The Black Excellence Trombone Choir 1st Tenor Trombone – Mike Dease, Wycliffe Gordon, Jason Jackson 2nd Tenor Trombone – Skye Dearborn , Burt Mason, John Romero, Ken Thompkins 3rd Tenor Trombone – Chris Crenshaw, Robin Eubanks, Jeffery Miller, Dion Tucker 4th Tenor Trombone – Kenton Campbell, Cooper Cromwell-Whitley, Robyn Smith, Weston Sprott 5th Tenor Trombone – Taylor Alexis, James Burton, Andrae Murchison 6th Tenor Trombone – Gabriel Colby, David Jackson, Keith Jackson, Stephen Wilson Bass Trombone 1 – Hakeem Bilal, Isrea Butler, Darrin C. Milling, Martin McCain, Earl McIntyre, Erica Nichols Bass Trombone 2 – Doug Purviance, Jahleel Smith, Ehren Valme, Chris Davis String Bass – Jordyn Davis Organ – Luther Allison Drums – Ulysses Owens
I am subbing at “Beautiful” the Carole King Musical, all weekend on Broadway in New York City with my buddy Tatum Greenblatt.
The goal for me this weekend is to sound as “commercial” as possible. One of my favorite trumpet players (who shall go nameless) gave me some tips on how to achieve a commercial sound.
I don’t want to give away his secrets, but I did have to slap on a smaller mouth piece (bach 12c) to help me get that commercial sizzle, à la James Pankow from Chicago (one of my favorite “commercial” trombonists). I am looking forward to the rest of the weekend playing Carole King’s Music.
I had the pleasure of performing as a substitute on Broadway’s “My Fair Lady” at Lincoln Center with these wonderful musicians Charley Gordon, and Marcus Rojas.
Since my last post I have been busy with concerts and teaching. Here is a rundown of my latest and future projects.
This is my second year at Riverdale County School. Teaching enriches my playing and satisfies my urge to pass along knowledge to the next generation. The faculty/staff at RCC is top notch.
It has been years since I last played with the Birdland Big Band. What a welcome experience it was to join them again recently. The band has evolved over the years. The trombone section was out of sight with Sarah Jacovino on Lead, Ron Wilkins, and James Browski on bass trombone. I hope to be back there again soon.
Since the closure of Carousel, I am back to “subbing” on various musicals. I was back to one of the most enjoyable shows that I sub at, The Lion king.
I played at Birdland for the CD release of Migiwa Miyagima’s Augmented Orchestra. We recorded the CD last year and I am excited for its release. She packed the house at Birdland and the music sounded fantastic. My mom came out to this one so it was special for me. She lives on the “Left Coast,” so I don’t get to see her everyday.
Rufus Reid’s “Quiet Pride” project took me to Iowa City, IA. The music was challenging and the band delivered an exciting performance. I was impressed with he playing of Ryan Keberly and Michael Dease. Monster players and monster band.
Ron Carters Great Big Band performed at Birdland as well. Mr. Carter takes you on a ride when you are playing with him. He will do something you don’t expect. That is why I love playing in his band. What an honor!!
We had a wonderful concert with the John Eckert New York 9 Nonet at St Peters Church, Manhattan, NY. This is where I have been focus some of my writing lately. This band regularly plays my compositions and arrangements. We have been together for several years and the band is really developing a strong personal sound.
Next week I am busy with The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. First I am taking over the Lead Trombone Position in the band moving forward. Second, we are beginning the New School Residency with an Open Rehearsal on October 29th from 4-6pm, at 55 west 13th St (2nd Floor). The band will be rehearsing various charts from the book, as well as instituting an emerging composer series.
