Posts Tagged ‘Flam’

The Making of Jay Z’s “Somewhere in America”

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

Haven’t posted in a while, too many exciting musical projects. In this picture I am prepping to record the Trombone solo that can be heard on the song “Somewhere in America”. The final take was done on a rare 1960s conn 20H and dialed in with the (music genius and world’s foremost pop/loop/hiphop/younameit  producer/engineer) Ken Lewis. The pBone sounded quite good. It excels in getting that “dry jazz” sound, and for the final result we wanted something more “meaty”. The 1951 Conn 20H is one of the last small (shall we say tiny) bore horns made before everyone made the final switch to the medium and large bore horns. The pBone which is made of 99% plastic has a surprisingly good sound!

Twerk, yeah, ugh-huh
Twerk, Miley, Miley, Miley
Only in America

The Critical Mass of Yes

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

You know how some days are loaded with sequences of interesting events where each one is seemingly set up by the action of a previous one? Once in a blue moon I’ll experience a fully loaded day where unexpected things feel so hyper-precise and arithmetical that sitting quietly the pleasant exhaustion, I feel like I should be able to quantify the chain of events as something – something end-user and macro algorithmic. Thursday was one of those days.

After work we decided to try a cozy, dark little vegetarian restaurant in the East Village charmingly named Caravan of Dreams. Erin had covered 5th and 6th streets on foot while doing some street photography earlier and knew how to get there. I didn’t realize that Caravan was a vegan restaurant until we arrived, which worked out in my favor because

A.) Vegan is not a usual food-thing I would choose

B.) The food was delicious. Really.

I wish I could remember what we ordered – something with citrus, basil and fennel, and something with avocado, olives, mango and pine nuts. Whatever – it was all very good. I would not have said yes to this place had I known it was vegan.

June 15th, 1904

Caravan of Dreams

Anyway, we nearly missed our reservation time at Caravan of Dreams due to the discovery of (yet another) New York historical marker. This one concerned the 1904 fire on the passenger steamboat General Slocum which killed 1,021 congregants of a lower east side Lutheran church. The recent Costa Concordia disaster came to mind while reading how Slocum’s captain mishandled an already atrocious situation. There’s no need to ask why the remaining congregants chose to move their church uptown. Grateful for my life after reading about the Slocum, we headed to dinner and I savored every morsel and counted my blessings – twice.

What Cheer? Brigade at the Balkan Zlatne Uste Golden FestivalOn the way back we took a look at the former church building and discovered that it was now a local synagogue. There was a small flyer taped to the side door announcing an Avram Pengas concert that evening; the same Avram Pengas I had a chance to perform with at last month’s Zlatne Uste Golden Festival.   Back in January my friend Gal called me late in the afternoon asking if I’d like to sit in with Avram & The Noga Group.

Playing with Avram Pengas & the Noga Group © oresti tsonopoulos / flickr

This was an invite just for fun – not a paid gig. For that reason I could have declined, but instead I said yes and wound up having a spectacular time. Again, here was another chance to say yes and head inside to the concert. I’m certain our vegan meal was a contributing reason why our energy level was way above average at this time of night.  We stepped inside the former-church/present temple. Gal was crisp on the drums and halfway through the concert Pengas called me up from the audience to play. This was wonderful honor! It gave me a chance to make up for the fact that I had wandered in past the doorman without paying admission. Since my trombone wasn’t handy I did my super-nerdy-yet-killer Zamfir thing. I am a master of the Flam-flute. Find out if you must, by clicking here.

Here are some pictures from the event, enjoy!

 Bouzouki virtuoso Avram Pengas with guitarist Nick MandoukasThis is what I do when my trombone isn't handyMust remind the management to invest in a few mic standsAvaram's Bouzouki is al dente!Nick, Gal, Avram, Kol and SteveBouzouki virtuoso Avram Pengas

 

Something new at the indie potluck – Laura Jeanne

Tuesday, 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

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. 


Greatest pickup line ever – “Is that an alto horn?”

Sunday, July 4th, 2010

A few months back I was complaining about the lack of women in brass. It’s true – most professional brass players are dudes. Since the birth of my daughter, I’ve begun to notice these things. This week however, I traveled to Buckinghamshire to work with blues musician Bo Walker on his latest project. The train ride was unseasonably warm, and I was hoping for something to distract me.

Alto Horn Girl

Exhibit A: "Is that an alto horn?"

I know what you are thinking – the young woman in Exhibit A caught my eye.  Sort of.  Look at what she has parked at her feet.  I suspected an alto horn case!  Its not often you see people traveling with the lesser-played brass instruments (I bet you do not even know what a Alto horn is), and a female brass musician to boot. I am always asked if I my trombone is a bag of golf clubs…

Intrigued, I very politely (this being England) turned  and asked her about it. Turns out her name is Wendy, and she was on the way to Chesham to visit family. (more…)

A Brass Section Of A Lifetime

Sunday, June 6th, 2010
Thursday night (June 6, 2010) was the “Lineup of A Lifetime” concert – a tribute to 30 years of composing and arranging by Moshe Laufer. To those of you who aren’t familiar with Jewish music, Moshe Laufer is one of the three people (together with Mona Rosenblum and Israel Lamm) who shaped Jewish music in the past 40 years. These days Jewish music sounds more like pop/rock rather than Klezmer, and Moshe wrote hundreds of tunes. The night was a night to remember as the biggest names in Jewish music from near and afar were on stage to honor him. Photographer Baruch Ezagui , shlager.net and thejewishinsights.com provided these snazzy pictures!
Brass Section Of a Lifetime

Brass Section Of a Lifetime

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Next year remember to bring noise cancelling headphones, sunblock and trombone

Sunday, June 6th, 2010

 

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Amped for my first Indianapolis 500.

Sure I like the song Back Home Again in Indiana but I’d love to do a full brass rendition of Mission Impossible during the final fifty laps. Maybe next year …