The Trombonist - Spring 2021

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SPRING 2021

The Trombonist

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President’s Welcome Editor’s Welcome MATTHEW GEE

BARNEY MEDL AND

I would like you to cast your mind back to 20 March, the International Day of Happiness. I was sorting through some paperwork when I came across an exercise from a leadership course I once participated in. This simple exercise got me thinking. Divide a circle into six or eight sections. In each section write something important in your life and then mark a line showing the enjoyment that particular aspect brings. In my version HERE , I have focused on my professional career, but you could equally use it to examine work/life balance, or even as a teaching tool with students. Remember, it does not represent the amount of time you spend doing each activity, but how much enjoyment and happiness it brings you. First, I felt gratitude. To be able to work as a musician is a privilege we should never take for granted; I do not think the high levels of job satisfaction you see can be considered normal. Then I thought about just how much hard work goes into each section; practice and preparation are only remunerated for the most famous conductors and soloists. For the rest of us, it is the relentless quest to better yourself and the love of music which keeps us motivated. But my biggest realisation was how much my career asks of my family. Without a regular nine to five structure, much of our life is dictated by my diary and the considerable practice which it necessitates. For this and their continued support I am forever grateful. I am optimistic the Arts will return; with any luck there will be a greater thirst and respect for them. So, with this Day of Happiness in mind, take some time to appreciate those things around you that make you happy. And to quote some wise words from my son’s favourite book: ‘if you want things to change, then you first have to change you.’

With repeated performance cancellations, venues shutting down, many players choosing to leave the profession, and over a year of disruption to music education, the coronavirus pandemic has caused untold damage to musical life in this country and around the world. If ever there was a time the Performing Arts needed our support, it is now. Getting your tickets for some of the upcoming performances discussed in From the Stage to the Pit (pages 38–39) and What’s On (pages 40–41) would be good place to start. There are countless other venues and ensembles, of all sizes, to seek out and support. Several features in this edition of The Trombonist reflect on the past achievements of great musicians and great orchestral sections. If we collectively fail to support the Arts now, these musical accomplishments will become matters of historical record, not part of a living, evolving story. So, come on! Let’s join the effort to ensure that in fifty, or a hundred years’ time, such tales can be told of musicians just now starting out, or as yet undiscovered. The Performing Arts need audience support now more than ever. After such a tragic and difficult period, audiences surely need them too. Barney Medland editor@britishtrombonesociety.org

Matthew Gee president@britishtrombonesociety.org

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THE TROMBONIST MAGAZINE TEAM EDITOR

Barney Medland editor@britishtrombonesociety.org SUB-EDITORS

CONTENTS 03

WELCOME

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Peter Chester Alison Keep NEWS EDITOR

Barney Medland news@britishtrombonesociety.org EVENTS EDITOR

Douglas Coleman events@britishtrombonesociety.org

08 11 12

REVIEWS EDITOR

Jane Salmon reviews@britishtrombonesociety.org

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ADVERTISING MANAGER

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Chris Valentine advertising@britishtrombonesociety.org SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER

Martin Lee Thompson content@britishtrombonesociety.org

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MAGAZINE DESIGN

Sára Mikkelsen saramikkelsen.com

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CONTRIBUTORS TO THIS ISSUE

Alison Keep Becky Smith Barney Medland Chris Houlding Douglas Coleman Dudley Bright Eric Crees Helen Vollam Jane Salmon Jeremy Price Jo Bartley Josh Cirtina Matthew Gee Naomi Watts Patrick Harrild Peter Chester Peter Gane Pete Thornton Rob Egerton

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28 31 33 34 Dr Sarah Crick Simon de Souza Simon Wills Stephen Wick Tom Lees

BRITISH TROMBONE SOCIET Y :

38 40

NEWS

POSTCARD FROM: WALES

PRESIDENT'S TOOLKIT

HUGE HISTORY ON A SMALL SCREEN: THE LSO TROMBONE SECTION REUNIONS

THE FRONT COVER: DENIS WIC K AT 90

REVIEW: BRACE YOURSELF, NEW BOOK BY RIC HARD FOX

REVIEW: BAC H’S CHORALE PRELUDES, ANNEKE SCOTT & BENEDICT PREECE

REVIEW: REJANO PRACTICE MUTE

REVIEW: THE ULTIMATE BIG BAND TOOLKIT, THE NEW GUIDE FROM LOUIS DOWDESWELL AND CALLUM AU

INTERVIEW: ALEX PAXTON

MUSICIANS’ HEALTH: YOGA WARM UPS FOR MUSICIANS

CROSSWORD

JAZZ BY JEREMY: RITA PAYÉS: NUNCAVAS ACOMPRENDER

FROM THE STAGE TO THE PIT

WHAT’S ON

Officers & Staff // Honorary Patrons // Committee // Officers

Opinions expressed in The Trombonist are the authors’ own and do not necessarily reflect the view of the British Trombone Society.


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BY BARNEY MEDL AND

THE NEWS BTS CYBER FEST, 2021 From the 11–18 April, as part of International Trombone Week, the British Trombone Society ran its first-ever cyber festival. During a packed week of online events, top professional trombonists led a series of talks, discussions and play-along sessions. The line-up included a Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony play-along with BTS President, Mattew Gee, a masterclass on writing for the trombone with Callum Au, a discussion on the early trombone led by Tom Lees and featuring Susan Addison and Emily White, and much more. BTS members can re-watch the all the events HERE .

BTS Interview Series In February, Carol Jarvis conducted a series of fascinating interviews with leading trombonists for the British Trombone Society. The first interview saw Carol talk to Elliot Mason, top jazz trombonist and former BTS Outstanding Player of the Year, about his early life as a musician, moving to a new city, playing through the pandemic, recording from home, keeping motivated, custom instruments, and his musical collaborations. The second interview in the series was with outstanding trombonist and educator, Ruth Molins. Carol and Ruth discussed a wide range of interesting topics, including balancing teaching and freelancing, using music technology, Alexander Technique, and creating your very own studies. Finally, Carol talked to Kris Garfitt, Solo Trombonist of the WDR Symphony Orchestra in Cologne and Courtois Performing Artist, about his orchestral life, competitions and solo performance. BTS members can catch up on the interviews on the BTS VIDEO C HANNEL .

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Brand new BTS Play-along Sessions A brand-new play-along resource has been made available for British Trombone Society members. The BTS has recorded some of its favourite trombone choir repertoire. The full recordings are available, alongside several versions with different parts missing, and the sheet music. BTS members can join the virtual ensemble to hone their ensemble playing and experience the joys of chamber music. The play-along resource is available to BTS members HERE . Chris Barber, 1930–2021 Chris Barber, jazz trombonist and one of the most important figures in British jazz history, died on 2 March 2021, aged 90. Donald Christopher Barber was born in Welwyn Garden City on 17 April 1930, the son of an insurance statistician and a school headmistress. An early love of traditional New Orleans jazz led Barber to form his own New Orleans Jazz Band when he was 19. In 1951, after a couple of years working as an insurance actuary, Barber decided to leave his office job and pursue jazz professionally, taking up a place to study trombone and double bass at the Guildhall School in London. Chris Barber’s Jazz Band performed their first professional gig in December 1953, the following year the band released its first album, New Orleans Joys. The album was a success, selling 60,000 copies in the year following its release. One number in particular, Rock Island Line, featuring Barber on bass and fellow band-mates Lonnie Donnegan and Beryl Bryden on voice/guitar and washboard respectively became a surprise hit, selling a million copies and inspiring a craze for amateur ‘skiffle’ groups. One such skiffle group would become the future Beatles.


THE NEWS

Whether he was collaborating with former members of Duke Ellington’s band (Echoes of Ellington, 1976) or performing his Concerto for Jazz Trombone and Orchestra (1990) Barber remained ever original and his band performed to packed houses long into the 21st century. In 2001, Barber’s band reached its final iteration as the ten-piece ensemble The Big Chris Barber Band. He finally announced his retirement in August 2019, after some seventy years as a band-leader. Barber developed long musical partnerships over several decades, including 54-years performing alongside his band’s longstanding trumpeter Pat Halcox; perhaps the longest continuous partnership in the history of jazz. Chris Barber was awarded an OBE in 1991, in recognition of his extraordinary and influential career.

C HRIS BARBER PERFORMING IN HAMBURG, 1971.

While Donnegan left to pursue an influential solo career, Barber’s band enjoyed popular success with a series of hit records over the course of the decade. Barber established himself as a leading figure in the New Orleans influenced British ‘trad’ jazz revival. He became known as one of the ‘three Bs’ of the movement, alongside Acker Bilk and Kenny Ball. With the onset of the 1960s, the radical shifts in popular musical tastes, led by the Beatles, saw a waning enthusiasm for the trad jazz of the 1950s. Barber’s band, however, proved flexible and resilient, evolving into Chris Barber’s Jazz and Blues Band. Barber embraced the blues, introducing a blues guitarist to his band’s line-up and organising the first UK tours of such legendary figures in blues music as Muddy Waters and Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Introducing these musicians to UK audiences helped sow the seeds for the rhythm and blues movement of the early ’60s, from which the likes of The Rolling Stones emerged.

