Time is a sort of river of passing events: Interlochen 1986 ♪♫

January 1st, 2012

New Year’s a time to contemplate the past, But this one meant more to me than an average passing event. I came to the United States in 1986 as a fledgling brass-man. I had a summer scholarship to Interlochen Arts Academy in Traverse City Michigan.
You’ve heard it a million times already, but it really does take just a short time to make that all-important first impression. As you can probably tell by this group photo, I was completely in awe. There were hundreds of young people whose brains were wired the same as mine – who liked to do what I liked to do.  Before I came to Interlochen, the enterprise of making music had all the legitimacy of video-gaming or professional poker. 
Time is a sort of river of passing events: Interlochen 1986 ♪♫

By week three, composition and performance had become a tangible and authentic endeavor. I played every day at Interlochen as I had been doing since kindergarten, but here I wasn’t the guy with the trombone; I was a musician. There’s a big difference.  I don’t believe I would have had this experience at a place like Interlochen in a country other than the United States. There’s something weird and fantastic that happens to the brain just being here. Americans use the word “can” more than “can’t” and rarely do you hear Americans ask one another “why?” in a challenging manner. The attitude here is “Why not?”  It took a while, but we finally made the US our permanent home in 2005.

Young trombonist in the hubbub

Here comes trouble!

After Erin dug up this picture and scanned – I remembered that my cabin mate Murry Dweck (Then trumpet player and Now obgyn) sent me a picture he took a few moments before the big picture above was taken. He made sure to circle my face with a pen just in case I miss it. I dug up that picture up too and here it is… Erin went to the same summer camp, and our paths parted for many many years… Although I am a mere spec in the dark area in the middle right, Erin is visible in the crowd – fourth from the left. Sometimes being late lands you a better spot in the picture.

P.S. I also dug up a picture of my cabin mates. I managed to stay in touch with a few over the years. Murry Dweck who sent me the picture is the guy in the blue sweatshirt trying to cover my face.

Cabin Mates - 1986 Interlochen, MI

My aimlessly ambitious cabin mates went on to do great things. Nana on my left is a plastic surgeon specializing in breast augmentation, liposuction, and tummy tuck. Murray who is flashing the full-palm gang sign to my right is a (drum roll) Gynecologist. Topher peeking from the back middle is a MD at Stanford

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Bras not Brass.

November 23rd, 2011
National Wholesale Liquidators Grand Openning 2011National Wholesale Liquidators Grand Openning 2011National Wholesale Liquidators Grand Openning 2011National Wholesale Liquidators Grand Openning 2011National Wholesale Liquidators Grand Openning 2011National Wholesale Liquidators Grand Openning 2011
National Wholesale Liquidators Grand Openning 2011National Wholesale Liquidators Grand Openning 2011National Wholesale Liquidators Grand Openning 2011National Wholesale Liquidators Grand Openning 2011National Wholesale Liquidators Grand Openning 2011National Wholesale Liquidators Grand Openning 2011
National Wholesale Liquidators Grand Openning 2011National Wholesale Liquidators Grand Openning 2011National Wholesale Liquidators Grand Openning 2011National Wholesale Liquidators Grand Openning 2011National Wholesale Liquidators Grand Openning 2011National Wholesale Liquidators Grand Openning 2011
National Wholesale Liquidators Grand Openning 2011National Wholesale Liquidators Grand Openning 2011Black Tuesday - National Wholesale Liquidators Grand Openning 2011National Wholesale Liquidators Grand Openning 2011National Wholesale Liquidators Grand Openning 2011National Wholesale Liquidators Grand Openning 2011

National Wholesale Liquidators reopened in West Hempstead. Nothing to do with brass … I love this store! I always love buying my $2.99 extesion chord while getting milk. And don’t forget your 2 car jacks for the price of one. Need 50 lightbulbs and christmas lights in July? This where you go. Shampoo for you ceiling? Someone thought its a good idea to make an automated shnitzel cooker out of cardboard? And the book section is awesome too – If you were wondering where the Word ’97 for dummies book went – this place is for you! And bookshelves. Lots of bookshelves. Probably the best place to go to get Sauder bookshelves. In order to “get there before everyone shows up” I decided to beat the crowd and go early. Apparently, I live in a telepathic neighborhood because everyone and his wife showed up. Families of vooloohoos (which are according to a famous hitch-hiking book source is a super-intelligent shade of the color blue), and mythical creatures all took off a day of work and managed to somehow arrive before I did. The line went around the block. And people were asking “Are they giving out anything for free?”

