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DÁVUR JUUL MAGNUSSEN
I hope you have all had a great summer so far and are ready to take advantage of what is still left of it. My summer was spent getting back to the roots, playing music near and far with old friends. It has been great and it has also made me appreciate how lucky I am to be playing music. I say ‘lucky’ because it really is a privilege, and the UK especially has been exceptionally successful in granting this privilege to as many people as possible. It is therefore desperately sad to read news from many corners of the nation about severe cuts to music provision in schools. Many groups and individuals are putting on a brave fight to stave off these cuts, but the tide against them seems very strong. What they are protecting is nothing less than part of the bedrock of musical culture in the UK. They deserve the highest praise and support as do you, dear reader. The fact that you are reading this magazine means that you are also a part of this bedrock. Whether you have just picked up a trombone, or if you have been playing for 80 years doesn’t matter. You form a very special community, because it is not only about learning how to blow raspberries down a tube. It is about connections and development on so many levels that the mind boggles. In this issue you will be reading biographical pieces about some exceptional individuals in the trombone world. While you read, just think about what I have said. Think about what kind of wide and varied musical community these individuals have depended upon and developed from. It is the same community that you are a part of and by being any kind of musician you also protect it so that it can carry on in the future. Keep up the good work.
This edition of The Trombonist celebrates the variety of the brilliant contributions to our trombone community. We mark Dudley Bright’s retirement from the London Symphony Orchestra, Tom Dunnett talks to Elliot Mason about his fantastic new release, Before, Now & After, and our ongoing ‘Jazz by Jeremy’ series highlights the life of the great Bill Watrous. Our very first ‘meet the section’ feature takes us to Wales to meet the trombone section of the awardwinning Cory Band, while offering a warm welcome to their newly appointed Second Trombone, Kyle Blake. As ever, I hope our readers find plenty to enjoy in this publication. Thank you! Jane Salmon email@example.com
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CONTRIBUTORS TO THIS ISSUE
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DURHAM BRASS FESTIVAL
PRESIDENT’S TOOLKIT: STEP BY STEP
ELLIOT MASON: BEFORE, NOW & AFTER
MEET THE SECTION: THE CORY BAND
JAZZ BY JEREMY: BILL WATROUS
REVIEW: AMARANTHINE, LET THE MUSIC SPEAK
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News BARNEY MEDL AND
Bill Watrous, 1939–2018 Bill Watrous, one of the all-time trombone greats, has died, aged 79. William Russell Watrous was born in Middletown, Connecticut. His father, Ralph, was a professional trombone player who played in Paul Whiteman’s band in the 1930s. Watrous was, therefore, exposed to the trombone from a very early age and started learning with his father at the age of just six. When he was 11 or 12, Watrous and some of his friends began travelling to New York at weekends to hear the most legendary jazz musicians of the 50s. These included Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk and Charles Mingus. When he left school, Watrous joined the US Navy. It was during his time in the Navy that Watrous learnt to read music; he had previously learnt everything by ear. Over this long period of learning the trombone without reading music he developed an acute ear for memorising what he heard. In an interview he once recalled meeting his childhood hero, J. J. Johnson: ‘When I met him, I said, “J. J., do you remember this?” Then I picked up my horn and played, note for note, a solo he had recorded on Cry Me a River. It's hard to get really close to someone in style, but you can imitate up to a point, so he recognised himself, looked at me in amazement and said, “I don't recall doing that!”’ Once Watrous completed his navy service he started playing in New York and quickly established a reputation as a top jazz trombone player. He played with Quincy Jones, Chick Corea, Woody Herman and Count Basie. He also joined Kai Winding’s trombone group. In 1969 he formed his own band, Manhattan Wildlife Refuge, which was signed to Columbia Records by legendary talent scout John Hammond. Watrous recorded two albums with Manhattan Wildlife Refuge. The band’s up-tempo, big band-rock fusion pushed the boundaries of what could be achieved on the trombone, and cemented his reputation as an important figure in the jazz world. In 1976 Watrous moved to Los 6
Angeles, where he played as a session musician and recorded with the likes of Herbie Hancock and Art Pepper. In 1982 he showed off his extraordinary talents on a live album recorded for Mole Records at Pizza Express in Soho, London. As well as being a prolific performer as a soloist and in leading jazz groups, Watrous was a passionate music educator. For 20 years he taught at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music and he had a long-running jazz festival named after him at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. A true master of the instrument, Watrous could play with fantastic virtuosity and agility; he could soar into the highest echelons of the register with apparent ease. Alongside his dazzling technical wizardry, Watrous had a sweet tone and his consummate musicianship and total control of the instrument made him one of the greatest performers of jazz ballads. He was also famous for his keen sense of humour. Bill Watrous is survived by his wife, Maryanne ‘Sweetface’ Watrous, and his son Jason.
Trombone donation success Readers may remember an appeal in the last magazine for a donation of a trombone to Kampala Music School. A month passed and Barbara Harrison was starting to give up hope, but then a kind reader called Chris Newton answered the call! The picture shows Barbara collecting the donated trombone from Chris at Reading Railway Station. We knew we could rely on the philanthropy of the trombone community!
NEWS Death of Gordon Langford Well-loved composer Gordon Langford died on 18 April, aged 86. Langford was especially known for his compositions for brass, and his Rhapsody for Trombone, written for the great Don Lusher in 1976, ranks as one of his most well-known works. He was born Gordon Maris Colman in Edgware, Middlesex in 1930. It was the suggestion of his composition teacher at the Royal Academy of Music, Norman Demuth, that he use a pseudonym, hence the change to ‘Langford’. Langford’s musical gifts were evident from an early age: he performed a Mozart piano concert when he was just nine. As well as being a talented composer and fine pianist, he was a trombone player, playing trombone in the band of the Royal Artillery during his National Service. Langford was particularly known and sought-after as a composer of light music and music for brass bands. In 1971 he won an Ivor Novello award for best light composition for his March from The Colour Suite. Millions have heard Langford’s music, many without realising it, as he wrote the music that accompanied the famous ‘Test Card’ that used to appear on BBC television when programmes were not broadcasting. Throughout the 1960s, 70s and 80s, Langford helped bring brass band music to a wider audience through his many arrangements and compositions. He has left behind a substantial legacy of works and enriched the repertoire of brass band and solo trombone music. In 2011 he was nominated for a Fellowship of the Royal Academy of Music by the Governing Body of the Academy.
GORDON L ANGFORD
New Head of Brass at Birmingham Amos Miller, one of the country’s leading trombone performers and educators, has been appointed new Head of Brass at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. Miller, a founding member of brass quintet Onyx Brass and principal trombone with the Royal Ballet Sinfonia, will take up the post in September. Julian Lloyd Webber, principal of the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, said: ‘Amos is renowned throughout the music profession as one of the world’s top brass players and it will be a real privilege to work alongside such a master.’
Helen Vollam appointed to the RNCM Helen Vollam will be joining the trombone faculty at the Royal Northern College of Music from September. Vollam is one of Britain’s top trombone players and currently Principal Trombone with the BBC Symphony Orchestra; she is also a member of the trombone quartet Bones Apart. We got in touch with Helen and she told us she is ‘very pleased and honoured to be joining such a fantastic team of trombone tutors at the RNCM. The RNCM has a long pedigree of producing great trombone players and right now there is a real buzz about the whole brass department. I am really looking forward to meeting and working with the RNCM trombone students in September’.
James Buckle joins the Philharmonia Congratulations to James Buckle who has been appointed Principal Bass Trombone of the Philharmonia Orchestra. Buckle studied at the Royal Academy of Music under Bob Hughes (a former Principal Bass Trombone of the Philharmonia) and graduated in 2015. Over the last few years he has established himself as a world-class bass trombonist, having performed with orchestras including the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, London Sinfonietta, and the London Symphony Orchestra. He has played in West End shows including The Lion King, The Phantom of the Opera and 42nd Street. Buckle has built up a substantial solo career, commissioning solo and chamber works, winning the British Trombone Society’s own Bass Trombone competition, and he is the only brass player to ever win the Gold Medal of the Royal Over-Seas League competition. He is now studying towards a Performance Masters specialised for soloists at the Hochschule der Künste Bern in Switzerland, under the tutelage of worldrenowned trombonist Ian Bousfield. He is the first bass trombone player to be accepted onto the course.
