The Trombonist - Spring 2019

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The Trombonist



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President’s Column

Editor’s Welcome



I hope you have been looking forward to this issue of The Trombonist, and that you are ready to be inspired. This year has been extremely inspirational, as well as busy, for me already. My work has taken me across 16 time zones, both playing concerts and teaching. The teaching is especially interesting because you get to see first hand how players do things differently around the world. At Colburn School in Los Angeles they had some interesting approaches for effective practice, and in Nanning, southern China, they demonstrated unreal tonguing, creating fireworks like I have never heard before. Thus, I learnt at least as much from the students I taught as they, hopefully, learnt from me. What these students had in common was that they were patient, happy to share, fearless, and open to inspiration. Remember how much you can learn from everyone around you, younger or older than you. Stay open, listen and absorb. My most valuable lessons have mostly come from entirely unexpected moments.

Welcome to the spring edition of The Trombonist, 2019. We are proud to present the work of the Concert Trombone Quartette, as featured on our cover, the work of Raph Clarkson, as well as a bumper edition of reviews of recent releases and events too. We celebrate the life of John Edney (1935–2019), former trombonist of the Royal Opera House, a highly respected teacher and once membership secretary of the BTS. Our education column returns with Jon Stokes who shares a number of his favourite teaching resources, highlighting our own ABRSM project as a particularly handy tool. Our regulars have some exciting pieces for you too; Jeremy Price and Rob Egerton feature the fantastic solos from Hey There by Carl Fontana and Bill Watrous in this edition’s Jazz by Jeremy feature, and be sure to check our G&T feature and What's On pages for an idea of the events coming up for you to all enjoy. Happy reading.

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Death of Urbie Green Urbie Green, one of the greatest trombone players to ever grace the instrument, died on 31 December, 2018. Urban Clifford ‘Urbie’ Green featured on more than 250 recordings, playing with musical legends including Woody Herman, Frank Sinatra, Miles Davies, Charlie Parker, Count Basie, and many, many more. He also recorded more than two dozen solo albums over his five decade career. Green was famous for his sweet singing sound, especially in the high register of the instrument. His versions of classic jazz ballads, like Here’s That Rainy Day, and albums such as Urbie Green & 21 Trombones are some of the greatest trombone performances ever recorded. In 1995, he was elected into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame. Urbie Green leaves behind a legacy that has influenced generations of jazz trombonists, though his artistry on the instrument, by turns lyrical and stunningly virtuosic, was truly unique.

New Section Leader at the CBSO Richard Watkin has been appointed principal trombone with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Watkin was born in Derbyshire and started playing the trombone aged 11. He was in the National Youth Orchestra and went on to study with Simon Wills and Eric Crees at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. After completing his studies in 2006, he worked as a freelance musician before taking up the position of principal trombone with the Orchestra of Scottish Opera. In 2014 he left Scotland to return to freelancing, playing with many country’s finest orchestras. He was appointed principal trombone with the CBSO at the end of last year, Watkin’s first concert as principal trombonist in the orchestra was on the 16th January, playing Dvorak’s Symphony No. 8 with the conductor Andrew Gourlay. 6

Peter Moore Joins the Faculty at Guildhall The Guildhall School has announced that Peter Moore will be joining the faculty of the Wind, Brass and Percussion department at the start of the next academic year. In 2008, Moore made the headlines when he became the youngest ever winner of the BBC Young Musician Competition, aged just 12. He became the youngest ever principal player with the London Symphony Orchestra when he was appointed co-principal trombone in 2014. The next year he joined the BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist Scheme. Alongside his work with the trombone section of the LSO, Moore has performed as a soloist with internationally renowned orchestras, including the LSO, BBC Symphony, Thailand Philharmonic, and many others. He has performed solo recitals at famous venues around world, including the Wigmore Hall, the Royal Concertgebouw, and the ElbPhilharmonie. He is also a Yamaha International Artist. In response to his appointment at Guildhall, Moore has said: ‘I’m excited to get started in my new role at Guildhall School. There is a huge wealth of talent and a great spirit within the brass department.’

Kris Garfitt wins ROSL competition wind and brass section final Congratulations to Kris Garfitt who has won the 67th Royal Over-Seas League Annual Music Competition Section Final for Solo Wind and Brass. The section final took place on 12th February, and Garfitt triumphed to take away the top prize of £5,000 and has earned a place in the Grand Final of the competition. The judges also awarded Garfitt a further prize, the Philip Jones Memorial Prize for an Outstanding Brass Player, worth £1,000.


NEWS The winning programme included Aria et Polonaise, Op.128 by Jongen, Weber’s Romance, and BASTA for trombone solo by Rabe. Garfitt studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, during which time he played with both the European Union Youth Orchestra and the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester. He graduated in 2015 and was appointed wechsel trombonist of the Deutsche Radio Philharmonie in 2017. Success in the ROSL competition follows first prizes at both the 2018 International Tenor and Bass Trombone Competition in Budapest, and the 2018 International Juozas Pakalnis Competition of Wind and Percussion Instruments in Vilnius. The grand final of the Royal Over-Seas League 67th music competition will be held at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on the 30th May.

BTS Day at Durham Brass Festival Sunday 21 July The BTS is very pleased once again to be part of this year’s Durham Brass Festival and there’s an enjoyable and varied programme emerging. Expect lots of playing – we will be finishing our day with an outdoor massed blow as part of the Festival, as we did in 2018, and we are delighted that Christian Jones, from Opera North, and a former BTS president, is coming to prepare us for that. As ever, players from all backgrounds are welcome and music will be provided in all clefs. Our other special guests for the day are Stephen Lomas from Brighouse and Rastrick Band, and Danny Brooks from Elland Silver Band, who will give recitals. The winners of the BTS Quartet Competition 2019, Aeris Brass, will also be performing. This stunning quartet was this year’s worthy winners of the BTS Trombone Quartet Competition and their lively programme will no doubt impress and entertain. We are also very pleased to welcome someone new to BTS circles, DR. HANNABIELL SANDERS . Hannabiell is a bass trombonist/percussionist/composer who leads a unique duet called Ladies of Midnight Blue. They have a particular interest in Afro-Latin music and her session on Rhythm and Improvisation promises to be very special. The day will run from approximately 9am to 5pm. Further details about admission times and the central Durham venue details will appear online as soon as they are finalised. As well as the event run by BTS, there’ll be plenty of other things going on in Durham on the day. Take a look at the BRASS FESTIVAL to get a flavour of what else is on offer and keep in touch with the BTS WEBSITE for final details on our own event – see you there!

Aeris Brass crowned winners of BTS Quartet Competition 2019 Congratulations to AERIS BRASS , who have been crowned winners at the BTS’s biennial quartet competition, held on the 31st March. Aeris Brass is formed of Ian Sankey, Martin Thomson, Ali Goodwin, and Adam Crighton. The group has been together since 2015, and have performed across the UK and in Sweden and San Marino. They have commissioned new works from composers including David Swan and Peter Longworth, and have performed with internationally renowned artists such as Carol Jarvis and John Kenny. You have chance to see Aeris brass perform at the next BTS day in Durham on the 21st July.

Annual Bursary Now Open! The BTS is pleased to announce that applications are now open for the Annual Bursary. Applications for funds up to £250 open on May 1st each year and close on 31st August. Successful applicants will be notified as soon as possible after the closing date. The British Trombone Society administers the fund, which has been established to help any Member of the Society in need of financial assistance. All applications will be considered and grants are to be awarded for anything trombone related. This includes, instrument purchases, sheet music, commissions, events, and music courses. The BTS has the right to administer multiple bursaries in any given year. All information supplied will be confidential to the committee of the British Trombone Society. To download an application form, please follow THIS LINK.

Enquiries and completed application forms should be sent to:

Visit THIS LINK for the answers to last issue’s crossword and congratulations to John Muir for his winning entry!


