Almost done with 2016

Rehearsing with ROCO
Rehearsing with ROCO


Almost done with 2016, and it’s been a busy year. There’s been several highlights, but at the top of the list has to be the premiere of Dorothy Gates’ trombone concerto “Servant of Peace”. This was commissioned for me by ROCO, the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra and is a wonderful piece. We played it April 9, 2016, right in the middle of our HGO production of Wagner’s “Siegfried”, so it was a busy time!

Here is the live recording from the concert, you will find the whole concerto and lots of other stuff on my Soundcloud page.

The following weekend I was fortunate to be the featured sololist with the Houston Brass Band, and played Erik Leidzén’s classic Concertino, a fantastic piece.

In June I spent a fantastic week in Denmark to play with the Danish National Symphony brass and trumpet soloist Reinhold Friedrich. That guy can play, check him out!

After six weeks of the Broadway show “Wicked” here in Houston I was able to catch my breath before the fall started. The big thing right now is the brand new production of the Nutcracker with the Houston Ballet. It’s an amazing show, bring your family and friends!

Lots of new things!

Finally time to update Ye Olde Website! Lots of things have been going on since the last time I wrote, there’s no room to list them all, so I will focus on what’s coming up instead. We’re in the middle of the Ring cycle with the Houston Grand Opera right now. We’re spreading it out over four years, and this year we’re doping Die Walkure. Trombone players like it, because you finally get to play the Ride, the excerpt that’s on every trombone audition around the globe. There’s a lot more to it though. First of all, this is a long opera! It takes around four and a half hours to play, with two intermissions. There’s also a lot to play for the low brass, and most of it is soft! You really have to be in shape and be able to control your soft dynamics to play this opera, but it’s worth it. The low brass writing is beautiful and very rewarding to play.
A word about my horn: I’ve been playing a Conn 88H since my college day, but for about a year now I’ve played a Yamaha Xeno 882OR, and I have to say I like it a lot. It seems to combine the best of the Conn 88H and the Bach 42, plus if I loose it I can get a new from Amazon!
This coming Friday, May 1, 2015, I will be playing the Grondahl trombone concerto with the Houston Civic Symphony, directed by Brian Runnels. Brian has been bugging me for a long time to come and play with them, and we were finally able to work it out. I was also able to talk my good friend and arranger extra-ordinaire Mike Harris in to writing orchestra arrangements for three jazz tunes from my “Slide Side” album. It’ll be a really fun concert, and it’s free, hope to see you there! * pm at the Houston Baptist University.
Here’s the link to Houston Civic Symphony:
Another bit of cool news: River Oaks Chamber Orchestra (ROCO) has commissioned Dorothy Gates to write me a brand new trombone concerto, to be premiered in April 2016. This is very exciting, and I can’t wait to get to play it. It will be based on the writings and poetry of Dag Hammarskjold, the Swedish diplomat who was the second Secretary General of the United Nations before he was killed in 1961.
I have known Dorothy for a long time, she is an amazing composer, and we’re both very much looking forward to working together.
Till next time, cheers!

Mahler at the Houston Ballet, returning to Schlossberg

We’re just starting the 2011-2012 season at the Wortham Center with the Houston Ballet and the Houston Grand Opera. Tonight we’ll open with a very unusual ballet piece, Gustav Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde (The Song of the Earth). Based on Japanese poems, it’s basically a symphony with tenor and alto soloists. Mahler wrote this piece after the death of his daughter Maria in 1907, and after being diagnosed with a terminal heart condition. It’s an absolute great piece of music, but very, very seldom done as a ballet, so it’ll be interesting to see how the audience react!

I’ll realize I haven’t been writing any blogs for over a year, hopefully I’ll do better in the future!
Anyway, I’ve been busy playing and teaching. A few highlights from the past twelve months was Peter Grimes and Dead Man Walking with the HGO, playing with my dixie-band The Hot Vikings at Cezanne jazz club in February the Texas Southern University Jazz Festival where Andre Hayward and myself did our two-trombone line-up, a clinic and jazz concert at Baylor University in March, going to Sweden in April to play with the Royal Opera for a few weeks, playing the Broadway production of Chicago in June, and finally Tom Walker’s Gospel Train Big Band in August.

I felt pretty worn out during the summer, and felt that I needed to get back to basics about my playing. Then I happened to dig up a copy of Daily Drills and Technical Studies by Max Schlossberg. I bought this book way back in college, but never really used it, until now. Well, I’m a convert! It’s a great way of getting your chops together. I do about an hour each day out of the different chapters, and my big regret now is that I should have practiced this 20 years ago! Highly recommended.

Till next time, keep swinging!

Brass Spectacular – Tribute to Bill Pearce – Queen of Spades

This upcoming weekend, May 14-16, I’m going to Charlotte, North Carolina, to participate in the Salvation Army Brass Spectacular. It was started a few years ago here in Houston when Jamie Hood, trumpeter extra-ordinaire and Salvationist, brought together a “dream-team” of a brass-band, mainly with players from the Houston orchestras, some guys from the New York Staff Band and still a few coming over from Europe. Steven Mead was the euphonium soloist, both Steven Bulla and William Himes were there and brought pieces they’d composed, and it was just a great night!

Jamie moved to Charlotte in 2009 to keep working for the Salvation Army, and brought the Brass Specatcular with him. I haven’t be able to go since that first concert until now, I’m sure it’ll be a blast. The trombone section will be killer, with both Herb Bruce and Eric Alexander in it, my old collegues from Sprititual to the ‘Bone.

Bill Pearce, pioneering radio broadcaster and founder of the Nightsounds radio program died February 23, 2010 from complications of Parkinson’s disease. He was 83.
Bill was a fantastic trombone player, and influenced a whole generation of players with his smooth and unique style of playing. I got to spend a day with him in his studio in Rockford, Illinois, about ten years ago, and I’ve never met such a humble, gracious and truly Christian person before or since. He remains one of my big heros, both as a player and as a person. There’s a very nice tribute to Bill on Doug Yeo’s home page:

We just finished the Houston Grand Opera season with Tjaikovskij’s Queen of Spades. There are some very nice moments, but I have to admit it’s not one of my favorite operas. It’s long, over three and a half hours, and the trombones hardly play at all in the first two acts, so when the action finally starts in the third act, it’s way past my bedtime!

Brass Spectacular

La Bayadère and Fancy Free, nice Slide Side-review

Ok, I know I should have written this earlier, we’re already done with Houston Ballet’s new production of “La Bayadère – the Temple Dancer”, music by Leopold Minkus. (No relation to Charlie Mingus….)
But, it’s not that often we’re having four live snakes on stage! I got to pet one of them on the cast-party on opening night, and he liked hugging the ladies.
The best part was when we played a school show for 2500 middle-schoolers, and the snake-handler came up on stage and had a little speech for the kids. “If you stay in school, and listen to your parents, study really hard and get good grades, you can become a snake-handler just like me.” Yeah, right!

We have another weekend of Leonard Bernstein’s “Fancy Free”, written in 1944 when he was 26. It’s about three sailors in New York, so I guess it has something to do with “On the town”. It’s really fun to play, lots to do in the brass, with little jazz solos here and there. I even get to use a solo-tone mute and do my Tommy Dorsey-imitation, complete with slide-vibrato!

For you Swedish-speakers and -readers, I got a very nice review of my album on DIG jazz, a great web-site devoted exclusively to jazz. Here’s the link:

We’re starting rehearsing Tjaikovskij’s Pique Dame at the opera in a couple of weeks, and I aslo have a show coming up with Marvin Hamlisch and Joel Grey, should be fun.

Kepp swinging!