I started a conversation with, National Liquidator Director of Security Phil DeGorter (in Lon Gilandeze it’s pronounced “De-Gauww-du”) . He told me that people have been calling them up since 2008 and asking to reopen this store. I am happy they complied, and Phil made sure it all went smoothly for the mobs of people that showed up.
Unfortunately Phil did not see his shadow today and we are going to have to wait until April for spring.

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Monday at the Daptone Works

October 19th, 2011

I am happy to be back in my favorite city after wrapping up this summer’s fantastic concert series with the Israeli Philharmonic.

First stop – Coney Island with KidWonder! We made a pit stop at Daptone Records to deliver the goods on Wily Bo Walker’s brilliantly original song (see below) Drive. KidWonder was (mostly) quiet during our short visit.  I gave her my Cannon S90 to play with and she happily channeled Annie Leibovitz saying “OK now let’s hold that pose aaaaaaaand … good”  So cute. KidWonder takes photos while I talk to Nydia at Daptone Records

Nydia of Brooklyn's Daptone Records as seen by KidWonder

This morning however, I was randomly thumbing through the Coney Island shots and I did a comical double-take when I arrived at the start of yesterday’s photo set. Looks like L’il Leibovitz wasn’t pretending at all.

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Bad to the Bone in the ITA!

August 24th, 2011

Grateful thanks to Diane Drexler and Taylor Hughey at the International Trombone Association Journal for allowing this group of goofballs to grace their pages!

In back from left to right artist & instrument: Shai Nissenboim – Bass Trombone, Nir Erez – Tenor Trombone, Maestro Zubin Mehta – Stick, Yehoshua Pasternak – Tenor Trombone, Shahar Livne – Contrabass Trombone in F, Daniele Morandini – Bass Trumpet Flugelbone, Tal B.R. – Bass Trombone Front: Danny Flam – Alto Trombone, Micha Davis – Bass Trombone.


One Response to “Bad to the Bone in the ITA!”

  1. Thanks.. Funny, I actually had this on my mind a few days ago..

Schoenberg’s Immense Gurrelieder by Monumentally Awesome

July 11th, 2011

Schoenberg's Gurrelieder with Maestro Zubin Mehta

I got a call to play alto trombone with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. They are performing Gurrelieder by the composer Arnold Schoenberg. I expected to be playing a modern piece. But to my surprise it turned out to be a post-romantic mega composition that is performed by 131 musicians on stage and a 300 strong choir and soloists. To give you a sonic picture, here is a video from the finale of the dress rehearsal, where you can hear the alto trombone soaring above the whole orchestra:

Immense right? For me it is like closing a circle – My father sang with the choir in 1974 – the last time it was performed in Tel-Aviv! I was asked to play the alto trombone part, as I specialize in this instrument. There are 7 trombone parts in the piece: 1 alto, 1 tenor, 4 tenor/bass trombones and a contrabass trombone(!!). If you count in the bass trumpet and tuba – you have 9 low brass players! Although the part itself is sparse – the alto trombone’s job is to cut through the sound mass at the mid-range frequencies – and can be heard above the orchestra in the above recording.

There are a few perks to the job, namely I get to sit sandwiched between the principal trumpet, principal tenor trombone, principal french horn player, the bass trombone section, and get the play louder than all of them with a solo line that carries over the orchestra at the climactic end. I love brass, and I love sitting next to the great New-York players screaming their heads off with their trumpets and trombones in the studio – so imagine the power of 4 trumpets, a bass trumpet, 11 french horns (4 play Wagner tubas), 7 trombones including alto and a contrabass trombone – we had to get a special drone to do the job:

Schoenberg's Gurrelieder with Maestro Zubin Mehta

Just to get a small sonic picture here is a clip I picked up with my camera:

The section at the philharmonic this year is phenomenal, probably one of the best classical brass sections in the world today. Principal trombone player Danielle Morandini is being lent to the New York Philharmonic for next year’s season, so you will have a chance to hear him here. It is my understanding that the principal trumpet player Yigal Meltzer and Danielle are working on an disk. I can’t wait to hear it! Assistant principal Eran Reemi who played with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra has launched a conducting career and I will interview him here at some point in the near future. Here is another clip I picked up with my cellphone. Alas the quality isn’t too good but you get the picture

here are a few more picture:

Danielle morandini is bored and decided to eat Yigal’s piccolo trumpet.


This is the view from my chair! We sit so far away – we need to communicate with the Maestro through shouting. The young blood playing in the some of the lower chairs have been having too much fun. Yesterday I was standing on stage all the way in the back, I turned around, only to see Maestro Mehta standing behind me, he looked at us and said – “The guys on the lower chairs need play LESS!”. Come on… who in their right mind would want less bass trombone?

view from my chair

First concert is tonight and it is going to be an experience of a lifetime!

Schoenberg's Gurrelieder with Maestro Zubin Mehta

4 Responses to “Schoenberg’s Immense Gurrelieder by Monumentally Awesome”

  1. I am so glad even with the hard practice sessions you ahve made time to fool around that just means you are enjoying yourselves with the craft that you have chosen. many are not as lucky as you.

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The Bad Dogs to play L’entrepôt

June 23rd, 2011
Last year I did some brass work on The Bad Dogs’ self-titled debut EP. This interesting R&B/ pop group consists of the very young French singers Mathilda Buzaré and Marie Niquet, who occasionally perform covers as well as original songs with Marie’s father Jean-Christophe. That will be the case this Friday night when they open for the très très rock’n’soul Head Shakers at L’Entrepôt (i.e. “The Warehouse”) located at 7 rue Francis de Pressensé, 75014 in lovely Paris. Cool poster, no?


If you’re like me and happen to be too busy with work and car-pooling etc. to zip off to Paris for The Bad Dogs’ Tween-heavy show,  this video should whet your interest. So cuuuuuute. (Eat your heart out, Justin Bieber!)



The goal for the album was to create a nu-funk retro sound, and recreate the original brass vibe of the 60s, using ribbon microphones microphone placement and playing style – (a little less clean but more’funky) . The horn section consisted of  1 or 2 trumpets, trombone, alto/tenor and bari saxophones. The arrangements range from replaying original licks on some of the song to actually writing  fully new arrangements.

LISTEN TO THE ALBUM HERE: and if you like it – help out young artists by buying their music!

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Something new at the indie potluck – Laura Jeanne

June 14th, 2011

Meet multi-instrumentalist, UK singer-songwriter Laura Jeanne.

I know what you’re thinking – she really looks like a young Tammy Wynette. And wouldn’t it be great if she had a voice to match? Well fear not music fans– she does, and New York Brass was the lucky crew tasked with brassing-up her debut single Coincidence.


Not Laura


Coincidence is unquestionably indie pop; A romanticized hat-tip to the likes of Tori Amos and Jewel. However, I think you’ll agree that Laura Jeanne offers something very different from the usual twee-below-the-knee aesthetic. Yes you say, different but how? Here at the Brass Works we’ve been scratching our heads trying to identify the ingredient responsible for renovating the indie pop sound she puts out there. This is what we came up with: Laura Jeanne is happy, and her happiness is the spark. Yes – Coincidence is free from the expected later day indie melancholia. And by melancholia, I am referring to the powerfully despondent debut song Shadowboxer from Fiona Apple, Smashing Pumpkin’s 1979 and Belle & Sebastian’s I Want the World to Stop. There are plenty of other examples, but you get the point. We bounced this idea over to her side of the pond and were pleased that she agreed.

"Yes! Music makes me happy and I am a happy person generally.”

As was the case with the brass on Coincidence, first-timer brass customers often amend their original request after hearing the majestic potential of brass loops placed into their mixes. “Wow really?” they’ll say; “You can crank those trombones even more, add some bass trumpet and maybe you know, like, light it on fire?