BTS Day Report A chance to be unreservedly geeky and not embarrassed to be talking about mouthpieces … WRITTEN BY PETER C HESTER

Thus mused trombonist Jon Stokes, reflecting warmly on BTS days and doubtless expressing a sentiment familiar to trombone enthusiasts. Maybe we had to be particularly enthusiastic to register at 8.30am at RAF Northolt on Sunday, 31 March, the morning after the clocks went forward(!), yet some 60 intrepid souls were there. We knew it would be special – a Royal Air Force day with a Rather Awesome Foursome who Really Are Fabulous …

That Rather Awesome Foursome, Helen Vollam, Becky Smith, Jayne Murrill and Sarah Williams, alias Bones Apart, the London BTS representatives, had teamed up with the trombone players of the RAF, based at the excellent facilities of the Music School at Northolt, to present a day of playing, listening, talking and learning, and producing a most enjoyable and inspiring occasion. Warm-up sessions started the day, and players were led into some deceptively tricky exercises, particularly on ensemble tuning and intonation. Listening to massed trombones playing a quiet and sustained pedal Bb together, one might have thought there was a Lancaster bomber flying across the airfield. A choice of sessions followed, on ensemble playing, and on the life of RAF trombone players. The latter presented a light-hearted review of all that entails, everything from solo lessons, marching practice, orchestral playing, band practice, to perching on battlements playing heavily-bedecked ceremonial trumpets at state occasions… never a dull moment. The biennial BTS Quartet competition was also held in the morning, adjudicated by Helen and Becky from Bones Apart, and Jon Stokes, one of London’s leading freelance players. Four excellent quartets had reached the final and they each displayed high quality playing. The groups were Aeris Brass and Regent’s Trombones, both from London, Bute Bones from the RWCMD in Cardiff, and finally a quartet without a name from Berkshire. Together they offered a striking range of contrasting repertoire, with contemporary works by John Kenny and Simon Wills alongside arrangements of 8

music by Elgar, Robert Hampton, Poulenc, and Hoagy Carmichael. Aeris Brass was the eventual winning quartet, proving to be a communicative and entertaining group with a sense of musical adventure alongside their considerable skill. Their prize is a guest appearance with Grimethorpe Colliery Band (watch the BTS website for details) and they are also to perform at the Durham Brass Festival, playing at the BTS Day on Sunday, 21 July. Ian Sankey from the ‘surprised and delighted’ winning quartet revealed that he and his friends Martin Lee Thomson, Alistair Goodwin and Adam Crighton, were contemporaries at college. In 2015 they organised a recital tour of Scotland and their career has grown from that. To date, they’ve worked with leading players such as John Kenny and Carol Jarvis, and they are interested in playing in a huge variety of genres and styles. Having two basses in the group, plus the option of an alto, extends the flexibility they have developed and this was very evident in the competition programme they performed. After the novelty of a sit-down lunch in the RAF Mess, the afternoon presented some of the finest trombone playing we could hope for, in an entertaining variety of styles, from Bones Apart, the RAF trombones and Jon Stokes. Bones Apart’s effortless recital included repertoire from their past 20 years, such as Albeniz’ gracious Tango and John Iveson’s luscious arrangement of Jealousy, as well as introducing their latest project, a programme called ‘Wonder Women’, which showcases the music of female composers, arrangers and players. Consequently



we had a gentle Chanson by Nadia Boulanger, and a bluesy number by Melba Liston, the first female trombone player to play in American Big Bands of post-1945 era, such as that of Dizzy Gillespie. She later became a prolific writer and arranger, working with Quincy Jones and others. Bones Apart’s impeccable rendition of her music whetted the appetite for more from their project. The RAF trombone team of 10 players generated a predictably big sound, yet all was control and precision, for example, in the Mini Overture by Lutoslawski. Crespo’s famous Bruckner Etude produced some of the richest bass trombone sounds of the day and the team did full justice to Eric Ewazen’s Fantasy and Double Fugue for Trombones. The Quartet from the RAF College gave a polished performance of a quirky arrangement of Carlos Jobim’s No More Blues. Both Bones Apart and the RAF players combined for the final concert piece, called Rhythm and Blues. This most approachable number started with a very quiet ‘hello’ figure, actually using a practice mute, progressing in volume and complexity through a variety of muted and open passages before returning to a quiet ‘goodbye’. A clever piece, artfully performed – it was very well-received. Jon Stokes plays in various musical genres, such as the John Wilson Orchestra, and bands like Big Shake-up (see BTS Spring 2017), and he led a very stimulating session on jazz and improvisation. To BTS enthusiasts this is often not a field of expertise but after a thoughtful Q&A session we were encouraged to have a go, to see what could be done with Happy Birthday to You. On the way, Jon’s insightful comments reminded us of the lyrical and vocal potential of the trombone, often achievable simply by using different articulations. Music, especially jazz, is a language and as Jon pointed out,

great players often play as if speaking. Communicating the sentiment in a ballad, for example, one should be singing the words in your head. Jazz also depends on good listening and Jon encouraged us to be avid listeners, to all types of music, to admire the craft in it. What is being done? How are they doing it? Can I emulate that? Can I use that? With all this listening to each other, imagining the words, and improvising around the chords, by the time Jon had finished with us, 40+ trombone players playing Happy Birthday in mixed metre versions had to be heard to be believed. Bones Apart led the final part of the day with first a Q&A session illustrated by more gorgeous playing, stressing, for example, the basic need for an attractive sound. The simple value of breath marks to support phrasing was noted, as was the importance in quiet playing of keeping the air moving freely. We were also treated to another item from ‘Wonder Women’, a world première of Mark Nightingale’s arrangement of Willow Weep for Me by Ann Ronnell. The deliciously crunchy harmonies and very smooth playing were simply beautiful. All that had been learned on what was a very busy day just had to be put to a final test, so what better than to end with a massed blow? We had Nimrod to practice breathing, a fun Mambo OIE OIAE for remembering dynamics and listening, and 12th Street Rag to finish us off. Finally a word of thanks to all who made this possible: to traders Raths, Prozone and Phil Parker for providing support and temptation to the day, to Jonathan Hill and his colleagues at the RAF Music School for making us feel most welcome, and to the professional players, uniformed or not, who provided some fantastic playing – beautiful sounds as only the trombone can make. 9

John Edney 1935–2019 BY BARNEY MEDL AND

John Edney, former trombonist at the Royal Opera House and legendary trombone teacher, died in January at the age of 83. Edney was born in Peckham in 1935 and over a career that spanned more than half a century he became one of the country’s finest trombone players and a trombone teacher who inspired countless students. After playing in the inaugural London School Symphony Orchestra as a teenager, Edney gained a scholarship to study with Geoffrey Lindon at Trinity College of Music in the late 1950s. In 1958 he started his professional career as principal trombone with the Festival Ballet Company and the Arts Council Touring Opera. Over the next few years he had a busy career playing in West End shows, and was a member of the London Mozart Players and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. In 1964 he entered the orchestra of the Royal Opera House, under the directorship of Sir Georg Solti. Edney spent six years at the ROH, during which time he became a popular stalwart in a section which included Frank Stead and Harold Nash. In 1970, Edney left the Royal Opera House and was appointed Brass Organiser at the Inner London Education Authority’s Centre for Young Musicians, in the earliest days of the organisation. His relationship with the Centre for Young Musicians continued for over 40 years, until his retirement in 2015. He was also a trombone teacher and chamber music coach at Trinity College of Music, later Trinity Laban. As a teacher and mentor, Edney was a monumental figure at the Centre for Young Musicians and in the London School Symphony Orchestra, his old youth orchestra. When I speak to people who knew him, they tell me how supportive and caring he was as a teacher and friend, while always maintaining the highest professional standards. He was a great musician who knew how to draw the best out of his students. The number of his former students who have filled the profession over the past decades is testament to his skill and powers as a teacher. There are many who learnt from him who are now fine teachers in their own right. 10


Few individuals can have left such a legacy on music education in London as John Edney. I spoke to Geoffrey Harniess, the Head of CYM, who knew John for many years: I first met John soon after I began working in the profession, when I played in numerous off stage bands with him at the Royal Opera House. He was always very encouraging and friendly to new faces and we bumped into each other on various gigs over the next years. When I took up the role of Head of Brass at CYM in 2002 John had, of course, been teaching there for over 30 years. John was totally dedicated to bringing out the best in all of his students and was much liked by them. His experience as a professional player, combined with his background as brass co-ordinator for the ILEA, meant that he brought great knowledge and wisdom to his teaching, whilst recognising that there had to be fun and enjoyment involved too! John was very supportive of me and other colleagues and was interested in everyone’s welfare. I heard him demonstrating and playing duets beautifully right up to when he retired from CYM – an effortless and sophisticated sound that no doubt inspired his many students. Edney had a long, distinguished, and varied career as a performer and educator. He served as membership secretary of the British Trombone Society, and freely gave up his time to support his fellow musicians, serving on numerous committees of the Musicians Union. He will be fondly remembered by the many musicians who owe him so much.



