Wow! What an exciting time to be a bone player!
The 2017 International Trombone Festival was held at University of Redlands in Southern California. As part of the XO Professional Brass family, I joined John Fedchock, Paul McKee and Tim Coffman for the XO all-stars and performed on the first day of the festival. That left me free to enjoy a lot of the exhibits and performances while making new friends and reconnecting with old ones.
One face I was stoked to see was Doug Yeo. I studied with him at New England Conservatory and hadn’t seen him in almost 10 years. He’s one of the teachers I have remained in touch with and is very generous with his time to people near and far. I knew we’d have a great time working together from the moment he crawled over the desk during my NEC audition. I still email him for advice from time to time and he is always kind and encouraging. Everyone should have a Doug Yeo in their corner.
Bill Reichenbach’s presentation on doubling was something I wanted to catch because I also play other low brass instruments. My favorite moment was when he called the contrabass trombone a “good violence horn”. An interesting concept he spoke about was “Mouthpiece Flexibility” as in the ability to go back and forth between mouthpieces on different horns with minimal time to adjust. His goal was to “get into” the mouthpiece as fast as possible. As brass players, we do lip flexibilities all the time, but this idea was such a great way to think about it. He brought some really interesting instruments from his bass trombone lair and proceeded to play some jazz on each of them. It was sickeningly awesome.
Towards the end of Bill’s session, I got a text from Doug Yeo asking if I wanted to play some duets. Hell. Yes. He’s preparing to record an album of duets with Gerry Pagano so we played through some of those. Keep your eyes peeled for the recording – some of the Tommy Pederson duets with the weird names will be on it.
Post duets, I hit up the exhibits. I usually hate exhibits because you’ve got a couple hundred people at any given time playing high, fast, loud, low. It isn’t a place for music. I figured if I couldn’t beat them, I’d join them! I tried about 10 different contrabass trombones and discovered that it’s hard! Much harder to play than tuba. After the first few, I could tell I preferred the F/C/A tuning to just about everything else. The coolest one I tried was the Lätzsch. It had carbon fiber valves that you never need to oil. Runs about $16K though. (Sad trombone sound)
Highlights for me? Hearing the University of Oregon Trombone Choir under the direction of my friend, Henry Henniger. Doug Yeo and Megumi Kanda playing an arrangement of Lamb of God that was absolutely gorgeous. Eating Mexican with Steve Holtman, Alex Iles and Bill Reichenbach. Sitting behind Bill Watrous and Dick Nash while listening to Scott Whitfield’s band. Trying to photobomb Wycliffe Gordon and Carol Jarvis. Unintentionally almost getting in the middle of a bar fight. Performing a piece that was written for me by Dave Eshelman after 17 years. And a cat video with very serious trombone music (located below the pictures).
That’s about it! More next time about my new project!