Farewell to Dudley Bright Dudley Bright is standing down after 18 years as Principal Trombone of the London Symphony Orchestra. For decades he has been one of the country’s foremost orchestral brass players. Turn to page 12 for our double-page feature. 7
PHOTOS: SAM BENJAFIELD
PROCESSIONS 2018 ELINOR C HAMBERS
On Sunday, 10 June, women and girls across Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London gathered together to celebrate the milestone of 100 years since the first women were given the vote. They joined together to create a mass artwork called PROCESSIONS, wearing the colours of the Suffragette movement, green, white and violet, and marching through the streets of these major cities. Inspired by this, horn players Beth Randall and Jo Hensel decided that there needed to be a parallel celebration of the contribution that women have made to brass and percussion playing: thus the Processions Brass Ensemble was formed. Players were recruited from all the UK music colleges, from youth ensembles, music services and from the profession, to play at this major event. In the lead up to the event, a brass quintet from the Guildhall School was invited to perform and be interviewed on Radio 3’s In Tune. Quintetta comprising, Katie Lodge, Isabelle Draper, Emily Burley, Elinor Chambers and Anna Carter, were joined by singer, Katherine McIndoe, to perform songs by female composers, including the Pankhurst Anthem by composer Lucy Pankhurst, a relative of one of the original suffragettes. All the pieces chosen for the march were either written or arranged by women. In fact, Lucy wrote a piece especially to be performed at this event and even came and joined the band on tenor horn. One of the highlights of the build up was the rehearsal for the under-18s. It was inspiring to hear their responses when they were asked, ‘What made you want to come here and play for this event?’ Among their answers were statements such as, ‘I would love it not to be strange that I play a brass instrument as a girl,’ and ‘I want to see more girls playing brass,’ and ‘I wish I was called just a brass player rather than a female brass player. My gender should make no difference.’ The wisdom of these young girls is an assurance that the future of women brass players is strong. 8
The day itself arrived and the band set up right in the middle of the huge crossroads at Parliament Square. The road had been closed for the march and it felt bizarre to be playing in a brass band on a spot that would usually be heaving with traffic. It was a beautiful sunny day and all the players were decked out with sun cream and sunglasses. In addition, they were each given a sash in one of the suffragette colours to echo the colours of the procession. The band started to play as the distant sound of cheers came closer. Hearing the roars of appreciation from the women marching at the end of each piece was something truly unforgettable. The stream of women moved past in a blur of colour; some were dressed as suffragettes, some carried huge banners, and all of them were spurred onwards by the sound of the band. This was a day of celebration and coming together in order to assert women’s place in the world of brass and percussion. It was an occasion to be proud of, and if the quality of the playing from all these women is anything to go by, it will soon surely be a compliment to be told that you ‘play like a girl.’ I hear the sound of feet Perpetually beating The pounding of our hearts as we march on through the streets A sisterhood of sacrifices made along the way But now we stand! We sing! We rise! Today! Excerpt from Helen and Lucy Pankhurt’s The Pankhurst Anthem. Inspired by the words of Emmeline Pankhurst.
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British Trombone Society Day at
Durham Brass Festival PETER C HESTER & DAVID THORNBER
July 2018. Hot Stuff in Durham … The Durham Brass Festival has grown to be perhaps the premier festival of its kind in the UK. It is unique in attracting international musicians and more home-grown talent to present, for a week in July, a varied programme of brass-related music, in Durham schools, across the County and in the City itself. 2017’s line-up included Jiggs Whigham, the BBC Big Band and the Cory Band. This year it included James Morrison, Gunhild Carling, Fine Arts Brass, Brighouse and Vardy Brass Bands and … the British Trombone Society! On the fringes of the Festival in 2016, this year the BTS had a much greater prominence with a full day of activities held in the splendid Old Town Hall, right in the heart of Durham and the busy outdoor music of the final day of the Festival, Sunday, 22 July. Much of the Festival is presented outdoors by street bands from across Europe, so a party atmosphere prevails, especially on the final weekend. Central to all BTS days of course is the pleasure of the massed blow so it was easy to take our usually private affair into the open. Thus the good citizens of Durham were treated to the sight of massed trombones – our own ‘street band’ (!) – playing in the warm sunshine at the end of a most enjoyable day. Katy Jones, Principal of the Hallé, conducted the trombone choir, working us hard through Superman, Great Gate of Kiev, 12th Street Rag, Scarborough Fair, and something for the street dancers, Uptown Funk. A goodly number did indeed stop to listen to our outdoor performance – perhaps they could not quite believe the sight of so many trombones shining in the sizzling afternoon sun! Earlier Katy also led a splendid recital session, along-side three students from the RNCM, Miri Wallich, Eleanor Newton and Richard Jones. Once again we welcomed David Murray as our accompanist and the recital included music by Defayé, Bach, David, Bozza and John Kenny, of special significance as John himself was in the audience. A second recital was presented by the Slidin’ About Trombone Quartet. There are several excellent quartets in the UK and these young men, 10
Steve, Paul, Tom and Chris, are among the best. Their relaxed style was a pleasure to encounter, as was their superb playing. The programme was structured around music written or arranged by the group alongside music written for them. This produced a very varied and entertaining selection, ably illustrating the potential of a first-class quartet. So, alongside a brilliant performance of Verdi’s Overture to Nabucco, we had a selection of originals, like a tribute to a pub in Manchester called Salutation, as well as a beautifully lyrical rendition of the Ashokan Farewell and an electrifying performance of Duke Ellington’s Caravan. Put together trombones in Durham and New York, a vacuum cleaner, assorted mutes, voices, a conch shell, a steel bowl, three recorders, an ocarina, bells, wind chimes, two laptop computers, two iPhones and an app, and you have what was the most extraordinary performance of the day. The man delivering this of course was John Kenny, ably assisted from New York by trombonist and looping expert, Chris Bill. Paul Gudgin, the Director of the Brass Festival had commissioned a piece of music using electronic looping, with the sole condition that the technology must be limited to an app. – ‘something that can go on an iPhone’. Performance of such a work, described as a soundscape, requires players of a special talent and John, being an internationally recognised exponent of contemporary music, was very ready to use the app., called Loopy HD, and present this world première. Music looping, in real time, between Durham and New York, takes significant concentration in execution, as well as creativity and skill, and we were treated to what was a unique musical experience. Hot stuff indeed!
Step bystep by step bystep bystep by
DÁVUR JUUL MAGNUSSEN
I am about to tell you something wholly unoriginal. A well-worn sentence of learning which nevertheless can seem like an insurmountable stumbling block in learning how to play music. It is this: Practise your scales! I repeat ad nauseam to students and anyone who will listen, how important scales are. I don’t think I am doing a good enough job, because the message doesn’t always come across. It is simple to appreciate that more practice makes you better, but to convey the full concept of ‘why’ and ‘how’ to do scales seems harder to grasp. Scales form an important part of exams or other measures of progress, but this means that sometimes they become final goals to reach, held high as a sort of unassailable pinnacle of learning, yet never to be
worked on again. In my mind, this approach is not very productive. You should instead try and think of scales that are required by an exam, by a teacher, or yourself, as an absolute minimum requirement. You need to go beyond those requirements, and continually extend your level of proficiency. The most important thing is to stop thinking of scales as a rigid exercise of memorisation, or some sort of athletic performance. Try to open them up as a flexible exercise in creativity, something that you can make up on the spot. This is hard to do in the very beginning, but trust me when I say that it quickly becomes easier the further you go. Have a look at this video where I give some examples and talk about how to extend your knowledge of scales.