Slide Action triumph at ROSL Mixed Ensemble Competition Slide Action trombone quartet, as featured in THIS PUBLICATION last year, have won first prize in the prestigious Royal Over-Seas League Mixed Ensemble Competition. The quartet also went home with the Philip Jones Memorial Prize for Outstanding Brass Ensemble. The competition final saw Slide Action compete against three other highly accomplished ensembles, including instruments of all disciplines. They performed a programme of Bruckner, Kodaly, Poulenc and Simon Wills, whilst fully clad in boiler suits and caps. Judges Gavin Henderson CBE, Geoff Parkin, Sarah Field, and Huw Wiggin were impressed with the quartet’s exceptional blend and musicianship. They chose to award Slide Action not only the £10,000 first prize but also the Philip Jones Memorial Prize for Outstanding Brass Ensemble. And finally… Robot technology has broken new ground as YouTube based engineers working under the alias ISAX L ABORATORIES have done what previous generations would have thought unthinkable, and created a robotic trombone. The contraption saw a hapless trombone strapped onto a series of bellows, pistons, and ‘artificial lips’ in an attempt to recreate the sonorous tones the instrument is famed for. Fortunately, the complex and nuanced combination of factors required for fine trombone playing proved too difficult to mechanically recreate, and the machine sounds more like a propeller driven aircraft than a mellifluous brass instrument. Humans can breathe a sigh of relief. You can see the video for yourself HERE . ◆

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Postcard: from Wales BY JO BARTLEY

W

e held our last Welsh trombone day over a year ago, in November 2019 in Bridgend. Who would have thought that such a meeting would be considered a health hazard less than 4 months later! That day, like many of the other trombone days we have held in Wales was very special as it highlighted what fantastic young trombone talent we have here. Personally, my passion for many years has been teaching the trombone and since the beginning of the pandemic I have found it an exciting challenge to try to nurture the future of the trombone through an entirely different medium (mainly Zoom!). As we cross our fingers and hope that a return to some sort of normality will resume soon, I know there have been some positives as well as negatives to come from our experiences over the last year, and the world of trombone tuition has been no exception. I teach young trombone players from all across South Wales and I am lucky to have some very willing pupils who have been on this journey with me. Here are some of my thoughts about our online teaching experience: Firstly, the positives … Convenience I have no doubt that simply being able to just log on in order to attend a trombone lesson, without having to make the effort to leave the house, has been a breath of fresh air to many, when life previously meant cramming in a trombone lesson between other activities such as football, swimming, and homework. Also, many pupils have found that contrary to previous beliefs, technology

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isn’t a barrier but is a convenient tool in learning a musical instrument. In addition to this, it has been a revelation to teach pupils who have been more relaxed in the comfort of their own living rooms. Resources The ‘share’ button is our friend! There is no excuse for not listening to other trombone players now, and quite often with one click we can listen together and discuss. Of course, this is possible in real life, but quite often the message of ‘listen’ doesn’t get further than the teaching room door. With online lessons, you can say ‘this is the link right here’ and I think more pupils have realised how easy it is to have world class trombone players at your fingertips. Theory I find that it’s very easy to forget about the theory element of teaching a musical instrument as there’s nothing I enjoy more than getting my trombone out and playing alongside a pupil in a lesson, but consequently, theory is often an afterthought. I really enjoy teaching theory and it has been a nice way to break up the intensity of looking at the screen with some obvious musical advantages. Mental Health benefits When the world seemed to have been brought to its knees, with no school and very little opportunity to meet anyone outside of the household, I know that a


ASK AMOS – YOUR LETTERS

BTS TROMBONE DAY, BRIDGEND, 2019 PHOTO CREDIT: MATTHEW THISTLEWOOD

friendly face and a structured weekly trombone lesson has brought some welcome routine. Also, I have tried to implement more practice routines during this time than perhaps I would have otherwise, and for some it has been the beginning of new good habits. Inevitably there have been some drawbacks to giving trombone tuition online, mainly: Time delay Something I am sure we are all familiar with, which unfortunately means that it is nearly impossible to play together. I have however found that I have been using books with backing tracks much more. A very popular book amongst my pupils is the Ultimate Movie Instrumental Solos for Trombone book published by Alfred Music (ISBN 9780739091937). As well as a fantastic collection of themes from films such as Star Wars and Harry Potter, the book also has a great backing track.

Inability to meet up and play in an ensemble It has been such a shame to lose the important social aspect of learning an instrument. As much as home practise is imperative when learning a musical instrument, it is also really important not to lose sight of the social benefits of playing in an ensemble. Hopefully it won’t be too long before we can hold another trombone day. In the meantime, if you know any potential budding young trombone players feel free to forward onto them this video that I was asked to make a few months ago on behalf of Arts Active, I hope it encourages them to take up the trombone! ◆

Jo is British Trombone Society regional representative for Wales.

Sound I have encouraged all of my pupils to buy a practise mute, and my personal favourite is the Yamaha Silent Brass practise mute. Due to the lack of opportunity to play in an ensemble and being confined to the house has meant that sound on the instrument has suffered, becoming thin at times. I find that using a practise mute can help pupils ‘play out’ a little more and help encourage pupils to support the sound by using more air.

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PRESIDENT’S TOOLKIT:

Pushing the Boundaries BY MATTHEW GEE

One of the questions I am most frequently asked is how to go about extending your range. The first most obvious thing to say is that you must do so slowly. There is no exercise that will instantaneously give you the ability to knock out Berio’s Solo or turn you into a mighty Wechsel–Posaune player. Extending upwards There are some mis-truths rattling around the Internet. The first is that putting more air through the instrument will help you play high. It will not. No matter how hard you blow, those elusive high notes are not going to magically appear. Instead, your first consideration must be the vibration between your lips. Start by practising long notes towards the top of your register. For example, if I want to work on my high F (F6 – the second F above middle C) I will play long notes between F (F5) and B-flat (Bb5), and I will try to play them as efficiently as possible: no pressure, not gripping the embouchure too tightly, just focusing on a nice easy vibration of the lips. The crucial thing is to practice very quietly. There is actually very little change in embouchure between a top B-flat and a top F in pianissimo. The other important factor for high playing is air speed. We want to find a way to speed the air up without blowing hard and raising the dynamic. To do this, try thinking about tongue position. Whistle a simple upwards glissando. Feel how the shape of your tongue changes, as you start making an ‘ah’ sound in your mouth and finish with an ‘eeee’ sound. Using your tongue to speed the air up like this can develop real security in the high register. The ‘Maggio’ method uses this technique, as does Peter Gane’s lovely exercise from his Circuit Training book (see video below).

moving cleanly through the transitions between notes. Try the D-flat major pattern below or watch the video. You can descend this pattern through various keys, which will aid moving in and out of the trigger register. The second exercise utilises glissandos to extend your low register down even further. I find it helpful to focus on sound down here, ensuring that the embouchure is in the same position for the notes after the glissando. Make sure you are in the centre of each note as you blow through the glissando and simply breath through your nose without disrupting your embouchure for the repeated notes. Nothing should be forced; try using a warm air. Working to extend your upper register can be physically tough, so I try to practise it towards the end of a session. The low register is a little more forgiving, although you are still trying to train muscles to do something they are not used to, so little and often should be your mantra. If anything hurts, stop! ◆ CLIC K HERE FOR EXAMPLES OF EXERCISES MATTHEW DISCUSSES IN THIS EDITION’S PRESIDENT’S TOOLKIT.

Extending downwards Open vowel sounds are at the crux of developing your low register: keep the jaw relaxed and the mouth cavity open – think ‘ahw’. There are two exercises I use almost every day. The first ensures that my face is relaxed and

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Huge History on a Small Screen The London Symphony Orchestra Trombone Section Reunion

BY PETER C HESTER

What do Denis Wick, Peter Gane, Eric Crees, Roger Groves, Ian Bousfield, Bob Hughes, Dudley Bright, Katy Jones, Jim Maynard, and Peter Moore all have in common? All distinguished members of the British Trombone Society? – could be true, but there is something else … As some readers will recognise, these players represent more than sixty years of trombone players of the London Symphony Orchestra and it was something of a very special, if not unique, occasion to see and hear them all together on one computer screen on a snowy evening in February. This was courtesy of the International Trombone Association and the technology of Zoom. No doubt everyone is looking forward to the end of these ‘Covid times’, but one positive development has been the bringing together of people through technology, and it is likely that such a gathering of distinguished players such as these could not have happened without that technology. To have players based in various parts of the UK and Europe, along with over 200 others listening in from across the USA and the Far East, is really quite amazing. We were treated to a genuinely unique gathering, representing more than sixty years of living history of one of the world’s great orchestras, at least through the eyes of those on the back row. And, as Jiggs Whigham said, ‘it was a great honour to be seen on the same screen as you all!’ In fact, the LSO Reunion, as it was billed, was the second such event organised by the ITA. The first,

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1922 LSO LOWER BRASS. PL AYERS L -R: JESSE STAMP (1908–1928), ALFRED GAVIN (?), FRANCIS ASH (TUBA) R. EVANS. PHOTO CREDIT: LSO ARC HIVE.

in January, was a reunion for the players of the New York Philharmonic and a video of that conversation is available on the ITA website. These events are hosted by Chris Houlding, past President of the BTS (2001–2005) and currently Chair of the ITA Executive Board. Chris was assisted by two ITA colleagues, Executive Director Magnus Nilsson and Kevin McManus, who first had the idea for the sessions. On this particular session, the ‘moderating’ (Zoom speak for ‘leading the conversation’) was in the hands of Eric Crees, whose own distinguished career (LSO 1973–2000) covers many


THE LSO TROMBONE SECTION REUNION

1950S LSO LOWER BRASS. PL AYERS: TUBA PHILIP CATELINET; BASS TROMBONE FREDERIC K MANSFIELD (?); TENOR TROMBONES GEOFFREY LINDON (?) & JOHN HAWLING (?). NAMES OF PL AYERS FROM THE EARLY 1950S ARE KNOWN BUT A POSITIVE ID IS NOT, AT THE MOMENT. PLEASE LET US KNOW IF YOU CAN IDENTIFY THEM. PHOTO CREDIT: LSO ARC HIVE.

of the years in question. Incidentally, the conversation revealed, to some gentle ribbing, that although Chris had played with the LSO, he had turned down invitations to join the LSO permanently twice in his career, to which he didn’t have an answer … Well-informed readers will have noted two notable omissions from the opening list of players who were on screen: Lindsay Shilling and Frank Mathison. For different reasons both these former LSO players could not join the conversation, although both sent their regards and, in Frank Mathison’s case, a telephone message, so at least his distinctive voice was heard. A special mention should also be made of the presence of Patrick Harrild, for thirty years (1987–2017) LSO tuba player, alongside these trombonists, feeling, as he said, ‘something of a fraud’ in the meeting, but also ‘incredibly privileged’ to have been played with them. So, having established the major participants in this hall of fame, what did we learn? Shared experiences, good and bad, and memories of people are the inevitable topics when such a group meets and people listening to this conversation would have a sense of the great and continuing talent the LSO attracted and the pride and confidence that membership of the LSO brass section engendered. Denis Wick (LSO 1957–1988) himself commented that being in the LSO was ‘the best job ever’, and he looked back with tremendous pride on the teams

he had worked with. He felt ‘so lucky to have been in the right place at the right time’. It was the rich and powerful sound of the LSO brass that many admired and recalled, be it the full section premiering John Williams’ Star Wars scores, or individual moments such as Denis Wick’s solo in the Orchestra’s 1970s recordings of Mahler 3rd Symphony with Jascha Horenstein and George Solti. Ian Bousfield perhaps summed it up when, in a discussion about the variety of instruments players used, he said it was the concept of the sound and articulation that united the section, despite the fact they all played on different makes of instruments, in contrast to other orchestras. In his time, there were Bachs, Yamahas, Conns and Holtons, but the consistency of sound remained. Peter Gane’s first memory of playing with the LSO, whilst still a student in 1966, was of being overwhelmed by how loud and then how soft they could play, and Katy Jones, some 40 years later, remembered being ‘swept along by the collective confidence’, playing Star Wars scores with John Williams himself conducting, early in the morning at Abbey Road Studios, or experiencing ‘nothing more exciting’ than Prokofiev symphonies on a coast-to-coast USA tour in 2008 with Valery Gergiev. For Dudley Bright and Bob Hughes, it was their early concert experiences, as youngsters, of hearing the LSO brass, that inspired them to want to play the trombone, Continues on next page … 13


THE LSO TROMBONE SECTION REUNION

1969 LSO LOWER BRASS IN NEW YORK. PL AYERS L -R: JOHN FLETC HER, DENIS WIC K, PETER GANE, (RAY ADAMS – CELLO – A PHOTO BOMBER!), FRANK MATHISON AND TONY PARSONS. PHOTO CREDIT: PETER GANE.

