David Hickman / Daniel Perantoni / Jeffrey Reynolds

The Big Trombone & Sterling Brass

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This disc continues a series of reissues of brass music LPs dating back to the 1970s. Each disc contains a pair of LPs. These releases from the Crystal label brought together compositions from the sphere of large American music schools, which were compositionally conservative and could call on performers of considerable skill. This pair of albums, one featuring music for the bass trombone and the other for tuba and trumpet, is a typically mixed bag. Two of the pieces on the bass trombone album are arrangements of Baroque (a sonata by Johann Ernst Galliard, tracks 1-5) or Renaissance (a chanson by Lassus, track 12); the rest of the CD consists of contemporary music. The program is varied enough that most listeners will find several pieces to like, and perhaps several to dislike. The Sonata for bass trombone and piano by Patrick McCarty, which might be called bimodal, as opposed to bitonal, still sounds fresh, and the performance of the Lassus chanson is of a kind not much attempted these days: singers run through the chanson unaccompanied, and it is then sung again, accompanied by instrumental "diminutions" or simultaneous variation. Other listeners may enjoy the unaccompanied pieces: Gregory Kosteck's Concert Music for unaccompanied bass trombone (track 6, showing just how quiet a trombone can be) and the "Midnight Realities" movement of Morgan Powell's Nocturnes (track 13, with a variety of nifty tuba sounds). Glen Hackbarth's Double Concerto for trumpet, tuba, and ensemble exemplified some of the ways in which composers at large universities (Hackbarth taught at Arizona State) tried to adapt the seemingly dominant serialist system in somewhat more audience-friendly ways; the music is not serialist, but is strongly ordered according to motivic cells that trace out the entire set of 12 tones. All the performances are solid; bass trombonist Jeffrey Reynolds was the Los Angeles Philharmonic's bass trombonist for more than 40 years. A nice feature of the booklet (in English only) is that the biographies of the composers and performers have been updated; many reissues of this kind simply reproduce the original notes, leaving you to wonder what happened next. Probably of most interest to brass players and their friends, but intriguing for anyone who likes contemporary American music.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Sonata No. 1 for bass trombone & piano
1
1:41
2
1:19
3
0:56
4
0:57
5
1:52
6
5:26
7
5:13
Sonata for bass trombone & piano
8
3:27
9
5:22
Sonata Breve
10
1:48
11
2:01
12
7:01
13
4:26
14
10:22
Double Concerto for trumpet, tuba & chamber orchestra
15
1.
8:13
16
2.
6:40
17
3.
4:31
blue highlight denotes track pick