Sunday, April 24, 2016

The pinnacle of brass comedy

For my last post of the semester, I wanted to end with a light and comical post.  The Mnozil Brass is often known for comedy and audience interaction in their shows.  This particular performance is extremely avante garde, but focuses heavily on the comedic aspect.  From the shakiness of the opening tuning note to the goofiness of the "soloist," this comes across as a mockery of traditional, symphony orchestra concert performances.  The acting and commitment to the characters is remarkable and hilariously constructed.  The result is one of my favorite of their videos. 

Brass Monkey Interview

One of the more unique brass ensembles I've come across is Brass Monkey, an English Folk Band that were very popular in the 1980's and 1990's, and recently came together for their 30th anniversary.  This group is unique for its predominant use of brass instruments in the folk band style.  Below is a very interesting interview that I came across that discusses the groups history and 30 year reunion. 


Although a majority of Eric Ewazen's music is original, I feel it is still important to discuss and understand his style of composition.  Ewazen has composed a ton of music for brass ensembles, and tends to write very colorfully, creating interest through texture, rhythmic speed, and different voicing of parts.  The example of his music that I've chosen to share for this blog is his Concertino for Bass Trombone and Octet.  This performance features Atlanta Symphony bass trombonist Brian Hecht, and was incredible to hear live last summer at the Southeast Trombone Symposium.

More Canadian Brass

Continuing with the Canadian Brass, I always try to look for videos with the current players, or as many current players as possible.  This particular performance of Amazing Grace is from 2014, and appears to be heavily visually edited, along with the audio as well.  However, it is still a great performance.  I find it very interesting to listen to how the group's sound has changed over the nearly 50 years of the groups existence. 

Canadian Brass with New York and Boston

In 1977, the Canadian Brass teamed up with brass players from the New York Philharmonic and Boston Symphony for a spectacular concert.  This historic collection of world class brass players has been seldom duplicated.  The Canadian Brass is most known for their stage presence, and the first brass quintet to expand their performance beyond the music to include choreography, staging, dialogue, etc.  This energy in the performance, combined with the incredible playing of the orchestra members make this a must watch for all brass players. 

This particular piece from that concert is one of the most often performed pieces in the classical repertoire, and "stolen" here and arranged for brass ensemble. 

Phillip Jones Brass Ensemble Concert

I thought I would share one of my favorite brass ensemble video performances.  This concert featured the Phillip Jones Brass Ensemble, one of the most widely renowned brass groups.  The quality of the playing in live performance makes this one of my favorites. 

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Arrangements of James Nova

James Nova is currently the second trombonist in the Pittsburgh Symphony.  Having heard him perform live, his level of performance is incredibly high.  He has recently been runner up or the final candidate standing (but not picked) for some of the top tier orchestras, including the LA Philharmonic. 

He is perhaps most famous on the internet for his "overdubs," in which he arranges popular pieces from movies or famous orchestra compositions and plays every part himself, layering the tracks to form one large trombone ensemble.  A majority of these projects can be heard at his soundcloud page. 

Recently, Nova has taken a number of his overdub arrangements and taken them to the performance hall.  I had the opportunity to attend the Southeast Trombone Symposium last summer, which featured James Nova as a member of the faculty.  He brought a number of his arrangements with him for the professors choir.  Here is one of those pieces, a medley from Superman movies.

Because he originally arranged these for himself, where only one part had to be recorded at a time, the difficulty of the individual parts is remarkably high.