1974 LSO LOWER BRASS IN ELY CATHEDRAL. PL AYERS L -R: DENIS WIC K, ERIC CREES, PETER HARVEY, FRANK MATHISON AND JOHN FLETC HER. PHOTO CREDIT: LSO ARC HIVE.

so eventually becoming part of the team was their dreams coming true. The LSO has long been much in the public eye and tribute was paid to André Previn in that respect, for his exciting talents and readiness to lead the Orchestra through a series of primetime BBC TV programmes in the 1970s. Michael Tilson Thomas did something similar in the 1990s for Channel 4. As Bob Hughes said, ‘as well as the artistry in that amazing orchestra, there was always a touch of glamour, and loads of street cred’. Conductors, perhaps themselves attracted to that ‘glamour’, were recalled, with varying degrees of affection. On one occasion related by Frank Mathison, he had been uncharacteristically, and accidentally, late for a rehearsal, to be faced by a very irate American conductor who had held back the entire rehearsal waiting for him. Strong words were exchanged, but it would appear that the ever-polite Frank held his ground (‘and kept his job’ as someone said!). Frank was in the orchestra thirty years (1960–1990) and along with a fondly remembered surprise party organised by his colleagues on his retirement, he felt especially honoured that George Solti had been the one to present him with a retirement gift. Collectively, these players have played for some of the world’s greatest conductors, George 14

Solti, Claudio Abbado, Colin Davis, Michael Tilson Thomas, Bernard Haitink, Valery Gergiev, and Simon Rattle, to name just a few. Most of them had been to Japan and the USA, at different times, working with Leonard Bernstein for example, although the LSO’s recording of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, in Ely Cathedral with Bernstein (1974), was a special memory For Roger Groves, however, it was being with the LSO in the 1970s, as the first British orchestra to be resident at the prestigious Salzburg Festival, and working with the frail and aged Karl Böhm. Their Festival performance of Richard Strauss’ Death & Transfiguration is still regarded as one of the finest ever given and moved many to tears. In fact, Bohm had initially been wary of the Orchestra and it of him, but they formed a bond which led to a whole series of recordings, of Tchaikovsky and Dvorak symphonies, for example. It was pointed out that lots of these recordings, even those of Elgar conducting the Orchestra in the 1920s, are still available in various formats. That Salzburg concert, for example, is on YouTube, as is the Ely concert. We were treated to an interesting collection of photographs from the LSO archive, with reflections on the challenges of playing the old-style narrow bore instruments, used well into the 1950s and including the


THE LSO TROMBONE SECTION REUNION

1999 LSO LOWER BRASS IN USHER HALL EDINBURGH. PL AYERS L -R: IAN BOUSFIELD, JAMES MAYNARD, ERIC CREES, BOB HUGHES AND PATRIC K HARRILD. PHOTO CREDIT: BOB HUGHES.

famous British bass trombone pitched in G, those with a handle to cope with the longer slide. A lovely photo of the 1922 LSO section has one such instrument complete with valve extension. It was the LSO trombones that gradually began to use the modern larger bore instruments, especially Conns and Bachs, coming from the USA in the early 1960s. Eric Crees recalled that, in bringing home a Bach 42 from Giardinelli’s in New York at one time, he had inadvertently mixed a 42B tenor bell section with a 50G bass slide and did not notice until several months later, when a colleague pointed out the wider bore size of his slide. As he said, ‘Suddenly the high notes seemed miraculously very, very, hard’. All acknowledged the pleasure and privilege of playing with other brass players, notably Maurice Murphy, Principal Trumpet (1977–2007), and Principal Tuba John Fletcher (1966–1987), who, as Denis Wick said, ‘lifted the heights of tuba playing to standards that had not been heard, and he is still a great influence today’. At different times over these 60 years the trombones had been central to other LSO ensembles, notably the LSO Brass, which made several recordings in the 1990s, and the LSO Brass Quintet which had three successful tours of Japan.

All the participants gave every impression of having enjoyed themselves in the conversation, but perhaps a final thought might go to the current Principal trombone, Peter Moore. For him the whole experience of the evening, listening to the anecdotes of his predecessors, underlined the nature of his inheritance and, perhaps, the responsibility he and the current team of James Maynard and Paul Milner have to honour that tradition. Of course, there are other trombone sections in other orchestras in Britain and indeed across the world, with illustrious histories and distinguished players, but just for once it was very enjoyable to be reminded of the great talent and traditions there are in our orchestras, particularly in these difficult times when musicians have been under huge pressures, and the pleasure of live performances has been denied to us all. ◆ More information about the International Trombone Association can be found on their website: www.trombone.net For all the latest news from the London Symphony Orchestra, visit their website: www.lso.co.uk

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Denis Wick

PHOTO CREDIT: DAVID MARIANO

at 90

T

o generations of brass players and listeners, Denis Wick epitomises great trombone playing. He was the seminal Principal Trombone in the London Symphony Orchestra from 1957–1988 and has been president of both the British Trombone Society and the International Trombone Association. He has taught many of today’s leading trombonists and is well known as the founder of Denis Wick Products, one of the world’s most popular mute and mouthpiece companies. This year, Denis Wick will be celebrating his 90th birthday. To mark the occasion, some of his close colleagues, friends, and students share their recollections and tributes.

DUDLEY BRIGHT

The first I heard of Denis Wick was from the enthusiasm with which my National Youth Orchestra colleagues spoke of him: his LSO recordings, his teaching from which some of them obviously benefited and then that magic mouthpiece. Although at that time I had little ambition for an orchestral career, I just had to grab myself a place to study with him at the Guildhall School of Music. The fact that I landed a principal position north

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of the border while still at college, was largely due to his concise, perceptive and enthusiastic tutelage. That I stayed in London and took up an unexpected opportunity to play with him in that great LSO section, pointed back to the first time I filled in next to him, and was inspired by every single note reaching my right ear. I knew I had to do it right, and ‘do it good’. Economical might be the best word to describe his approach: in teaching he would never flannel, but his advice was always precise; and if you didn’t need it you didn’t get it. Instead, he might share his fascination with running his newly founded business. It is his energy and enthusiasm that is infectious: his playing was never ordinary, his products – innovative. But I thank him for his kindness and encouragement when, on those first dates in the LSO I felt so badly I shouldn’t be there, he helped me figure out my own way. Shortly after, while still quite new to the Hallé job, I rang him to say I’d done my first Bolero … ‘That’s the easiest one’ he quipped. PATRIC K HARRILD

I first met Denis when he and John Fletcher auditioned me for a place at the Guildhall School of Music in 1969. After I started at the School I had good cause to wonder what they thought they’d heard in my


DENIS WIC K (LEFT) IN 1958.

playing, as between them, they had assembled the most extraordinary array of young low brass playing talents of which, at the time, I was definitely not one! At the Guildhall in those days, Denis had succeeded in establishing a real school of trombone playing which actually unsurprisingly, spilled up, down and sideways, influencing and encouraging the whole faculty. He possessed, even then, fifty-three years ago, a phenomenal instrumental ability. Most players at the time, some grudgingly, regarded him amongst the finest exponents of his craft in the world. For the students he had tireless energy, enthusiasm and high standards which he tirelessly and patiently but persistently imposed, and we all desperately wanted to do our best for him. Later, I had the great pleasure of working with him, often in the LSO or in the studios as a freelance player and he was always exactly the same. Good natured and raring to go, regardless of what we were playing. The very nicest thing for me was in 1987 to be offered the job of tuba player in the LSO whilst Denis was still in the orchestra, albeit at the end of his very long service. Years ago, the Royal Academy put on a concert in Denis’ honour and asked me to speak. I said on that occasion what I still believe now, which is, that the majority of professional British trombone players are students of Denis Wick whether they actually had lessons with him or not. The clarity, control and facility, along with the heroic style, that he embodied, set a standard of performance that students and colleagues

sought to emulate all over the UK. Of course, they saw him on television many times in the Andre Previn’s Music Night and the orchestra was regularly in the classical music charts. Denis was always his own man. He did things his way, he created teams of players to his taste and taught or coached a generation of fine players and teachers such as Dudley Bright, Eric Crees, Peter Gane, Chris Mowat and many others who carried on and developed his teaching. Today’s players, who don’t know that Denis Wick did much more than be a famous player, design mouthpieces and trombones and enthuse young students, are playing in a way that he would still approve of and delight in to this very day, thanks to the influence he had on successive generations. Dear Denis, you are a unique colleague, a legendary player and a great credit to your profession. Bravo! HELEN VOLL AM

I first met Denis when I joined the 2nd Essex Youth Orchestra aged 15. He was the conductor! In the first rehearsal break of my first orchestra course I was introduced to him. I obviously knew the name, had the mouthpiece and mute, but didn’t appreciate the utter trombone legend that stood before me. He was very friendly, gave my trombone a quick glance and said in his basso profundo voice ‘you’re going to need to get a better instrument’. I plucked up the courage and asked Continues on next page … 17


DENIS WICK AT 90

DENIS WIC K, PICTURED IN 1948.

