Canadian Sensation, Isabelle Lavoie Brings Mature Musicianship and Incredible Insight to “Seven Positions” tm

Isabelle Lavoie is all set to be a featured artist at the 2017 International Trombone Festival next week at University of Redlands. Isabelle emerged as a young musician in Montreal, made her career in Toronto and has recently soared into the international spotlight as a member of the famed Monarch Brass. A frequent contributor to various international festivals, Lavoie brings her poise, multi-linguality, and insights down from Thunder Bay to “Seven Positions” tm ….Enjoy!

1) Do you hear different characteristics in French as opposed to English Speaking brass players?
Although I have never done any research on the subject, I believe that the differences between the French and English languages do affect articulation, tongue placement and sound in brass playing.

French and English have almost identical alphabets and yet, they sound completely different. French has way more phonetic sounds than what would be expected from the alphabet.The tongue positions are exaggerated and the vowels sound more short and crisp. The vowels can also be oral or nasal (en, un, on, etc), depending on the jaw position and the tongue position in the mouth. French also has sounds that don’t exist in English, such as ‘R’ (throat), and
‘U’ (tongue at the front of the mouth). Many sounds are more rounded in English, which doesn’t occur in French.

International French and Quebecois French also differ quite a bit. Quebecois French adds an ’S’ sound after the consonants ’T’ and ‘D’. Those sounds ‘T’s and ‘D’s are almost nonexistent in the English language. The tongue position for the vowels is also more extreme, in front of the mouth. The vowels sound darker, longer, as the oral cavity is more open. Quebecois people can also generally speak International French easily, which opens a whole new world of colours and tones. I would assume that the more languages you speak, the more freedom and options you have on a brass instrument.

I also believe that every note on brass instruments has its own ideal consonant/vowel option for optimal resonance and best sound, but this is a whole other topic!

2) What are your favorite aspects of playing Operatic music? Ballet music?
Opera to me is the ultimate form of Art.

It involves a visual aspect, story telling, acting, vocal and instrumental music-making. When I’m in the pit, I feel like I am part of something much bigger than me and my own little part. I also think of trombone as the most vocal wind instrument which probably explains why I am naturally drawn to the singing voice (especially mezzo soprano & baritone). I always learn something watching and listening to singers: how do they phrase things? How do they breathe? How do they change the colour in their voice to convey different emotions and characters? How do they project the way they do?
Ballet music often has glorious moments for low brass.

What’s not to love?

3) What do you look for in a trombone?
To be honest, I have never been a gear-head. When I find a set up that is low maintenance, that allows flexibility and variety in colour, I stick with it. I want to be able to have both a luscious velvety sound in the mid-low register and a compact sound with just enough brightness. The unsoldered HW Yellow brass bell from Shires I use gives me both of those options. The only thing that my current set up is lacking is more brightness in the mid-upper register. I need to be able to sound more like a ‘Trombone 3’ too.

Any ideas?

4) What is your secret to legato?
It may not be mainstream, but I often use double tonguing: ’DA-DOO-DU-DE-DI’ and ‘GA-GOO- GU-GE-GI’ depending on the register. I also use a whole lot of valve combinations for the smoothest natural slurs and legato articulation (ie. Schumann’s Rhenish or Schubert’s Unfinished solo at the very end on the F).

5) How important has chamber music been to your development? What other experiences have you had, and how did they help lead you to Monarch Brass?
During my Undergraduate Degree back in Montreal, I played with the school symphony orchestra, the new music ensemble, various chamber groups, two big bands, and a fantastic early music group outside of school. Doing it all helped me grow quite fast as a musician. It taught me versatility, awareness and musicianship early on. I started working with professional symphony orchestras at 21. Since I moved to Toronto, I have almost exclusively been working with symphony orchestras and occasionally with brass ensembles.

I approach playing in large ensembles just like I do in chamber music settings. It really is all about making music as a whole. Most of the time, the low brass section plays in harmony, but often in the classical and romantic repertoire, the bass trombone plays the bass line with the tuba, lower strings, 2nd bassoon, low horns, timpani, etc. Over the years, I have learned to be more and more sensitive to my colleagues: how they sound, how they breathe, how they move. I have learned to adapt and to change my sound/intonation quickly, while providing a solid base to the ensemble.

The first time I played with the Monarch Brass Ensemble was at the International Women’s Brass Conference in Kalamazoo, MI, in 2012. I was subbing in for Julia McIntyre, who is a founding member of the group and Principal Bass Trombonist of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. She was and still is the only female bass trombonist to hold a position in a major symphony orchestra here in Canada. Julia and I had only met a couple of times, but there were very few working female bass trombonists in the country then. I am so grateful that she trusted me, because I have been playing with Monarch ever since.

Not only has every performance with the group been some the most musically rewarding experiences of my career, it gave me the opportunity to meet, play and befriend some truly amazing women and musicians. As a member of the group, I have performed at three editions of the International Women’s Brass Conference (2012, 2014 & 2017), at the International Trumpet Guild Conference (2015), at the Midwest Clinic (2016) and at the International Trombone Festival (2016). After performing at ITF in NYC, I was offered to join the Cramer Choir, as well as to perform as a soloist at ITF 2017.


6) How would you compare the different approaches to making music on brass instruments you have observed in England, The US, Quebec, and Toronto?
I have played in sections with people from all over the world, who used different equipment, and who spoke a different language than me. Of course, the differences are always obvious at first, but with musicianship and adaptability, it doesn’t usually take very long to figure things out.

Maybe I think this way because I am from Montreal, which is a melting pot of different schools of brass playing. It is a small artistic centre where the French Canadian brass tradition (Conservatoire de Musique, Université de Montréal, Orchestre Métropolitain, etc.) coexist with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra/McGill University tradition. The MSO has members from all over the globe and includes almost as many Americans as Canadians (English and French) in its brass section. In Quebec, there is room to be yourself as a trombonist as long as your sound and style are engaging and versatile.

Toronto has it’s own style of trombone playing. Almost everyone plays Shires trombones with Greg Black mouthpieces. We tend to play everything very long with a clear front and with a resonant vibrant sound. We like to change our sound and articulations depending on the repertoire we are playing.

In the States, I have mostly played with the Monarch Brass. With the band, we focus on matching each other’s sound and playing beautiful music. Although we all come from very different backgrounds, no one ever sticks out because our priority is the blend. I’ve never had to question myself on how to do things with Monarch Brass.

I also attended the same summer program in England twice, with trombone players from Ireland, the US, Spain, Australia, and a couple of English tuba players. Two of the best sections I have ever played in!

7) How do you conceive of an ideal bass trombone sound, ad what drew you to the instrument?
My ideal sound is rich, fat and yet with a lot of core. It has loads of overtones and it has a wide range of colours depending on the register, dynamic, style and character.

Some of my favourite bass trombone sounds: James Markey, Stefan Shulz, Randy Hawes and of course, George Roberts.

Originally what drew me to bass trombone was jazz and commercial music. The first time I heard bass trombone so clearly was in a big band show. I was 14 or 15 years old and I was smitten.

8) Who are your inspirations? Musical & Nonmusical
Being from Montreal, two of my biggest musical inspirations are Alain Trudel and Pierre Beaudry. Not only are they wonderful musicians, they are great teachers, hard workers and human beings you just want to be around
My ultimate inspiration is all my colleagues of the Monarch Brass Ensemble and IWBC pioneers, such as Abbie Conant. Women in brass have come a long way, but they still have a long way to go to equality.

c. 2017 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved

Images courtesy of the ITF, ITA and IWBC.