PHOTO: LSO _ KEVIN LEIGHTON
Dudley Bright BARNEY MEDL AND
The London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) may well have the greatest brass section in the world. For the past 18 years, in innumerable concerts and recordings, one of the principal voices in that famous ‘LSO sound’ has been Dudley Bright on first trombone. Dudley Bright was born in Harrow in 1953; he started learning the trombone under the tutorage of his father, before attending the Junior Department of the Royal Academy of Music. He continued his studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama under Denis Wick and Peter Gane. Bright graduated in 1974 and promptly became an associate member of the LSO. Not long after this he was appointed Principal Trombone in the Hallé Orchestra. Whilst at the Hallé, aged just 23 himself, he taught a 12-year-old Ian Bousfield. 12
DUDLEY BRIGHT Through Wick, Bright and Bousfield therefore runs a line of great trombonists and their protégées – all at some stage Principal Trombones in the LSO. After five years at the Hallé, he moved back to London to join the Philharmonia. In 2001, after 21 years as Principal Trombone of the Philharmonia, Bright moved to the LSO, succeeding his one-time student Ian Bousfield. He joined when Sir Colin Davis was the LSO’s principal conductor. Bright’s tenure at the LSO has seen three principal conductors, Gergiev and now Simon Rattle after Colin Davis. However, the first conductor he played under in the LSO was André Previn. In 1972, while still a student, he made his debut with the Orchestra in William Walton’s 70th birthday concert. Since 2001, when Bright entered the LSO as Principal Trombone, the orchestra has played the soundtrack of some of the biggest films of the millennium, including two Star Wars films, four Harry Potter films, and the first Avengers film. Many hundreds of millions have thus heard the famous brass section of the LSO, with its dazzling power and versatility. The last 17 years have also seen the rise of the record label LSO Live and the establishment of the rehearsal, education, and performance space LSO St. Luke’s. Throughout this period, Dudley Bright has been an enduring presence in the orchestra – he may be retiring now, but he will continue to return to the LSO on occasion. As well as having one of the country’s leading orchestral careers over the past 45 years, Bright has maintained close links with the organisation in which he began, the Salvation Army. He first laid his hands on a brass instrument in the late 1950s in Regent Hall on Oxford Street, and when his busy schedule allows he still plays with the Regent Hall Band. He has often appeared as soloist with the International Staff Band of the Salvation Army, in concerts and on recordings. He has recorded Eric Leidzen’s Concertino for Trombone and Band twice, once with the Grimethorpe Colliery Band on their album A History of Brass Band Music – The Salvation Army Connection, and later with the South London Fellowship band, another Salvation Army band. Bright is also an accomplished composer of brass band music; his pieces include The Cost of Freedom, which was premièred by the International Staff Band at the Sage in Gateshead in 2008, and he has recorded his own solo, Life’s Command, again with the International Staff Band. Dudley Bright has been a leading trombone educator for many years. He held a position teaching at his Alma Mater, the Guildhall School, before taking up a teaching position at the Royal Academy of Music. Of course, this is in addition to countless masterclasses given over the years. In recognition of his career as a performer and teacher, the Academy awarded Bright an Honorary Membership of the Royal Academy of Music in 2003. The Hon RAM is awarded to just 300 eminent living musicians, who did not attend the Academy as students.
Jim Maynard is a former pupil of Dudley Bright and has sat next to him as Second Trombone in the LSO throughout Bright’s tenure. Maynard is another one of Britain’s leading brass players who started brass playing in the Salvation Army and is also a colleague of Bright’s at the Royal Academy of Music. Maynard kindly provided us with a tribute to his longstanding colleague: ‘I first met Dudley at the age of 15, when his uniquely refined trombone sound was seared into my psyche. Full, round and clearly defined – a sound that we trombonists constantly aspire to. As my teacher then, and hitherto a friend and colleague, Dudley has always been the epitome of professionalism and dedication. Easily the most diligent player I have ever encountered, Dudley has always been the master craftsman – never accepting anything less than his best; honing, improving and analysing his own and other people’s playing to the point of meticulous detail. His obsessive pursuit of perfection knows no bounds and is repeated in his own fine compositions and arrangements. The void he has left since leaving the LSO is large for such a humble and modest man. Never one to indulge overtly in the day-today “dramas” and insecurities on stage that most of us do, his playing does all the talking: his immaculate sound buoyed up by some “secret bellows”, the “tune-smith” always present in every lyrical phrase and his production as effortless as speech. These are the things that have made him so revered. Calm on the stage doesn’t begin to describe Dudley! He seems able to deal with pressure internally (without the need for the approval of others), perhaps partly down to his unshakeable Christian faith. A more “level” human being, day-to-day, you could not wish to meet. Dudley’s integrity, musicality and wonderful playing will be greatly missed in the LSO, but almost certainly not elsewhere in the profession, where I expect he will be as busy as ever! His sound will remain ingrained in the LSO brass section and hopefully he himself will be present from time to time.’ I’ll leave the last word to Bob Hughes, who played bass trombone with Bright in both the Philharmonia and then the LSO and is also a colleague teaching at the Academy. ‘I still remember the phone call on a Monday morning in 1988 when I lived in Glasgow. “Dudley Bright here. Ray Premru is retiring from the Philharmonia. Would you be interested in coming and doing a trial with the orchestra?” That was the start of my friendship with Dudley. I was lucky to spend several years playing with Dudley in the Philharmonia and the LSO. I look back on those times as some of the most rewarding and happy times of my career. Dudley is a superlative trombone player who produces one of the finest sounds on the instrument. He is also a consummate musician whose dedication and enthusiasm is an inspiration to all who know him. I’m sure Dudley won’t be hanging his slide up yet, which is great news for the trombone world.’ 13
‘the rehearsals were touGh But the GiGs were touGher.’