Trills are annoying little things. When they work they sound so easy, but they can be really hard to get going in the beginning. The good news is that they are what they sound like. Easy … The bad news is that in learning them we tend to try and make everything harder than it needs to be. Practising and mastering trills is also a brilliant way of making sure your embouchure, slurring and airflow is working in perfect harmony. Take a look at the short video below to get you going.


Josh Cirtina: Hi Adrian, thanks for agreeing to speak to us about this new venture. So, first things first, can you tell us a bit about the group and it’s purpose? Adrian France: Hi Josh – my pleasure and thank you for your kind invitation. It is a great opportunity to discuss our project with the British Trombone Society and your readers so we can offer some insight into our new venture. As we know, the UK already boasts some wonderfully talented trombone quartets, most notably Bones Apart, as well as others including Slidin’ About, Spitfire Quartet & Black Dyke Mills Band quartet, so you may be asking why do we need another one? The Concert Trombone Quartette is a newly formed trombone quartet but with a difference. We have taken our inspiration from an original quartet formed and based in London performing from 1892 until c. 1896. However, we are not just looking to simply reform this along the lines of recreating everything they did and performed. On the contrary, we have a specific remit at CTQ to retrospectively develop the ideas of the original quartet by exploring works for the trombone from over 400 years, some having been performed by the original quartet, but playing them on instruments original to the time of the compositions. Thus we can create sounds familiar to the composers and offer a unique insight into their differing sound worlds throughout the centuries and into the evolution of the trombone and specifically the trombone quartet. JC: Why in particular did you want to recreate an ensemble from the past? AF: This idea was not a pre-requisite of ours but one that 12

developed over a period of months. From a historical perspective, it was of significant interest to us to discover that a prominent trombone quartet existed in London in a bygone era, as well as the wealth of documents including reviews, press articles and concert reviews that exist relating to the original quartet, which clearly demonstrates in what high esteem they were held. The original members were Messrs T. Colton, F. W. Davis, E. Atherley and R. H. Booth (bass trombone & director). They were all players in London’s top Symphony Orchestras, such as the Royal Academy Concerts, Royal Italian Opera, London Symphony Concerts & London Symphony Orchestra, Drury Lane Theatre & The Richter Concerts. They were also clearly in high demand as a Quartette in their own right, with performances such as playing to the Lord Mayor & Sheriffs at the Savage Club, The Royal Albert Hall, and The Queen’s Hall, alongside an invitation to perform for the renowned Gresham Lectures hosted by Professor Frank Bridge. Mr T. Colton, who played the alto trombone, was also professor of trombone at the Royal College of Music. One such historical example below advertises the original Quartette having being accompanied by Mr Henry J. Wood on the organ at The Queen’s Hall Sunday Concert Series in London on April 5th 1896. This was surely a highlight in their concert archive and biography. They were at that time members of the original Queen’s Hall Orchestra, which was specifically formed by Henry Wood for his Promenade Concerts Series in August 1895 and which later evolved into today’s worldrenowned BBC Proms.




This valuable information was not only fascinating and enlightening to us from an historical angle but also fuelled our interest to consider the possibilities of complimenting their work from a 21st century perspective. As trombonists in the modern era, we are always seeking opportunities to continually raise the profile of our beloved instrument in all its forms and to do something that as yet remains mostly unexplored is incredibly exciting for us.

lugging countless trombones around the UK and further afield, which can lead to some extremely colourful travel schedules!

JC: The new group has a rather formidable line up of leading performers in the historical performance trombone world. Could you tell us more about them? AF: Our members, Susan Addison, Emily White, Miguel Tantos and myself, Adrian France, all share a collective passion in performing on original instruments covering many centuries and we all bring a wide range of experience, expertise and flexibility to our specific roles within the quartet. Fortuitously, we have three tenor players who also play alto trombone and this unique attribute can offer us many musical possibilities. Sue and Miguel have previously held orchestral positions in the CBSO and Santiago Philharmonic Orchestra, Chile respectively. We are all now freelance players and work with ensembles such as The Sixteen, The English Cornett & Sackbut Ensemble, The Gabrieli Consort, Orchestra Révolutionnaire et Romantique, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Musica Antiqua Salzburg & Pandora’s Box covering solo work, contemporary, Jazz music & theatre productions. As well as all that, three of us are professors of sackbut in UK Conservatoires. Most importantly, we all share a warped enjoyment of

JC: Do you have any upcoming plans or projects? AF: We have a few projects in the pipeline of a varied nature. Our debut concert is on Saturday, 8 June 2019 with the Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Bach Choir. See below for more details. We also have an in-principle commitment at Newcastle University for a collaborative project in 2020 with my students at the University doing one of our programmes for choir & trombones, which will see CTQ in a mini-residency role. We also have several projects in the early stages of development, as well as two recording projects planned, instrumentally and with choirs. More information will follow in due course. JC: Since the group is based somewhat around historically informed performance, is there a research element related to the group? AF: Yes, very much so. Discovering specific historical documents and records of original trombone quartets is almost as good as it gets and is absolutely fascinating – especially knowing where and with whom they worked and how we can benefit with hindsight through the ever expanding knowledge of historically informed performance – something not available to players back in the 19th Century. According to the original Quartet’s press reviews, they performed ‘the Schütz & Beethoven pieces’, presumably referring to Fili mi Absalon and Equale Continues on next page … 13


JC: Is there anything you’d like to add? AF: As we know, there is a growing body of repertoire for the trombone in quartet and solo form and this project is designed to encompass some of the more traditionally known works as well as offering knew historical pieces yet to be heard. Our remit is to include our own arrangements from the 19th century of actual listed works that they played, following in the original ensemble’s footsteps, as well as obvious classics and one such work you can hear via our VIDEO HERE . To conclude, reforming The Concert Trombone Quartette isn’t just an opportunity to try some new music in a different manner but is fuelled by wanting to give something back to the instrument we all love so much! Specifically, this is in offering a much deeper knowledge to what we already know about certain repertoire but also by unlocking and opening up entire projects and awareness into the sheer depth of repertoire and contextual knowledge that is mostly overlooked.

The Concert Trombone Quartette superimposed in front of the Queen’s Hall, London (original image dated 1894). By permission of Historic England Archive. (PHOTOGRAPHY, ADRIAN CLEVERLEY)

respectively, and these were documented as having been performed alongside arrangements of popular tunes of the day. There is a vast amount of on-going background work into sourcing more of their specific repertoire with the occasional previously unknown gem being unearthed, so watch this space. My research is taking me to many Libraries and Institutions discovering leads to events and specific repertoire, as well as more general background material on how the trombone was considered in this period. It is an endless and rewarding journey of discovery seeing what role they played in the general musical society in 19th century London. One specific angle of interest we wish to expand upon is the comparison of recreating the sounds from the 19th century on the instruments to which they would have had access and to juxtapose them on the same works but with instruments of the Baroque, Classical & Romantic periods, to hear and explore the different sound worlds and approaches in articulation, tuning, timbres and technical aspects to all the instruments. My aim is to build upon knowledge of repertoire for the trombone by expanding upon the context of how and why certain works were written for the instrument and to explore further the composer’s influences at the time. This will the form the backbone of our programming and might also expand into a more generalist research project at a later date. 14

JC: I hear your debut concert is coming up shortly? Could you give us some details for our readers to make the trip to see you in action? AF: Indeed we do and we are delighted to be collaborating with the Newcastle-upon- Tyne Bach Choir alongside the Newcastle Classical Players, directed by Eric Cross on Saturday, 8 June 2019 at 7.30pm, All Saint’s Church, Gosforth, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The programme will be exploring the instrumental and vocal repertoire for trombones and voices from the Classical and Romantic periods, centring around Bruckner’s Requiem in D minor WAB 39 dating from 1849 and is considered to be Bruckner’s first large-scale work. We hope to see some of you there, if possible, to share in our inaugural concert! Please do follow us on social media on the following links:


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Education Column JON STOKES

I have always felt as passionate about my development as a teacher as I have about my goals as a performer. For me, these two disciplines complement each other beautifully. If you are fortunate to be performing regularly, you’re in a perfect position to impart your knowledge, experience and passion onto the next generation, whether that’s in one-to-one lessons or as part of a group, delivering workshops and masterclasses.