Third, after the open rehearsal, we pack up and head over to the Village Vanguard for our regular set this Monday, October 29th. Sets are at 8:30PM and 10:30PM. Finally on Saturday, November 3rd, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra Brings Big-Band Swing to Lawrence Memorial Chapel, 510 E. College Avenue, Appleton Wisconsin, 7:30 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Next month I will be recording with the NEA Jazz Master Jimmy Heath as he puts together another big band album, subbing at the Radio City Musical Hall Christmas Spectacular, and eating lots of “healthy” food for the Holidays.
All weekend I get to play with the legendary Earl Gardner at A Bronx Tale on Broadway in NYC. I also get to dust off the tuba and play some sweet baselines in the book.
I’ll be subbing at “A Bronx Tale” tomorrow for the matinée. The musical is better than the movie IMHO.
Back to Broadway in NYC tonight for some Musical Theater Magic!!
Looking forward to subbing in the pit orchestra for A Bronx Tale on Broadway in New York City. Getting ready for that tuba part with some low long tones. Wheee!!!
There are strict rules governing when a substitute musician is allowed to play on with a Broadway orchestra. One of the rules is that in a given section, if there is a 1st time sub, all the other musicians in that section must be a regular member OR a substitute that has been designated “as good as the regular player.”
Usually a person is not designated until they have played the show quite a number of times. In my case, I’ve played the show three times and tonight I was playing in the section with a first time lead trumpet player.
Although playing with a 1st time lead trumpeter can be nerve wrecking, I took it as a compliment to my playing. All went very well.
Looking forward to performing with one of Broadway’s most fabulous Orchestra’s at “Sunset Boulevard” tonight.
This week I joined the orchestras of two hit Broadway shows back to back; “Sunset Blvd.” and “Kinky Boots.” For those of you who don’t know what it means to sub on a Broadway show for the first time, It may be interesting for you to get my perspective.
Playing a Broadway show for the first time is like walking a tight rope 50 feet in the air with no net. There is no rehearsal with the band. You get the music and you prepare as best you can without actually playing with the orchestra.
The notes (although absolutely important to NAIL) are the least of your worries. It is the unknown variables that you don’t find out about until you actually get on stage and perform. Theater is live, you never really know what is going to happen. In the case of “Subset Blvd,” some of those variables included the following.
One of the big challenges for all the orchestra members is a lack of space to play your instrument. This is a problem in almost every pit I have played in. While playing the 1st trombon chair at “Sunset Blvd.,” if you move a few inches from side to side, your instrument will hit parts of the set.
Anothe unknowable variable was the music stand being inches from my face. This makes it difficult to see the notes at the top, bottom and sides of the page while trying to follow the conductor. Oh yes… and you can only see the conductor on a small video monitor above the stand which is difficult to see and hard to follow while reading the music that’s too close to your face.
In addition, the trombone section mate (the bass trombonist) was suiting in front of me with a felt curtain between us.
The level of musicianship on Broadway is exceptional. Tonight, my section mate (the bass trombonist) had only played the show once before. In other experiences, this could definitely make my job harder. Luckily “my man” did his homework and played beautifully.
From the conductors perspective, all of these variables are the subs problem. The maestro wants to hear the same thing that the regular musician plays.
It might sound a little stifling to the reader if they have never experienced this level of chaos when they go to work. For the Broadway sub, this is well within our wheel-house. We deal with all of these variables because this is how we make our living.
Tonight the conductor was thoroughly pleased with my performance. To me that means I could be called back. That is the paramount goals.
It’s not all about getting a gig though. The orchestra at “Sunset Blvd.” is one of the best orchestras I have played with. It is also one of the largest. There is a full string section, brass, winds, percussion/drums, and even a harp. Most Broadway shows have less that half of the musicians that are in the “Sunset Blvd.” orchestra. It was truly a joy to play with this fine ensemble.
It was also cool to see Michael Douglas hanging near the musician are. When he saw me and a group of musicians (wearing our tuxes) he said to us “The orchestra sounded beautiful!”
“Kinky Boots” had a whole other set of variables.
Preparing the music was essential, but it is only part of the skill set needed to thrive as a Broadway sub.