AN EDITION OF BAND JOURNAL, FEATURING DENIS WIC K.

him for a lesson. Thankfully, he agreed. The first, and indeed every lesson I subsequently had with Denis, was a revelation. A non-stop flow of information, tips, fixes, history, stories, encouragement and enthusiasm. Throughout my career Denis has always been so supportive, often writing or calling to say when he had heard something I did on the radio. I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today without all his help and encouragement. Thank you Denis, and best wishes for a very Happy 90th Birthday!

Brass Band were always entertained by his reminder that the break would begin at ‘approximately 7.27’. There are many stories concerning his extraordinarily well-developed high register, including Bolero ‘up the octave’, but one of my favourite ‘party tricks’ of his was hearing him ‘buzz’ up to the stratosphere and then play the most spectacularly focused and ‘loud’ double high B flat! Quite breathtaking to the average student! One of Denis’ passions is conducting, and his direction of Brass and Wind Repertoire classes left us all inspired and so much better off, for hearing a true inside knowledge of how to interpret the ‘classics’. His authoritative, booming voice would normally subdue the most over confident student except for one occasion I recall, when a foolish fellow decided to take issue with advice from the maestro, only to be greeted with a sharp, ‘Hmm … (and with pointed index finger) … remind me never to book you!’ The worldwide success of Denis Wick Products is now unquestionable, but in the early days Denis’ endless quest to improve and develop equipment meant that he would often bring along prototype products to be tried, including a clever bit of recycling, resulting in first batch

C HRIS HOULDING

In short, the name Denis Wick encapsulates advancement in the brass world over the last 60 years. I consider myself incredibly lucky that he has been there to advise and guide me throughout my career right from purchasing my first Bach 42, studying at the Guildhall, my first ‘gig’ with the LSO and much more. As a teacher, his inimitable style of delivery has left former students with a rich repertoire of fitting ‘one liners’ and uniquely ‘Wickien’ terms that continue to be used to this day. Denis was one of the first to own a digital LED watch back in the 70s, and so members of the Guildhall

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DENIS WICK AT 90

DENIS WIC K, JIGGS WHIGHAM, C HRIS HOULDING, AND BONES APART: BEC KY SMITH, LORNA MCDONALD, BECCA HARPER & CAROL JARVIS. PICTURED AT AN RNCM BRASS DAY IN THE EARLY 1990S.

of DW practice mutes still referred to by their designer and others to this day as that bit of ‘black magic’. As a rather apprehensive 20-year-old, I found myself sitting next to Denis and other LSO legends, Messrs. Mathison, Fletcher, Murphy, Lang, etc., only to be reassured by his calm advice to just follow what you have been taught. Attempting to emulate his phenomenal breath control, while absorbing his masterly style of orchestral trombone playing and section leadership continues to inspire me to this day. Happy 90th Denis and thank you. ERIC CREES

I first encountered Denis in about 1968, as I was fortunate enough to have won a ’studentship’ from the Inner London Education Authority, whose Music Section was under the enlightened leadership of Peter Fletcher. This meant that although I was only a schoolboy, I could have lessons with Denis, who was Principal Trombone in the LSO and taught at the Guildhall School – a tremendous privilege. Coincidentally, I had already saved up my pocket money to attend a stunning LSO performance of Bartok’s Miraculous Mandarin at the Royal Festival Hall and met Denis backstage to organise my first lesson with him. His home in Northwick Park was a substantial journey from where I lived in South London and so I left plenty of time. I arrived a good half hour early and parked myself on the wall of a house a few doors away.

After a minute or so, I was treated to a distant but clearly audible virtuoso trombone warm up, the likes of which I had never heard, coming to an end about fifteen minutes before my lesson. I was nervous! Knocking on his door, I was greeted with the characteristic firm handshake and direct smile through his thick rimless glasses and gestured into his music room. I can’t remember what I played, but he was listening attentively and making all sorts of helpful suggestions, both musically and technically. After a few minutes he took his instrument and proceeded to demonstrate what fine trombone playing was all about: a marvellous rich sound, clear and varied articulation, an immaculate sense of rhythm and subdivision, all with a positive sense of musical direction. I couldn’t wait for my next lesson and Denis was even kind enough to invite me into the Guildhall to play in ensembles with his other students. When invited to join the LSO in 1973, I could hardly believe my fortune. Denis was very much at the height of his powers, Frank Mathison a very solid bass trombone and the incomparable John Fletcher was on tuba. Previn was Principal Conductor and Abbado succeeded him shortly after. It was in the long-gone days of the classical music recording boom and the LSO started its serious film music career with Star Wars under John Williams in 1977. As well as the concerts, we made many recordings together; his performance and professionalism were never in any doubt and he was a constant source of inspiration for me to maintain my own standards. Continues on next page … 19


DENIS WICK AT 90

I warmly recommend that students reading this will familiarise themselves with the finest LSO recordings of this era; there is so much to learn from them as it was an extraordinarily innovative time in terms of new repertoire. Denis’ legacy is not only that of an outstanding player, but also one who moved his section off medium sized instruments onto the large bore models now regarded as standard. This was soon to be followed by many others in Britain. As an analytical teacher, his work was ground-breaking and he also made significant inroads into mute and mouthpiece design which led to his leaving the LSO in 1988 to concentrate on this part of his career. On reaching the magnificent milestone of his ninetieth birthday, Denis can be very proud of his far-reaching and influential achievements. Happy Birthday! SIMON WILLS

I am sure a lot of people will praise the way Denis played. So they should, but in case nobody else mentions it, I want to say how much fun it was in the LSO in those days. There was a wonderful playfulness about that section, gentle games that kept things light, stopped you getting jaded and kept paranoia at bay. Pick the instrument up late, see if the second trombone is concentrating (how many times did I miss that short chord in Don Juan?), direct a little dry humour at a pompous conductor; ‘he can have it his way in the rehearsal’. But when the beat went down, you turned it on, whether it was a Mahler symphony in the Musikverein, a movie at CTS or backing Billy Connolly in a banjo concerto. I never heard Denis tread water. He sometimes would say ‘you have to play SO loudly here’. I suppose we did; sometimes he called it musical navvying, but it wasn’t so much the volume as the concentration of sound and his wonderful articulation that gave it so much zest. The tuba player John Fletcher used to say admiringly that you could hear the ghost of the G trombone in Frank Mathison’s playing and with Denis, however enormous the sound got, you could always hear the echo of the peashooter. We lived a couple of miles apart and sometimes shared lifts. He would say, ‘I’m in my anec-dotage now’ and I wish I had written down all the stories he told in the car of Monteux, Kertész, Dorati – and of all the strange characters that inhabited the orchestra in the 50s. It wasn’t short of them in the 1980s, and he held the mix together, cheerfully. He could play the solos, of course, but the focus was always on getting the section to work with the minimum of fuss. It’s the glow and bite of all those little chordal details that stay in the mind. First trombones are easily come by, but a real principal

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DENIS AND STEPHEN WIC K AFTER DENIS WIC K PRODUCTS WERE PRESENTED WITH THE QUEEN’S AWARD FOR ENTERPRISE IN INTERNATIONAL TRADE IN 2014. PHOTO CREDIT: I. FOX.

is rare. Denis was a principal. It was an education for a young man and I wouldn’t have missed it for anything. One last thing. I’ve never used a Denis Wick mouthpiece. They’re very good but they don’t suit me. He must have noticed that Bach 5g … but he never mentioned it. I like that. STEPHEN WIC K

Denis is rightly famous as a superb trombonist and teacher, but his name is mostly known around the world these days as a name on a mute or mouthpiece. In fact, on my travels for Denis Wick Products, I often meet young players who are surprised to discover that Denis Wick is an actual person rather than just a brand name. The products have taken on a life of their own, but the excellence of the original designs is entirely because of Denis’s expertise, based on his experience as a player. Like many leading musical instrument accessory companies, Denis Wick Products began because a musician was searching for a better product. Denis simply wanted a mouthpiece that worked in the difficult acoustic of the RFH and would create the right sound for his orchestra, the LSO. The Conn 8H trombone that he played was supplied with a mouthpiece that did not deliver the full potential of the instrument, so Denis set about designing something better. When he was satisfied with the design, he took it to a mouthpiece maker to have it made. When he was told that it would not be possible to order just a dozen or so, and that he would have to order more to be cost effective, he took the plunge and ordered 100. Thus, Denis Wick Products


DENIS WICK AT 90

was born. Although he initially thought he would never be able to sell 100 mouthpieces, the company has now sold many millions of mutes and mouthpieces, and there can hardly be a band room or concert hall in the world where you cannot see one of his products in use. Denis’ range of mouthpieces quickly grew. His appreciation of the sound of brass band instruments led him to design mouthpieces that radically changed the sound of bands. Many people attribute the power and warmth of sound of modern brass bands to Denis’ mouthpiece designs. His influence will be felt in bands for many years to come. Denis will long be remembered for his teaching and for the recordings that form his legacy as a player, but for most people he will always be the name on their mute or mouthpiece. I hope some of those people might take the time to listen to some of the old LSO recordings and realise that he was much more than just a mouthpiece designer! Happy 90th Birthday, Denis! PETER GANE

My first encounter with a certain Mr. Wick was in 1964, golly, over 50 years ago! As a youngster I was very fortunate to have been brought up in Poole, Dorset, within easy reach of the Winter Gardens, Bournemouth, then the home of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. So, from the late 1950’s and early 1960’s my symphonic education and influence was the BSO, an excellent orchestra playing under the more than capable direction of Charles Groves, and later, the charismatic Constantine Silvestri. My first teacher was a most wonderful person called Charles Smith, then the first trombone of the BSO, who I believe was also a major influence in the personal and professional life of Denis. Then, one day in the early 1960’s, some strangers arrived from London to play in the Winter Gardens; immediately the atmosphere changed. Suddenly the hall was charged with electricity, energy, brilliance, colour, dynamic contrast, articulation and sheer sheets of lightning. These sorcerers were called ‘The London Symphony Orchestra’ and guess what, the tenor trombones were a Mr Denis Wick and a Mr Paul Lawrence. They played Till Eulenspiegel under the baton of Istvan Kertesz. Wow, I remember the trombones and this performance to this day! In the Winter Gardens one could sit behind the orchestra and experience the performance as vividly as if one was playing. I remember Denis and Paul talking through the performance, I later found out that they were discussing ways of how to make mutes out of apple wood, Paul being quite a craftsman. Their playing was just incredible. As a youngster I couldn’t work out how they kept their concentration and didn’t get lost!