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

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Warren Deck Takes “The Fourth Valve” on a Journey from Carnegie Hall to Denver

Hushed reverence would best describe the accounts of Warren Deck’s performances with the New York Philharmonic; it was there he held sway from ’79 until 2001. The Houston Symphony, Rice University and Juilliard also felt the sway of Mr. Deck’s tuba, until his course led him out west to Denver in 2001. Warren Deck joins “The Fourth Valve”tm, as contributing editor Aaron Tindall makes his debut contributions as well. Join us as Deck reminds us that dreams come true…..Enjoy!

1. What was it like to be part of the recording “Made in the USA”, and other projects with the Canadian Brass and members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra Brass and The New York Philharmonic Brass?
These projects were some of the most fun musical times I had. Getting to hang out with great players who were fun to be with whether we were playing or not was a particular joy. I had a sense during the recordings that these were special times. A couple of years ago, I was talking with Ronnie Romm and letting him know that those times together produced some of my fondest musical memories. He told me he felt the same way. I found it very gratifying that I was not alone in having that feeling.

2. Perhaps the inspiration for this project was the Antiphonal Music of Gabrieli with Brass from the Philadelphia Orchestra, Chicago Symphony and Cleveland Orchestra. What were/are your observations on that project and the influence that it had on your career?
Funny you should mention that recording as I literally burned out two LP’s of that recording from listening to it so much. I got my first one when I was in high school and was completely blown away. It got to the point where I could know which tuba player was playing after about two notes. The really cool thing about that recording (now that I have it on CD) is that 47 years later, I am still blown away by how well all of those people played. I would play along with that recording and knew it by rote and constantly used it as a reference recording whenever I got a new horn or mouthpiece. If I could play in tune with that recording, I felt safe in using the new equipment.

3. As you matured as a performer did the type/characteristics of the specific tuba you played on become more or less important?
They became more important. I view equipment like a shoe. A shoe you might want for playing basketball will be very different from a shoe you would want for climbing a mountain. While the equipment will never be a substitute for good skills, there is truth in having the right tool for the job. As you try for a broader range of musical expression, more and different types of “toys” can be quite helpful.

< 4. What types of chamber music and solo “skills” were present in your orchestral playing? Have you ever thought of some colleagues in other “Big Five” orchestras incorporated more/less solo or chamber elements than what was needed?
The studio and practice room is where you learn to play your instrument well. I think chamber music teaches you to become a musician. The first step out of the studio is into chamber music where you begin to put your instrumental skills to work in the service of music. Unlike the studio, you now have to listen to something other than yourself while you are playing. You learn to adjust your playing to fit into sounds others make and at the same time find a way to contribute to the group sound. If your solo skills (your command of your instrument) are lacking, you might not be very good at fitting into a group because you are not as good a player as you need to be. By the same token, if your listening skills are lacking, you might not fit into the group stylistically and never know it because you don’t listen well.

These are all skills a good orchestral player needs. The geography is a lot more expanded because of the size of the group, but the same skills come to bear. The other element that comes into playing in an orchestra is that sometimes you need to lead something out, and sometimes you need to be right there with someone else who is appropriately leading something out. You need to know how to do both of these things and use your best judgement as to when to employ those skills. In order to do this you need to be able to listen out while you are playing.

5. Walk the reader through your definition of “style” when it comes to making the notes on the page come to “life”.
Getting a handle on “style” comes from detailed listening. How does the note begin? What is the shape and duration of the note? How does the note end? Is there any space between notes and if so, how much? How loud? What about shapes of phrases? How does it fit with time? Is it on the front, on the back, does it move up and back? What are the attributes of the sound?

I think it is helpful to look at as many elements of style as possible and expand those elements into as broad a range as you can. Making all of this into a listening game of “how much can I notice” leads to better ear. The other question to ponder is: What is the difference between real style and something that is just willy-nilly? There may never be a great answer to this question, but it is still worth pondering and the idea of recurring elements are what contribute my perception of something having style and therefore, life.

6. What inspirations were the most influential in informing your musicality?
As mentioned earlier, that Gabrieli recording with Philadelphia, Chicago and Cleveland was very influential. In addition, when I was in my junior year in college, our college orchestra went to the Canary Islands to play in an opera festival. I had no idea what that would be like, but the Canary Islands sounded like a fun place to spend 5 weeks. What could be bad about spending 5 weeks on a beach? Little did I know that a partial list of the singers included Joan Sutherland in Maria Stuarda and Birgit Nilsson singing Tosca. When I heard that at close range, it rocked my world. The degree to which these ladies “brought it” was beyond anything I had ever imagined. The other thing that floored me with them was their phrasing.

7. Which musicians (performers or conductors), have most made an impression on you and how/why?
Bernstein was truly a once in a lifetime type of musician. He had more heart and more intellect than anybody I ever came across.

I loved working with Zubin – a good heart and a great musician. He always made music making fun. He seemed to always revel in his players’ abilities, and allowed his players to enjoy the music making as well.

As for soloists, Pavarotti, Bronfman and Jesse Norman were always special when they came.

I think Phil Smith is the best player to ever sit in a principal trumpet chair and I got to enjoy him on a daily basis. I also got to hear Phil Myers on a daily basis and his fearlessness on the instrument led to truly great and unforgettable moments. Joe Alessi is an amazing trombone player and his consistency sure made life easy for me.

8. What three things do you most think about when performing/conducting?
What is the music here? What does it need? What is my function in the music here?

9. How did you decide to venture into arranging, and do you have any favorite composers or instruments?
I was asked by Phil Myers to arrange Candide for 8 horns for their upcoming recording with the American Horn Quartet. I had just been diagnosed with dystonia, my playing career was over and I think Phil was trying to be kind in giving me something to do. I attempted to get permission from the Bernstein estate for this and was denied. So that piece could be recorded but it can’t be legally played in public. I get requests for the music (even though it shouldn’t be publicly performed because of its difficulty) and I have to say no. I’ve done a few things for the Denver Brass, but I don’t think I’m very good at it and the Denver Brass has people who are much better at than I am. I respect any composer who can compose 8 bars, which is more than I can do, but I like the usual suspects that every low brass player likes – the ones who write good licks for us.

10. What differences in approaches have you noticed between different orchestras or brass sections with whom you have frequently performed?
I think I see more commonality among good brass sections than differences. Good ones all play in tune, in rhythm with good balance and a good blend. They all tend to be filled with good musicians. The great brass sections sweat the details and try to sound alike up and down the section. The differences are small, but real and listening for the stylistic elements noted above will begin to emerge. I think a lot of the differences are due to the acoustic environments these different sections find themselves in on a daily basis.

When I first got to the Philharmonic, I couldn’t believe how short they could play – and this is coming from a guy who grew up in the mid-west playing in bands. Then I played in Carnegie Hall, where most of those guys spent most of their careers and I understood why they could play so short. If you took what I thought of as a short note and put it in Carnegie, the hall turned it into something much longer. Of course this changed over time because the section moved the garbage dump known as Avery Fisher Hall and different adjustments were made.