Is this loud enough?

Each brass draft on Coincidence generated a request for more layers and on top of that, even more.  By the second week we had added a Chicago Hotdog’s worth of French horns, bass trumpet and trombone. Fun! But trying to make multiple brass audio layers work over Laura’s cool voice proved to be a problem. Too many tracks risked making it all sound overly coincidental. (Ha-ha. OK that’s twice.)




Her engineer’s superb final mix did tame these elephants allowing the song to shine.  Hear those Kung-Fu grip diminished 7th tremolos at 01:17?   Laura is channeling the Peter Buck/Michael Stype energy circa 1987′s The One I Love. Is it country or pop? Both? Or is it just a coincidence? (Three strikes! OK OK I’ll stop.)

  • Director: Ben Simister
  • Cameraman: Colin Nuttall
  • Assistant: Julia Bobbin
  • Editor: (BAFTA award winner) Stephen Moore
  • Make-up Artist: Julie Kendrick
  • Guitarist: Tom Moon

About the video, Laura explained “The director Ben & I came up with the idea together and we shot the ‘Coincidence’ video over 2 full days in central London, at The Cumberland Hotel (Marble Arch), The Hard Rock Cafe, and the famous Wellington Arch. We were able to film in a Cumberland Hotel Suite and also inside London’s Hard Rock Cafe, where I have done a couple of gigs. The whole thing was just incredible – a DIY dream come true.”  If you like Coincidence and want to hear more from this admirable lady with the alabaster voice, the best and easiest thing you can do is to simply share this link with your friends and neighbors on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, whatever, and encourage more independent artists to get their stuff out there. 

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Tal Herzberg, farewell friend!

April 8th, 2011

Tal Herzberg & Ms. Gaga – one of the many notables he produced

Goodbye Friend!

It is a sad day for music. It is a sad day for me. Tal Herzberg was a producer, engineer, programmer, bass player, Grammy-nominee and also my friend. A very short time ago, Tal was discovered to have cancer – liver cancer most likely.

We played together in the Israeli Air Force Orchestra during our compulsory national service. Tal was a bassist and sat to my left. We once assembled on the tarmac to play welcoming music for visiting dignitaries, and I remember the sun glinting off of Tal’s head in the afternoon heat. Yeah, even as a 19-year old he had the tough Bruce Willis bald look going on.  Active duty in the military is no picnic, even for the lucky ones like us who were assigned to band duty.  Tal was referred to as “the union boss” during those years because he looked out for our welfare; he wasn’t afraid to approach our crazy C.O. to advocate for our dignity and the other essentials – such as more water.

He told the funniest, dirtiest jokes too, and in general he kept our spirits up during the toughest times.

Tal emigrated to the US in 1992 and he loved his life in Los Angeles.  Before taking the plung into engineering and producing some of today’s top artists, he was full-time employee of  a company called Waves, and worked hard demoing their audio products throughout the industry. I’m kind of in a fog right now. We spoke less than two weeks ago, and I keep asking myself: “Are you sure he’s dead? Maybe this is a hoax.” Many people spend their lives running after the material world, Tal dedicated himself to music. Moments like these, put life in perspective – His life has been cut short,  but his achievements are more than many people dream of. His death is not only a personal loss, it is a tragic loss to his close family, and it is a loss to the music world.

It is ironic and sad to note that on this very day, here in the U.S.A, the national cancer research budget has been greatly reduced. I’m making a donation to cancer research in Tal’s name and I encourage everybodoy to give what they can.


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The Future is Now with Teddy Charles

March 20th, 2011

Vibraphone Grandmaster Teddy Charles has been in retirement from jazz recording and performance for more years than he was active. Even so, he remains one of the very best vibraphonists in the world. I have to suppose this is the essence of what it means means to be a legend, and also what it means to be very old which Teddy is at age 86.

But let me back up  and explain how I came to meet Teddy Charles. For musician this is hard to admit – I knew very little about Mr. Charles or jazz itself until late last summer.