PHOTOS: COLVILLE HESKEY
Elliot Mason Before, Now & After TOM DUNNETT
Ever since I stumbled across Elliot Mason, probably while deep within the YouTube vortex, I’ve been a big fan; not only because of his incredible facility on the horn, but also for his writing, improvisation and sheer expression. Following two releases with his brother, Brad, as the Mason Brothers Quintet – be sure to check out Two Sides, One Story and Efflorescence – Elliot has released his debut solo album, Before, Now & After. The album includes an incredible line up: Elliot Mason: trombone, bass trumpet; Sofija Knežević: vocals; Dan Nimmer: piano; Carlos Henriquez: bass; Ali Jackson: drums, with special appearances from Joe Lovano: tenor saxophone; Tim Hagans: trumpet; Brad Mason: trumpet; Cyro Baptista: percussion. It was a real pleasure to talk to Elliot in depth about this new album! Tom Dunnett: What was the initial concept behind Before, Now & After? Elliot Mason: Before I even had a concept, I started with a goal of ‘emotionally moving the listener’. The next question to myself was, which recordings/ songs emotionally move me, and why? After reflecting, most of my musical influences that first came to mind were my longtime heroes such as John Coltrane, Duke Ellington, McCoy Tyner, Lee Morgan, Antonio Carlos Jobim, where their recordings had the ability to change instantly the way I am feeling and leave me with so much positivity. At a similar time to these early conceptual stages, I was commissioned by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), in New York, to write a piece for their Summer Garden Series. As I was exploring different approaches of how to connect the museum’s values with
my own, the similarities between my starting album goal, visual art and jazz as an art form started to reveal one common intertwined concept. When rearranging one of the four standards that I chose, I wanted to embody the emotions from my favourite recordings. I did not want to recreate them, but I also did not want to go to the other extreme and run so far away from them that you lose the gift that they gave us. When composing the other four tunes on the album, I wanted to write songs that would capture these same feelings that the standards did for me when I first heard them. The title meaning, Before, Now & After, came from my idea to embrace the knowledge and creativity from the masters that came Before us, hear them in a new light and add a sonic atmosphere that would represent the Now, with hope to help bridge future generations back to hear and absorb the importance of past, After. TD: The title track Before, Now & After has an almost Spanish feel at the beginning and end. What was your main influence in the writing of this tune? EM: I heard the introduction to the title track and album starting with a prayer, not necessarily in the traditional sense, but more of a spiritual calling or emotional cry. Continues on next page … 15
ELLIOT MASON I did not indicate a specific sound or chord in the music, we just played off each other. I was interacting with Carlos Henriquez on bass, while Dan Nimmer on piano stayed in an open tonality while ghosting the notes we leant into. We did a couple of different takes, both of which captured different sounds and feelings. This calling of the spirits transitioned into a written rubato section that is musically like nothing that I’ve previously composed or arranged. I started with a fairly simple melody that alone feels as if it’s around a major tonality, but the chords underneath are changing keys while taking unexpected turns. I like using this concept as it promotes a melody that you can sing and remember, without sounding vanilla. Leading this unusual sonority of bowed acoustic bass, trombone, percussion and piano is Sofija Knezevic’s incredible voice with lyrics that tell a strong story. After the introduction was established, compositionally I wanted to let the music develop naturally without forcing things in a certain direction. The main melody encompassed an almost Antonio Carlos Jobim feeling, then evolved into swing, mid-solos, working it’s way in reverse, back to the intro/outro which has a Brazilian/ Spanish influence. TD: How did you come to choose the tunes you didn’t write? EM: All the tunes that I chose have had a significant impact on me throughout my life. Some of them I had actually only played a few times, others I had performed a few times but never recorded. John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme is one of my favourite albums of all time. Resolution is an untouchable classic with an undeniable spiritual aroma, I had definitely to force myself to hear it differently from the original. Passion Dance was a song that I had only played a couple of times. It definitely changed me musically when I first heard this one chord burnout style, with McCoy Tyner’s open fourth voicing and intervallic soloing. It was the equivalent of being exposed to a new style of talking within a language that you thought you were already familiar with. Caravan is one of the standards that I have performed regularly. It was composed by Juan Tizol, a Puerto Rican valve trombone player, with a side salad helping from Duke Ellington. There are many versions dating from the original in 1936 which have stayed with me; one of my strong influences is Wynton Marsalis’s version from Standard Time, Vol. I. Even with a couple of my own compositions, I tried to maintain the feel and flow of these standards by using their elements to help ground my writing. With Vulnerable, I wrote an exposing melody, one that makes you feel very ‘vulnerable’ when playing it (!), over a similar chord sequence as Lee Morgan’s Ceora. & Then There Were <3, (referring to Sofija, myself and our now 7 month-old baby) has this fun, almost teasing back and
forth, innocence to the melody, where the trio of Joe Lovano on tenor, Ali Jackson on drums and myself play over the chord changes of Sweet Georgia Brown/Bright Mississippi. Both of these new melodies are significantly different from their original counterparts, but we still return and embrace their foundation while staying true to our contemporary path. TD: When arranging these tunes, Passion Dance for example, what was your approach to writing and recording the trombone/trumpet/voice soli? EM: The soli take the style of McCoy’s comping and soloing, and I arranged it for voice, trumpet and trombone. The approach is similar to how a piano would improvise, the trio front line keeps going back and forth from soloing, then comping for ourselves, soloing using chords, back to single lines and so on. I started with the first few bars of McCoy’s solo, then veer away writing lines that use similar note groupings and wide intervals. I use the voice as the lead instrument, so Brad and myself were really trying to hear Sofija’s phrasing, cut offs and tuning. I wrote responses and reactions for the rhythm section within the soli, so when recording we definitely had to all play this together. We only recorded two full takes of Passion Dance. I have to admit that having the horn on my face for almost the whole tune was more intense than first anticipated. After my solo, I have 16 bars to gather myself before playing the soli and then back to the melody and vamp out. I was very thankful that nobody had any confessions after finishing the second take! TD: Moving further into your writing concept: some tunes start with piano chord riffs and pedal points – Passion Dance, Resolution, Let Me Ask You Something for example. Is this something you’ve consciously included in your writing, or a natural sound you are drawn to? EM: Both! Some of my favourite tunes have this balance between moving and static or vamping harmony. Even if the harmony resolves or vamps for 4 or 8 bars, it can act as a release of tension or vice versa, or a breath before the return. Each counterpart helps bring more diversity out from it’s opposing half. I used these techniques in a few different ways throughout the album to help broaden the range of colours. Let Me Ask You Something has a similar pedal point for 8 bars that’s built into the end of the chord progression. This can either act as a release, like it does in the melody. Or it can act as a catalyst, fueling a build towards the beginning of the form. With Resolution, I used an 8-bar vamp as more of an interlude in the intro/outro, to help introduce and separate the melody and soloing. Passion Dance, originally the melody is over one chord. I kept a similar sound in the right hand of the harmony Continues on next page … 17
Single Tonguing Exercises Practice Legato, Stacato, Mix Legato & Stacato
Fast Tempo - Breath at the end of the partial if needed Slow Tempo - Breath in the middle of the partial if needed
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U b œ œ œ œ œ b œ b œn œ œ b œ œ n œ b œ œ b œ œ œ b œ n œ b œ œ œ bœ œ œ bœ œ nœ bœ œ œ œ œ œ bœ œ n˙
If you choose to listen, unselfishly interact and interject but added bass motion underneath to help create while being truly in the moment, the music will rise to motion. resemble the same. Although Joe Lovano and myself had TD: Collective blowing is a common theme in your #2 not conversed musically together prior to this recording, writing for The Mason Brothers Quintet, and continues from the first note I could tell he was intently listening, with this album and feels very natural in your writing. which created a very natural connection that occurred How did you begin to fit this in so organically? on both Resolution and & Then There Were <3. EM: This actually ties in with your previous question, the same vamps and riffs that give the music tension and TD: In Caravan, your solo uses exciting intervalic motifs release can also provide a foundation that can enable the that feel like they are built around a diminished scale. How do you work on improvising within a sound, can you soloist(s) to listen, interact, converse and create with an talk about unconventional ways to implement harmony open palette. over one tonality? Do you spent time working on a sound? Up until this album, any musical idea, melody or EM: When my practice routine converts from self-expression has been solely directed towards the Mason Brothers Quintet. Our two previous albums, Two maintenance and what I need to work on, to play time, working on a sound is always at top of my list. Sides, One Story and Efflorescence involve only originals I’ve recorded a video of myself talking about my that are composed by either my brother Brad, myself, or approach to Caravan here. both of us writing or arranging together for our quintet. We definitely try to make sure we have space to nurture TD: Your music and improvising continues to push the our musical connection within the music. boundaries of what is possible on the trombone. With Before, Now & After, it’s more of a reflection Have you any advice on practice? – Have you an example of my own individual musical and life path, but of of something you’ve spent time practising, maybe with course I still heard Brad’s sound and our interplay when regards sound/range/flexibility? composing. I narrowed it down to featuring Brad on EM: One of the main exercises that I include in my Passion Dance, as this was a tune that greatly influenced us both. Brad and I have a musical bond like nothing that everyday warm-up focuses on single tonguing, but also ©2018 The B's & E's Publishing ASCAP covers sound, clarity, connecting ranges, fluidity, air and I’ve ever experienced. We have played music together control. since age four, and now when soloing collectively it often I have attached some exercises below, I usually play feels like an unforeseen, uncontrived road that reveals #1 and #2 plus multiple variations during the middle itself, guiding our music beyond capable heights of the of my warm-up. I concentrate on connecting my low individual. It’s a common occurrence to finish each range with my middle to high register, while exhaling other’s sentences or start phrases together in harmony. I’m often still shocked when it happens but somehow we consistent air, locking in the tongue and creating a full desired shape of note. Here’s a video of me both expect and know it will transpire every time we play. demonstrating a couple of exercises. Ultimately your choices define who you are.