My wife and I have a dream of going on a tour where we go to various cities and hear their orchestras play a good program in their own hall. Hopefully we’ll get to do that before we go completely deaf!

c. 2017 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved

Jim Self
John Van Houten
Demondrae Thurman

Charlie Vernon
James Markey
Bill Reichenbach
Stefan Schulz

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TENOR TROMBONISTS Ralph Sauer, John Marcellus, Peter Ellefson, Alex Iles & Irv Wagner SHOWCASED IN NEW SERIES “1385”!

The headline for in 2016 has to be the introduction of”1385″ tm, the brand-new interview series featuring world-class musicians who happen to play the tenor trombone. How could you possibly provide a better start to the series than these five? Master trombonists Ralph Sauer, John Marcellus, Peter Ellefson, Alex Iles and Irv Wagner lead the charge, and we are grateful; it doesn’t get any better than this! Here are the selected highlights…


Ralph Sauer, trombonist

Ralph Sauer, trombonist

2. Only Maurice Andre, and perhaps a handful of other brass players have reached a level occupied by dozens, if not hundreds, of soloists on piano, violin or cello. What are we brass soloists missing?
But there are some brass players today who perform at the highest level. I won’t try to name them, because I might inadvertently leave someone out. Those top musicians have something the rest of the pack doesn’t have. It’s not enough to play in tune, in time, and with a great sound. The top players have a fourth dimension. This includes a complete understanding of the composer’s style, and the ability to go beyond just playing all the notes perfectly. Their phrasing is natural and appropriate; their rhythmic sense is elastic, but never distorted; and they can vary their tone quality to suit the style of the music. They are natural communicators.

5. What is your secret to a great legato?
I use the sound of a perfect natural slur as my model for all other slurs. Perfect legato on the trombone requires exact coordination of slide and tongue. The slide is not early or late–it is on time. How each individual thinks about achieving this can vary. Some people think of the slide being ahead. Others achieve good results by waiting in each position. A third way of thinking would be not to move the slide until the tongue says to move. Sloppy legato is usually the result of the slide moving too soon.

Find the other questions and answers by clicking here: Ralph Sauer

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






6. When you think of the four or five greatest symphonic trombone sections, who comes to mind? Jazz or studio?

Find out about more “trombonery” by clicking here: John Marcellus


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!

Frank Crisafulli and Peter Ellefson

Frank Crisafulli and Peter Ellefson

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.

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.

Please catch the rest of the article here: Peter Ellefson


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

Alex Iles at

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.

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!!

Alex Iles


4. Which musical solos and educational materials have you seen gain importance over the years, or become obscure?
Solos and Educational Materials; That is difficult to answer in a specific manner because that would require me making a list. But in general, the literature has expanded with many fine works in the last 30 years. Composers like Nina Rota with his magnificent Concerto, Eric Ewazen with works that are trombone and audience-friendly, and lesser known composers like Boda Presser, and Thom Ritter George have produced wonderful which are high-quality and friendly. I am afraid many of the most famous trombonists on the world scene commission works which only they can play, so it does not make a positive impact on the trombone profession.

unnamed-45. Who are your more recent musical inspirations? Non-musical?
Musical Inspirations: I like people who were pioneers in the field. Roberto Gagliardi in Brazil, Emory Remington at Eastman, Gaspar Liccardine in Argentina are inspirations because they had no contact with other trombonists with how to play, available literature and the like, and they created out of nothing for themselves and their students good playing, literature to play, and an audience to listen. Real Inspirations!
8. What exciting future implications do you see in the future for young musicians who happen to play the trombone? Do you think that Remington could have imagined it?
As for the future: I see a bright future for trombonists, but only for the ones who approach the instrument as I do with love and joy which needs to be shared with others. Young people who only have “making money in mind” will not get anywhere. But people and trombonist with sincere and joyous hearts will succeed. I think Remington would have no problem because he was such a fine and simple man. He did not make anyone conform to anything that established but rather helped each person become the trombonist and person that they could become. Simple.

Read the rest of this interview here: Irv Wagner

c. 2016/2017 Dvid William Brubeck All Rights Reserved

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Kagarice, Norrell, Bubert & Sulliman Slide Through 2016 With “SEVEN POSITIONS”!

d401510445445f1b1c0f6a70670053a7Bubert, Kagarice, Norrell and Sulliman-“The Fourth Valve” in 2016 had all its basses covered! A large percentage of the content of the Journal of the International trombone Association (ITA), is left to Dennis Bubert’s care each quarter as he places the major symphonic works and players of our time in the spotlight. Bubert represents pedagogy, ability, accomplishment, scholarship and a front row seat to the ride. Jan Kagarice has made a specialty out of helping those who had been injured or needed to overcome some form of limitation. No stranger to medical issues, Jan had resolve them to continue to play trombone and it became part of her character. In the same way, performing as the bass trombonist of the successful PRISMA trombone quartet helped her to coach a number of award winning trombone quartets from UNT. A true Metropolitan Opera bass, trombonist Steve Norrell has been a stalwart in the Met Orchestra, proving his longevity and passion for music. Trained at Juilliard and by members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, he has grown to embody his own musical voice and perspectives. An American original, he has recently returned to the recital stage with a world premiere of a sonata dedicated to his mentor, CSO bass trombonist Ed Kleinhammer. Jason Sulliman is a bass trombonist with a passion and a purpose. Originally a cast member for BLAST!, Sulliman is now its conductor and manager, and has 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.


Bubert Solo6. How have your views on Kleinhammer’s pedagogy changed from 30 years ago? (Can you imagine a brass section where he , Jacobs and Farkas were writing their books and conversing?)
Both were very involved with what I consider one of the most predominant themes in brass pedagogy over the past three-quarters of the century, but in their own unique way. You’ve no doubt heard the state of trombone playing Emory Remington encountered early in his career, and how his teaching style evolved to urge students to adapt a more singing approach to the horn, blowing into it with as little resistance as possible. This idea of a more relaxed, easy way of blowing the horn was also a major theme in the teaching of both Mr. Kleinhammer and Mr. Jacobs. For Jake, that was reflected in the admonition to “play with minimal motors” and “to seek the weakness in your playing.” Ed, who was quite taken with the Eugen Herrigel book, “Zen in the Art of Archery”, co-opted Herrigel’s expression of “effortless effort”. He carried that book around in his jacket pocket from one time to another, and I remember the countless times he bolted across the room to grab it from his coat and read a paragraph. He also talked about “blowing the horn in a spiritual way.”

I was incredibly, incredibly fortunate to be able to study with those guys, and I’ve often marveled at whatever set of happy circumstances brought them all together at that time in that one place. I don’t think I ever had a lesson with either of them without them invoking the name of Adolph Herseth, and over the years I’ve come to think of them thusly: Herseth as the ultimate artist, Jacobs as the ultimate scholar, and Ed as the ultimate student. Tim Smith told me that a couple of his friends saw Ed at the old Schilke shop on South Wabash once, and screwed up their courage to go over and introduce themselves. “Mr. Kleinhammer? Hi, I wanted to say hello…I’m a trombone student”, Tim’s friend said. “You are?”, Ed exclaimed…. “I AM, TOO!”

I have photos of Ed and Jake in my studio at school as well as on the wall of my basement practice area at home, and I can honestly say that not a single day has passed without thinking about my time with them. Truly extraordinary individuals, and the giants of our art on whose shoulders we stand. I told Charlie last week that I can’t walk down Michigan Avenue or be in the basement of Orchestra Hall without sensing their presence.