To be honest I did not know who Teddy Charles was until Steve Witthoft, happened to invite me to a Wednesday night jam at Teddy’s house. I met Steve while playing in a local big band. He is an excellent trombone player and more about him in a future post. If it weren’t for his invitation, I would still be “jazz ignorant” about Teddy.

When I mentioned the name to Bo he flipped out. Turns out Bo heard about Teddy and was a great fan.

The real inspiration for YDKWLI happened when my two sons and I were over at Teddy’s house helping him archive his life’s work.

We cleaned the piano!!

A job well done!

The Strut, by Benny Golson
The original music for The Strut, by composer and saxophonist Benny Golson, who is a year younger than Teddy. The number eventually debuted as “Strut Time” on the 1958 album The Other Side of Benny Golson.

“Unburying the piano” would be another accurate way to describe that afternoon. Anyway, at some point the four of us came upon an unmarked cardboard box. Inside? Pure treasure.

1955 Screen Blues

Original folio for 1955 Screen Blues

Now some words about seeing the music in the box, and how holding the original paper and seeing the pencil marks brought you closer to feeling. Closer to understanding the nature of Jazz. You passed your inspiration on in a follow-up phone call to Bo

Jazz Hall of fame vibraphonist Teddy Charles played with Charlie Parker 60 years ago. He wrote the arrangement to Miles Davis’s “Nature Boy”, and the list of people he recorded with sounds like a “who’s-who” of Jazz and Blues hall of fame. Coltrane, Mingus, Roach, Cannonball Adderly… drop a name any name…  In 1964 he played with Aretha Franklin on “Unforgettable: A Tribute to Dinah Washington”, that is close to 50 years ago!  His biggest album was going to be “Russia Goes Jazz (Teddy Charles)“, United Artists UAL 3365. He hired the best of the best musicians of the time for this project: Zoot Sims, Pepper Adams, Eric Dolphy, Hall Overton to name a few. Alas, in an a unfortunate turn of events an unknown group released its debut album the same day he released this album. Under the same label, no less. Their name? “The beatles” (!)

For many years he was first on call for playing the vibes here in New York. This fell out of favor when synthesizers went big during the late 70’s and early 80’s. He was also busy sailing his historic scooner, the “Mary E”  – a 75 foot authentic clipper built in 1906. In 2008 he began a come-back with help from many friends and colleagues  including Chris Byars and many others. Apparently he outlived all the people he thought would go before him, such as his manager and many of his friends. I suspect that it is his sense of humor that keeps him going strong at 83 years old.

I have been playing and learning a heck of a lot from him for a while now. While producing “You don’t know what love is” for English blues phenomenon Wily Bo Walker and his quintet, I thought that it would be an opportunity for Teddy to shine again with the magic touch of a true vibraphone master. These with fake B3, fake pianos, fake brass, fake strings, and fake slide whistles, I thought it could really be great if we used a real vibraphone.  Bo was excited to play with a true giant, and this turned out as a huge success! As of now (3/2/2011),  The track, is now topping the US, UK and Global Jazz download charts on MySpace.com.

For nostalgia’s sake, here is Teddy playing the vibes with Aretha Franklin’s 1964 recording of “Unforgettable”. The song was recorded as part of her tribute to Diana Washington. After the release of this tribute album, Columbia drifted away from their early jazz dreams for Aretha:

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How high the trumpet?

March 2nd, 2011

During the recording session for “All of the lights” at Ken Lewis’s I caught this take one on my cam. If you raise the volume you can hear the track …the next take was perfect. Tony is one of the short list of trumpet lead players who commands the extremely difficult ultra high trumpet range. Of the current list of high note players, four of the world’s greatest players: Tony Gorruso, Mike McGovern,  Dave Trigg and Don Downs all play with NewYorkBrass.com.

Incidentally,  many people do not understand (or care about) the difference between a lead player, solo player and second player. For those who do care, the main difference is sound. The lead player provides the bright shiny “sparkle” on the top. The second trumpet’s purpose is to deliver the “golden glow” – a phat sound – delivering a “punch” to your face when you listen to a brass track. I have seen time and time again where contractors and arrangers misunderstand the roles and hire the wrong guy for the job, only to complain bitterly later on :)

One Response to “How high the trumpet?”

