, and a healthy relationship between quintet members is crucial to perform well together. Although winning a competition gives an ensemble credibility to presenters, the preparation defines your repertoire, image and vision for the future.

2. The musician makes the difference, not the instrument, but what types of advantages come with tuba or bass trombone on the bottom of a quintet?
I was first surprised to notice that there is no loss of sound in a quintet that uses tuba verses bass trombone. They are an equivalent entity. The obvious advantage of having a tuba, is it creates a broader aura of group sound that blends great with repertoire like the Dahl Quintet, Ewald Quintets and my composition Voices In Da Fan. On the flip side, the more directional blend the bass trombone creates works really well with repertoire like Plog, Paquito D’Rivera, and my other quintet piece Mental Disorders.

TritanticWebHeader1-e1405537249790-293x1753. What have you enjoyed most about the growth of your chamber music program?
What I’ve enjoyed most about the growth of The Atlantic Brass Quintet Seminar, is sharing an unconditional love for chamber music and passion for education with some of the best chamber musicians and educators in the world. Our team we have grown to call Tritantic, the merger of The Triton and Atlantic Brass Quintets to form a large brass ensemble, has a huge impact on young brass players. The love and dedication we emote, creates a very serious but fun learning environment for students and faculty, which is incredibly rewarding to be a part of. I love the “think tank” approach between faculty that has improved every aspect of putting a summer program together business wise and musically. I’ve watched 8-9 student quintets grow to 10-12, a classically defined program has now become an equally impressive jazz/world music program, our pay grade has doubled and our administrator Vanessa Gardner, who is also a seasoned french hornist, provides us the best of what Northeastern University can offer. In return, our student performances keep getting better, and better and better…

4. Any new hopes?
I hope that one day, the brass quintet can be regarded as an equivalent chamber ensemble to the string quartet. I hope that our repertoire can reach the ears of the general public through programmatic music, multi-media pieces and real time midi-electronics. I hope that as a composer, my music sets a new standard for the future of the brass quintet

Unknown-2Steve Banzaert:
1. What connections have you made from mathematics and science to music? Has it changed how you blow your horn or aim it?

At MIT I wrote my physics thesis on how the structure of a trumpet (for example, where you put the braces) affects its timbre. That’s definitely given me a different set of tools to think about how to change the colors of the instrument while I play. I definitely enjoy finding the patterns in crazy polyrhythms, and I think that’s been incredibly useful in fitting into new music ensembles over the years. Ultimately, I think that just like everyone else, all of that becomes part of the background when I perform and am trying to do my actual job of communicating with the audience.

2. What is the Tanglewood experience like for brass?

Very intense! The literature is challenging, everyone in the orchestra (all the way back to the last stand 2nd violin, who might be concertmaster next week) is giving their all, and oh by the way, the entire Boston Symphony brass section will be at the concert, so please try to do a good job… I was there 15 years ago and I can still vividly remember the expressions on James Conlon’s face as he, the audience, and I all negotiated when I was going to start Mahler 5.

Wes Hopper:
HBM801-2T-e14054433078311. Tell us about WGBH and it’s significance in New England. What was it like to be to play brass quintets for an audience of 30,000?

WGBH is the dominating public broadcasting force in New England. Their studios are in Boston, but their reach is certainly worldwide with acclaimed series Nova, Masterpiece, Frontline etc being produced here.

Wether it’s recitals for massive audiences such as the WGBH events, feature music at Fenway Park or for 15,000 at the winners concert in Lyon, France, I’ve found that when we’ve played for very large audiences the energy is amazing, but it was a bit less personal and harder to connect. In some ways that makes it less stressful. As long as the audience digs it, I don’t have a preference in number. Connecting with one person is enough!

2. Do you approach articulation differently in a quintet dominated by valved instruments as opposed to a section of trombones? Does bass bone instead of tuba in the quintet change the articulation equation?

I just do my best to keep up! Playing in a quintet and playing in a section certainly have similarities. I don’t think I play so differently in either setting. Rather, it’s the setting that has different requirements. Basically, quintet music is significantly more demanding technically than the average orchestral work. So of course I’m forced to play more lightly to keep up with the more agile instruments.

Having bass trombone instead of tuba changes everything and changes nothing. The modern bass trombonist, certainly Angel and other successful quintet bass trombonists like John Rojak or Dave Taylor, can make a very wide sound effectively eliminating the necessity of the tuba in quintet. But all things being equal, the bass trombone still has a smaller core of sound. So, you kind of get the best of both worlds…a wide, lush foundation, but a core that is easily identified for the purposes of pitch, blend and indeed articulation. Since I don’t have to use such a wide sound to bridge between the tuba and horn, the articulation too is easier and clearer (I hope!).

What are your thoughts on .547 bore as opposed to .525 bore tenors in the setting of brass quintet?
I play .547 bore almost all the time. There is really very little difference between a modern .525 and .547 trombones. Most if not all companies use the same bell/valve combination on both and just offer a different hand slide diameter. Sometimes they are found with a slightly smaller bell; 8″ rather than 8.5″, but not always. If the same lead pipe is used on both horns and no other change is made the difference is practically inaudible until you get to very loud dynamics (where the .525 can’t compete). If the .525 is a small shank instrument where the mouthpiece must be changed, then the sound will be quite a bit different, most often in the direction of a commercial trombone sound. But, for that I prefer to go to a .508 bore instrument personally. Mostly (completely) it’s about the sound you hear.

c.2016 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved. www.davidbrubeck.com

Interested in more “FIVE” tm interviews?
Canadian Brass 2014, Windsync 2014, Boston Brass 2015, Mnozil Brass 2015, Spanish Brass 2014, Dallas Brass 2014, Seraph 2014, Atlantic Brass Quintet 2015, Mirari Brass 2015, Axiom Brass 2015, Scott Hartmann of the Empire Brass 2015, Jeffrey Curnow of the Empire Brass 2015, Ron Barron and Ken Amis of the Empire Brass, Meridian Arts Ensemble 2015, Berlin Philharmonic Woodwind Quintet 2015, American Brass Quintet 2015

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