8. Red herrings are a literary device used by mystery writers to throw readers off the track. Do you see any red herrings or unfruitful pursuits in the advancement of the bass trombone at the moment?

Red herrings? I don’t know about that, but there is one unfruitful pursuit, as you put it, that I frequently encounter in students. And that’s students who are so enamored of some of our more prominent trombone personalities, like Joe and Charlie, that they’re obsessed with trying to emulate them. Those two are marvelous trombonists and musicians, but as wonderful as they are, I think it’s important for us as musicians and instrumentalists to find our own voice. It’s hard enough to be yourself without trying to be someone you’re not.

To read the rest of the interview, click here: Dennis Bubert


    th-12. What were your teaching style and objectives like before you had medical challenges as compared with afterwards?
    I have a form of muscular dystrophy and a rare neurological disorder. Neither of which are life threatening but certainly caused me to learn about efficiency and healthy function.

    My objectives in guiding musicians has ALWAYS been about the music. I believe that the music itself is the teacher. My students call me coach… I’m just coaching their focus of attention to the music, pretty easy gig! 😉 When a player has physical issues that interfere with performance, I assist them is becoming more efficient…. doing LESS. That’s why they are called “LESSons” 😉

    “Janet”, Performed by Maniacal Four Trombone Quartet in dedication to Jan

    6. It has been said that people “play their personality”. How much of a compelling factor for a performer is the character, humanity and temperment that infuses the performer?
    I agree with the statement completely, but it is also important for the performer to not let their personality overshadow the expression of the composer brought to life.

    Follow aong with the rest of the interview here: Jan Kagarice



      2. What is your secret to a good legato?
      My concept of legato is having the continuity of wind, an efficient embouchure and a fast and elastic slide arm. Many players work so hard trying to have a fast slide arm, but their wrist is rigid and they can only move their slide as fast as they move their whole arm. Obviously this is not smooth and is awkward to listen to. John Swallow’s trick was to put a tight rubber band around your outer slide which is parallel with the brace between the upper and lower slide. This is the same area where you normally hold your slide, but since your fingers are wedged between the brace and the rubber band, you can take your thumb off the slide which frees up your wrist. Adding this elasticity to your wrist is essential for legato and any relaxed fast slide movement.

      John Swallow liked students to change partials if they did an interval larger than a 3rd. It’s a good rule to experiment with, but I believe the other part of the equation is the embouchure being efficient. In my early Met years, Pavarotti would go from one interval to the next immediately, without bumping the new frequency. I believe it’s the same on our instrument. There’s a fine line between having a good liquid legato, but not being stiff or rigid. Jay Friedman frequently tells students to play a “slow slur,” which is what I interpret as Jay trying to get the student to blow through the legato. I’ll often ask the student to have a quicker and more efficient embouchure without bumping the notes. I think that Jay and I are approaching the same thing from different sides of the equation. I encourage students to buzz legato phrases only using their tongue on the initial attack after a breath. After that, the clarity should come from the efficiency of the embouchure. It has to be trained! Even with students who prefer to use legato tongue, I encourage them to buzz the mouthpiece only using the tongue on the initial attack. If their embouchure becomes more efficient, whatever amount of legato tongue they were using inevitably becomes less.

      The stimulus that I use when I play legato is thinking that it’s smooth. Personally I try to have the tongue out of the way as much as possible, but when I’m playing, being smooth is primary and anything else that I’m doing to achieve this is a trained reaction and secondary.

      My two favorite legatos that I’ve personally encountered are Charlie Vernon’s and Norman Bolter’s. It’s not a coincidence that Jay Friedman studied with Swallow before he got into the CSO or that Norman studied with Swallow in school or that Charlie commuted to NYC while in Baltimore to study with Swallow.

      (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 was 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…

      8. How would you contrast the “New York School” of trombone playing of Joe Alessi with what you learned in Chicago?
      Joe Alessi is such a unique person. He is one of the hardest working individuals I’ve ever known! The progress that he’s made since he became principal trombone of the Philharmonic is monumental and he’s always looking for ways to incorporate new things into what he does. During Joe’s early years, we had a weekly racquetball game and would occasionally play together. Simply tremendous! Since those years, certain aspects of his playing have improved exponentially. Playing a job like the Met, I was always envious of the freedom and flexibility that Joe had in doing outside projects. Of course I’m happy for Joe and it’s hard to imagine anyone being more productive while they were doing it.

      Joe is a little younger than I am, but he was at Curtis while I was at Juilliard and all of us of that era were positively affected by the CSO. Joe’s greatest influences were his father, teachers in the Bay Area (Ned Meredith and Mark Lawrence) and then Dee Stewart and especially Glenn Dodson at Curtis. Many years ago I had conversations with Joe about my lessons with Mr. Jacobs. He was interested, but his concepts are uniquely his own on certain things. He’s been very successful in developing so many amazing artists, In 1988, the CSO was doing a residency at Carnegie and their off day that week was on Thursday. Charlie and Jay came up to the house in the afternoon as did Joe and David Finlayson. We played for hours (while I had the tape recorder on). Listening to the tape I hear individuals. It’s all really, really good, but unique to the person who was playing it. Since that time, Joe’s playing has only grown!

      Follow your favorite operatic bass here: Steve Norrell



        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.

        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.

        To keep relaxing with Jason, click here: Jason Sulliman

        c. 2017 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved

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

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POKORNY, PERANTONI & MEIXNER! The “Fourth Valve” in 2016 Smashes Through Year Number Three!!

Nothing is less impressive than quantity! If you are looking for quality, here are three of the best! Perhaps the graduation speeches were just a bit too generic for you favorite tuba/euph. player. These interviews just may be the answer; inspiring, challenging, and full of hard-won-wisdom. Celebrate 2016 with three of the best. Tubist Eugene Pokorny has enjoyed success at every station in his storied career. He has flourished in some of the most demanding brass playing communities and is a Titan of the tuba world and a first class musician. As a soloist, with brass ensembles large and small, and with some of the finest orchestras in the world, Pokorny has plied his craft with humor, warmth and greatness. 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 Perantoni started studying tuba with the legendary Paganini of the Tuba-Harvey Phillips; with this inspiration, Perantoni has emerged as one of the most important tuba teachers of our time. After finishing a doctorate at the University of North Texas as a teaching assistant for Brian Bowman, Meixner landed as euphonium player, soloist and assistant conductor of the River City Brass Band, recorded a solo CD, a duo CD, launched and recorded with The River Bottom Quartet.



1. Charles Vernon, has stated that it might surprise people to know that Jacobs, Kleinhammer, Crisafulli and Friedman were, “four different styles of playing, all going for a similar result.” Now with yourself, Vernon, Mulcahy and Friedman, the resultant blend seems to have all the characteristics of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra with different players. How did you achieve the blend which is so present (and yet can be so supportive of other timbres), with almost a whole new team? How do your sound and Mr. Vernon’s sound in particular achieve such a beautiful blend that is reminiscent of Jacobs/Kleinhammer?
There is a willingness of the sections’ players (some more than others) to subjugate their own personal playing style to one which is more in keeping with the majority opinion. However, there is occasionally some discussion as to where the final sound result will be.

We are all different players with different abilities to adjust to others as well.

I found in my own listening that Jacobs was very lucky to have a musician as competent as Kleinhammer as a sidekick because Kleinhammer would complement his own sound to Jacobs’ playing style, rhythmic proclivities and interpretive rigidity. But that is another subject. For me, the teamwork aspect of playing in a section is the highest goal.

