A Weird Ballad
When I was a wee 5th grade human puppy, my then trombone teacher Shemi Peri invited all of the students to a master class with a dude that had the biggest trombone I had ever seen; It was a bass trombone. Up to that point in my training I had never seen anything so gigantically brass. The dude’s name was Eliezer (Eli) Aharoni and he was there to show the class the latest techniques in breathing and playing trombone. Aharoni had also written some trombone books which impressed all of us. This particular afternoon meeting and listening to Eli Aharoni was the first push towards trombone playing
Eli was the driving force behind the Israeli Trombone Association. Around 1983 he brought the then-presiding president of the International Trombone Association Dr. Erving L. Wagner to give us a master class at the Jerusalem Music Center. The day was the holiday of Purim which is sort of a Jewish Mardi-gras and my hair was colored blue. (I always wonder if Prof Wagner remembers a little boy with blue hair… ). The master class was the first place I ever heard professional trombone playing on the highest level live. What a glorious sound. I knew trombone was the way to go for me.
People were playing duets and asking questions and Professor Wagner was giving advice. Suddenly there was a sudden hush. Someone next to me whispered “Micha is going to play something”, I had no clue who he was talking about. A young 24-year-old giant muscular guy walked in carrying a colossal bass trombone, although in his hands the trombone looked small. Then he played. The sound that came out was the deepest fullest sound I ever heard sort of like a trobonephonium. And I can say that to this day – all over the world – I never heard such a sound. His name was Micha Davis, and in my opinion stands in the front row of bass trombone players in the universe.
Over the years I have played with Micha many times, and we pulled practical jokes and had lots of laughs. But putting aside the jokes and laughs, Micha inspired my playing and keeps on inspiring many others to this day. Eli and Micha’s influence shines on hundreds of talented trombone players and musicians who play in the best orchestras, bands and other music venues worldwide. I have been blessed by the opportunity to play with true giants. I have played and listened to countless trombone players since, some of the finest Orchestras in the world pass through New York, but the control and sound Micha produces is unique. When he plays Grofé’s Grand Canyon Suite the storm section gets a new dimension, the bass trombone gives an 18″ sub-woofer a run for it’s money.
In the video Micha Davis is playing Etude #24 from from Eli Aharoni’s (2009) book “The Non-Classic Bass Trombone” titled “A Weird Balad”. Most players feel like they need an oxygen scuba tank or a pressurized diving bell to get through this fun exercise. Micha plays it with his usual nonchalant demeanor.