Archive for the ‘ Performances ’ Category

Changing Mouthpieces After Custom Trombone Fitting

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

While working with a great college player, his teacher commented, “his setup’s just all wrong.” In order to see how we could make it “right”, I asked a few questions:

Me: When were you set up?
Player: 3 years ago

Me: What mouthpiece were you playing on at the time?
Player: A Bach 5

Me: What are you playing on now?
Player: A 5 cup and 3 rim from… (doesn’t matter, so we’ll leave the brand out)

When he was fit to his horn, he was playing a mouthpiece that had a cup diameter that was significantly smaller than his current mouthpiece. His sound was big but needed more core. The highs were missing and focus was lacking. It was obvious that he was a very talented player that could play anything. It made me jealous.

Everything meshed when he was fit to his horn three years ago. But after changing mouthpieces, the instrument no longer worked as well as he needed. He was contemplating buying another trombone but he actually needed to address the relationship between the mouthpiece and the horn. Two cheaper options were available to him. First, he could work with different leadpipes to get the compression he needed. Or he could examine his mouthpiece choice. Why fall in love with a mouthpiece that doesn’t work? Switching to a new mouthpiece is the cheapest way to adjust the feel/sound.

On a related note, last night I played a gig with Mark and Jon in Milwaukee. Before leaving the office, I picked up a bass valve section destined for Korea and a bass prototype slide (I didn’t want to use a new stock slide). Basically, it was an off-the-rack bass trombone. I added two bass mouthpieces I regularly play (1.5 NY and CS1) and off I went.

I was able to make the horn work, but it wasn’t a perfect fit. I was able to get through the gig without too much discomfort, but if I had done a more thorough job of matching equipment, the feel and projection would have been much improved.

I know many people buy off-the-rack equipment, or when being fitted, a horn that their friends and/or teachers like but that may not be ideal. It’s important to give yourself a timeline to make your gear work. If it’s not working, don’t ride something into the grave. While our decisions are made with the best intentions, we have to move forward and improve as musicians. We owe it to ourselves, our colleagues and our audiences. As for me, I probably won’t be running out to a gig with mismatched equipment again. While I made it work, life’s too short to just get by.

Alessi Seminar Update

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

The Alessi Seminar will be hear before you know it. In addition to the usual suspects (Alessi, Ellefson and Whitaker), this year’s seminar will feature Trombones de Costa Rica and Sim Flora. Trombonists interested in performing and/or teaching as a career choice should definitely attend this event. And since it’s being held in Alabama, we expect to see lots of trombonists from Florida, Mississippi, Georgia… you get the idea. Visit www.alessiseminar.com for all the details.

2011 Alessi Seminar

Chick’ a’ Bone Checkout

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

I know… it’s been a while since I promised a review of Christan Lindberg’s “Chick’ a’ Bone Checkout” for alto, tenor & bass trombone as premiered by Charlie Vernon of the Chicago Symphony. The dust has settled, but I’m still impressed with the freshness and vitality of the composition.

Written as a collaboration between Lindberg and Vernon, “Chick” is a piece that could only have been played by Charlie. It’s a long overdue addition to the trombone repertoire and is so much more than a novelty. Accessible tunes, soaring melodies combined with neat, rhythmic interludes and an excellent orchestration make this an enduring work. Although the standard of playing continues to push the envelope of range and technique, this piece will always be Charlie’s due to the fact that he is one of only a handful of players that offers such a transparent glimpse into his soul.

From the opening double-tongue passage on alto (bass trombonist, CSO, remember!!), to tenor playing that evokes memories of the most expressive players, to his bass playing (still the standard in my book), he does it all! I can only imagine what it would have been like if Mozart, Beethoven, Mahler, et al, had ever heard him play. We can dream. Kudos to “C” and “C”!

Charlie Vernon Solos with the Chicago Symphony

Sunday, October 8th, 2006

I will be giving a complete review of the premiere of Christian Lindberg’s “Chick’a’Bone Checkout” written for Charlie Vernon, alto, tenor and bass trombones!

Short version – amazing & inspiring!

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