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You Don’t Know What Love Is (part #2)

February 11th, 2011

I’m pretty sure I’ve said this before, but Wily Bo Walker’s voice is stratospheric.

The man with the pipes

The more I listen to him sing You Don’t Know What Love Is, the more I understand the subtle interplay between melancholy and passion, the yin/yang at the heart of this Jazz Standard. Earlier this morning I had been waiting for the kids to come downstairs so I could take them to school. I hit play on You Don’t Know What Love Is while flipping through an old Forbes magazine, and at 1 minute :30, I became aware of having been transported into an intense state of relaxation and mindfulness. Was that me getting all sentimental over a Verizon ad on page 7 featuring a father and son telephone reunion?

That’s what a good song does; it takes over, and the listener welcomes the transcendence.

Click to play: You Dont Know What ♥ Is

I hope we’ve been able to bring something new and fresh to Don Raye and Gene De Paul’s masterpiece.  You can purchase this track (Wily Bo Walker Quintet/Heartbeat Records) on iTunes and Amazon.com. However, we are offering it on the above downloadable link for a limited time. Right click and download You Don’t Know What Love Is onto your iPod or Zune or whatever you’ve got. Give it a listen. Put it on the mixed tape for your Valentine. But most importantly, please let us know what you think in the comments section below.

Scottish blues impresario Wily Bo Walker records under his own name, and also with his group Rattlin Bone. (He’s followable on Twitter.) The vibraphone tracks were offered courtesy of the Grandmaster on that instrument, Mr. Teddy Charles.

Teddy's 1957 Vibe-Rant

A few months back I jumped at a chance opportunity to join in his semi-regular Wednesday night jam sessions at his place out on Long Island. Enjoy lots of jam photos on Flickr here.

Take a look at Teddy’s extensive discography with the likes of giants including Charlie Parker and Ella Fitzgerald via jazz historian Noal Cohen.

You are also hearing pianist Ruslan Agababayev, Marco Panascia on bass and Eran Asias on drums. That’s me on Trombone.

Thank you music appreciators. We look forward to your comments.

Thank you, and again, thank you!

One Response to “You Don’t Know What Love Is (part #2)”

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Jazz Standards: You Don’t Know What Love Is (part #1)

February 7th, 2011

A lot of work went into the melancholy cover art for the Wily Bo Walker Quintet’s “You Don’t Know What Love Is” single. How does it look? Singer Wily Bo Walker, Vibraphone Legend Teddy Charles and I are extremely pleased with the song itself and a link to it will follow in the next blog post.

Cover to a new single

Sepia goodness …

Most music lovers probably know this standard via Billie Holiday’s 1958 rendition, but the song was actually written in November, 1941 by Don Raye (1909 – 1985) with lyrics by Gene De Paul (1919-1988) for the Abbott and Costello film Keep ‘Em Flying.

Abbott and Costello?!

A soulful duo …

The bombing of Pearl Harbor (December 7, 1941 kids!) occurred in between the film’s start and completion, and I wonder if the attack set the stage to ‘wake up’ the film’s editors to the absurdity of featuring this raw passionate song in a slapstick comedy film.  “You Don’t Know What Love Is” was left on the cutting room floor just before Keep ‘Em Flying’s release.

Passionate and Haunting

At the time the actress and singer Carol Bruce (1917-2007) was naturally disappointed. Who can blame her? Here’s a wonderful Carol Bruce YouTube clip showcasing her singing style. Larry Clinton and Carol Bruce. Look closely -you might recognize her from later work on the sitcom WKRP In Cincinnati.

I read somewhere that of all the De Paul and Raye songs and instrumentals, “You Don’t Know What Love Is” remains their most appreciated and most recorded.

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Tony Gorruso with Buddy Rich

February 6th, 2011

Ah… Those were the days… Roaming around on YouTube I found this clip, posted by saxmac. Tony Gorruso plays a mighty solo at the end. Tony is one of our lead players here at NewYorkBrass.com. You got to admit that he has nerves of steel to stand in front of  Buddy, Phil Colins and such a crowd. Or perhaps it is the invincibility of young people… Anyway, Nostalgia!

