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.
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.
New York National Wholesale Liquidators Grand Openning, a set on Flickr.
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.
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.
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.
Grateful thanks to Diane Drexler and Taylor Hughey at the International Trombone Association Journal for allowing this group of goofballs to grace their pages!
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:
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?
First concert is tonight and it is going to be an experience of a lifetime!
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.
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.
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.
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?”
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.)
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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:
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
I’m pretty sure I’ve said this before, but Wily Bo Walker’s voice is stratospheric.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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?!
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.
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.
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.
Every Wednesday Jazz Legend Teddy Charles and friends perform in Teddy’s living room in Riverhead, Long Island, NY.
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.
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…
Here is another view of Teddy on the Vibes:
“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.
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.
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.
I was browsing Ebay and saw this 1924 Conn trumpet selling for $125.
On EBay it looked like this:
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:
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/
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.
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!
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.
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!”