The more I achieve as a performer, the easier I find it to inspire my pupils and the more I try to find ways of helping my pupils, the more I improve as a performer. When I started out I certainly didn’t have any special skills or methods that aided my teaching abilities and even now I tend to just go with the flow. I have, however, formed a few ideas and opinions over the years and I thought I would talk about the one that I feel is possibly the most important … developing a good sound. I am constantly thinking of ways to inspire my students and encourage them to engage with music. To this end I often find myself thinking back to when I was younger and what influences affected my learning on the trombone. I was extremely fortunate to have a truly inspiring teacher, Mike Sallis, who encouraged me to actively listen to as much music as possible. He would give me tapes and CD’s ranging from J. J. Johnson and Tommy Dorsey to The Philip Jones Brass Ensemble and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. I didn’t always immediately like everything I heard but I soon started to find sounds that I tried to emulate. This enabled me to start to form an idea in my head of what I wanted to do on the trombone. I particularly remember the first time I heard the Dennis Brain recordings of the Mozart Horn Concertos and Rostropovich performing the Bach Cello Suites, as well as forming an obsession with Big Bands. These recordings have definitely helped me to develop my idea of sound but it wasn’t just recordings that I listened to. Mike was always keeping me up to date with which bands and orchestras were visiting the nearby concert halls and we would immerse ourselves with the programme they were playing or with the performers’ 16

seminal works before going to watch and listen to the concerts. Growing up in Cheltenham was a blessing due to the many music festivals and constant music making going on in the area. There was a plethora of visiting professionals, along with local amateurs and youth bands run by the Gloucestershire Music Service and local brass bands. Mike would also demonstrate in our lessons so I could hear up close the wonderful sound he made. Basically, I listened to music a lot and played music a lot. I am certain that all that listening helped me to become a better player and I now try to find recordings and concerts that I hope will inspire my pupils. Listening to masters of their instruments is still my greatest inspiration and something that I believe should be encouraged right from the start of learning to play any instrument. I always try to expose my pupils, including beginners, to music that I think might motivate them to practice and help them play with more confidence and a better sense of what sort of a sound they are aiming for. I find that trying to get a good sound as soon as possible will often get a student hooked and help them find the inspiration to keep practising. After all, if we don’t make a good sound no one will want to listen. In order to focus on sound we have to be listening, all the time. And not just having something on in the background but actively picking up on all the detail within the recording or performance. Listening to great recordings can happen straight away but listening to yourself can be more difficult and it can take time to really hone in on what’s coming out of the bell rather than concentrating on the notes on the page or worrying about too many


other factors. I focus on playing by ear, improvisation and scales to try and get away from sheet music, get more creative with music and actively listen to the sounds that are being produced. Recording a lesson or a practice session is hugely valuable also, even if we don’t always like what we hear. There are so many resources available to help teachers and new technology is appearing all the time. Recording lessons is a brilliant way of properly listening to your own sound and this no longer needs to be a laborious affair now that we can plug decent microphones straight into phones or laptops. Playing music to students is also simple now that we can carry thousands of tracks on our phones and gain access to the internet wherever we are. However, I realise that not everyone will have access to expensive technology and we shouldn’t need to rely on all these tools to promote a good practice ethic or help students find joy in making music. As a teacher, simply playing along with students or demonstrating certain aspects can be a huge benefit in helping to form an idea of sound. One listening resource that I have found to be particularly useful is the recordings made by the former BTS President Liam Kirkman. Liam set out on a mission to record all the pieces on the ABRSM trombone syllabus from Grade 1 to 5 and it is a remarkable achievement. As well as recording many of the pieces himself, Liam employed the services of current BTS President Dávur Magnussen and Vice President, Matt

Gee, as well as Nick Hudson. The piano parts are played by Erico Ishihara, Emma Fowler and I also believe John Higginbothom, Bass Trombone with the BBC Big Band and the West End production of ‘The Lion King’, offered his talents on piano too. These recordings are fantastic and a brilliant addition to the resources currently available to BTS members. I have used them to help me decide which pieces might best suit my pupils, but more importantly I play these recordings to my pupils so they can hear expert trombonists playing the pieces that they are working on. I am not a competent piano player either so these recordings have also been valuable tools for my pupils to hear the piano parts played properly. I have found that listening to these recordings and playing along has greatly benefited my younger pupils and enabled them to gain an understanding of the pieces much quicker that simply muddling through on their own. I do feel that there needs to be a balance between playing by ear and reading music. Each pupil may require a different balance but these recordings are a great learning tool. Bravo Liam. FOLLOW THIS LINK TO VISIT OUR RESOURCE, HERE.




RAPH CLARKSON is a versatile trombonist, improviser, composer, bandleader, workshop leader/ educator – here he extolls the virtues of the trombone and the flexibility and variety it can give players in their musical adventures.



As our world becomes ever more interconnected, the opportunity to delve into the rich variety of arts and cultural practices increases. This is certainly true of music; the 21st century is providing us with unprecedented mixtures of style, genre, practice, instrumentation and musical philosophy. I feel very lucky to live and work in this dynamic musical age and one crucial element that has allowed me to explore all of this musical variety is the trombone. Here I would like to celebrate the instrument, the variety of musical experiences it offers, the ways in which I’ve used it, and the many inspiring players and teachers that have helped me in my explorations. The trombone, of course, was one of the first instruments, in its early incarnation as the sackbut, to become a crucial part of Western instrumental music, doubling tenor and bass voices in sacred choral settings 18

in the 16th and 17th centuries, as well as being a regular feature of European folk and peasant dance music. While I don’t play the sackbut any more, although I was lucky enough to explore the instrument and its usage in my early 20s, via the guidance of Sue Addison, Emily White and Adam Woolf, and these experiences have helped to shape my creative explorations and underlined how closely related some of our varied musical practices are. The lightness, delicacy and variety of tone colours required in early music practices, as well as period ornamentation and improvisation, show that sackbut playing can be quite closely related to contemporary jazz trombone playing. This was something that I experimented with during my masters recitals. There I brought together European folk tunes from Béla Bartók, music of Heinrich Biber from 17th century Bohemia, contemporary jazz pieces by Kenny Wheeler,


John Taylor and jazz trombonist Mark Bassey, with an ensemble comprising sackbut/trombone, viola, drums, harpsichord and piano. These explorations formed the first iteration of what is now my ensemble The Dissolute Society, named after a movement of Biber’s Battaglia for Strings, which released an album called Soldiering On, on the Babel Label in 2018. Whilst I can’t point towards specific recordings of sackbut/trombone or early music/jazz crossover artists as inspiration, one stylistic example of contemporary improvised music mixing with 16th/17th century material that I always come back to is John Potter’s The Dowland Project as an authentic contemporary way of exploring music of the past. The first album of this comprises exclusively Dowland’s songs, but the Project has since explored a wide variety of period material. In this set-up, saxophonist John Surman, and bassist Barry Guy provide contemporary improvised approaches alongside the period instrumentation of baroque violin and lute, with John Potter, my mentor at York University, soaring vocally over the top. Potter, incidentally, was part of a seminal recording, singing with the Hilliard Ensemble alongside Norwegian saxophonist, Jan Garbarek, on an album called Officium. Both albums provide excellent philosophical templates for the mixing of contemporary improvisation and period performance and I am sure that it won’t be long before the trombone or sackbut makes a substantial appearance in this area, if it hasn’t done so already. Please do write in with suggestions for listening or further exploration! Of course, it isn’t just in the area of early music that the sackbut or trombone excels as a vehicle for musical variety and exploration. Alongside its traditional role as an orchestral instrument, which in itself can provide a huge amount of diversity for the player, Sue Addison, in the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, for example, helped to pioneer the use of different period trombones for different orchestral contexts, such as using early 20th century trombones for the music of Elgar. The trombone has become a key instrument in contemporary composed and improvised music of the 20th & 21st century, thanks to the technical innovations of players such as Stuart Dempster, compositions like Berio’s Sequenza no.5 and Ernst Krenek’s 5 Pieces for trombone and piano, improvisers like Albert Mangelsdorff and, in the UK, Paul Rutherford, with this thread of trombone playing being maintained and celebrated currently by players such as John Kenny and Sarah Gail Brand. My interest in this area, as a player, has led to using many of the extended techniques and tone or timbre variety championed by these players and pieces in my own creative jazz and improvisation practice.