œ bœ œ nœ bœ œ bœ œ œ bœ œ nœ bœ œ bœ œ œ bœ œ nœ œ œ bœ œ bœ œ œ œ nœ bœ œ nœ
bœ œ bœ œ nœ bœ nœ nœ œ œ bœ œ bœ œ nœ œ œ bœ œ nœ bœ œ bœ œ œ bœ œ nœ bœ œ bœ œ
œ bœ œ nœ œ œ bœ œ bœ œ œ œ nœ bœ œ nœ œ œ bœ œ bœ œ nœ œ
œ #œ nœ œ bœ œ #œ œ
bœ œ bœ œ nœ bœ nœ nœ œ bœ œ nœ bœ œ bœ œ
œ bœ œ nœ œ œ bœ œ bœ œ œ œ nœ bœ œ nœ bœ œ bœ œ nœ bœ nœ nœ
For the free download of the full version with multiple variations please go to http://www.elliotmason.org/shop. TD: There are many things that catch my ear when you’re blowing, but I particularly enjoy the use of heavy clipped grace notes across the grain, and real heavy ‘flourish turns’. (Lots of these in Let me ask you something.) Is there an influence here? EM: I actually had to go back and listen to answer this question. I’m realizing these turns or flourishes are not something that I consciously implement into a solo. I feel instead they emerge with a specific kind of language and feel. Let Me Ask You Something was written hopefully to evoke a joyful, uplifting feeling. During the solos the rhythm section just takes off, bringing this deep pocket bounce to the lope of the swing. When playing in this time, it regularly stirs the core of some of my earlier influences, such as Frank Rosolino, J.J Johnson, Freddie Hubbard, or Charlie Parker. Maybe some Frank-esque turns seeped in for this one! I am not really a fan of imitating someone else’s language or approach, because they will always do it better, but after years of listening and absorbing, sometimes their unique qualities can become embedded within your own personality. TD: What configuration did you use to record the band? I saw that you recorded everything in two days. Were some tracks recorded in one take, and did you do any overdubs or edits? EM: We recorded in one large room, and there was some bleed, so the album captures what we played at the time. For me, having the band, hearing and feeling the intensity live, heavily outweighed putting us in separate rooms and relying primarily on hearing everyone through
headphones. Not having the option to overdub anything can create a little bit more stress in the studio, but in this case I feel it really paid off as I couldn’t be happier with how the album came out musically and sonically. There were a few tunes that we recorded in one take. Resolution, Caravan, Vulnerable & Let Me Ask You Something were all first and only takes, with no overdubs or edits. We recorded 2-3 takes of the remaining four tunes on the album. I ended up making the call when to move on based on time, chops and the overall feeling as we finished recording that tune. When we finished our first take of Resolution, everyone took their headphones off and we all went to the booth to listen. I am very honoured and extremely excited to have a new transcription book that includes my solo from Resolution, it covers a variety of my solos from The Mason Brothers Quintet, JLCO, Live videos and my latest album Before, Now & After, it’s available from my website. Here’s the video of us recording Resolution live in the studio, plus a good portion of the trombone transcription. It also features Joe Lovano and Cre8tion: youtube.com/ElliotMason/Resolution I’d like to thank Elliot for taking the time out of his busy schedule for this interview. The new album is fantastic, and I hope we all agree, it’s been amazing to have a deeper look into its creation. My advice … GO AND BUY IT NOW! You can purchase Elliot’s recent album from his brand new website that has extended listening clips, signed physical copies of the CD, Instant downloadable Hi-Res & CD quality WAV’s, Transcriptions, Exercises, plus all the sheet music: elliotmason.org.
FOR YOUR C HANCE TO WIN A SIGNED COPY OF ELLIOT MASON’S NEW RELEASE BEFORE, NOW & AFTER, JUST ANSWER THE FOLLOWING;
IS AN ANAGRAM OF THE NAME OF WHICH LATE, GREAT TROMBONE PLAYER ?
PLEASE SEND YOUR ENTRIES TO JANE email@example.com FRIDAY, 12 OCTOBER
Please note this competition is open to members only. Not a member yet? No problem – head to our website to sign up from just £22 for the year. Congratulations to our winner of the spring competition, Rob Collinson. We hope you enjoy your voucher! For those still curious the answer was c. Peter Gane’s Mutes are made from fibre & birch. Thank you to all those who wrote in.
Before, Now & After
RELEASED JANUARY 2018
ARE PLAYING COMPETITIONS MORE YOUR STYLE? Are playing competitions more your style? Our prestigious Bob Hughes Bass Trombone competition is now open for applications. The final will take place at the University of Birmingham School, Selly Oak as part of the BTS Midlands Trombone Day. For more information and your application form – http://www.britishtrombonesociety.org/ #competitions
The Bob Hughes Bass Trombone Competition for Young Players 2018 In Partnership with
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra The British Trombone Society is pleased to announce the fourth competition for bass trombone players, not older than 23 years on Sunday, 18 November, 2018
The Prize: The Bob Hughes Bass Trombone Competition Trophy, which remains with the winner until the next competition, and a week hosted by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, working with the orchestra and trombone section to create a bespoke programme tailored to the winner. The preliminary round of the competition is by submission of an unedited mp3 recording of two works for trombone. The total playing time should be 12–15 minutes.
Set Piece: •
‘New Orleans’ by Eugène Bozza (Published by Leduc and available from June Emerson Wind Music, Ampleforth, North Yorkshire, YO62 4HF. Tel.: 01439 788324, website: https://www.juneemersonwindmusic.com/NEW-ORLEANS. html, or by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org Price £12.99 incl. postage). An own choice piece.
Entrance Fees: BTS members: £10 Non-members: £30 For Rules and Conditions, go to: www.britishtrombonesociety.org/competitions/current/
HeadSpace KASIA KUC HNIC KA
This sold-out event hosted by Clarence himself attracted a mixed-age audience, and while the majority knew who Marsalis was, his virtuosic and distinctive sound, my own curiosity was focused on the HeadSpace Quartet featured in the first half of the evening. What is the ‘Head=Space’ you ask? Designed by Rolf Gehlhaar in 1999 this highly sophisticated electronic, custom-built instrument enabled Clarence Adoo – a top British trumpet player, who was left paralysed from the neck down following a car accident – to feel the rush of the live performance once again. Triggered by subtle head movements the mouse navigates around the software on a laptop screen. There is also a tube into which Clarence can blow the air – this controls the sounds and effects. With this new invention came a new composition. Written by trombonist John Kenny and premiered in 2005 at the St Magnus Festival on Orkney, the composition HeadSpace finally had its London premiere at tonight’s concert. The HeadSpace Quartet featured Clarence Adoo (Head=Space), Chris Wheeler (electronics/sound design), Torbjorn Hultmark (trumpet/flugelhorn/soprano trombone), and the composer himself on carnyx/trombone. I was mesmerised by the sound of the Head=Space and its rich tone. The music itself transported everyone from the ancient Celtic Hills, through the Arabian Desert and all the way to the electronic sounds one could only describe as out of space. It was a mixture of traditional Irish, sacred, electronic, contemporary classical, film music, and free improv. The Head=Space revealed different sounds of strings, church organ, bagpipes, and French horn. My attention was also drawn to the beautiful sound of a soprano trombone, played by Hultmark. This rarely played instrument has an incredible and distinctive tone and range and as such deserves wider exploration in the instrumental world. The Barbican’s acoustics worked very well for this type of ensemble and allowed the sound of the Head=Space to surround the audience. This music, emotional at times, could have been challenging to an untrained ear, but judging by the reaction of the audience it definitely made an impact. 22
PHOTO: ROGER THOMAS
Being involved in several ‘new music’ and ‘free improv’ projects over the years, I’ve changed the way I listen to music and learnt to approach modern compositions involving unique instruments with an inquisitive open mind. Therefore, I was thrilled to be invited to the Barbican on the 19 June première to see HeadSpace Quartet and Wynton Marsalis Quartet performing in support of the Clarence Adoo Trust.