DENIS WIC K IN 2018, WITH T WO OF HIS FAMOUS MUTES.

I was just so impressed. As a result, like most of the students of my generation, I made efforts to travel to London to take lessons from Denis. Not only could Denis play but he was an inspirational teacher. Such a rare combination, especially considering the restricted London consevatoire opportunities for gifted trombone students of the 1960’s. So, thank you Denis for a life time of trombones, mouthpieces, mutes, teaching opportunities and trombone experiences. As you say, deep breathing maybe helps you to live to a good and healthy long age! Where’s the party? Happy Birthday. ◆

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R E V IE W Brace Yourself NEW BOOK BY RICHARD FOX

BY TOM LEEES

If you teach secondary school-age trombonists then you will almost certainly come across pupils with mouths full of titanium alloys, nickel and stainless steel. These metals will usually arrive unannounced and will arrive days before a trombone exam or a concert or an audition – it’s the Law of Braces. Traditional ‘train-track’ braces consist of brackets that are glued to the teeth and archwires that connect the brackets and are the mechanism that applies the pressure to move the teeth into place. Elastic O-rings are usually placed around the brackets and there may also be buccal tubes, rubber bands, springs and spacers, all of which contribute to quite a mouthful. The problem for the trombone pupil is that at the very least, playing the trombone will feel different to normal. Where once there was a stable platform of smooth flat teeth for the lips to rest against, the orthodontic brackets make it unstable and most commonly (in the beginning at least) uncomfortable and often painful. About a third of children will be eligible for braces according to NHS criteria and many more will choose to undertake private treatment. There are alternatives to the ‘train-tracks’ such as Invisalign (WWW.INVISALIGN.CO.UK) which is a system that uses removable aligners to gradually straighten the teeth. It won’t be appropriate for everyone and it isn’t available on the NHS, but it can work for some pupils. Discussing with parents and pupils the likely impact of the braces in positive but realistic terms can at least allow for a degree of planning, and choices can be made in terms of significant exams, GCSE performances, auditions etc. This is infinitely preferable to the ‘lastminute’ scenario, when a pupil finds that they can’t 22

play their exam pieces as they once did and their initial experience of playing with braces is an overwhelmingly negative one. Giving parents and pupils some information in advance can also counter some of the ‘advice’ that orthodontists give in relation to playing a brass instrument. It’s not uncommon to hear ‘you won’t be able to play, you should consider giving up for 18 months’! The British Orthodontic Society offers guidance for musicians HERE . Most of this is useful, but be wary of general statements such as, ‘with practice and motivation, most wind players [including brass] can adjust to playing with braces’, because it is important to stress that every pupil is an individual who will respond to the braces in their own way. Some may have been playing for a number of years and have reached a high standard, others may be relative beginners; it’s not always possible to predict who will be affected the most. Making an action plan with the pupil can give them a sense of ownership of a process in which they can otherwise feel they don’t have much control. They could consider what they would like the positive outcomes to be: learning to play with as little pressure as possible, developing their breathing, buzzing and airflow, extending their lower register, or learning new skills such as, for example, improvising, playing by ear, learning to listen more, and so on. When the braces are first fitted, they usually take a little getting used to. There can be some discomfort and for this reason it might be best to leave the trombone in its case for a week or so until the pupil is more comfortable with their braces. When they are ready to


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REVIEW: BRACE YOURSELF

play, it’s important they stay as relaxed as possible: focus on the airflow ‘showing the lips what to do’ and work from what the pupil can do at first. Should the pupil feel any pain, then that is a good time to stop; the body will naturally tense up if it is expecting pain every time the mouthpiece is brought to the lips, and that isn’t a good place to start. Short, frequent practice sessions are likely to be more productive at first. There are a number of products that are designed to act as a barrier between the brackets and wires and the inside of the mouth and lips. Wax strips can be moulded into shape to cover problem areas and there are various silicon dots, strips and bumpers that cover the brackets, some of which are marketed specifically for musicians. They can work for some, but many pupils find them messy and too much hassle. Another option is trying a plastic mouthpiece; with its softer, more comfortable rim I have found it to be much more successful. When the braces come off there’s usually another period of readjustment, depending on the pupil. Some may plan to take their Grade 8 exam the week later it it’s not always that straightforward. Having had one embouchure change forced on them, they’re having yet another one – though this time at least with the hardware removed! There’s often also the ‘psychological braces’ that need to dealt with; building their confidence to be able to achieve the heights they once reached. For many pupils, the age that they are getting their braces coincides with their voices changing and lots of other changes too. They may be self-conscious and uncomfortable, but if they can work through playing with their braces, the list of positive playing outcomes is endless and they’ll be more resilient trombonists and human beings too, and like Alan Thomas, former Principal Trumpet City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, SAID ‘they’ll have a “Wallace and Gromit” smile at the end of it!’ Teaching pupils with braces will most likely bring some challenges, not least finding things for them to

BRACE YOURSELF FOR BRASS, AVAIL ABLE FROM FOXYDOTSMUSIC.CO.UK (*NEW* 10% DISCOUNT AT FOR BTS MEMBERS AT FOXYDOTSMUSIC.CO.UK)

play comfortably. With a mouth full of metal, it’s harder to play the higher notes and whilst younger pupils or those in the lower grades may find that their current tunes are still accessible at first, teachers may need to be creative when finding repertoire for the older or more advanced player. Fortunately, there is Foxy Dots Music’s Brace Yourself for Brass material to add to the trombone teacher’s toolkit. The first book in the series is a collection of original pieces and although nothing ventures out of the stave, these are deliberately written to challenge the more advanced young player. It comes with piano accompaniment and backing tracks as well as access to thoughtfully created practice (slower) tracks. Honking Horns Collection Vol. 1 allows the trombonist to play as part of a horn section with trumpets, trombones and tuba, whether taking the lead or a playing a supporting part with some solos. Again, these are deliberately written in the lower register and the demonstration and backing tracks allow the student to mute the part that they are playing. With markings such as ‘70s Disco Funk’ and ‘West Coast Funk’ and solos stylishly recorded by Barnaby Dickinson, these are all fun to play along to. Definitely worth bringing to lessons for a bit of variety and you don’t need braces to enjoy them! ◆ Tom Lees is a member of the English Cornett and Sackbut Ensemble www.ecse.co.uk and the City Musick https:// www.tcmusick.com/ and a leading trombone educator. 23


REVIEW J.S. Bach: Chorale Preludes Anneke Scott – Corno da tirarsi Benedict Preece – Organ BY SIMON DE SOUZA

Among the most interesting projects to emerge from the musically stifling period of the coronavirus pandemic has been this CD by the ever resourceful and enquiring Anneke Scott. The corno da tirarsi is an instrument that appears on several Bach scores doubling the soprano choral lines, but of which no example survives. The Swiss instrument maker Egger has created a conjectural reconstruction which looks rather like an unholy alliance between a helical horn of Bach’s time and a soprano trombone. In this recording, in which the two players perforce worked in different locations, the organist Benedict Preece plays a sampled organ sound from St Bavo Church, Haarlem. Interesting though the hardware is – as the sleeve note puts it, ‘a matching a “virtual” instrument with a “conjectural” one’ – this would be of little more than academic interest if the performances weren’t of the highest quality. Which they certainly are. The recorded sound is clear and bright with excellent balance between the two instruments and the organ sound is a very good match for the corno. Anneke’s playing is a delight, delicately phrased with a warm but projecting tone. The question of why this early chromatic horn failed to take off is a fascinating one, but Egger and Anneke Scott have certainly made a very persuasive case for it in this project and I recommend this disk very highly, not just to anyone who with an interest in the early history of the horn, but also to anyone who loves beautiful music beautifully played!◆

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AVAIL ABLE FROM WWW.PLUMSTEAD-PECULIARS.COM FOR £6.99

Readers may be interested to watch Anneke Scott discussing the Corno da tirarsi HERE , and demonstrating the instrument with a performance of Wachet Auf HERE . Anneke talking about the instrument: HERE Anneke playing Wachet Auf: Anneke Scott (corno da tirarsi) & Benedict Preece (organ) Johann Sebastian Bach's "Wachet Auf "


Rejano Mute BY JANE SALMON , REVIEWS EDITOR

EVIE

The promise of a quieter sound is something we all need on occasion, but I can understand why practice mutes don’t feature in everyone’s routine. In too many of the mutes available, the reduction in sound – typically achieved by restricting the air flow – results in pitching difficulties, missing pitches all together and a very weighed-down instrument, not factors you will want to involve in your practice. This is not the case with the Rejano Mutes, a welcome new addition to the practice mute market. Designer and owner, David Rejano (Principal trombone, Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra) has developed a product that not only solves every problem we previously faced but features details that you will now want in every mute you own. It’s lightweight (the Tenor mute is just a little over 110g), the sound is consistent, and it has a comfortable open feeling, no overblowing needed, allowing a healthy but quiet warm-up (my neighbours are pleased). It looks great too. These 3D printed mutes come in a variety of colours so you can choose something personal to you. This might also help you to avoid mix-ups in rehearsals. The shape is nice to handle and the curved base not only fits well in most cases but most importantly it avoids the possibility of knocking it over; instead it will just wobble and save you some embarrassment. This fantastic range is available for Tenor, Bass and most recently, Alto trombone. I expect to see these widely available across the UK soon, but don’t hesitate to order direct from the USA; the process was surprisingly speedy. Do keep an eye on Rejano Mutes’ website and social media for updates, this team really is one to watch. ◆ Website: www.rejanomutes.com Instagram: @rejanomutes Facebook: @rejanomute

REJANO PRACTICE MUTE CREDIT: JANE SALMON

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R EV I E W Ultimate Big Band Toolkit The new guide from Louis Dowdeswell and Callum Au