It has also found form in my ensemble Speckles Brass, a free improvising septet of trumpets and trombones, involving trombonists Yusuf Narcin, Kieran McLeod and Richard Foote. The trombone is also a crucial instrument in jazz and, through this ever-expanding genre, demonstrates its flexibility and suitability for musical exploration. It is a fundamental part of any New Orleans Jazz line-up alongside trumpet and clarinet, anchors the middle register of any swing or big band from the 1930s through to the present day, and provides a stunning roster of chamber-jazz bandleaders throughout jazz history, from Jack Teagarden and Frank Rosalino, to the present day exploits of players such as Elliot Mason and Nils Wolgram. I must credit the brilliant jazz trombonist and educator Mark Bassey for opening up this wide and exciting world of jazz trombone playing for me. It has shaped my own creative band-leading with my bands The Dissolute Society and Equal Spirits, the latter exploring South African township jazz, which is itself strongly connected to the UK, represented by trombonists such as Annie Whitehead and Paul Rutherford’s involvement in Chris Macgregor’s Brotherhood of Breath ensemble. It has also shaped my approaches to other jazz projects that I have been part of. For ten years I was the trombonist for jazz-punk quintet WorldService Project, with which I used a lot of contemporary improvised techniques, alongside the use of effects pedals, which have the trombone sound going through a microphone, filtering the sound through reverbs, delays, harmonisers, for example, and then going out through an amp or PA. These electronic FX-based explorations are a regular feature of the modern improvised music scene, and in fact WorldService Project were inspired to use this approach by a variety of instrumentalists, from trumpet players such as John-Dennis Renken in Germany, to saxophonists like Pete Wareham or Shabaka Hutchings. One UK trombonist to check out in this area is the Continues on next page … 19


fantastic Owen Dawson in his band Big Bad Wolf. It doesn’t stop there for the trombone. The trombone has a huge variety of roles to play in what I’d generically call ‘groove-based music’. They play a crucial part in most Salsa bands, such as the three-trombone section of the great Willie Colon’s band, any Ska or Reggae band, like that of the late Rico Rodriguez, and bands such as Fred Wesley’s which uses a variety of pop and funk styles. I’ve been lucky to do a lot of this in my career: Salsa, understudying trombonist Paul Taylor, with Roberto Pla’s Latin Ensemble; pop/rock/electronica with Shed Seven, Benin City and Portugal. The Man; funk/soul/ brass band mash-ups with Brassroots and Renegade Brass Band; traditional ska/reggae with The Dualers, with which I currently play and record and finally Ghanain high-life/afrobeat with Isaac Birituro & The Rail Abandon. Their album Kalba, for which I wrote and recorded horn parts, is out in May 2019 on Wah-Wah 45s records. Taken together, these musical experiences naturally shape my current trombone playing and creative practice as an improviser and composer. As with the sackbut and its close link to the human voice, my current creative motivations lie in the myriad links between the trombone and the voice. These range across the trombone’s ability to be lyrical, sweet and singing, the ‘trombone talk’ plunger-mute technique of Duke Ellington’s trombonist ‘Tricky Sam’ Nanton and players like Wycliffe Gordon, with the various tonal, timbral and technical possibilities in between, as well as the possible interactions between the trombonist and vocalists. The Dissolute Society explores a huge variety of 20

words and music, from spoken word, to ‘sprechstimme’, to song alongside the ensemble. My current and soon to be released self-titled album with RESOLUTE, a band born from The Dissolute Society, strips this down and crystallises it even further. In it, I play trombone through effects pedals, alongside keyboards (Phil Merriman), drums (Simon Roth) and spoken word artist Gboyega Odubanjo, the music freely improvised alongside the written but freely-performed texts. The album is out on Friday, 26 April on Babel Label, with a performance at The Vortex Jazz Club on Saturday, 20 April. There are a huge number of inspiring trombonists, innovators, improvisers, player-composers, and educators, that I would have liked to mention in this article, but for me five individuals have stood out. There’s Lindsay Shilling and Richard Edwards. Both featured on a disc I listened to a lot as a child, the genre-varied London Trombone Sound. Richard performed the jazz solos and both were great players and teachers, as also was Andy Flaxman. Barrie Webb was crucial in introducing me to contemporary music for the trombone and finally there’s Paul Taylor. His projects Trombone Poetry and the trio The Blowpipes, of which I’m a part, has been hugely influential. These are all fantastic trombonists and if you don’t know their work, they are well worth checking out. I am always excited to hear about new and inspiring explorations and uses of the trombone, so please feel free to be in touch and start a conversation. You can find me on twitter at @RaphClarkson, or via my WEBSITE , which also details my other projects and activities, at

REVIEW Riot Jazz: On Job

 EAN: 5070000081823


HOLD THE (sousama) PHONE! – Another new release from legendary Manchester-based brass anarchists Riot Jazz?! On Job – An impressive live EP recorded at Rosewood Music in London. This marks their third release in 10 months – that’s half of their entire discography released in just one year (of their ten year life span!). They’ve already achieved hero status from musicians and music-lovers alike for their energetic, sweaty shows and their unphazed attitude. As well as impressing the UK live music and festival circuit, RJBB have spent the last decade becoming regulars at club nights all over the UK and Europe – a commendable achievement for a live act. The raucous 9-piece brass band is energetically fronted by the Mancunian/ Zimbabwean MC heavy-weight, Chunky. If you’ve heard RJBB before, then you’ve probably also heard some of their re-imaginings of well-known songs. In fact their previous release was exclusively a covers album. It would have been a shame not to have that part of their heritage recorded, but it’s great to see the band focusing on their own compositions again. This EP’s five tracks feature compositions from four talented writers from within the band, with three of those tunes written by trombone players Kieran McLeod and Ed Horsey. Kieran and Ed are joined by Rich McVeigh on bass trombone, creating a fiery trombone section that would have even got a special mention if this wasn’t a review in a trombone magazine. 
 A deep breath kicks off the record with a richly textured chorale, before drummer Steve Pycroft strikes the match with a classic UK garage groove. Chunky sets the theme with the words ‘Reconnect – We Connect’ for the first tune, Deet Darh by Nick Walters. Who knows what this means – though it rolls off the tongue

as demonstrated by a rhythmic chant from the whole group taking us into a juicy bass bone breakdown from our low-end friend Rich McVeigh. The next two tracks, Kraken and Hummingbird are both by trombonist Ed Horsey. Kraken sees the trombone section joining the beefy tuba sound of Ed Ashby for an energetic bass riff that interweaves with a solemn melody from the trumpets. Hummingbird begins with another signature Horsey-heavy trombone figure. The tuba and drums lock in satisfyingly for the up-tempo sections, and you should prepare yourself for some earth shattering tuba low notes for some half-time skanks! My personal favourite, Subjugate from drummer Pycroft, hears a heavy rock feel featuring a manic trumpet ‘POW’ response to a thunderous ‘bone riff. Extra kudos to lead trumpet player Adam Chatterton on his RJBB recording debut, who’s tasteful and sonorous flare throughout the EP has given it a real lift, especially on this track – bravo!
 A waving bell tone choral sets a more serious feel for Chunky’s politically driven lyrics in Kieran McLeod’s Watch Me. Grime-esque drum/tuba groove gives trumpet player Sam Warner a bed for the only solo on the album – a heartfelt moment (aww). Riot Jazz Brass Band have hit the ten-year mark, a turning point for many bands. Throughout their career they have remained accessible to diverse audiences. In this, their next chapter, they have injected the music with a tasteful dose of virtuosity and intellect without losing any of their former tenacity, a move that will only bring them more recognition. I would imagine whatever road they go down, they’ll never stop travelling to the chants of ‘SOUSAMAPHONE, SOUSAMAPHONE, THAT’S WHY THE GIRLS WON’T LEAVE ME ALONE!’ 21