The second half of the evening opened with a short speech from Wynton Marsalis and his love and deep respect for his friend Clarence was evident as he explained that ‘the concert was about representing Clarence’s beliefs, and the love of their instruments’. The two quartets could not have been more different in terms of the instrumental setting, sound, and the musical genre. Wynton’s quartet featured his brother Jason Marsalis on drums, Daniel Nimmer on piano, and Mark Lewandowski on bass. They performed jazz classics including Magic Hour, Ramblin’ with an excellent double-bass solo, Big Fat Hen, and After You’ve Gone, which took us back in time, and featured imaginative solos from all band members. Sadly, the acoustics were not in favour of this unamplified ensemble and occasionally the individual sound of the quartet lacked clarity. They also performed the Marsalis classic Knozz Moe King at breakneck speed, highlighting their tightness and virtuosity. For the encore, Marsalis walked down into the audience, and enchanted everyone with the sound of his trumpet and their interpretation of Stardust. Suddenly, the clarity of sound and the mellow melody gave us all a warm feeling and a hope that music will continue to make the world better place. Overall, it was a celebration of friendship, and overcoming the impossible with ‘positivity and enthusiasm’ with which Clarence has infected his fellow musicians.
We are moving to the City. From the 1st of October 2018, you will find us at:
14 Gravel Lane, London E1 7AW Tel: 0207 383 5300 - email@example.com - www.philparker.co.uk Aldgate - (Metroplitan & Circle Lines - 1 minute walk) Liverpool Street - (Metropolitan, Circle, Hammersmith & City, Central Lines - 4 minute walk)
Meet the Section: The Cory Band JOSH CIRTINA
Presenting our all-new ‘meet the section’ feature. Each issue will introduce a section from across the musical world: whether it be orchestral, brass band, pop, opera or theatre. In this edition, Josh Cirtina meets members of one of the world’s leading brass bands, The Cory Band. Based in Treorchy, South Wales, The Cory Band have won every major brass band contest multiple times since 2000. Furthermore, they have had a rather impressive reign of consistency, being placed in the top six for around 18 years. We catch up with long-standing members Chris and Andrew along with their newly appointed second trombone – Kyle Blake.
C HRIS THOMAS – PRINCIPAL TROMBONE
Josh Cirtina: Hi Chris, thanks for agreeing to chat to us at the BTS again. I remember we spoke to you a while ago before your sabbatical from Cory, but you have since returned to the band. What’s it like being back at the top flight of banding? Chris Thomas: Although I had stepped down from the band, I got drafted in regularly to help. I played in our Nationals win, worked behind the scenes on the multimedia element of our Brass In Concert win, played on the Destination Moon CD and at the 2016 European. So, all in all, it wasn’t much of a sabbatical! It was great to resume my full-time commitment in August of last year. JC: Since returning to the band you’ve had a change within the trombone section following the departure of long-time second trombone, Gareth Robinson. Care to tell us more about the appointment? CT: Gareth joined the band in 2009 and grew into the best second in the business. He is blessed with a huge sound, a great sense of balance and his place within the ensemble. He compensated well for my own delusions of organisational adequacy and we worked well together for eight years. I was aware that his career in a Welsh
Language Primary School would take him away from the band, but was hoping for a little longer. His final performance was at the recent European, although he has made himself available for the upcoming contest season, if required. As soon as Gareth had made his decision, the band decided to advertise. The temptation is to approach players that are already known to you, but then the danger is that you will then select from a pool of friends and acquaintances, rather than from a pool of interested and ambitious musicians. Although we are close-knit team, Cory Band isn’t a social club. We had a surprisingly large number of applicants, some of whom were known to us, with the vast majority being players who we never would have thought would be interested. Philip Harper, our MD, insists on a formal audition process that is consistent and fair. The process required the submission of video or sound files that demonstrated a range of skills and from this initial list, we compiled a shortlist of players who would be invited to perform with us. The final choice was difficult. We had players from across the professions with widely differing musical backgrounds, each bringing something that the others didn’t. None of these players were in our initial thoughts, so it pays to advertise! The successful candidate was Kyle Blake, a newlyqualified Secondary Music Teacher from Bradford.
JC: What was it that impressed you about Kyle’s playing, and what were your criteria for looking for a new second trombone? CT: Kyle is a naturally gifted young trombone player. He is a product of the superb training set-up at Elland Silver Band and so we know that he has great basics and will be used to a hectic performing schedule. What impressed me personally is that he is very aware of what’s going on around him and micro-adjusts without realising it. His technique is fine and he has stamina to burn. There are areas that we aim to develop, but this a process and as long as we provide the right environment, Kyle’s natural ability will take care of this. JC: What’s coming up for yourself and the band in the rest of 2018? CT: I have a number of summer courses, then I’m off to Japan to play with a band and to give a recital. Then we’re back to the contest season, starting with the British Open in September. The trombone parts are a little more challenging than usual, so we won’t get too bored by it all! We have concerts in Sweden, Switzerland and The Netherlands. I addition to this, I run the Computer Science Department at Treorchy Comprehensive School, the details of which will be of little interest to your readers! •
KYLE BL AKE – SECOND TROMBONE
JC: Firstly, congratulations on your new position – you must be over the moon?! Kyle Blake: To be honest, it still hasn’t quite sunk in yet. I still keep having to pinch myself from time to time. Banding hasn’t always been something that interested me, but the more I’ve got into it, the better it has become, and now to say that I am actually in the Cory Band is a huge achievement and honour. JC: How did you hear about the position and what was the process like? KB: I saw an advert on Facebook, probably about a week or two after they initially advertised. I screenshot the advert and sent it to a friend saying, ‘imagine if that was me, LOL’, as a joke but then the more we chatted the more I thought, why not? It took me about half a day to pluck up the courage to call Philip Harper, and when I finally decided to, it went straight to voicemail. I followed it up with an email and Phil was very quick at getting back, inviting me to an audition, rehearsal and a concert. I was hysterical at the mere prospect of being invited down for an audition. In all honestly I didn’t even expect to get a reply. I had to send off some videos of Continues on next page … 25
THE CORY BAND me playing before the audition, and spent two weeks worrying that they would change their mind and cancel me, but luckily they didn’t. Chris messaged me about getting down to the band earlier than arranged just to have a blow through some music, have a chat and get to know a bit about me. I played through my audition pieces, did the rehearsal, and remember leaving a bit lost as the rehearsal was hardly on any concert music for that weekend! On the day of the concert I had to have a word with myself with a reminder of actually how to play the trombone, but on the concert, I don’t think I could have played any better to be honest and had such a laugh sitting in the section with Chris and Andy. JC: Playing second trombone can be one of the most challenging and specialist positions within a band. What do you think your role is within the section? KB: I have begun to appreciate just how hard playing 2nd trombone is! I’m constantly listening for the balance between 1st and bass, obviously intonation and then making sure I’m playing the right thing. Within the section, according to Chris, my job is to count and not be as good as him! JC: Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your previous musical experiences? KB: I’ve had quite a varied musical past: I actually started on guitar! That quickly changed to trombone when I started secondary school. I played in various ensembles but I was never really into brass banding until I was at Huddersfield University. I joined Yorkshire Imps on 2nd trombone and my first test piece was St Magnus – I hated it! I was promoted up to solo trombone within the year and stayed at Imps until June last year, moving to City of Bradford Brass, a particular highlight was getting to perform at the National Finals in London, something that I am very much looking forward to doing with Cory! • ANDREW WILLIAMS – BASS TROMBONE
JC: Hi Andy! You’ve been a member of the Cory trombone section for quite some time now! Tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to be part of the Cory band? Andy Williams: I left school in 1987 and started work. I’m now self-employed and travel the country undertaking surveys on buildings and businesses based around risk management. In respect of the band, this is my twentieth year in the Cory Band. I had a break from brass bands from 1993 until 1998 and spent that time playing mostly in big bands and orchestras in the local area. In late 1997 there came something of a crossroads and it was effectively back to 26
banding. However, on discussing this with my girlfriend at the time, a former player herself, I said that I was going to go back to bands but wanted nothing to do with top championship banding as elements of that made me walk away in the past. In January 1998 I started playing in Markham Band and found it hard going to start with but got back into it in a short while. In March, Cory asked me to help out for an entertainment competition on The Isle of Wight. I gladly accepted obviously, as I was aware of the history of the band and had not played with them before. Also, my mate lives on the Island and we had a good catch-up drink. I went, we played, we won. I was asked to join on the ferry trip home and politely declined, a number of times. I eventually joined in June 1998 when they contacted me and asked for the jacket back. I took a look at the jacket and thought of the achievement attained in those jackets and called Markham to resign. JC: While you’ve been a member, the band has been through arguably the most successful period in its history. Are there any particular highlights you’d like to share with our readers? AW: It’s difficult to pick out highlights, there have been many. The band always does itself proud on the stage, concert or contest and these are always enjoyable. I suppose the first major wins in 2000 would stand out, especially as they took the form of a double. However, it was the realisation that you just had to go out on the stage and play as you did in the band room.