When I play with Charlie [Vernon], I try to find a sound that complements his array of colors. He is more enamored of the lower harmonics in the sonic spectrum of his sound. So, I will try to emphasize the higher side of the harmonic spectrum when I play with him.

Charlie is quite sensitive to the quality of sound when he listens to me trying out different instruments. I find his input very helpful. When we are working on balancing the section, I need to tell him when I (and perhaps others) simply cannot keep up with the output wattage of a bass trombone. The range of all our volumes has to vary from being barely audible all the way to “hell bent for leather” as my hero Jeff Reynolds used to say. We have to have the capability and, more importantly, the willingness to do it all. I have no answers as to the “how” the of the blend that occurs between Charlie and myself.

2. When you take a breath, on most occasions, do you release it immediately in rhythm, or hold it-no matter how slightly? Why or why not?

On most occasions the breath always moves in rhythm both in and out with no delay. If the first note I am to play is in the mid to high register (as in the solo in “Petrouchka”), I may delay to make sure that I am “up to pressure” before releasing the air.

To read the rest of the interview with the Eugene Pokorny, the leading orchestral tubist of our time, click here Eugene Pokorny


1. Who are your inspirations?

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

To soak up the rest of the Perantoni interview and its no-holds-barred wisdom, click hereDan Perantoni

Praxis Duo

Praxis Duo

What attracted you to percussion in chamber music, and what have you found?

I was initially exposed to this by the Brian Bowman/Gordon Stout recording of Samuel Adler’s “Four Dialogues”PRAXIS+cover for euphonium and marimba. I suppose I was attracted to the sound of the two instruments playing together and liked the idea of doing something different than solo pieces with piano. Several years later I joined a consortium to commission David Cutler for a euphonium piece with cahon and maracas. During that same time I was working with a couple of other composers on pieces for euphonium with percussion ensemble. Partly due their great writing, but likely equally due to the interesting combination of instruments/sounds, I was turned on to euphonium/percussion music from that point forward.

Simply put, the more variety of percussion instruments that are used, the more sounds that are capable, the more interesting for the listener and performer alike. With percussion, the number of timbres, sounds, etc. possible is literally limitless. This allows me to be more creative with the sounds/colors I can produce on my instrument and the musical interest for all involved. In the case of our Euphonium + Percussion duo and our album ‘Praxis’, it doesn’t hurt to have the opportunity to work with the mega-talent virtuoso percussionist and composer Nathan Daughtrey!

8. What are your favorite chamber music works that include euphonium? Are there any other directions you would like to see explored?My opinions here are heavily influenced by my personal experience with certain pieces, having performed them with good friends and colleagues. The works with percussion I recorded with Nathan Daughtrey are among my favorites, as well as Gillingham’s “Diversive Elements”, which I have performed a number of times with different friends and colleagues. The compositions and arrangements for euphonium quartet (and three euphoniums + 1 tuba) on our River Bottom Quartet album “In Too Deep” were a lot of fun. I also very much enjoy the music of Fernando Deddos, including the title track of the ‘Praxis’ album and his “Invasions and Myths” for euphonium, trumpet and piano that I recorded with Jennifer Dearden and Kevin Dill in 2015.

As far as directions for further exploration, I am thrilled to see the creative new works emerging for euphonium in a chamber setting. Lots of great stuff! It would be interesting to see more pieces for euphonium with strings, which seems to be somewhat of an untapped genre. The “Concerto No. 3 – Diran” by Alan Hovhaness is quite nice.

To read the complete interview from Euphonium soloist and entrepreneur Meixner, click hereBrian Meixner

Interested in more year end summaries of TUBA/EUPH. Interviews? Look No Further! Three Hot Links Below…

The Beastly Tubas of 2015! “The Fourth Valve” tm Recounts the Year’s Best Interviews, Read on…

2015, The Year of The Euphonium! Continue to article…

How Sweet The Sounds! The Tubas of 2014 on “The Fourth Valve” Read on…

Interested in more “Fourth Valve” euphonium interviews? Check out these:

Demondrae Thurman 2015Jamie Lipton 2015Lance LaDuke 2015Matthew Murchison 2015Koichiro Suzuki 2015.Marc Dickman 2015Lauren Curran 2015Mitsusu Saito 2015Adam Frey 2015Martin Cochran 2015

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Miami’s Own DUO BRUBECK, Featuring Guitarist Lindsey Blair, at The 46th Annual International Trombone Festival 2017!

June 29th 2017 at 9:00 am at the University of Redlands in Southern California is the time and place for West Coast Duo Brubeck fans and curiosity seekers of all kinds to convene.

With special thanks to Professor Steve Wolfinbarger and Dr. Andrew Glendering, Duo Brubeck has been invited to perform an hour long set of jazz standards and originals in their inimitable style.

A handful of copies of Stereograms A-M, published by Cherry Classics, will be given away at random to those in attendance,so please be early and register the day before! See you there……

DUO BRUBECK has placed the bass trombone back at the center of jazz music making. By alternating between bass and melodic parts in the manner of Bobby McFerrin, bass trombonist David Brubeck incorporates his ‘Stereogram’ technique into the jazz duo setting featuring interesting arrangements and spectacular featured guitarists such as Tom Lippincott, Mitch Farber, Jonathan Kreisberg, Lindsey Blair and Sandy Poltarack. Both the guitar and the bass trombone excel in either a melodic or accompanimental role, allowing for a delicious weave of alternating roles and sonic combinations. The unusual combination of bass trombone and guitar is surprisingly satisfying and completely unique.

Miami New Time Magazine says Lindsey Blair selected as Best Jazz Musician 2011. “As an official guitarist for Sábado Gigante with Don Francisco, Lindsey Blair has played alongside Puerto Rican reggaetonero Daddy Yankee, but it was Wes Montgomery who got him started on the guitar, and jazz is where his heart is. The Indiana native studied the form at the University of Miami for his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and he has toured with Maynard Ferguson and played with Dizzy Gillespie. He also has collaborated for years with Gloria and Emilio Estefan and scored a gig onstage with Miami Sound Machine for Super Bowl XLI. But it is his current stint with local supergroup 7Crossing where his powerful, blazing Latin jazz truly shines. ”

You might think that artists as diverse as latin pop superstar Gloria Estefan, Country artist Lee Ann Womac, hip hop legends 2 Live Crew, R&B singer/songwriter Bobby Caldwell, jazz trumpet virtuoso Maynard Ferguson, rock drummer Gregg Bissonette, broadway composer/ singer Anthony Newley, the Florida Philharmonic, and televisions cornerstone master of ceremonies Don Francisco have little common musical ground, but south Florida guitarist Lindsey Blair has been able to lend musical support to each of these artists with his versatile guitar work.

Lindsey is the kind of player that is comfortable in almost any musical situation. Whether the gig calls for him to sit in with an established band for a 4 hour gig with players he has never met and play a night of unrehearsed music of whatever musical repretoire de jour is being served up, to blending with a 30 piece orchestra and reading through a stack of sheet music as thick as a magazine, Lindsey can handle the challenge.

Lindsey is a guitarist that is driven by a passion for playing and being inspired by music rather that fortune and fame. He is most satisfied with his work when he has been able to break new musical ground, and /or spend some time with his favorite kind of people, musicians.