The Scottish première of Sir James MacMillan’s Trombone Concerto was eagerly anticipated not only by every trombone player in the nation, but by a general public for whom Sir James is a local hero. There is enormous pride, respect and affection for Sir James in Scotland, not just for his enormous international success, but also for the fact that he chooses to remain living in Scotland and is a passionate and fearless advocate of social justice and the arts. Many of his compositions have been inspired by historic or social themes, and his deep rooted religious conviction, coupled with left wing politics, frequently result in highly charged and emotive music that clearly stirs listeners not only in Scotland, where those themes often have their roots, but everywhere in the world where such issues are pressing and relevant in the general consciousness. We were not disappointed – the performance was stunning. Jörgen van Rijen’s technical mastery of the trombone is universally recognised, but this concerto also demands a delicacy and sensitivity that is so hard to achieve and very rarely heard. We suffer from a contemporary over use of superlatives and so I choose an adjective carefully to describe both the music and this particular performance: transcendent. The story of how the piece came to be written is particularly interesting: Jörgen van Rijn encountered MacMillan’s music during his early days as principal trombone of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and immediately developed an admiration for the quality 22

of the music and in particular superb brass writing; he immediately coveted a concerto. But how could he bring that about? With a combination of tenacity and imagination, van Rijen set about raising a commission from not one but six orchestras. This brilliant coup ensured not only a commission, but one through which at least six performances were guaranteed, and so it is that the MacMillan concerto was commissioned by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra with five other international orchestras: the Royal Flemish Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestra de la Suisse Romande, Oulu Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonisches Orchester des Staatstheaters Cottbus and Dallas Symphony Orchestra. Rarely is a newly commissioned work guaranteed such a high profile succession of performances within the first two years of its life! There is no doubt that the trombone has enjoyed a renaissance during the 20th century, with a steady acceleration of compositional interest and exploration by a wave of outstanding players in every genre. Both the quality of performance and quantity of repertoire has increased exponentially – and yet it is still the case that very little of that repertoire has arrived at the forefront of concert programming. The exceptions stand out like lighthouses above a sea of mediocrity and I believe that Sir James’ concerto will be seen as one of the brightest of those beacons. Why? Because the music transcends mere virtuosity – the trombone being tasked with the expression of music of great beauty, power, and above all integrity.


maintain a delicacy, lightness and beauty which carries the message of the music through a maelstrom of emotions to the climax of the piece. This is an extraordinary quartet cadenza with the orchestral trombone section and percussion. The soloist turns his back on the audience and inaugurates a dialogue of final apotheosis and initiates a series of improvisational dialogues, featuring cross harmonic glissandi and chatter tonguing. The BBC SSO trombone section, Simon Johnston, Jonathan Hollick and Alan Mathieson responded magnificently to the challenge, as did the entire brass section in passages of alternate power and beauty. But if that extraordinary cadenza is the climax of the concerto, it is not the apotheosis; this comes in a final section exploring and extending the hymn-like melody heard earlier in the piece, sad, almost weeping, but building to an enormous climax before ending with a long, affirmative major chord. Jörgen van Rijen’s performance raises the bar yet higher in terms of what we can and must accept as the achievable on trombone. But perhaps an even greater achievement is his gift to posterity: the commissioning of this wonderful piece for future generations. 23


There is an added ingredient in this piece: it was the first piece Macmillan composed after the death of his granddaughter. Although the piece is in no way programmatic, the language and structure of the piece is imbued with a reaction to that loss: grief, rage against the loss, a search for meaning, but also loving tenderness, a dancing laughter in memory, an affirmation of life and gratitude – and eventually an acceptance of loss. These elements are explored with the sure hand of one of the most accomplished living composers in the world, and are spellbinding. That MacMillan was in the audience with his family lent poignancy to the evening that was palpable in the City Halls that night. The music begins with a ghostly texture of bowed vibraphone, harp harmonics and homophonic string chords, against which the trombone enters on a pianissimo high C, in a bucket mute, performing a long, soaring and gradually descending melody which eventually arrives at a low, shifting texture of brass with ‘cellos playing harmonic glissandos like a giant Aeolian harp. A growling trombone solo leads into the first of a series of fast dance sections – and this alternation of lyrical song, energetic dance forms, and instrumentalvocal music of a different nature is the dominant character of the entire piece. The concerto is full of songs without words: beautiful sad airs and laments, stirring chorales, and a beautiful recurrent hymn in which soloist and brass seem to be uttering a prayer, a paean of hope. But between these there are sections of enormous rhythmic energy. This is the composer of Veni veni Emanuel and The Confessions of Isobel Gowdie, and that raw, violent energy is present in full force. Full voiced orchestral texture, a siren breaking in at several points, like an emergency vehicle or warning of impending disaster. As Dylan Thomas wrote in reaction to the approaching death of his father ‘Do not go gentle into that good night, Rage, rage against the dying of the light’. The trombone writing is exceptional in its technical demands. Few composers dare to ask such endurance of a trombonist, and many of those who have done have failed because they do not understand the instrument sufficiently. Sir James MacMillan was a cornet and trumpet player from an early age and loves writing for brass. He was also at great pains not merely to write for trombone, but to collaborate carefully with Jörgen van Rijen to find a genuinely idiomatic language for the trombone. The only extended ‘technique’ involved is a careful use of vocal multiphonics, but conventional technique is also pushed to the limit, in terms of range, dynamic control and dexterity of articulation. The trombone is not only a soloist, it also proceeds through a series of beautifully crafted duos and small ensemble textures, notably with flute, horn and two ‘cellos, viola ensemble, and a contrapuntal trombone quartet. Throughout, it is Jörgen van Rijen’s ability to


Patchwork Jazz Orchestra The Adventures of Mr Pottercakes BY PETER THORNTON

‘Patchwork Jazz Orchestra are a London-based millennial big band that has no leader but a variety of composers using the ensemble as a platform for fresh sounds and ideas. A factory of sound, materialising the musical fantasies of a new generation of jazz musicians.’

The Adventures of Mr Pottercakes is the debut release from Patchwork Jazz Orchestra, showcasing the 17-strong powerhouse of a band which has exploded onto the UK jazz podium over the last few years. The first thing which comes to mind when listening to this band play is the atmosphere – I can’t help but picture a group of close mates who just enjoy playing music with one another! It’s a really refreshing feeling to have when listening, particularly to a CD as opposed to a live performance. I don’t think it is possible to talk about the playing and writing on the album in separate categories, as the orchestration of the charts seem to been done with their specific players in mind – something which gives this album a real sense of authenticity among other modern day releases. They really play to the strengths of individuals within the PJO, and this sense of family and camaraderie give birth to an incredibly unique sound – an impressive feat in itself for a big band. All of the tracks featured on the album are varied in style and atmosphere from one to the next, making the whole album a listening experience on a different level to something one might expect from this line-up of group. The playing feels like it is small band or chamber ensemble, in that the communication between the musicians is almost tangible through my headphones. I refer to the playing in general but this is particularly strong in the solo sections in each track, as they all respond to one another in such an organic and natural way as to really pull the listener in on the journey through the wacky minds of the artists. My personal favourite track on the album has to be Hi Wriggly!, which is ‘The story of a young worm who






experiences a psychotic episode after a long evening of mayhem’, and composed by PJO bassist Misha Mullov-Abbado. I’ve enjoyed reading the short blurbs that accompany each of the named tracks but this one in particular cast such a vivid image in my mind by the band’s playing that I really found myself drawn into the life of this poor worm whom I couldn’t help but feel both pity and fascination towards. It is very hard indeed to give special mention to any one player in particular, as the album features each and every player at one point as a soloist in some fashion. However, the guitar playing of Rob Luft throughout the whole thing never failed to leave me with a whopping great big grin on my face. Whether taking the lead in a solo section, comping another band member or playing as a front line player in tutti passages, Luft’s playing remained responsive, chilled and driving all

at any one time – a talent I have not heard in this kind of setting since I was first exposed to the playing of John Abercrombie in the Kenny Wheeler Big Band as a teenager. Although PJO have just finished their release tour for The Adventures of Mr Pottercakes, I would strongly recommend anyone and everyone to not only buy a copy of this album but to bring themselves along to a live performance of the group wherever possible, to sit and enjoy an enchanting evening of exciting and dramatic music and to allow themselves to become entranced by this group of mates who enjoy making and creating with one another.