I was enjoying it so much that here is another random one with Phil Colins.(Remember him? Sic transit gloria mundi…) Tony isn’t playing on this one. But the big band sound is great.

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Wednesdays, by Teddy

January 20th, 2011

Every Wednesday Jazz Legend Teddy Charles and friends perform in Teddy’s living room in Riverhead, Long Island, NY.

Teddy Charles and friends

Teddy Charles and friends

Its a time of good wine and music and memories… Teddy who is in his 80s is still a grandmaster! Lots of musicians come from near and far to play with one of the last lions of the golden age of Jazz. Teddy played, arranged and recorded with Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Mingus, Ella Fitzgerrald and many other giants. Was first on call for most jazz and RnB gigs in the 50s, 60s and 70s. Standing with Teddy is Daniel Flam on trombone and Mark on the bass.

Captain Teddy Charles' Hat

Visible is Capt’n Teddy’s hat. We were playing “Darn that dream”, after we played he made some comments, which I judiciously wrote down. Teddy was telling me how Mingus performed it…

Then writing it down

Here is another view of Teddy on the Vibes:

This man played with Charlie Parker! Jazz vibraphone legend Teddy Charles

“In the early 1970’s Teddy Charles, a famous jazz vibraphonist, found himself behind the wheel, steering her toward the New York area from Boothbay, Maine.”

The “Mary E” was one of five traditionally rigged sailing vessels that Captain Ted had owned (Tiki, Golden Eagle, Barbara, Valente, and the Christeen). In 1990, Captain Ted moved the vessel to Greenport, NY, where she sailed until 2006.
At the start of the season in 1994 she suffered a fire below decks during the night. Her crew worked hard and rebuilt the charred interior.

With Captain Ted at the helm the “Mary E” sailed winter voyages to Key West, Florida in 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000 and 2001.

Teddy many pictures and paintings of the Mary E. This water color was in the stairwell.

The "Mary E" built in 1906 by Thomas E. Hagan

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What’s a 2 X 4?

January 17th, 2011

What's a 2 X 4?

It’s like a 4 X 8 … but smaller.

Most people, including brass players use the words Sousaphone and Tuba interchangeably. But let’s face it, Sousaphones are just so  – epic.  They are so large that you have to stand and “wear” it while playing.  The care and storage of a Sousaphone can be a challenge for the unprepared. My Sousaphone resides on an old store mannequin at home.  This garden hose reel is also a quality choice for break time.


"Off Duty"

I drove three hours upstate to get my Sousaphone from an exasperated guy who didn’t want it in his garage. “Come up here as fast as possible” he said, “I can’t stand to look at it anymore and it takes up too much room.” When I got there the instrument was lying on its side in the driveway; the first valve had been wound with duct tape. It seemed that this poor guy probably enjoyed playing it at some point in his past. Anyway, I fixed that valve and re-welded a few other trouble spots.

All-in-all this SousaPalooza is holding up very well.

One Response to “What’s a 2 X 4?”

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Whadya know! Album of the year, no less!

January 16th, 2011

Best album of 2010

According to the December issue “Rolling Stones Magazine” we are playing on the best album of 2010!

Album of the year

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A 1924 Surprize

January 16th, 2011

I was browsing Ebay and saw this 1924 Conn trumpet selling for $125.

On EBay it looked like this:

1924 Conn 24B by NewYorkBrass, on Flickr

Since I was looking to have a horn with the “old-school” sound, it was a no brainer for the price…  After cleaning and considerable mechanical work it looks like this:

Conn 24B or 22B by NewYorkBrass, on Flickr

At the time the Conn Company was the leading company in making high end trumpets. (FYI: “High End” means sounds good and looks good.) This trumpet has an advanced valve system that was removed after the great depression. The Conn Company would make hundreds of trumpets, and the ones they thought had a special tone would be set aside for special treatment. This one had 24 carat gold plate trim and a gold wash inside the bell. They sold for $2500-$3000 which at the time, was comparable to the price of a car. This is where curious minds should go for more information about Conn instruments to The Conn Loyalist website. A brief history of is also available here.