THE CORY BAND
The perception prior to that of needing to be a ‘special’ performance was gone. Other memorable moments were the first European win in Norway, I ran about a mile to get to the venue from the bar we were in, we had so many close calls there in preceding years. As corny as it may sound I enjoy playing, section first, then the band. Chris and I have been a largely permanent fixture since 2000. Chris is a tremendous player and leads the section so well. We have known each other since we were teenagers and played in other bands together. We’ve had several men and women in the middle seat and each one has brought something different. It is always interesting and enjoyable to see a new section coming together, a process we are just starting now with the recent appointment of Kyle to the middle chair. JC: As the bass trombonist in a world-class brass band with years of experience, what do you think your role is within the section, and moreover in the band? AW: This is where I think I may differ from some in the banding movement. First and foremost, I see my role as a section player adding a weight of sound to the tenors but not overpowering. I really enjoy quality trombone chords and ensemble work, working on balance and tone in order to add to the overall sound quality of the band. Working on getting it right when required, such as putting a well-placed octave under the tenors in unison helps make their sound shine but only if balanced correctly. Also, with my second section, the tubas, again just sitting on top of them adding a sheen when
required. Occasionally you are required to add a little bite, but this also should be measured. Lastly, adapting all the above to the requirements of the music. A brass band can be asked to play a wide variety of styles including visceral works new and old and also arrangements and adaptations of classical music, jazz standards, pop music and so on, some to greater effect than others. However, due to the make up of a band this can all begin to sound the same. The changing of styles and approach can help guard against this. JC: What’s life like for you outside of the band? Do you play anywhere else or have any interests outside of playing? AW: Life outside the band?! Due to the nature of my work, I travel the country and spend a portion of most weeks on the road and staying away, then work from home to write up the reports. This takes some creative accounting with travel plans to optimise my attendance at rehearsals (two times per week) especially around contest time (many more times each week). I haven’t really played in other ensembles for some time, for the reasons stated above, but have recently joined a local big band that I attend when I can. I do enjoy this; it’s a completely different approach to the brass band and sometimes a welcome change. The remainder of my time is used to operate other parts of my life, the necessary bits. However, I enjoy a wide range of sports (watching, the doing days are long gone I’m afraid) rugby and motorsports mainly, but I’ll watch most. 27
JAZZ BY JEREMY
Bill Watrous: Body and Soul JEREMY PRICE
Well, with the passing of the legendary Bill Watrous, this issue’s transcription had to be one of Bill’s many sublime solos and we have chosen Body and Soul from the 1980 album I’ll Play for You on the Famous Door label. I’m glad to say I have the original vinyl, purchased with teenage pocket money from Mole Jazz, but you can find it easily enough on YouTube and Spotify now without the need to spend half a day rattling up on the Met Line to Kings Cross. This particular track made quite an impression on me and was the one I played over and over to the point where I could scat-sing along with it note for note, no doubt painful to anyone in earshot of my adolescent warble, but valuable learning at that age for sure. I can’t emphasise enough how important that process of note for note singing from memory to improvised solos is to jazz musicians. It’s the process whereby a masterful solo gets logged in the memory bank for good and from then on elements of it will surface in your own improvising, be it a shape or gesture, the contour of melodic line or similar use of devices such as motivic development and landing on important voice leading notes. This solo is a superb example of how to draw the listener in with musical narrative in a ballad. Cascades of gentle phrases keep your attention fixed, waiting for the next melodic invention to unfold. Notice how each phrase has a beautiful sense of balance, using forward-motion toward tension notes in the harmony and landing through twists and turns onto simple chord-tones that give a satisfying resolution. Once you get over the sheer virtuosity of the instrumental control you realise that this solo can sit side by side with any of the masters of jazz on any instrument and come up very favourably in comparison.
If you get round to playing along to this one using Rob Egerton’s superb and painstaking transcription published here, bare in mind that the time feel is deliberately loose and not always a metric subdivision of the bar. The underlying pulse is certainly continuously addressed and felt but, as with most ballad approaches, the central rhythmic movement is there amidst much rubato decoration. In the obituary elsewhere in the magazine, two untouchable recordings are mentioned. Manhattan Wildlife Refuge has the famous Fourth Floor Walk Up cadenza, which is perhaps the musical equivalent of an unbelievable 3-minute mile. Yes, it’s ridiculous virtuosity, but actually really well paced as a piece of music with again all the narrative moving on at the perfect level to keep you enthralled. The other recording is when Bill visited the UK in 1982 and this is Live at the Pizza Express Dean Street with a superbly swinging British rhythm section of Brian Dee piano, Len Skeat bass and Martin Drew drums. This recording captures a fantastic atmosphere for what was clearly a very big night out for the trombone fraternity of the day. The opening Thelonious Monk blues Straight No Chaser is another unbeatable colossus with audacious cadenza at the front of dazzling chorus after chorus of blues. So very humbly, on behalf of BTS and jazz trombonists in the UK, a heartfelt thanks to you, Bill, for leaving us such a wonderful legacy of music to enjoy and be inspired by. What a great achievement.
LINK: ROB EGERTON JAZZ TRANSCRIPTIONS
Bill Watrous' Solo on...
Body And Soul Heyman, Sour, Eyton
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Copyright © Rob Egerton
BODY AND SOUL
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CD REVIEW AMARANTHINE, LET THE MUSIC SPEAK REVIEWED BY JANE SALMON
Amaranthine, the debut release from Let The Music Speak, celebrates a delightful meeting point of musical worlds. Led by Adam Woolf (trombone, artistic direction) this brings together Kristen Cornwell (vocals), Frank Vaganée (saxophone), Lambert Colson (cornetto), Jon Birdsong (trumpet, cornetto), Jeff Miller (tuba, didgeridoo, serpent), Anthony Romaniuk (piano, harpsichord), Christophe Devisscher (bass) and Mattijs Vanderleen (drums, vibes, marimba, percussion). Although this eclectic collection may appear curious on paper, this carefully crafted release shows how well these voices work together, introducing a new soundworld and a refreshing take on these instruments. 700 years of repertoire influence these eight tracks as each arrangement is based on existing melodies. Even in their original form, these works exist to be left to interpretation from performers – here is the response of the musicians of now, who bring their own experience to this material. This reinvention is a nod to the chosen title of this release, the Amaranth being the flower that never fades. Material that can remain so relevant to our lives shows that music really is a language understood by all. Such a unique collaboration adds another meaningful colour to this idea too.