DAVID BRUBECK, the son of James and Barbie Brubeck, is a third cousin to the famous musician after whom he was named. He performs regularly with the Miami City Ballet Orchestra, Duo Brubeck, Duo Brass and The Brubeck Brass. Brubeck’s occasional performances have included the likes of Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles Larry Elgart and the Bolshoi Ballet. He may be the only musician to perform as a solo and duo artist for the International Festivals of the Tuba and Euphonium, Trombone, Trumpet and Euphonium and Tuba Conferences.

The first, three-time, Walt Disney World, collegiate All-American Musician, Brubeck graduated from Northwestern and the University of Miami, where his principal teachers were Frank Crisafulli and Charles Campbell. Over the past 35 years, Brubeck’s own students have garnered prominent positions throughout the music business. The proprietor of, this active advocate of the bass trombone has published countless interviews and articles and premiered numerous compositions for the instrument. He appears courtesy of the ITA, The ITA Press, Cherry Classics, All County Music & their Master Tech-Mark Adams, and custom horn manufacturer John Duda.

c. 2017 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved
Lindsey Blair Bio from

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“The Harmony Petting Zoo”
Sunday 30 April
The Civic Chorale of Greater Miami, Dr. Ken Boos-conductor
An interactive, hands-on musical extravaganza
With DUO BRUBECK featuring Lindsey Blair
Sunday, 30 April 2017
4 pm at Pinecrest Gardens
11000 Red Road
Pinecrest, Florida 33156
Adults $20, Seniors $15, Students $5, Children 6 and under Free.

Yes, it’s a familiar song from childhood, you can even sing along, but will you still be able to recognize it after brass master David Brubeck and guitar virtuoso Lindsey Blair dress the tune in the clothes of jazz? Journey from the simple to the sublime with familiar songs as friends in this concert for the young at heart. Youthful audiences will relate to the songs they know so well, like “You are My Sunshine”, “Go Tell Aunt Rhody”, “The Itsy Bitsy Spider”, The “The ABC Song”, “Yes, Jesus Loves Me”, and many others; older, youth-filled fans will relish samba grooves, jazz waltzs, playful polyrhythms and enticing harmonies, as the evryday becomes art. EVERYONE will leave singing THE BLUES, but you won’t have them anymore! Introduce your favorite young person to jazz and blues with DUO BRUBECK and The Civic Chorale of Greater Miami.

Stay tuned Here for More Upcoming DUO BRUBECK Events…

c. 2017 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved

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Friday April 7th, 2:00 pm DOUBLE DUOS!

Friday 7 April
2:00 pm
Shark Tank! (Outside Kendall Coffee House)
Admission is Free
MDC Kendall Campus
11011 SW 104th Street Miami, FL 33176
Ronnie Miller Duo, featuring Gary Keller with
DUO BRUBECK featuring Tom Lippincott
Join the world-renown genius of modal jazz, Ronnie Miller, and his duo featuring the insightful improvisations of Gary Keller on saxophone. These two master musicians have inspired generations of jazzmen to play better and write deeper. Join them as they display the alchemy of the duo in a concert shared with Miami’s own, DUO BRUBECK, featuring award winning guitarist and internet guitar guru Tom Lippincott. Arrive early, as this event is sure to be SRO.

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Cuban Architects at Home and in Exile
Wednesday 2 November 2016, 6:00 pm Reception
Coral Gables Museum turned the spotlight on modernist architecture by Cuban designers on the island and abroad. Victor Deupi co-curated the exhibition with Jean-François Lejeune, his colleague at the University of Miami School of Architecture. Deupi gave those in attendance a pre-opening glimpse of Cuban Architects at Home and in Exile, while music for the reception and the opening of the exhibit was artfully provided by DUO BRUBECK, featuring Mitch Farber.


Wednesday 8 March 2017
Hal Roland/Matt Bonelli DUO with
DUO BRUBECK, featuring Lindsey Blair

2:00 pm in Room 8122
MDC Kendall Campus
11011 SW 104th Street Miami, FL 33176
Admission is Free
Join Miami’s Bass Master, Matt Bonelli, as he holds forth on the niceties and nastities of the duo with his long time duo partner Hal Roland. This concert will GROOVE! Joined by DUO BRUBECK, featuring the premiere of amazing guitarist Lindsey Blair with the group. NOT TO BE MISSED!

Friday 7 April
1:00 pm
Room 8122
Admission is Free
MDC Kendall Campus
11011 SW 104th Street Miami, FL 33176
Ronnie Miller Duo, featuring Gary Keller with
DUO BRUBECK featuring Tom Lippincott
Join the world-renown genius of modal jazz, Ronnie Miller, and his duo featuring the insightful improvisations of Gary Keller on saxophone. These two master musicians have inspired generations of jazzmen to play better and write deeper. Join them as they display the alchemy of the duo in a concert shared with Miami’s own, DUO BRUBECK, featuring award winning guitarist and internet guitar guru Tom Lippincott. Arrive early, as this event is sure to be SRO.

“The Harmony Petting Zoo”
Sunday 30 April
The Civic Chorale of Greater Miami, Dr. Ken Boos-conductor
An interactive, hands-on musical extravaganza
With DUO BRUBECK featuring Lindsey Blair
Sunday, 30 April 2017
4 pm at Pinecrest Gardens
11000 Red Road
Pinecrest, Florida 33156
Adults $20, Seniors $15, Students $5, Children 6 and under Free.

Yes, it’s a familiar song from childhood, you can even sing along, but will you still be able to recognize it after brass master David Brubeck and guitar virtuoso Lindsey Blair dress the tune in the clothes of jazz? Journey from the simple to the sublime with familiar songs as friends in this concert for the young at heart. Youthful audiences will relate to the songs they know so well, like “You are My Sunshine”, “Go Tell Aunt Rhody”, The “The ABC Song”, “Yes, Jesus Loves Me”, and many others; older, youth-filled fans will relish samba grooves, jazz waltzs, playful polyrhythms and enticing harmonies, as the evryday becomes art. EVERYONE will leave singing THE BLUES, but you won’t have them anymore! Introduce your favorite young person to jazz and blues with DUO BRUBECK and The Civic Chorale of Greater Miami.

Stay tuned Here for More Upcoming DUO BRUBECK Events…

c. 2017 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved

photos courtesy of

Pinecrest Gardens, Coral Gables Museum, Lindsey Blair, Hal Roland, Matt Bonelli, and Ron Miller


Smiles All Around! “The Fourth Valve” tm Hosts James Jenkins-Tuba Extraordinaire!

James Jenkins, Bob Tucci & Mike Roylance

From his home base of the Jacksonville Symphony, James Jenkins may launch into orchestral orbit of the famed Boston Symphony Orchestra or rocket to the vibrant Cleveland Symphony Orchestra. A prodigious performer and pedagogue, Jenkins was bit early on by the tuba bug in his home town Miami. There, Jenkins would go on to become one of the most outstanding graduates of the innovative tuba program at the university of Miami under master tubaist Connie Weldon. A virtuoso chamber music and orchestral stalwart, Jenkins also shines as a soloist and always seems to quickly adapt to any musical circumstance. “The Fourth Valve” tm is very excited to present James Jenkins….Enjoy!

1. What drew you to the tuba in the first place, and what has kept you

I enjoyed the basic sound of the instrument and the function of the bass
lines. As I have grown in music, I appreciate the true versatility of the
instrument. I still really enjoy being the foundation or a part of the
foundation of the music. That’s where a lot of the musical substance is.