So how does it sound? See http://blog.newyorkbrass.com/2010/11/04/oh-maya-girl-a-1924-suprize-from-ebay/

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sudan trombone

January 6th, 2011
Sudanese trombone player
Sudan trombone player by Spencer Platt

According to Mark Bixler of CNN it’s a historic day in Sudan as the north part of the country may choose to vote for its own independence. What better way to commemorate this potential birth of a new nation than with a trombone serenade. I like democracy. I like brass. This picture sums it up.

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My Beautiful Dark Twisted New York Brass

November 5th, 2010

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy – All of the lights

I’ve been under a gag order not to talk about this until the the all-clear signal for the official release date. This has not been an easy task. I’m a gregarous person by nature as it is, but not being able to tell people that I recorded something for Kanye West!

Countdown sequence

Whoops –  cat’s out of the bag. But it’s OK.

Yes, the recording that Tony and I did back in May (featured in this blog post) was the brass for Kanye West’s “All of the Lights.” This track features Rihanna as well as cameos by John Legend, The-Dream, Fergie, Alicia Keys, Kid Cudi, Elton John (on piano), Ryan Leslie, Charlie Wilson, Tony Williams and La Roux singer Elly Jackson.  That’s a whole lot of WOW.

Kanye’s official video can be seen here, and it looks awesome.  However,  I think this version sounds great too.

All Of The Lights

11 Responses to “My Beautiful Dark Twisted New York Brass”

  1. newyorkbrass says:

    Let us know when you’ve worked with anybody

  2. Goatlips says:

    ‘Meme’ knows the score. Kanye West is not a genius, like he thinks he is. Most of his stuff is just ripped off and sampled hooks from original, talented artists. Take away his sampled hooks and his records have nothing (this record my or may not have samples, but it is a mess). Same goes for P Diddy. Also, it’s an embarrassment that Jay Z rules over them all, yet his only 2 decent songs (’99 Problems’ and ‘Hard Knocks Life) were rip offs of Ice T (Cube?) and Annie, respectively! LOL. Let us know when you’ve worked with Rob Dougan.

  3. […] the recording session for “All of the lights” at Ken Lewis’s I caught this take one on my cam. If you raise the volume you can hear the […]

  4. sooo what your saying is??

  5. newyorkbrass says:

    If you blow up the session pictures in flickr you can see the original music…

  6. Mervin says:

    Damn Meme – that’s a lot of “”””quotation marks””””””

  7. Edge Closer says:

    Would you happen to be able to send me a copy of the music you recorded? I play the trumpet and would thoroughly enjoy being able to play the trumpet line from the song for my friends

    And good job, the brass sounds superb. it really makes the song sound epic :)

  8. Jasper says:

    Any way that you all are allowed, or able to, send me the trumpet music. I cant find it anywhere and I cant seem to figure it out just right. The brass line has been stuck in my head for weeks and I would love to be able to play it. Your work is amazing!

  9. newyorkbrass says:

    Hmmmm…. and this has to do with brass… how…?

  10. MissNovember says:

    He is the greatest rapper of all time! I love kanye west

  11. Meme says:

    Dear Kanye, You are indescribably obnoxious and untalented. You are not a “philanthropist of culture,” a “soldier” or a “cultural icon”. You are self-centered, boorish, eccentric, egotistical, and, quite frankly, goofy. Splicing together a bunch of odd and esoteric images with French subtitles, in a so-called “movie”, does not make you a visionary. It makes you an insufferable laughing stock. “A toast to all the douchebags”, indeed. Please go away. Thanks a bunch. Love,


November 4th, 2010

I recently acquired a 1924 Conn 24B trumpet on EBay. I have a bunch of old trombones I had lying around – including a French trombone from World War I era, and others, and record an arrangement of “Oh Danny Boy” in a brass band style – to recreate the brass sound of the times. I also threw in a vuvuzella. I quickly jotted down an arrangement and proceeded to record…

Originally trumpet player Tony Gorruso recorded the solo, and I played the rest. However, as I was recording the guide track – my daughter showed up. The footage is so cute, that despite the trumpet playing, I decided to keep this one, and rename it “Oh Maya Girl!”

One Response to “OH MAYA GIRL”