REVIEW: John Kenny with The Band of the Royal Regiment of Scotland FRIDAY, 1 FEBRUARY 2019, CANONGATE KIRK, EDINBURGH BY HANNAH ARORA

After nearly a year of anticipation, battling the Beast From the East and broken bones, on 1 February 2019 The Band of the Royal Regiment of Scotland finally got to perform with guest soloist John Kenny, at Canongate Kirk, Edinburgh. The programme featured the world première of the Concerto for Bass Trombone by Bulgarian composer-pianist Milko Kolarov in a new arrangement for wind orchestra. John was born in Birmingham in 1957 and has carved out a career encompassing acting, composing and performing many creations of contemporary solo repertoire, modern jazz and early music. In 1993 he became the first person in modern times to play the Carnyx, Scotland’s 2,000-year-old Celtic Boar-headed horn. He now performs and lectures regularly with the instrument. In the same year he was also elected as an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music. John is a professor at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and lecturer at Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart. He now lives in Edinburgh with his wife, Irene and his two children, Patrick and Ruairi. The Band of the Royal Regiment of Scotland (RRS) forms part of the Corps of Army Music Service (CAMUS), and is the only remaining Army band in Scotland. The army is the biggest recruiter of musicians in the UK and currently has vacancies available. It’s a full-time job with all the perks of being in the Forces, (pension, travel, sports and subsidised accommodation, etc…) so if you’re interested get in touch with your local Armed Forces Careers Office, or follow the band on Facebook! The Band performs at high profile events 26

all over the world including recently, for example, Australia and Basel and is a regular performer at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. To show how diverse the band’s bookings can be, the band is excited to be visiting Beijing later this year and yet the following week we’ll be in Stornoway! The band had invited John to work with it as part of its ongoing musical training initiative, where guest professors are welcomed in to share their knowledge with musicians, Other guests have recently included Nigel Bodice. John is currently coaching one member of the band hoping to complete an FTCL. Earlier in the week John had visited Dreghorn Barracks in Edinburgh to rehearse with the band. It was evident from this rehearsal that John enthralled the band with his enthusiasm, fresh approach and humour! Once the rehearsals were over it was time to showcase the work to the public at the famous Cannongate Kirk on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. After opening with a rather tentative performance of Gustav Holst’s, Suite No. 2 in F from the band, the stage was cleared and the band sat expectantly in the pews, eagerly awaiting the next item, La Belle at La Bête. This is a work for solo trombone composed by John himself. Silence was broken by the rather strange (manipulated) sound of the trombone from the back of the church, and John slowly made his way down the aisle, much to the amazement of the band members, who I’m not sure had ever witnessed a musical performance (let alone from a trombone) such as they encountered over the next ten minutes or so. John kept the (unfortunately rather small) audience gripped, using various techniques, from


disguising a bassoon reed in his mouth, to dismantling his trombone, which required a great deal of trust in his audience not to hide various parts of his instrument (!), to multiphonics and dialogue, capturing the persona of a mad Birmingham professor (John admits that his inspiration was himself!) amongst other nationalities. The performance was mesmerising, especially for the youngster near the front who was constantly giggling at the rather strange antics he saw before him! Next on the agenda was the feature of the programme, the Milko Kolarov – Concerto for Bass Trombone, as arranged for wind band by the RRS band’s bandmaster, Colour Sgt Evatt Gibson. Kolarov was born in 1946 and graduated from the Music Academy in Sofia after studying Composition and Orchestral Conducting. After a period of specialization in Paris, his work has won many prestigious national and international prizes and his works have been recorded, performed and published all over the world, from Russia, Japan, USA to the U.K. and Greece, to name but a few. The concerto was not what I was expecting John to perform, having been privileged to study with him many years ago at Guildhall. I was expecting something more along the lines of contemporary style work for which he is so renowned. Beautiful lyrical melodic lines filled the first movement with many harmonies and motifs reminiscent of the Eastern European Klesma musical traditions. In contrast, the second movement was wistful in character, and the finale built up from a fugue from the woodwind. The venue provided a real challenge, providing marvellous acoustics where musicians need little encouragement for the music to carry. Unfortunately the band got a bit carried away and drowned out our world-class soloist at many key moments. It was also a shame that the audience was so few in number. After the concert John gave a masterclass with the RRS band. Two members of the band, one trumpeter and one saxophonist, had been selected to perform a solo work for John and then receive feedback. To be a musician in the Army no formal training is required, and the initial standard varies from college graduates to seventeen-year olds. Consideration had been given into selecting both of the musicians, in that neither had been to music college, so John’s teaching provided a new dimension to their musical training. This was a real treat for the band to have such great input. The enthusiasm and commitment John put in obviously rubbed off on the players and the difference in the ‘before and after’ was astounding. LCPL Martin Gladstone was encouraged to sing parts of his music, much to the amusement of his colleagues, and attention was given to putting thought into the physicality of how sound is produced. After the soloists, a trombone quartet from within the RRS band took to the stage to perform. John wasted no time in getting stuck in to try and coach this

group, with balance, intonation, leading and listening issues being addressed amongst others. By 4pm the day had reached its conclusion. But it’s safe to say every member of the RRS band had relished every moment which they had with John and been inspired, not only by his choice of music, which is not something that an Army band comes across every day, but also by his enthusiasm and prowess as a musician. 27


Life as an Army musician is a varied, rewarding and a unique career choice as we have the opportunity to take part in many prestigious events throughout the year. of Film and Television Awards (BAFTAs) and in 2017 the fanfare team were honoured to perform at the International Association of Athletics (IAAF) World Championships held at the Olympic Stadium in London. Musicians in the British Army are offered many opportunities to further their musical ability. Recently

We perform regularly in a number of different ensembles: wind band, brass quintet, brass dectet, fanfare team, symphonic brass, big band, jazz combination, and brass septet, performing regularly as part of the Guard’s Chapel recital series and at other musical events. These smaller ensembles are encouraged to perform throughout the year. For example, the Scots Guards brass dectet played at the 2018 British Academy

the trombonists from the Guards Bands were coached in a Masterclass with bass trombone legend, Roger Argente and with the ROH bass trombonist Keith NcNicoll. Lessons from professional instrumentalists are readily available to musicians, both at the Royal Military School of Music, Kneller Hall, and externally. I attend lessons, for example, from the former Philharmonia and LSO bass trombonist Bob Hughes, allowing me to continually


State and ceremonial events range from the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, the Queen’s Birthday parade, Royal Jubilee celebrations, Royal weddings and funerals, the Festival of Remembrance, and Remembrance Sunday at the Cenotaph, to the London Olympics and the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.




improve my playing ability with his invaluable teaching and experience. As the front rank of the marching band setup, the trombone section has the responsibility of leading the band for all marching engagements. At first, this is a daunting task, but becomes second-nature over time. Life in a Guards band is flexible, if we haven’t got a Guard mount in the morning, we are likely to be found in a practice room rehearsing music for one of our upcoming concerts. In the afternoon our timetable varies from physical training, musical training, to other administrative tasks associated with a musician’s role. Musical tours are an important part of our job. In recent years, the bands have travelled to Japan, Cyprus, USA, Canada, Belgium and Australia. Tours offer a good opportunity for the band to perform in some fantastic venues and locations around the world as well as and a great chance to socialise with colleagues and friends. Joining the Army as a musician is a fantastic prospect for anyone who wants to play music professionally and have a stable job on a competitive salary. Several musicians in the Army have previous experience as freelance musicians but joined because it is one of the few jobs that offers a comfortable and salaried musical position. The benefits and support offered are excellent with, for example, heavily subsidised accommodation. Junior musicians in the Guards such as myself live in a flat at Knightsbridge

Barracks overlooking Hyde Park and there is subsidised family housing for Service Families. Other benefits include free healthcare and travel, free access to gyms and a competitive pension. With those interested in a career as a British Army musician, entry begins with an online application and an audition at the Royal Military School of Music, Kneller Hall, where they assess your musical competence. Once successfully completed, you are assessed on your fitness and health at one of the Army Selection Centres. From there you commence your Basic Training. Once your military training has finished, you begin your Initial Trade Training at Kneller Hall. Here you will learn how to march in a military band, you will complete theory and aural training alongside having instrumental tuition. If you would like more information, please write to; Career Engagement Team at the Corps of Army Music HQ or Band of the Scots Guards