2. How would you describe Connie Weldon’s influence on the Tuba/Euph world?
On you, as her student?

Connie did a great deal for the music world through the Tuba, not least of
which was her establishing and helping to develop the concept to Tuba
Chamber Music in the U.S. As a teacher, she was fantastic. Very demanding
in a maternal way. Very focused on establishing solid, unshakeable
fundamentals and always remembering that even the etudes and exercises are
all music.

James Jenkins with the BSO Boston Pops

3. How big of an inspiration was it to see the success of your fellow
Weldon student, Sam Pilafian?

Many of us have been inspired in one way or another by Sam. From my
perspective, he’s taking the principals that Connie taught and brought them
to another level. A major creative mind!

4. How important has chamber music been to you as a musician, and how does
it affect your orchestral playing?

Of all that I do in musical performance, the skills that I developed through
learning to play chamber music have proven the most valuable. The ideals of
“being responsive and responsible to the other musicians on stage while I’m
playing”, “actively connecting with the other musicians”, “non-verbal
communication skills”, “understanding what my musical role is within the
ensemble at any particular time”, all of these ideals help me to be a much
better orchestral musician.

5. What do you look for in a tuba, and what have you found that you like?
I don’t have specific technical requirements for my instruments. I look
for instruments that are responsive to the way that I play (in all
registers), and helps me to get closer to the concept of sound that I have
in my head. I’m presently playing a 1925, BBb York as my main orchestral
instrument. I also own a Marzan, Holton 645, and a Yamaha 822 F-Tuba.

6. How have you seen the brass scene chsnge in the state of Florida since
you were a kid growing up in Miami?

Difficult to say, because mostly it has been my perspective that has changed.
There were great brass players around when I was a kid and there certainly
are now.

7. In addition to your regular position with the Jacksonville Symphony, you
have had the opportunity to perform with several notable orchestras. Ahat
stylistic and listening approaches have you noticed that are distinct
between Boston, Cleveland & Jacksonville? Similar?

The basic concepts are similar between the orchestras. There is much more
of a commitment to listening, and fine ensemble playing that happens in the
highest quality orchestras. Cleveland has an unparalleled commitment to the
Chamber Music Principals. They believe in precision ensemble, clarity and
transparency in the ensemble, dynamic range (especially soft), and perfect
intonation. Boston plays with glorious sounds and many colors. They also
play with a great deal of Power! In Jacksonville, we are working on
developing all of these things to be on a similar level of the Clevelands
and Bostons.

Boston Symphony Orchestra Low Brass Section with James Jenkins

8. Who are your inspirations?

I’m inspired by the Great Communicators and by people that I have seen grow
to great success. A few of my musical inspirations are: John Stevens,
Wynton Marsalis, Yoyo Ma, Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, Demondrae Thurman,
and Mike Roylance.

Those who are creative and determined to help make things better, or to
develop something interesting and beautiful. Too many people to name.

9. How do you approach teaching students differently today than you did
twenty years ago, and why?

Thanks to Connie Weldon and John Stevens, I’ve always taught the importance
of solid fundamentals, musical integrity, as well as creative, engaged
interpretation. I’ve always attempted to find a personal connection in
which to reach my students through. I continue to stress these things but I
now talk a lot about legacy. The honor of being connected with the greatest
music and musicians throughout history (all genres) through our work and
study that we engage in today. That it is important that we pursue our
study and development in a responsible, respectful manner, commiserate with
the musical legacy that we have connected to.

c. 2017 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved
Photos courtesy of James Jenkins

Do You Want More Interviews?

The Beastly Tubas of 2015! “The Fourth Valve” tm Recounts The Year’s Best Interviews…

How Sweet The Sound! The Tubas of 2014 on “The Fourth Valve” tm

2015, The Year of The Euphonium!

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Spreading Silver Sunshine with Steven Mead and “The Fourth Valve” tm

The list is very short indeed. Maurice Andre, Hermann Baumann, Oystein Baadsvik, almost Christian Lindberg- classically oriented brass soloists who make it their living and life’s work. Steven Mead belongs on the list, and may have very well defined the term ‘brass virtuoso’ as he sat astride two centuries of great brass solo playing tradition. Not only does Steven Mead have it all, he likes to share it! Musicality, technique, showmanship, vision and heart-who could ask for more? “The Fourth Valve” tm is excited to bring you the leading euphonium soloist of our age-Steven Mead, enjoy!

1. Your tone concept seems different than many other exemplars of your instrument.
Is it your concept, embouchure or something else?

Hello Dave, thanks for these questions which I’ll endeavour to answer.

Tone is a very personal thing, and so however I create the sound I do as a result of how I feel about the sound I want to make. I can’t speak for others, and of course there will be differences between players, and indeed equipment will have something to do it, but also, every single musical experience that each of us has had goes into making us the musicians that we are. Also, our emotions and how we feel about melody and more exuberant technical elements of our music affect our sound.

My concept of sound I guess has evolved over the years. If you compare the way I sounded in my earliest recordings circa 1990 and how I sound now, there are differences, but perhaps not as drastic as with other people. I guess if you asked a singer that question they would smile and answer something to the effect of, what the hell do you expect me to say, I sing the way I can and want to!

2. You display an unusual authority on and rapport with your instrument. Why do you think it so? Hours of practice, years of experience, a natural gift, a deep and regular familiarity with the music, or another aspect?
It probably wouldn’t be understated to say that the euphonium is my life, and has been since around the age of 14.

It is my way of expressing myself, much better than I can with words or physical gestures. When you spend four hours a day with your instrument for about 40 years, that’s nearly 60,000 hours… sure, I think I’ve developed a repport with it!

Essentially I feel I’m a melodist, and this stems back to my earliest musical training, and all the singing that I did between the age of 5 and 13. When my soprano voice ‘disappeared’ the euphonium was on hand to continue the vocal expression. The timing was perfect for me then.

The hours of practice just seek to reinforce the connection we have with our instruments, but it can quickly break down if we don’t stay focused, and keep the passion. This word ‘passion’ is probably what has driven me to maintain a close connection with the instrument.

3. How would you define a virtuoso? What does it take to get there?
I’ve never really thought about the definition of such a word, it seems like a word of convenience that people might use to describe somebody who seems to have a command of the instrument, and is able to display this in an exuberant and confident way.

The short answer would be practice and more practice, but it has to be guided and focused, and usually this involves working under the guidance of a master teacher. It’s very easy to waste time and never really achieve full potential.

I grew up in a time where there were no professional euphonium teachers around, so I had to seek inspiration from great musicians whenever I could make contact with them.

4. RNCM granted you a professorship after a lifetime of achievement. Are there other full-time professors of euphonium in the UK who are not also wearing another hat of trombonist or tubist? (In the US, it may be a club of just one-Brian Bowman.). Can you put into words the opportunities this has afforded you?
As far as I know I am the only full Professor of Euphonium in the UK, but we do have others doing really a fantastic job that have excellent qualifications but perhaps are of a younger generation. We are quite lucky in the UK that it is possible to be a full-time specialist in the euphonium, but usually, and that includes myself, we have to do a variety of activities, conducting, teaching, media activities, business (webstore for example) to support our principal activity of performance.

I feel I’ve been very lucky, and that the timing of me becoming a professional euphonium player was perfect for simultaneous developments that were happening in higher education in the UK, involving brass band studies, and a widening of the strictly orchestral instrument list that could be taught at university and conservatory level.

