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!
I wrote this handout for a class Kathy and I did at UVA last week. I hope you enjoy it (pdfs are at the bottom of the post, if that’s more your style). Special thanks goes to John D’earth and everyone else in the Jazz program at UVA. Kathy and I had an amazing time!
Randy Pingrey – all instruments and arrangements (except for Deed I Do, which is based on a Kathy Olson arrangement)
I recorded these tracks over the past few months using a small digital four-track device. It started out as something that I was doing just for fun, but eventually I realized that I had pull together a few of my favorite tracks to release here. I hope you enjoy it!
While at NEC, I was fortunate enough to study for a year with the famed trombonist-extraordinare Robin Eubanks. For a while, I was bringing in Charlie Parker solos to work on with him, and in one of our lessons he said (and I’m paraphrasing here):
You know, someone should take some time to transpose these solos up a fourth. They’re really in the pumpin’ register.
After you take a second to chuckle at the phrase “pumpin’ register”, let me explain what he meant: When trombone players practice Parker’s solos (say, from the Omnibook or from their own transcription), we play what Parker played, but down an octave. Unfortunately, the “money register” for a saxophone tends to skew lower on the instrument’s available tessitura than what is common for the average jazz trombonist. As a result, here is what a trombone player looks at when they try to play a Charlie Parker solo:
To a jazz trombonist, the preceding excerpt, although playable, doesn’t really lay in an idiomatic fashion on the horn. When a trombone is played in its lower register, all of the slide positions are further apart compared to the closer positions of the higher register. In other words, what Robin meant by “pumpin’ register”, is that the solo is just too damn low and one has to move the slide too much. Bebop is already hard enough on the trombone, and the range that trombonists play Parker’s solos in certainly doesn’t make these tricky solos any easier. Here is what the same excerpt looks like when it’s transposed up a fourth:
Now we’re talking! The range is much more reflective of what jazz trombonists actually play. So, I went ahead and I transposed the whole solo up a perfect fourth, just like Robin suggested. Here, take a look and listen for yourself:
The benefits are pretty clear – I’ve been working on the solo for about a week, and the bebop vocabulary feels much better suited to my instrument. I suppose one could argue that it would be more valuable to study Parker’s solos at the original pitch, but I’ve always thought that the jazz tradition is ours to play with, so why not?
I also went ahead and did the same thing to Parker’s solo on Donna Lee. Check it out too:
Birds Solo on Donna Lee (pdf file)
(I haven’t had the time to work on this solo, so I can’t totally swear by its accuracy, and there’s not yet an audio file for me to post. Besides, it’s really, really hard…)
So anyways, feel free to download these solos, and share them with your trombone playing friends!
A new year has come and Trombonist-at-Large has a new look. I’m pretty excited about it, but there are still a few kinks to be worked out. If you really like the change (or really don’t like it), let me know. Feedback is always deeply appreciated. The site is around 8 months old now, and I’ve really enjoyed developing it to this point. It’s work I don’t plan on giving up on anytime soon!
Many apologies for the lack of updates recently – right after the holidays I started working at Berklee College of Music, and I’ve been a little overwhelmed with beginning-semester administrative issues. I’m guessing things will slow down a tad soon, and I’ll make it a goal to document my work more here at Trombonist-at-Large.
The December 10th Rutman’s hit is quickly approaching for the Olson Pingrey Quartet! Kathy, Mark, and I had a lovely rehearsal last night and I thought I’d post a sample of one of the new tunes we’re going to play. It’s called Stone Age Rhumba. Here are the first two minutes:
Kathy Olson – bari sax
Randy Pingrey – trombone
Mark Zaleski – bass
Recorded on December 8th, 2009
(by the way – the piece features an extensive drum part – which you’ll have to come to the gig to hear!)
My intention for Stone Age Rhumba was to write a tribute to the great trombonist Bill Harris while continuing the vibe of other pieces I had written for this ensemble (this piece shares a few motivic ideas with my piece Low Contrast, which you can listen to here). Harris was the featured trombone soloist of the Woody Herman Big Band starting in the 40’s. His technique, imagination, and sense of humor were totally unique and second to none, and his playing has been a recent source of inspiration for me.
Harris’ most famous feature in the Herman big band was the tune Bijou by Ralph Burns. It was once described by Woody Herman as a “stone age rhumba”, which is where the title of the piece comes from.
And as one final reminder – the Olson Pingrey Quartet plays on December 10th at Rutman’s Violins in Boston, MA. We’ll start at 8PM and play until 9:15 or so. There’s a $10 suggested donation, and we would really love for everyone to come out. Thank you!
P.S. The gig has happened, and you can listen to the whole thing, including the full version of Stone Age Rhumba right here.
For the past few months I’ve been working on solo trombone improvisations, but it’s been a while since I’ve thought about it much – I’ve been busy dealing with other issues. However, just recently my friend James Wylie put on a concert of solo saxophone improvisations, and that inspired me to revisit the subject.
The music of the first generations of jazz trombonists has interested me more recently. I’ve been checking out Miff Mole, Vic Dickenson, and Bill Harris in addition to the trombonists I was already into (viz. Teagarden, Dickey Wells, Lawrence Brown). It’s that spirit that has been influencing me more and more.
These are also the first recordings I have with my new equipment – a Conn 6H – and it’s a horn I love to play. It makes me feel much more connected to “the tradition”. Whatever that means.
This is our second gig – our first was at La Luna Cafe in Cambridge, and you can listen to it here. I’m excited for this gig for several reasons: the band is smokin’, we’re working on some new tunes (to compliment the work we’ve already done with the ensemble), and it’s going to be my first – ok, maybe second, but who keeps track – major performance with my new trombone – a Conn 6H from 1949. I’m just sayin’…
And if you have any questions, feel free to contact me or Kathy. Please come!
For those of you who aren’t already hip: Rutman’s Violins is at the corner of Westland Ave. and Mass Ave. in Boston, MA. Near Symphony Hall.
Randy Pingrey – trombone, piano, tape recorder, etc.
James Wylie – alto sax, tape recorder, etc.
Jerry Sabatini – trumpet, tape recorder, etc.
Feel free to download or stream all of these files. Be aware: Subsequent Variations is quite a large file.
On October 1st, the Randy Pingrey Trio played this hour-long piece. My goal was to create my first evening-length work, and in the spirit of past trio performances, I wanted the piece to reflect the vibe of the venue and of the performance opportunity. We played in a giant, old church at night, with just enough light to see the written music.
The piece consists of oblique variations on a hymn, which is performed every year in Cambridge, MA during the Feast of Cosmos and Damien. I originally learned the melody when I was playing at the feast from Salvi Pugliese, the musical director and lead trumpeter with the Roma Band – an organization which I play with a lot during the summer months.
Special thanks goes to Peter Terry for having us play, to James and Jerry for their excellent performances, and for all the people that came to check it out.