HEY THERE – Bill Watrous & Carl Fontana JEREMY PRICE

What a great album cover and what a great album. Is this possibly the best car ever for speeding from session to session in LA? The Renault 5 turbo, two-seater, mid-engine 160bhp hot hatch looks ideal for buzzing between studios and has just enough room for two trombones in the boot but nothing else. This all adds to the surrounding apocryphal myths and nostalgia around the heyday of the early 1980s sessions scene. Carl Fontana and Bill Watrous certainly look the part on the suburban street lined with palm trees, although the way the car slightly lists to the passenger side isn’t perhaps just the camber of the road! (McDonald’s was also in its unfettered heyday.) If you don’t own the album or can’t buy it you can find it on YOUTUBE with the Carl Fontana solo starting at 4min 20, and Rob Egerton has the transcription shown in these pages helpfully synced to the recording HERE. The solo itself will sound familiar even if you’ve never heard it before. That’s because all jazz trombonists have unwittingly and subconsciously copied many of the licks and similarly stumbled across the same comfortable slide shifts that make up this solo. We’ve all stored them away in the memory banks, just as Fontana has, and they will keep popping out in solos forever more, unless you are really keen to banish them from your vocabulary. Look at the F7 lick in bar 5. It appears no less than seven times in just these two choruses! (Bars 5, 19, 28, 41, 53, 64 and just for good measure, 68.) It’s such a gem because of the frequency of F7 as chord V or chord VI and the fact that it’s slide position 2, 3 ,3, 30

3, 3, 4 picking out respectively major 3rd, 5th, flat 7, flat 9, sharp 9 and resolves to 5th of Bb. Who can resist its repetition, once discovered? But while this acknowledges that habit and reflex is part of improvisation, it does not deride the solo. Each approach and context of the lick is different and Fontana has the flexibility to rhythmically displace where the lick occurs. Another feature that amuses me when I hear this solo is the frequent echo of ‘tailgate’ trombone. We can’t escape the fact that the trombone came into early jazz on the tailgate of a wagon so that there was room to move the slide right out without skewering any fellow band members and passengers. (Bands used to travel around the street in carriages and early motorcars to drum up business for the venue they were playing in that night.) So you can be as serious a musician as you like but you have to accept the comedy trombone legacy and Carl Fontana is doing just that in bars 13, 31, 66 and 67. There isn’t necessarily a glissando in each of these examples but the chromatic on the beat descending triplet figure is a bit of a giveaway. Bar 13 is straight out of ‘Indiana’ for the trad players among you and you could well imagine a wah-wah-wah-wahhhhh with plunger for added effect. Bar 67 is a blatant comic glissando followed by rising triplet chromatics. That may as well be played glissando also. The Fontana solo is the third solo after Watrous


and piano, so it’s good to hear the piano laying out for contrast, leaving Fontana soloing with just bass and drums for his first chorus. The form of the piece is ABAA with the last A having a tag, making a slightly extended form of 36 bars. It’s interesting to hear how each soloist deals with the extended ending of the form, requiring the improviser to think of a suitable coda and finish with a flourish. I don’t actually own this record, so if anyone has a good source for the original vinyl or wants to sell theirs, please get in touch. It’s an important part of jazz trombone history and a pleasure to hear all this effortlessly flowing bebop from the masters. Continues on next page … 31



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V.S. 33


Hey fellow boneheads. Here is your guide to what's hot in the symphonic world in the UK at the moment. We have a mixed bag for you so go out and get some culture you vultures. Now if I were to say which opera has touched me the most over the last decade, I'd have to say it was Benjamin Britten's Billy Budd. Not only is the story so heart-wrenching that you 100% empathise with all the characters, but some of Britten's musical effects can give the listener real motion sickness, (especially before dawn near the end). See it at the:







There is a really menacing duet between first trombone and the evil sergeant at arms while he plots Billy Budd's downfall (sung at ROH by Brindley Sherratt who is superb in this role). Go see it and be blown away.

Following on with a bit more Brit Comp, Walton's Symphony No. 1 is a riot for brass with some good melodies and displays of raw power. The Philharmonia will be performing it along with Stravinsky's Firebird on Thursday, 1 August at 7.45pm at Gloucester Cathedral.



Staying with composers from the British Isles, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra continues our nautical journey with a performance of Vaughan Williams' epic Sea Symphony, preceded by Walton's Spitfire Prelude and Fugue and Four Sea Interludes from Britten's Peter Grimes, another amazing operatic work. Spitfire Prelude and Fugue is really uplifting (and was sampled by the Avalanches in Frontier Psychiatrist). The Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes are but a taste of another amazing Britten opera but again Britten paints an eye-watering picture. A Sea Symphony is lush and powerful and employs a massive chorus too.



It just so happens that there is even more Britten for you because on Wednesday, 8 May, the London Symphony Orchestra will be playing Britten's Sinfonia da Requiem followed by one of our favourites, Mahler’s Fifth Symphony at London's Barbican. Sinfonia da Requiem is a real heavy weight for brass, especially the first movement, but it has moments of real beauty too. We've had Mahler 5 a few times but it's always worth a listen. These are my picks for this issue. Over to you, Matt.










Thanks Mark. The rest of the UK is serving up some great repertoire this quarter, so make sure you book early because these concerts are sure to be of interest to all. Catch the CBSO on Thursday, 13 June and Sunday, 16 June at Symphony Hall, Birmingham performing Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 (Resurrection). New principal trombone, Richard Watkin, is at the helm, and will no doubt put his beautiful Conn 8H through its paces. Having just performed Mahler’s Fifth Symphony, I’m very much in the mood for Mahler, and his second symphony has it all – epic climaxes, spine-tingling chorales, delicate solos, it is always a highlight in any orchestra’s diary.

Further north we find Glasgow’s Royal Conservatoire of Scotland performing a Brass Spectacular with Ian Bousfield on Thursday, 16 May. It is hard to predict what the spectacular is exactly, but with Dalmellington Brass Band joining forces with the brass students of the RCS there is the potential for a good old blow-off! My money is on Ian.



And like London buses, the Hallé are also getting in on the act with another performance of Mahler 2. Thursday, 23 May The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, with Sir Mark Elder conducting.


Another epic offering on Friday, 31 May sees the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra perform Strauss’ Alpine Symphony at their National Concert Hall, Dublin. I remember getting very excited about playing this piece with the LSO last year, only to turn up to the first rehearsal to find that we were actually playing Also Sprach Zarathustra. I would say it was wasted practice, but with such busy, exciting trombone parts involved in nearly every aspect of this Alpine adventure I did not resent a second of it. Dark, menacing chords from the low brass set the scene, before Strauss openly stole a quite brilliant theme from Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1.

If you can still get tickets, Britten Sinfonia are performing Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Nevill Holt Opera on 12, 13, 15 and 16 June. It’s a fantastic opera, with great trombone parts, but it’s not all about the music. I went to see Adès’ Powder Her Face there last year and the whole experience was simply brilliant – beautiful gardens full of sculptures, a wonderful new theatre, fantastic food. It’s a great day out and, dare I say it, I prefer it to Glyndebourne!




OLD DIRTY BRASSTARDS Tuesday, 30 April XOYO, London BRASS ON THE BUS Sunday, 5 May, 11am Various London landmarks NYJO ACADEMY: MASTERCLASS WITH TOM DUNNETT Saturday, 11 May Morpeth School, Bethnal Green E2 0PX To register, please email AUBREY LOGAN Saturday, 11 May, 6pm & 10.30pm Ronnie Scott’s, London


BONES APART: TROMBONE AND LOW BRASS DAY Wednesday, 15 May Kings Theatre, Cheddar, BS27 3AQ Afternoon workshops and rehearsals, culminating in a joint concert for all participants. Open to all ages. To participate or buy tickets, contact Anne Higgs. ELLIOT MASON AND GUILDHALL JAZZ ORCHESTRA Friday, 24 May, 7pm Milton Court Concert Hall, London HACKNEY COLLIERY BAND Friday, 31 May, 6pm & 10.30pm Ronnie Scott’s, London CONCERT TROMBONE QUARTETTE Saturday, 8 June, 7.30pm All Saints’ Church, Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne Music for voices and trombones with Newcastle upon Tyne Bach Choir

s For more dates and information, please check our website and social media feeds.

Do you know of an event that should feature in our next publication? LET US KNOW.

TROMBONE MASTERCLASS WITH JAMES BUCKLE Tuesday, 18 June, 6.15pm West Parry Room, Royal College of Music, London ONYX BRASS AT THE SHALDON FESTIVAL Sunday, 23 June, 7.30pm St Peter’s Church, Shaldon DURHAM BRASS FESTIVAL 12–21 July, Durham city centre Including our BTS Trombone Day, Sunday, 21 July NATIONAL BRASS BAND CHAMPIONSHIPS Saturday, 12 October, 10am Royal Albert Hall, London


Phil Parker LONDON


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