The Unknown History of Jazz Trombone, Part 1

Recently I’ve been busy studying the amazing history of jazz trombone – diving into deep tradition while searching for hidden treasures.  What I’ve discovered is that much of the music made by great trombone masters has yet to make it into the digital era.  Over the next few weeks I’m going to be posting about some of my favorite trombone LPs in an effort to raise awareness of these unsung heroes of Jazz music.

Unknown Session
Duke Ellington (w/ Lawrence Brown)

This record was made on July 14th, 1960, soon after Lawrence Brown rejoined the Duke Ellington Orchestra after a 10 year hiatus.  It also features stellar performances from Ray Nance, Johnny Hodges, and Harry Carney.  Brown, perhaps because of his return to the organization, is featured extensively on the first side of the LP.  He plays with such incredible grace and confidence that I’ve come to hear this record as one of the greatest recorded jazz trombone performances in the history of the music.  It breaks my heart that it isn’t more well known.

Black Beauty and Mood Indigo are my two favorite tracks.  On Black Beauty you can hear Ellington quietly chortling his approval in the background during a particularly swinging ensemble section, and then Brown plays the melody in such an individualistic way that it seems more like recomposition than interpretation, even though he pretty much sticks to the script.  It has to be heard to be believed.  Mood Indigo is Brown’s real tour de force, though.  Starting with a few bars of melody and quickly evolving into embellishment and filigree, Brown shows his true mastery of the jazz trombone style over his chorus and a half of improvisation.

I first discovered this record when I was writing a paper on Mood Indigo for Anthony Coleman’s Duke Ellington class at NEC.  I headed down to Firestone Library and started getting as many LPs and CDs as I could, determined to listen to many many different versions of the composition.  The first recording I put on the turntable was LP 865 – the Unknown Session – an inconspicuous record if ever there was one, and imagine my surprise when Brown’s trombone playing leapt out of the headphones.  Needless to say, any research plans for the afternoon were derailed as I listened to Brown’s performance over and over. 

I’ve searched, and I’m pretty sure that the only way to hear this record is to buy it on LP.  I think, for a developing trombonist, that it might be worth it to buy a turntable solely to listen to this record.  Fortunately there are enough copies out there, that it’s almost always avaliable on Ebay.  It’s a masterpiece!
——————————————————————–
I would also like to take this opportunity to remind folks that next week I am sharing a solo concert with alto saxophonist James Wylie.  I think it’s going to be a really fun time, and I’m excited to hear what James is going to bring to the table.  Please come out if you are free that night!

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Appreciations, Jazz

A Tree Falls…

Randy Pingrey – Solo Trombone
St. John’s Church in Jamaica Plain
May 6th, 2010

Charlie and Saint John

Repose

VLADIMIR:
(without anger). It’s not certain.
ESTRAGON:
No, nothing is certain.
(Vladimir slowly crosses the stage and sits down beside Estragon.) #
VLADIMIR:
We can still part, if you think it would be better.
ESTRAGON:
It’s not worthwhile now.
(Silence.)
VLADIMIR:
No, it’s not worthwhile now.
(Silence.)
ESTRAGON:
Well, shall we go?
VLADIMIR:
Yes, let’s go.
(They do not move.)

Samuel Beckett

2 Comments

Filed under Beckett, Solo Trombone

OPQ – April 24th, 2010

An evening with The Olson Pingrey Quartet – April 24th, 2010
La Luna Cafe – Cambridge, MA

First Set:

Deed I Do by Fred Rose, arranged by Kathy Olson

Stone Age Rhumba by Randy Pingrey

Sangfroid by Kathy Olson

Gary’s Notebook by Lee Morgan, arranged by Kathy Olson

Stella by Starlight by Victor Young (no trombone)

Tygart Valley by Kathy Olson

Second Set:

High Contrast by Randy Pingrey

Reverie by Kathy Olson

Take the A Train by Billy Strayhorn (no bari)

Low Contrast by Randy Pingrey

Kathy Olson – bari sax
Randy Pingrey – trombone
Chad Gray – bass
Austin McMahon – drums

High Contrast is a new tune – check out the score right here (pdf file). 

It is the second of a series of three “contrast” tunes.  The third tune, No Contrast, has yet to be completed, but will probably be played at the next Olson Pingrey Quartet gig.

Kathy and I had a wonderful time, and we hope you enjoy the performance.  Chad and Austin tore it up, didn’t they?  Thank you for listening!