BY JEREMY PRICE

This is a superb resource, written with a great deal of passion and enthusiasm for the art of being a Big Band musician. Most valuable, I feel, is that this publication links you in with the movers and shakers of the current UK Big Band and session scene, as well as giving you an insight into how these outstanding musicians think and operate. Their modus operandi is well worth emulating, as is evident by the stunning recordings that are an integral part of the product, and also conveyed through the style of the text, which is clear cut and matter of fact but laced with wit and banter. Through this you even get a semblance of ‘the hang’ you would have on the stand with these guys. Serious fun emanates from the page. If you want any more evidence that they are not taking themselves too seriously and want to make this accessible, have a look at their promomotional video which also quickly outlines the project. The authors suggest that this is a book for all levels, which indeed it can be, but I would say it is especially useful as a teaching resource for directors of youth Big Bands, and aspiring professional musicians at perhaps newcomer level to NYJO, Tomorrow’s Warriors or MYJO and the like. This tome would definitely be a

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hugely helpful inside track for young students in those key educational structures right now. After a brief introduction outlining the project, the authors jump straight into a series of short guides on all the basic principles you would need to be thinking about, from articulation, notation, listening and improvisation. It’s a glimpse of the depth required for further study rather than a complete guide but that’s entirely appropriate for this enormous subject. We then have the illustrious CVs of the authors and their supporting co-tutors, which again are friendly and jaunty, while also conveying the level of talent and dedication required. The best feature of this publication is the fact that you have the sheet music and the recordings combined. While the text is a brave attempt to take on a vast subject, one is always going to come up against the old adage ‘talking about music is like dancing about architecture.’ The authors attempt to verbalise many things that could be demonstrated live in person in an instant; a point which remains a comfort in our remote and locked down age. But in fairness, the authors are well aware of this, hence the recordings and the play-


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ASK AMOS – YOUR LETTERS

along-tracks. This way you can get straight to the music and listening to it, which then allows the penny to drop with all the text. And so, onto the recordings. Wow! A joy to listen to. Ultimate Big Band Toolkit is worth getting, on the strength of the fact that you are buying an album in its own right. Compositions and playing are top drawer and truly inspiring. Indeed, this may be a pilot for a new format of releasing an album for Big Band fans. Release the album complete with a couple of the lead parts and a transcribed solo or two. Great idea. As final thoughts, although listening and interacting is mentioned throughout, I’d have liked to have seen a little more emphasis on the fact that the music is built on aural tradition. For me, the joy of Big Band playing is that the notation is in no way adequate to convey the feel and nuance. You have to lift it off the page. We call them ‘charts’ because they really are just maps only representing the real thing. Which came first, the chicken or the egg, the eye or the flower, music or notation? Music obviously came first while the others are debateable. The players on the recording are steeped

in this aural tradition which is why they sound so great, so perhaps the text could lean a little more towards the aural processes that make a good Big Band player. This is addressed however, as many significant luminaries are given as recommended listening, but just not quite overtly enough for me. Congratulations to all involved. All in all, this is a major contribution to the culture of large ensemble jazz and will inspire a huge range of musicians into this exciting realm. ◆

The Ultimate Big Band Toolkit is available with a special 10% discount for BTS members. You can buy it HERE .

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NT ERVIE

Music for Bosch People BY PETE THORNTON

“It’s like minimal but loads more notes like video-games but with more song like jazz but much more gay like old music but more current like yummy sweet but more stick like paint but more scratch like tapestry but filthily like prayer but more loud like loud groove and more rude like fingers and faces too but somehow more smelly like smelly things cooking with more chew and change like louder prayers that groove with like stinking-hot-pink in poo-brown but even more desperate-like than that like drums and Dream Musics …”

Alex Paxton is a multi-award-winning composer and improvising-trombonist based in the UK whose work draws upon a range of classical, experimental, electronic and folk music traditions to create a unique and explosive voice. Alex’s accolades include being elected to the 9th International Composition Seminar with Ensemble Modern, where he was awarded the commission ILOLLI-POP, which he performed with the ensemble in Frankfurt. He is a London Symphony Orchestra Panufnik Composer and represented the UK in the Orchestral section of the International Society of Contemporary Music with his piece SPAKE. His many awards include the Royal Philharmonic Society Composition Prize for OD ODY PINK’d, and the Dankworth Jazz Prize – Worshipful Company of Musicians (for another compositon, BYE). Alex has performed his music with leading orchestras such as the London Sinfonietta and The Philharmonia Orchestra. He has written works, including six operas, for the likes of the English National Opera, Helios Collective, London Symphony Orchestra and the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Alex also writes music extensively for community settings and for young performers. His new album Music for Bosch People was released in April.

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PETE THORNTON: So, you’re both a trombone player and a serious composer. How has that been balanced through your life up until now? ALEX PAXTON: I had a short period of ‘give up the trombone and concentrate on composing’, and then took up the trombone again with a renewed vision of what I wanted to do with it. So, I talk about my ‘adult’ trombone life, which is the one I’ve had for the last few years. I hadn’t really had much exposure to new music until I was about 18 years old, and then I was just so thirsty to explore it that I felt I needed to focus on composition. In my new trombone life I thought I’d play some of the stuff I’d written on the trombone. I expected my writing to affect my trombone playing, but what I didn’t expect was that being a practising improviser and creative musician on the trombone would have had an enormous impact on my writing. Being in relationships with other improvisers has also made a big difference to the music I create, as it flows through me, which is exciting! Now, I would define myself most immediately as a composer, but the trombone is also really a big part of who I am. I’m totally addicted to practising and just crave more and more of it and would happily play all day! I like the idea that the trombone is a composition of the body. I love composing, but it’s a long cycle, especially if you’re a classical composer and have to wait


INTERVIEW

ALEX PAXTON. PHOTO CREDIT: ELISC HA KAMINER.

nine months before the thing you’re writing on paper becomes a sound and becomes exciting and meaningful. The trombone is so immediate, it comes out six feet later. PT: What are your thoughts on the place of improvisation in your music?

It never makes sense for me to play the trombone in any other way. On my new album, the track Londonglum is a tiny peep show of my life as an improviser. The trumpet player Peter Evans describes his trumpet improvisation as just one piece that lasts his whole life and when he does a concert, you’re just seeing a little bit of that piece. The trombone in my creative practice is just another compositional process, it’s like using a piano or computer software or crayon. AP:

With this in mind, what are your thoughts on writing for another improvising musician?

PT:

AP: When I’ve written music for other improvisers, I’ve left space for another creative voice. If it isn’t me, then I’m super interested for others to take on that solo improvisational role in the music. I’ve written pieces for myself with a symphony orchestra, but they work for another person to be the solo voice. It’s like painting a picture with a magic pen and then being able to step

into it and play around with that world. It’s a mantra that goes ‘build a world and then live in it’. But it would also work for someone else to live in it, even someone improvising with lots of different stylistic syntaxes to me. In Music for Bosch People there are others fulfilling these improvisational solo roles. Matthew Herd (saxophone), for example, has a solo in there and I’ve written the space for him to be himself. It’s really nice to have a different form of energy and a different set of abstract feelings in there. PT: Tell me about the composition process for Music for Bosch People.

With the Prayer pieces I started by making these really desperate improvisations on these little baby synthesisers I have that are full of noises. I took those and imported them into a computer, and then wrote out of them. It was like pouring a bucket of swill over a floor in a barn and gilding the mess with golden lines and expensive paints. At first it’s a little bit like abstract expressionism; I’m looking for the natural shapes but then I put definition in with cheap children’s stickers and feathers and drawing lines and ‘googley’ eyes. In my head I’m doing the sonic equivalent of that, which is why the album is being released alongside these kind of improvised paintings that I’ve made.

AP:

Continues on next page … 29


INTERVIEW

PT: You are heavily involved in education and have written music for community settings. Has this experience fed into Music for Bosch People? AP: The piece that I wrote for Ensemble Modern last year had the voices of children buried deep within it, and the piece I’m writing for London Sinfonietta this year actually has real children in it. In the album, there might be some children’s voices: they might be saying ‘NO!’ or something. I haven’t really described this before but leading a workshop is a lot like improvising, being the soloist in the room. If you have 500 children with instruments – which are basically like sonic weapons in this context – and you join them, there will quickly be a massive explosion and everything will burn down. But you want to keep that energy in them; you want to keep the fire burning, just not too much that it burns the building down. With grown up musicians it is the opposite. I come along and pour petrol on the fire because I need more. My favourite comedians all do that, as they’re able to charge their performances with an unrealistic amount of energy. That’s why one of the tracks is called Prayer with Strings and Joan Rivers.

Who would you say have been your biggest influences over your sound and style, in your playing and composing? PT:

AP: The big person in the front of my mind is a trombone player/composer/improviser called GEORGE LEWIS . He actually wrote a book on The Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), which is an important group of musicians. The AACM was and is a place where musicians, mainly from a jazz playing background, were meeting to engage with more avantgarde ideas, but it was also connected to the community and education of young musicians. It produced people like ANTHONY BRAXTON (saxophone) and WADADA LEO SMITH (trumpet). Actually, the trombone players who played with Anthony Braxton form an important list for me. He had George Lewis for a bit, and then RAY ANDERSON , who is a really interesting figure for trombone players because he kind of came from trad jazz and funk music, but his first big gig on the international scene was touring Europe with Anthony Braxton. I don’t think he was part of the AACM but he was around in Chicago so he knew George Lewis and GARY VALENTE and all those people. Also worth mentioning is GUNHILD CARLING – she’s amazing! She’s using those trad sounds which no one is using anymore. Her energy is bang on and I wish she would make a solo album. A young guy who’s worth checking out is ZEKKEREYA EL -MAGHARBEL . I discovered

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BIRMINGHAM RECORD COMPANY/ NMC L ABEL, 2021

him through Facebook and it’s some of the most artistically integral trombone playing I’ve ever heard. I’ve never had a conversation with him but I’ve liked all of his videos, they are totally inspiring. PT:

What else can we look forward to?

I have been commissioned by John Zorn to contribute to Arcana X, the next book in his Arcana: Musicians on Music series. This year I’m writing pieces for the Philharmonia Orchestra, London Sinfonietta and the London Symphony Orchestra. I will also be making another album later in the year featuring some of my orchestral works, called Happy Music for Orchestra. ◆ AP:

Music for Bosch People was released on April 23 on Birmingham Record Company/ NMC label. It is available to buy HERE . For more about Alex Paxton, visit his WEBSITE. You can follow Alex on INSTAGRAM , FACEBOOK , and T WITTER .