5. You display a grand vision of the potential for your instrument and seem to place it in extraordinary settings adorned by special arrangements, showmanship, grand attire, with musical and technical brilliance. Did this develop slowly over time, or was it a vision early on that you have worked towards?

Well thank you for the very kind words David. I think for me the way I have approached euphonium performance has been a natural progression, and of course it still isn’t over. To be honest, I haven’t worn some of the more exuberant attire for a couple of years, but who knows if that could change again!

Placing the euphonium in ‘extraordinary settings’ – well I’m not sure really it’s that extraordinary, except for perhaps the fashion show I did in Milan 10 years ago. I’m trying to get out of the euphonium ghetto and team up with other musicians, string quartets, brass quintets, trombone quintets, organ and so forth.

Too often I feel that people are prejudiced towards the euphonium because we limit ourselves to strictly ‘band’, and low brass settings.

They may have a point!

Therefore with all my travels I’ve been very lucky to meet many different ensembles and great musicians who’ve wanted a collaboration, and I’ve always welcomed this, and continue to do so.

How DO you view the euphonium?
I’m not sure how I can answer this in less than about 10,000 words, but I’ll try.

The euphonium for me is the most beautiful of all the brass instruments; truly sonorous and virtuosic.

It has an increasingly fine body of original repertoire, and is recognised increasingly my other professional musicians around the world.

The euphonium should have been included in the symphony orchestra, introduced at the end of the 19th-century and then all the bias that has been shown against the instrument during the 20th century would never have occurred, and the euphonium would have been taught in music conservatories from the beginning of the 20th century. As it is, we ‘missed that boat’, and it was allowed to continue its journey purely within the realms of the wind and brass bands. I believe it’s started to show its full potential now, but we need more specialist teachers, and we need more chamber and symphony orchestras who are prepared to take a chance to show off this most remarkable of musical instruments.

We need classical music stations to let people hear the beautiful sound we make. We have never had more fine young players playing euphonium as we do today, it’s really quite staggering. Many of them though are uncertain about the future, and get advice to switch instruments to guarantee a performing career. Some make it through this doubt and have blazing professional careers.

6. Most instruments encompass two to three vocal ranges (sop., mezzo, alto, tenor, baritone, & bass).
Of the three bass clef timbres you seem to orient towards the timbre of the great tenors. Is this a conscious choice?

Perhaps yes. We have enough bass instruments, like the tuba, who desperately try to sound higher than they can comfortably manage in much of their solo literature. So I’m happy to show off our natural ‘communicating’ range. But many of the original works and perform have a range of four octaves, so at times we have to sound comfortable in all the ranges you listed.

7. Your tone is extraordinary. Have you ever been tempted to alter the traditional vibrato component of a euphonium tone to limit the vibrato, perhaps even to the end of the phrase? How do you view vibrato on solo euphonium as distinct from solo trumpet or trombone?

That’s a funny question David, which reveals you certainly haven’t heard many or any of my recordings for the last six years or so.

When I listen to my earliest recordings from say 1990-1996 there is a recognisable and quite constant use of a similar vibrato, and I think it was from around 2000 that I really try to create a variety of tone colours, and used vibrato in a variety of ways to achieve this is one element of the basic tone.

From my earliest visits to the USA (1990-) I had my eyes and ears opened to different expressive possibilities. During my ‘brass band years’ at Desford Colliery Band, 1982-1989 conductors would ask for different types of vibrato under different circumstances. Some conductors preferred a more even and old-fashioned vibrato, seemingly to satisfy the older generation of brass band adjudicators that we had to perform for in competitions!! It was quite hard to break away from this approach, and it took some time for me. In my recent Dream Times CD I really tried some different sounds, playing Piazzolla with string quartet, a modern piece with electronics, and a more symphonic style with brass ensemble. I really enjoyed the colour mix.

In my latest album, Lyrical Virtuoso, with a brass band, there is a slight return to traditional vibrato, but I tried to make it very varied and really applicable to the particular genre and style I was performing.

I think because of our tradition with the euphonium within the brass band world, which is my roots, the concept of the lyrical tenor has remained, and because we are of conical bore rather than cylindrical with the other instruments you mentioned, I see no problem in the euphonium using a little more vibrato when we play solo. It’s quite frustrating for me to hear about orchestrally-minded teachers imposing a ‘no vibrato’ policy on their euphonium students, even when they are playing Rochut! This has produced sadly, the generation of very boring sounding euphonium players, unable to communicate and create a truly beautiful sound. No wonder these individuals become frustrated and eventually disillusioned. Section playing, of course, is fundamentally different, and within wind orchestras the use of vibrato should be used very sparingly except where the euphonium voice is solo and where the style warrants the use of more characteristic vibrato.

8. When students come to work with you for the first time, what element of musicianship do you find most commonly overlooked?
No two students are the same, and many come to me from different countries and backgrounds, and I absolutely love this variety of ‘challenges’.

Many of the young players from the brass band world in the UK come to me knowing only brass band solos and repertoire! The gaps that I have to fill-in are vast and cannot be done quickly, so it’s a step-by-step process.

Other international students come to me with a basic knowledge of wind band literature, and often a very dull sound concept, and so it takes some time to unlock the true musician inside them.

The art of phrasing is probably the one thing that both sets of students (domestic and foreign) seem to find the most problematic. Nobody sings any more, and therein lies the essential problem. Phrasing has to be taught almost like a foreign language rather than something which should be natural and expressive.

9. The piano trio is, for strings a supremely balanced and satisfying ensemble. Demondrae Thurman & DUO WINDS-trOmBOnE, have attempted to achieve this with low brass, oboe and piano; Ian Bousefield has done so by substituting the trombone for cello in a traditional piano trio. Your work with your wife, Misa, seems to have solved the conundrum in a most satisfying way. Was it Kismet? What is your view on the chamber trio with brass/winds and piano, and your particular variant?I really enjoy playing duets with my wife Misa, and we have a lot of time to really connect in terms of sound, phrasing and articulation. We have a natural sense of ensemble which comes from hours of playing together, and our first duet CD ‘Love’s Joy’ will be released quite soon.

I absolutely adore the piano trio format and I have been working on a project with the trumpeter Adam Rapa and we hope to able to tour with this project soon, with music by Debussy, Brahms, Poulenc etc. It’s tremendous music and deserves to be heard. I think the composers would love what we’re doing with it. Anyway they are not here to object personally, and so we’ll do our best to make it sound pretty 🙂

Is your bell Sterling silver?

c. 2017 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved.
Photos courtesy of

Jim Self
John Van Houten
Demondrae Thurman

Charlie Vernon
James Markey
Bill Reichenbach
Stefan Schulz

Canadian BrassPress_Photo
Boston Brass
groupwall< Mnozil Brass

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Wednesday 8 March 2017
Hal Roland/Matt Bonelli DUO with
DUO BRUBECK, featuring Lindsey Blair

2:00 pm in Room 8122
MDC Kendall Campus
11011 SW 104th Street Miami, FL 33176
Admission is Free
Join Miami’s Bass Master, Matt Bonelli, as he holds forth on the niceties and nastities of the duo with his long time duo partner Hal Roland. This concert will GROOVE! Joined by DUO BRUBECK, featuring the premiere of amazing guitarist Lindsey Blair with the group. NOT TO BE MISSED!

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