Practicing a routine every morning can be a precarious balancing act between a zen-like meditation on trombone fundamentals and a disturbed obsession that eventually leads to boredom. I joke, but I’ve been recently looking for ways to vary my routine (which you can read more about here and here). I came up with this variation a few days ago and even though it’s still relatively untested, I like it a lot so far. Here it is:
I like it for a few reasons. First, it shifts the emphasis from the bottom of the trombone’s range to the middle and upper registers. Second, I’m thinking it will be a more efficient use of my time in the practice room (although, like I mentioned before, I haven’t been practicing this way for very long). Third, it’s a combination of the really fundamental lip slur routine I’ve been doing for years and the partial skipping lip slurs I got into about a year ago.
January has been a good month for the OPQ. We got a review of our CD Low Contrast in the January issue of Cadence Magazine, where they called the album a “fresh and fun slant on some classic materials”. Also, Jazz Today, a radio show out of the United Kingdom is playing Kathy’s tune My Waltz on their January 26th show. We’re really pumped that the word is getting out on our little album, and if you haven’t checked it out, now’s the time! Check it out here! Special thanks go to Jerome Wilson at Cadence and Pete Butchers at Jazz Today. Thanks for the extra push, guys!
We also had an awesome gig on January 22nd at the Lily Pad. First, Kathy played with Allan Chase’s Baritone Summit. I can honestly say that if you haven’t had your innards scrambled by four bari saxes playing at one time, you have yet to truly live. Audio from that is probably forthcoming on Kathy’s website, but to tide you over, there’s this video I recorded:
For those keeping track at home, the bari sax players were, starting from the left:
and the group also had:
Brian Friedland – piano
Bruno Raberg – bass
Austin McMahon – drums
Second, the OPQ played. The set was a ton of fun, and we had Allan Chase and Ben Whiting sit in with us. Here’s the audio:
Tygart Valley by Kathy Olson
On the DL by Randy Pingrey (Ben Whiting has the first bari solo)
Hide Your Heart from Sight by Kathy Olson (Allan Chase has the first bari solo)
My Waltz by Kathy Olson
Lester’s Lady by Randy Pingrey
The personel for the OPQ was:
Kathy Olson – bari sax
Randy Pingrey – trombone
Mark Zaleski – bass
Austin McMahon – drums
Recently, I’ve found that practicing partial-skipping lip slurs to be very beneficial for my trombone playing. It’s a very specific type of exercise, and I wasn’t 100% happy with any of the method books I had in how they covered it. Brad Edward’s amazing lip slur book (you can buy it here) introduced me to the concept, but I wanted a concentrated sampling of different exercises to pick and choose from.
I took some time to write a few out, and I figured it would be nice to put it up here. Happy practicing!
“The routine” is something that a lot of brass players do every morning to keep their chops in order. At different points in my life I’ve experimented with the Adam Routine, Remington Exercises, and the Caruso Method (and others). Each approach has taught me something different about playing trombone. For the last few years, I’ve gotten into a really good groove with a set of exercises that have helped me develop into a more well-rounded trombonist and I decided it would be fun to put them up here. I don’t think this is the end-all/be-all of routines, but I’ve found it very helpful, and I hope a few of you do too.
I’ve been really lucky to have some of the best brass teachers out there. Big shout out to: Rodney Hudson, Phil Ostrander, Robin Eubanks, Norman Bolter, and Tom Plsek – my main trombone teachers over the years. And John Faieta and Gabe Langfur, too. Thanks for everything, guys!
Many apologies for the lack of posts in recent…years. Due to popular demand, I’ll be back at it in the next few months. I couldn’t be more happy with how these recordings came out – Austin, Mark, and Kathy all sound fantastic!
I originally performed Premonition in a very different sort of quartet with James Wylie, Assaf Shatil, and Scott Halligan during the Spring of 2009 (listen to the original version here). It was a real pleasure to hear it played again by Mark, Rick, Sean, and Kathy.
Short Piece is brand new, written in late July and early August. One day after one of their first rehearsals, Rick Stone and I were talking about the anxieties of writing for a group like the saxophone quartet. Neither of us are “composers-with-a-capital-C”, and the notion of writing for a group without a rhythm section was quite daunting. Rick mentioned that whatever he wrote would probably be short and not very good, so we challenged each other to write the shortest, most disappointing piece possible. Such a notion is a very interesting tool to spur on creativity, and – ironically – I’m very happy with the result. Rick’s piece was also totally rockin’.
Also, I’ve never not been involved with the performance of a piece of mine, and it was a very unusual sensation, to say the least, to hear my music played by other folks. If you happen to be a member of a saxophone quartet, and you’re interested in performing one of these pieces, I’d be very happy to email you PDF files of the parts if you drop me a line.
Every solo concert is a learning opportunity, and this one was no different. I found myself going back to little motives over and over again – there was the allure of a certain dominant-to-tonic lick, an odd minor third in the upper register here and there, some fragments of old standards (maybe because it was Valentine’s Day) – and it helped anchor the structure of these improvisations.
Special thanks goes to Derek Beckvold and Andrew Hock for sharing the evening with me – they both did long-form solos which were totally amazing (you can listen to Andrew’s set here). Also, extra special thanks goes to Rob Chalfen for running the Outpost: its casual radicalism makes it one of my favorite places to play.
Recorded on 2/6/11 from 5:01 PM to 5:38 PM in Cambridge, MA.
Thanks to Mark and Austin for being totally amazing to work with and to Rob Chalfen for having us play.
Unfortunately, due to a technical mishap that was entirely the trombonist’s fault, we weren’t able to record the entire performance of the OPQ’s recent hit at the Outpost. Missing from this documentation is the incredibly brave performance Kathy gave on her Blues for Mac, the group’s nuanced reading of Stone Age Rhumba, and the deep, odd-metered pocket of Mark and Austin’s work on Reverie. At least we have something from the gig, and I hope you enjoy the tunes!
Things have been pretty quiet here at Trombonist-at-Large for the past month. That’s something I hope to change very soon! Keep yer’ eyes peeled!