MUSICIANS' HEALTH

Yoga Warm Ups for Musicians BY NAOMI WATTS

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n this issue we welcome cellist Naomi Watts. Naomi is a cellist in the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra whilst also being a trained yoga instructor. Like playing the trombone, the asymmetrical nature of playing the cello can easily create tension and pain in your body. Here Naomi will share some simple stretches and poses to keep you as relaxed as possible. Use the following exercises as a warm-up and warm down to your practice and notice if it changes how you feel. Click on the subtitles to see a demonstration of each exercise discussed below. Spinning: If you want to do one small thing every day that your spine will thank you for, make it spinning! Think of this as a gift to give your body first thing in the morning, and after a long rehearsal. HOW TO? Stand with your feet hip-width apart with a soft bend in the knees. Try to keep the feet more or less parallel unless you have a natural outturn. Allow your arms to be like dead weights and initiate this side-to-side spinal rotation from the ribs, allowing the arms to swing naturally and the head and neck to follow. Stand tall and proud, and spin for as long as your time allows! BENEFITS: Many of us feel tight or ‘stuck’ in our upper backs, partly because of the rib cage. When there is a lack of space through our spine, our energy levels drop and we are less able to breathe fully. Practice spinning for a quick energy boost on a practice break, to decompress the vertebrae and stimulate your digestive system.

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TIPS: Keep your knees tracking the middle of the feet and don’t let the knees roll towards each other. If you feel any torsion in the knees, try taking the feet a little wider apart. Shoulder Rotation: You have everything to gain from warming up the shoulders every time before you play. HOW TO Take the foot of the arm you are circling back behind you and take your other hand to your hip for balance. Take the first arm straight out in front of you, bring it up to brush past your ear, back behind you, down, and past the hip. Start slowly, and gradually build momentum. Try to keep the hips level, spine long and the crown of the head shining towards the ceiling. Repeat on the other side. BENEFITS: Sitting for long hours and making the same repetitive movements playing our instruments can lead to shoulder tightness and imbalance. It is really important to take the shoulders through their full range of motion every day. This simple exercise also starts to lengthen and soften the chest muscles that get short and tight when we play, and helps circulate synovial fluid in the joint (think olive oil!), which helps it to work more freely. TIPS: Make 80% of your circles backward and only 20% forward! We spend nearly all of our lives doing something with our arms out in front of us and this is a nice opportunity to help compensate for that.

Continues on next page … 31


MUSICIANS' HEALTH

Side Stretch and Neck Release HOW TO Side Stretch: Stand with your feet a little wider than hip-width, take your right hand to your hip and reach up and over with the left arm, bringing it alongside the ear with your palm facing in. Melt your right shoulder away from the ear and stay for three deep breaths. Neck Release: To move into stretching the neck, reach your left arm away from you to a bit lower than shoulder level. Take the right arm down alongside the leg, line your right ear up with the right shoulder and allow the right ear to surrender over towards the right shoulder. Stay for three breaths. To come out of the stretch, bring your right hand to the right side of the face to prop your head back up without pulling the neck. Repeat on the other side. BENEFITS: Side bending is an amazing tool for helping us to breathe deeper. When the small muscles that separate our ribs (the intercostals) are tight, out breathing can become tight and restricted as well. Enjoy side stretching every day to maintain lung capacity. TIPS: Try to ground through both feet evenly and aim to reach up as well as over. Breathe in and out through the nose, directing the breath into the side you are stretching. We have a tendency to hold the breath if we find stretches intense. Breathe fully, deeply and slowly throughout both the side stretch and neck release. Gomukhasana – Cow Face Arms A fantastic shoulder and chest opening pose to counter the arms being in front whilst you’re playing. Only practice this after your shoulders are nice and warm. HOW TO Reach your right arm straight out to the right and turn the palm to face the wall behind you. Bring the arm straight down behind the back, bend at the elbow and use your left hand to encourage the right elbow in towards the spine. Reach the left arm all the way up towards the ceiling, spin the palm to face behind you, bend the elbow and reach down to clasp your right fingertips or a belt. Stay for four long slow breaths and repeat on the other side BENEFITS: This is a wonderful pose to counteract a slump in the spine, increase range of motion in the shoulders and open the chest. TIPS: Hold a belt or scarf if your hands aren’t ready to clasp yet. This pose can be helpful for us to cultivate

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patience. If your hands don’t reach each other, don’t force them together. Relax the jaw and calm the intensity of your efforts. Try translating this last instruction to your playing and see how it feels! Sit with your breath: You should be feeling a little more limber now and ready to begin playing. Before you do, spend a couple of minutes connecting to the quality of your breath and visualise it moving freely throughout your whole body. Become aware of the gentle rising sensation of the inhalation, and the heavier releasing sensation of the exhalation. Breath in and out through the nose smoothly and relax the face. If you are feeling anxious about something you have coming up it can be really helpful to set an intention for your practice. This might be dropping any negative self-talk if this is a habit, or choosing one aspect of your playing to focus on for the first 45 minutes. You might choose to work only on your sound quality, for example, or just to feel and play from your heart, rather than over analysing everything that you do. As musicians, we can be extremely unforgiving of ourselves. Try to use the critical, thinking mind as a positive tool rather than letting it lead you down the path of self-defeatism. Give yourself a break. You’ve got this! Chest opener and shoulder release: At the end of a long rehearsal day it can be really tempting to crumple yourself up on the sofa. Before you disappear into the sofa, do your spine, shoulders and hip flexors a huge favour and lie in this supported subtle backbend for at least 10 minutes. HOW TO Lie back over your props (whatever you are using as a supportive object) and let the arms extend out to the sides to make a ‘T’ shape. Breathe fully and enjoy an opening across the front of the chest. BENEFITS: Backbends can give us a real energy boost and release tight and short chest muscles. Do this daily and you may help improve your posture and iron out a slouch. TIPS: Yoga blocks are great but if you don’t happen to have any lying around use a tightly rolled towel under your mid and upper back, and a book or two to rest your head on. Make sure your towel and head support are the same height so as not to throw the neck back. ◆ Instagram: @naomiwattsyoga

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Spring 2021 crossword ASK AMOS – YOUR LETTERS

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD YOUR PRINTABLE VERSION OF THIS CROSSWORD 1

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CLUES

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DOWN 9

1. BOSS ON RIC KET Y SEAT, COMPOSER FOUND (6)

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2. C HEERFUL PUB; ARRANGED TO HAVE DINNER, SAY (6) 3. WORLD-WEARY DISSATISFACTION WITH DON WITHDRAWING FROM 4D 11

4. UNION NEEDS REFERENCES (10)

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6. A BIRD GOES AFTER THE CAT WITH A HATC HET (8)

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7. IT DIDN'T TAKE SINGLE BOARDERS (5,3) 14

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8. LIQUID IS LEAKED – THERE'S WATER CLOSE TO HERE (8) 13. ENT WINE STIC KS FOR FESTIVAL (10)

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15. CREATE A FEAST, BE CERTAIN TO SUCCEED (1,4,3)

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16 OPERETTA SET IN A HOTEL (8) 19

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17. TRAIN SET MYSTERIOUSLY LEAVES BOX (3,5) 19. DRINK, FREE OF C HARGE? THE REVERSE, THERE'S A FEE ATTAC HED (6)

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20. NO NEW TS IN SWITZERL AND – BUT A CLOSE REL ATIVE (6) 21. T YPE OF CAR TO AVOID ON THE MOTORWAY? (6) 24

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ACROSS 26

1. COMPOSER TAKES PART IN VIOLENT SEIZURE OF IREL AND (8)

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5. AN ALTO IS OUT OF KEY (6) Set by Anklepoise

10. BOARD? HALF OF THEM MAKE DOG NOISES! (6)

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD YOUR PRINTABLE VERSION OF THIS CROSSWORD

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23. INDIAN LEADER'S MINOR EGO PROBLEM (8) 24. FREEZING WADING BIRD LOSES TAIL (6) 25. A FIRST FOR MOZART? (8) 26. KISSES TO CAESAR (6) 27. EDMUND DIED WITH A BURST APPENDIX (8)

Congratulations to the winner of the Winter 2020 crossword, John Muir!

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The winner was selected at random from the correct answers received, and wins a copy of Marshall Gilkes's album ‘Waiting to Continue’, as featured in the Winter 2020 edition of The Trombonist.

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EMAIL YOUR ANSWERS TO EDITOR@BRITISHTROMBONESOCIET Y.ORG

Set by Anklepoise

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BY JEREMY PRICE

JAZZ BY JEREMY RITA PAYÉS: NUNCA VAS A COMPRENDER

I recall there is a Woody Allen stand-up routine about the fact that Tuba players never get asked to bring their instrument to the beach for a barbecue. ‘Hey, we’re having a barbecue. Can you bring your Tuba?’ Guitars are cool. Flutes might work. Accordion perhaps. Not Tubas. Trombones? It’s been preying on my mind that ‘bring your trombone’ is just as unlikely in this scenario. These BTS pages have frequently reminded us that trombones are for declamatory and funereal statements of doom, which doesn’t necessarily make you think that a trombone could also accompany a sociable glass of wine in the back garden with family and friends. But hey, look at this from Rita Payés: Nunca vas a comprender. I’m all for making the trombone a little bit more cool in the collective consciousness and this clip does exactly that. Rita Payés is from Vilassar de Mar, Spain, and was born into a musical family in 1999. She has since gained an extensive reputation as a singer and jazz trombonist and has already made several headline appearances at major jazz festivals and significant jazz venues around the world. The track transcribed by Rob Egerton here is Nunca Vas a Comprender which translates as ‘You will never understand’ and was released as a single in December 2020. You can listen and read the music or play along