The album journeys the path of human life, exploring significant milestones in each track – Birth, Youth, Love, Loss and Death – brought together by an instrumental prologue and closed by the title track, Amaranthine. Each text is brought to life by the voice of Kristen Cornwell, matched by the ensemble and decorated with solos and improvisations throughout – be sure to listen out for the cornetto solo that runs through the sixth track. The penultimate work, Come Heavy Sleep, is a particular highlight. While staying true to John Dowland’s Renaissance material of the same name, this warm re-imagination brings a current musical landscape to the work, further brightening the original melancholy material. This is a powerful project that has been greatly successful in bringing together worlds of genres, sounds and instruments that we may have never heard combined. This sound-world is refreshing and takes an important look at our rich musical material and how it can be combined. There is something here for everyone to enjoy. Amaranthine is available to listen to and download from Band Camp. For more options, please visit Adam Woolf ’s website. Photography: Stijn Swinnens, post production: Joren Van Utterbeeck. 33
G&T MATTHEW GEE
It has been quite a summer so far, with some of the best weather on record. Being stuck indoors is not likely to be high on your list of priorities, but rest assured there are some fantastic concerts over the next few months, well worth an evening out. We are also catching the end of some international festivals, with many visiting orchestras offering some brilliant programmes. So, put down the Pimms (other Summer Cups are available) and check out what is going on in your area. The HALLÉ travel to Gateshead with Elgar’s Symphony No. 2 and Strauss’ Don Quixote. Two wonderful pieces, full of action for the brass, performed in what many would argue is the best hall in the UK. Throw in a conductor known for his interpretation of Elgar and an orchestra on sparkling form – it is sure to be a great evening.
do not regularly feature here, but when Puccini’s Tosca is on the menu they are definitely consideration. Truly epic low brass writing punctuates this tragic opera, and if you are a virgin opera-goer this is great one to try – ‘at times soaring and tender, at other times brutally powerful’ (Opera North Website).
The SWEDISH RADIO ORC HESTRA visit the Edinburgh International Festival. With them they bring Mahler’s mighty Symphony No. 8. This work, titled a ‘Symphony of a Thousand’ for obvious reasons, is sure to bring the house down. British conductor Daniel Harding carves his way through this Faustian-inspired work, with all the epic grandeur and spirituality you would expect from one of Mahler’s late works.
G&T It is impossible to make just one choice for Ireland’s RTÉ ORCHESTRA, so I shall tell you about three concerts instead. They open their season with another of Mahler’s huge symphonic works, his Symphony No. 2 ‘The Resurrection’. Just a couple of weeks later, they tackle Holst’s Planets, and the following month Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 7, ‘Leningrad’, his mighty work for no less than six trombones. Bravo RTÉ, that is some trombonetastic programming! Over to you Mark.
Thanks Matt, well of course we are smack in the middle of the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, so there is plenty to chose from in London. A couple of highlights below and then we take a look at what is on offer at the start of the new season.
The CBSO visit the Royal Albert Hall for this years BBC Proms concert with Ravel’s Bolero. I happen to know that Matthew Knight will be in the hot seat for this one as the orchestra continues its search for a new principal trombone. But how will he style it? Maybe some suggestions from Matthew Gee’s historical Bolero Challenge – although I’m not sure how well some of these would go down with conductor Ludovic Morlot.
A bit of a play-off now between Matt and myself, as both our orchestras tackle Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra. Alexander Shelly puts the RPO through their paces at Cadogan Hall, while Karina Canellakis takes the LPO through the work at the Southbank’s Royal Festival Hall. The latter is probably a more appropriate sized Hall for the work, especially when the brass get going, but the slightly smaller Cadogan Hall will be a blazing hot, full of sound.
Also in the BBC Proms is an absolute cracker of a programme for the LSO : Maurice Ravel’s Mother Goose, Shéhérazade, and L’enfant et les sortilèges. Simon Rattle conducts some of Ravel’s finest music, full of idiomatic, challenging writing for the trombones. Not to be missed and star pick for me.
The ROTTERDAM PHILHARMONIC ORC HESTRA return to the BBC Proms for the first time in five years with Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4, subtitled the ‘Romantic’. Steeped in German tradition, I never tire of this symphony and indeed the challenge of playing any Bruckner’s music – he totally understood how to write for the trombone.
John Wilson takes the PHILHARMONIA on a journey with Gershwin’s piano concerto and Walton’s Symphony No. 1. There is not an orchestral trombone section on the planet who doesn’t get a kick out of playing this piece, and for obvious reasons: some of Walton’s most brass-heavy writing, challenging for the section and immensely fun to both play and listen to. Also worth listening to is John Wilson with his orchestra in the BBC Proms. It will probably have sold out as it is a hot ticket, but you can still catch it on BBC Radio 3. One of the most stylish brass sections around, it is sure to put a smile on your face.
PROM 46: BENJAMIN GROSVENOR &
SYD LAWRENCE ORCHESTRA –
NATIONAL YOUTH JAZZ ORCHESTRA
BIG BAND SPECTACULAR
Thursday, 16 August, 10.15pm The Royal Albert Hall, London Tickets: £10-£35
Saturday, 15 September, Cromer Thursday, 27 September, Stevenage Sunday, 30 September, Yeovil Wednesday, 3 October, Christchurch
PROM 57: JOHN WILSON CONDUCTS BERNSTEIN’S ‘ON THE TOWN’
NATIONAL BRASS BAND CHAMPIONSHIPS
Saturday, 25 August, 7.30pm The Royal Albert Hall, London Tickets: £18–£72
Saturday, 6 October, 10.00am The Royal Albert Hall, London THE MINGUS BIG BAND
REBIRTH BRASS BAND
Monday, 27 – Tuesday, 28 August First House 5.30pm, Second House 9.30pm Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, Soho Tickets: £20–£45
Monday, 15 – Saturday, 20 October First House 5.30pm, Second House 9.30pm Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, Soho Tickets £15–£50 ROYAL ACADEMY OF MUSIC
BLACK DYKE BAND
Saturday, 1 September, 7.00pm St Wilfrid’s Church, Duchy Rd, Harrogate HG1 2EY Tickets: £16
Brass Open Day Thursday, 4 October, 3.00pm Academy Symphonic Brass Thursday, 4 October, 7.00pm GUILDHALL SCHOOL: WIND,
166TH BRITISH OPEN BRASS BAND
BRASS & PERCUSSION OPEN DAY
Wednesday, 28 November
Saturday, 8 September, 10.00am Symphony Hall, Birmingham
BRASSED OFF LIVE
ONYX BRASS – THE GOLDEN AGE
Relive this piece of British cinema history like never before, with screenings of the film featuring live accompaniment from the Grimethorpe Colliery Band.
Monday, 10 December, 7.30pm Ripon Cathedral, Liberty Court House, Minster Rd, Ripon HG4 1QT
Friday, 7 September, 7.30pm Symphony Hall, Birmingham Saturday, 8 December, 7.30pm Sage, Gateshead
OLD DIRTY BRASSTARDS
Shoreditch Blues Kitchen Friday, 19 October, 10.30pm Brixton Blues Kitchen Friday, 14 December, 10.30pm
ROYAL NORTHERN COLLEGE OF MUSIC BRASS BAND
Thursday, 18 Oct, 1.15pm RNCM Concert Hall Free event
BTS EVENT NORTH WEST
PETER MOORE, LONDON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
FINALS OF THE BOB HUGHES BASS TROMBONE
UK Premiere of James MacMillan’s Trombone Concerto Thursday, 1 November, 7.30pm Barbican Hall, London
Saturday, 15 September Peel Hall, Salford University
Sunday, 18 November University of Birmingham School, 12 Weoley Park Road, Selly Oak, Birmingham, B29 6QU
WORLD OF BRASS IN CONCERT, FEATURING FODENS BRASS BAND AND MATT FORD
Saturday, 17 November, 7.00pm Sage, Gateshead Tickets £11–£30 THE 42ND BRASS IN CONCERT CHAMPIONSHIPS
Saturday, 18 November, 9.00am Sage, Gateshead
For more dates and information, please check our website and social media feeds.
Do you know of an event that should feature in our next publication? LET US KNOW.