Leave a comment

Filed under Jazz

Coming April 24th:

Listen to past performances here and here.  We’re really looking forward to playing, and there will be some new tunes!

Leave a comment

Filed under Jazz

Stupor

Randy Pingrey Trio – March 23rd 2010

Stupor

Four Decembers (previously performed here)

Randy Pingrey: trombone
James Wylie: alto sax
Ezra Weller: trumpet

Look at the score to Stupor (pdf).

The RPT performed as part of the third Boston Comprovised concert.  As always, our very sincere thanks goes out to Dan VanHassel and Travis Alford for having us play.  Thanks guys!

Stupor was a totally new composition for the trio, and it’s the first, cautious, step into writing more traditionally notated material.  Like many of my peers, the music of Steve Lacy has been a really eye-opening influence, and the new tune is a little tip of the hat to Mr. Lacy.

As always, thank you very much for listening!

3 Comments

Filed under Jazz, Trio

Duo with Peter Negroponte

Randy Pingrey – trombone
Peter Negroponte – drums

The First

The Second

The Third

The Fourth

The Last

Recorded Saturday, March 27th in Boston, MA at NEC

As for his feet, sometimes he wore on each a sock, or on the one a sock and on the other a stocking, or a boot, or a shoe, or a slipper, or a sock and a boot, or a sock and a shoe, or a sock and a slipper, or a stocking and boot, or a stocking and shoe, or a stocking and slipper, or nothing at all.  And sometimes he wore on each a stocking, or on the one a stocking and on the other a boot, or a shoe, or a slipper, or a sock and a boot, or a sock and shoe, or a sock and slipper, or a stocking and boot, or a stocking and shoe, or a stocking and slipper, or nothing at all.  And sometimes he wore on each a boot, or on the one a boot and on the other a shoe, or a slipper, or a sock and boot, or a sock and shoe, or a sock and slipper, or a stocking and boot, or a stocking and shoe, or a stocking and slipper, or nothing at all.  And sometime he wore on each a shoe, or on the one a shoe and on the other a slipper, or a sock and boot, or a sock and shoe, or a sock and slipper, or a stocking and boot, or a stocking and shoe, or a stocking and slipper or nothing at all.  And sometimes he wore on each a slipper, or on the one a slipper and on the other a sock and boot, or a sock and shoe, or a sock and slipper, or a stocking and boot, or a stocking and shoe, or a stocking and slipper, or nothing at all.  And sometime he wore on each a sock and boot, or on the one a sock and boot and on the other a sock and shoe, or a sock and slipper, or a stocking and boot, or a stocking and shoe, or a stocking and slipper, or nothing at all.  And sometimes he wore on each a sock and shoe, or on the one a sock and shoe and on the other a sock and slipper, or a stocking and boot, or a stocking and shoe, or a stocking and slipper, or nothing at all.  And sometimes he wore on each a sock and slipper, or on the one a sock and slipper and on the other a stocking and boot, or a stocking and shoe, or a stocking and slipper, or nothing at all.  And sometimes he wore on each a stocking and boot, or on the one a stocking and boot and on the other a stocking and shoe, or a stocking and slipper, or nothing at all.  And sometime he wore on each a stocking and shoe, or on the one a stocking and shoe and on the other a stocking and slipper, or nothing at all.  And sometimes he wore on each a stocking and slipper, or on the one a stocking and slipper and on the other nothing at all.  And sometimes he went barefoot.                                 -Samuel Beckett

Leave a comment

Filed under Duets, Jazz

March 7th

Randy Pingrey Trio/Quartet at the Kaji Aso Studio

Scribe – for Morton Feldman

Thriving – for Anton Webern

Short Notes – for Anthony Braxton

Grock (Solo Trombone) – for Luciano Berio

Long Notes – for Anthony Braxton

Four Decembers – for Earle Brown

Randy Pingrey – trombone
Ezra Weller – trumpet
Chris Veilleux – alto sax, flute
and special guest – Kathy Olson – flute

On March 7th, the Randy Pingrey Trio +1 opened for Shaw Pong Liu’s amazing Ligeti string quartet project.  I couldn’t have been happier with the way the evening turned out – Ezra, Chris, and Kathy all played amazingly (check out the end of Short Notes for some pretty sick ensemble playing), and it was the first time I heard Ligeti’s first String Quartet (it was stunning).  As always, thank you very much for listening!

1 Comment

Filed under Appreciations, Jazz, Solo Trombone, Trio