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to this YouTube link: RITA

PAYÉS ‘NUNCA VAS A

COMPRENDER’ TROMBONE SOLO TRANSCRIPTION ,

as well as read the solo from the BTS edition here. There is some beautiful motivic work in the opening phrases on really colourful notes and a lovely context for a top C to ring out. We are in Db major and the progression is basically simple turnarounds. Much of the solo is comfortable diatonic shifts but don’t be fooled that this is easy. The timing and pace are very sophisticated. Novices may consider Db to be a slightly clumsy key for trombone but look at little turns like Gb, Ab, F in the stave and F above middle C down to Db then C. These are very satisfying and comfortable slide shifts that flow easily. Bb in 5th position and F above middle C in raised 4th also helps loosen everything up. Look at bar 7 and 8 and think about how the direction of the slide helps the phrasing. There is a sense of mellifluousness (love that word for this type of music) and that scoop from the Db to D natural to Bb in bar 8 is a classic. In fact, best advice is to say ‘mellifluousness’ three times out loud before playing the solo. That’ll work wonders! In between run throughs of playing along, give yourself a little work out in Db. Try up and down the scale, from each point of the scale and simple


JAZZ BY JEREMY

descending and ascending patterns that feel melodic to you. The pentatonic within the scale is also good to know, which allows you to find natural melodic properties. (Db, Eb, F, Ab, Bb, complete the octave to Db). What would be good to emulate is the same length of notes in the legato phrasing and the balance between soft and hard sounds. Have a think about when to articulate in quite a pronounced way with a diaphragm kick, and when to play really smoothly and almost glissando. That top F in bar 19 is effortlessly placed and seems so inevitable in the musical flow of the line. Very impressive to play it without attendant bells and whistles for virtuosic cleverness but just because it is the right thing to do in the structure of the solo. So thanks to Rita Payés for bringing the trombone so stylishly to such a warm and human context. And who knows ‘hey, bring your trombone’ may become part of the invitation to your first family gathering for months.◆

35 ILLUSTRATION: ISTOC K


LINK: ROB EGERTON JAZZ TRANSCRIPTIONS

Bb Treble Clef

Rita Paye's Solo On...

Nunca Vas A Comprender q = 126

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Copyright © Rob Egerton Jazz Transcriptions

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LINK: ROB EGERTON JAZZ TRANSCRIPTIONS

Trombone

Rita Paye's Solo On...

Nunca Vas A Comprender q = 126

? b b 44 œ bbb J 5

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Copyright © Rob Egerton Jazz Transcriptions

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From the Stage to the Pit … Light at the end of the tunnel? That’s certainly what most arts organisations and promoters are counting on as we navigate through 2021. It does seem that our orchestras and theatres can at last begin to plan events again, though if the last 12 months has taught us anything we shouldn’t get too comfortable too quickly. There’s a long road ahead of us yet, and the classical music scene is still in deep water. However, as we have become well and truly established in our lockdown-lifestyles, our sector can be seen more readily producing streamed content and tentatively planning ‘Covid-proof ’ socially distanced concerts (though as last December proved, that’s not the case when another lockdown is imposed). Due to this we have quite a few highlights for you coming up soon: a mix of streams in the immediate future followed by a couple of hot-off-thepress announcements of live concerts from around May onwards. Keep an eye on each orchestra’s social media channels as I envisage quite a few ‘return to the concert halls’ announcements will be made in the coming weeks.

BY JOSH CIRTINA // PRINCIPAL BASS TROMBONE IN THE ROYAL PHILHARMONIC ORC HESTRA

SYMPHONIC HIGHLIGHTS STREAMED SYMPHONIC CONCERTS, AVAIL ABLE ONLINE ONLY:

Porgy and Bess from 8 April 2021 onwards London Symphony Orchestra/John Wilson Another great programme in the LSO’s online streaming series from its home at LSO St Lukes. A Symphonic Picture from George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess is sure to make a thoroughly enjoyable concert, particularly with the pairing of the LSO and conductor John Wilson, famed for his interpretations of music from the musicals with his very own John Wilson Orchestra. Available to view HERE . The Emperor Concerto from 21 April 2021 onwards, London Philharmonic Orchestra/Robin Ticciati/Denis Kozhukhtin The LPO continues its fantastic series of streamed concerts from the Royal Festival and Queen Elizabeth Halls. There’s lots to choose from but here is a particular highlight. This concert features Beethoven’s Fifth Piano Concerto and Sibelius’ magnificent Seventh Symphony, notable for its glorious trombone solo, to be performed by principal trombone Mark Templeton. I’m sure this will be a treat! Available to view HERE . 38

The Soldier’s Tale from 29 April 2021 onwards Hallé Orchestra/Sir Mark Elder/Various Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale is a work for three actors, dancer and seven musicians. It was composed as a result of the 1918 Spanish 'flu pandemic so it’s quite a poignantly timed performance from the Hallé and Sir Mark Elder. It incorporates jazz influences with tango, ragtime and much more – a stream to look forward to! Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony from 6 May 2021 onwards, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Vasily Petrenko/Paul Lewis The RPO is joined by their Chief Conductor Designate for a series of streamed concerts in the setting of the magnificent Royal Albert Hall. Here’s a great programme featuring Tchaikovsky’s rarely performed Overture to The Voyevoda, Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto with Paul Lewis CBE and Tchaikovsky’s grand Fifth Symphony – well worth a watch! Online tickets available HERE .


FROM THE STAGE …

BY BEC KY SMITH // PRINCIPAL TROMBONE AT THE ENGLISH NATIONAL OPERA

OPERATIC OVERVIEW

Schumann’s Second Symphony from 21 May 2021 onwards, Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Kevin John Edusei/Various Schumann’s Second Symphony is a work of passion. Tender moments, passionate outbursts and pure joy make up this wonderful symphony. It’s often overlooked by many, but it features some simply superb writing for the entire orchestra, including a lonely trumpet and trombone opening! Click HERE for more information. EVENTS WITH SOCIALLY-DISTANCED AUDIENCES:

Britten, Fauré & Dvorak 18 May 2021 and streamed London Symphony Orchestra/Sir Simon Rattle Britten’s descriptive Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra begins this concert. It’s a great piece of music – not only for young people! Each section of the orchestra gets to show off their flare and colours before a rousing finale. Followed by Fauré’s Pelléas et Mélisande Suite and Dvorak’s Slavonic Dances, this is a real highlight of returning to live performances (hopefully!). Trombone Concerto, by Dani Howard (World Premier) Peter Moore 17 June 2021 and streamed, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Domingo Hindoyan LSO Principal Trombone Peter Moore is joined by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and its incoming Chief Conductor Domingo Hindoyan for the world premiere of Dani Howard’s Trombone Concerto. This concert also features Stravinsky’s Octet which is a wonderful work for winds – not often performed in a symphonic concert so really worth a listen. All this alongside Ravel’s magnificently colourful Le Tombeau de Couperin! As always, please do continue to support the orchestras and venues around the UK – they are reliant on their audiences now more than ever in their histories.

With lockdown three having been and gone, I’d really love to give you some positive news that all theatres are reopening. However, what has been seen over the past year is that plans can change at the drop of a hat, and organisations are therefore being extremely cautious as to what they announce. All opera companies are providing online content, whether it be on their own YouTube channel, or on websites such as marquee.tv which presents a huge number of performances from all over the world for a subscription fee. I would highly recommend signing up to this if you need your fix! Opera North Fidelio by Beethoven, A Little Night Music by Sondheim, Parsifal by Wagner, Alicina by Handel, Rigoletto by Verdi, Trouble in Tahiti and Westside Story Symphonic Dances Double bill, both by Bernstein, and Bizet’s Carmen, at venues across the North. Glyndebourne Festival Káťa Kabanová by Janáček, Il turco in Italia by Rossini, Cosi fan tutte by Mozart, Luisa Miller by Verdi. One semi-staged opera: Tristan and Isolde by Wagner. Garsington Opera Der Rosenkavalier by Strauss, Eugene Onegin by Tchaikovsky, Amadigi by Handel, Le Comte Ory by Rossini, The Selfish Giant by Barber, Grange Park Opera Falstaff by Verdi, La Boheme by Puccini, Ivan the Terrible by Rimsky Korsakov, Livinenko by Bolton. Loughborough Festival Opera Die Valkyrie by Wagner, Cosi fan tutte by Mozart, The Return of Ulysses by Monteverdi, The Cunning Little Vixen by Janáček. Scottish Opera Scottish Opera are putting on an outdoor production of Falstaff by Verdi, and the Royal Opera House are opening their doors on 17 May with content to be announced very soon. I hope you can get to experience a live performance this summer, there really is nothing that compares (the digital content has been brilliant but not quite the same). And for performers, an invisible audience is not ideal, we need an audience to communicate to, and we will never take for granted performing to an appreciative crowd! ◆

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What’s

on

By Douglas Coleman, Events Editor THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY INTERNATIONAL TROMBONE FESTIVAL 2021 The 50th Anniversary International Trombone Festival 2021 will be taking place at Columbus State University, Columbus, Georgia, USA from the 14–17 July 2021. For more information, visit their website: https://trombonefestival.net/ SLIDE ACTION Slide Action are making waves in the brass ensemble world. Head to their website for some virtuosic trombone playing from this dynamic trombone quartet: www.slideaction.co.uk BBCSSO Watch the BBCSSO perform Shostakovich and Mahler’s Fifth Symphonies in previously recorded live performances. DAVID WHITEHOUSE David Whitehouse (of the LPO) continues to produce a steady stream of fantastic multi-tracked video performances that show case his playing and Randy Malmstrom’s arranging talents. I’m sure these arrangements will prove popular with trombone ensembles in the future. Visit David’s YOUTUBE channel to see what he’s been up to.

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FODENS Fodens have produced a SERIES of downloadable Brass Ensemble arrangements with accompanying videos so that you can play along with them at home. It’s not quite the same as being there in person but it’s some fun to keep us all going! Free, see www.fodensband.co.uk for more information. THE LSO The LSO return to live concerts with socially distanced audiences on 18 May 2021. See them perform Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to Orchestra and hear the Brass section in all their live glory at the Barbican Centre, 3.30 and 6.30pm, see www.lso.co.uk for more information. TREVOR MIRES AND TRYPL Following the release of their first album, catch Trevor Mires and TRYPL at the Jazz Café on 6 June 2021. RAMSB Royal Academy of Music Symphonic Brass ensemble, led by Mark David, and including the première of pieces by Gavin Higgins and Thomas Hyde. Live streamed on 23 April 2021 and available for 30 days on the Academy’s YOUTUBE channel. THE OLD DIRTY BRASSTARDS The Old Dirty Brasstards return to live gigs at 20 May 2021 at XOYO at 7pm. See www.olddirtybrasstards.co.uk for more information on this unique and exciting ensemble.

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

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