Tosca at HGO – Brent Phillips at UH – Jazz at Cézanne

I’m continuing my somewhat schizophrenic musical journey with going straight from Chorus Line to playing Tosca with the Houston Grand Opera. We had opening night a few days ago, and you know people like it
when there’s that roar coming from the audience at the end!
Patricia Racette debuts in the role of Tosca, and I can’t resist quoting from a couple of the reviews:

“Houston Grand Opera’s new production of Tosca, custom tailored to the company by director John Caird and set and costume designer Bunny Christie, is an absolute triumph. The magnetism of the opera itself, with three of Puccini’s greatest characters sketched in page after page of his strongest music, is allowed to speak for itself. Orchestra, chorus and soloists are united by the incisive baton of Patrick Summers, and the result is a non-stop ride of staggering intensity. To put it briefly, this is how Tosca should be done.” (

“From the first chords that explode from the orchestra, maestro Patrick Summers just about propelling himself out of the pit with them, a gripping sense of urgency drives Houston Grand Opera’s potent new production of Puccini’s Tosca, which opened Friday at Wortham Center.

Under John Caird’s astute direction, just about every aspect of this Tosca sustains that dramatic intensity — most particularly, a superlative trio of star performances.” (Houston Chronicle)

Pretty nice!

We had Brent Phillips, trombone professor at Baylor University in Baylor, and former soloist with the US Marine Band “President’s Own”, come and do a clinic and a concert at University of Houston yesterday.
This guy is absolutely amazing. He is very detailed, organized and analytical in his approach in how to learn to play the horn, yet one of the most musical players you can hear. Check out his newest CD “Stepping Stones for trombone”, especially aimed at younger players. Very impressive!

A couple of jazz things to check out this week: This Friday night January 29 I’m playing with trumpeter Ralph Stivison and a cooking rhythm section at the Cézanne jazz café on Montrose Boulvard, downbeat at 9 pm. Also this coming Sunday at Trinity Episcopal on Holman Street we’re doing jazz masses at 10.30 am and 12.30 pm with the Matt Lemmler group, Trinity have their annual jazz festival this weekend. Come by and get blessed!

Upcoming Gigs

January 29 @ Cézanne Jazz Club with Ralph Stivison (trumpet), Ted Wenglinsky (piano), Andrew Gordon (bass), and Chuck Payne (drums). Showtimes 9 pm and 11 pm.

February 8 “Heavy Metal” The low-brass faculty recital at University of Houston Moore’s Opera House. 7:30 PM

Houston Grand Opera “Tosca” – January 22, January 30, February 3, February 5  – all at 7.30 pm, and February 7 – 2 pm at the Brown Theater, Wortham Center.

January  31 – “Jazz Mass” at Trinity Episcopal Church-  10 am with Matt Lemmler sextet.

February 20 – “Mozart Requiem” @ St John the Divine Episcopal Church, River Oaks Blvd, 7.30 pm.

Houston Ballet – February 25, 27, March 5, 6, 9, 10, 11, 13, 19, 20 at 7.30 pm – March 6, 7, 14, 21 2 pm at the Brown Theater, Wortham Center.

March 27  – Jones Hall show w/ Marvin Hamlish and Joel Gray.  8 pm

Houston Grand Opera – “Queen of Spade” Apr 16, 24, 28, and May 1 all at 7.30 pm, Apr 18 2 pm at the Brown Theater, Wortham Center.  Purchase tickets here

Houston Grand Opera – “Tosca” at Miller Outdoor Theatre May 21, 22 8 pm. (Free!) More info here

A Chorus Line at the Hobby Center

After playing 32 Nutcrackers in December plus all the Christmas gigs, and then having a nice week off with my family, I’m now in the second week of playing “A Chorus Line” at the Hobby Center here in Houston.
I saw the movie years ago, but never played the show until now, and I gotta say it’s a treat.
With a great score by Marvin Hamlisch, the show is basically about a Broadway audition, and the life stories of the dancers. It’s based on real interviews made in the early 70s, and when the show opened on Broadway it was a huge hit, and ran from 1975 to 1990.
This production is the Broadway tour, they’ve been on the road for about a year and a half, and will stay here in Houston for another week.
The HGO winter season is starting up, we had the first orchestra reading for Puccini’s “Tosca” this morning. One of my favourites, I played it in Stockholm with the Royal Opera a year and a half ago, but this time I actually get to rehearse it!
There’s also some jazz coming up; January 29 I will play together with trumpeter Ralph Stivison, pianist Ted Wenglinsky, bassist Andy Gordon and a yet to be named drummer at Cézanne jazz club on Montrose boulevard. Hope to see you there!a-chorus-line12

Cactus Music CD Release Party!!!!!!


Are you tired of hearing the same Muzak in every store you go into while you do your holiday gift shopping????  Well, allow me to offer a respite in your present collections.  Come by Cactus Music, located at 2110 Portsmouth Street Houston, TX 77098 (713) 526-9272 this Saturday, December 19th from 12:00pm to 1:00 pm and enjoy some live music while you shop.  Join me, Warren Sneed, Paul Chester, Thomas Helten, and Joel Fulgham at Cactus with refreshments provided by St. Armold’s Brewing Company. Pick up a copy of Slide Side! Hope to see you there!

The Nutcracker at the Houston Ballet

The holiday season is here, and for me that means 35 performances of Tjaikovskij’s classic  The Nutcracker with the Houston Ballet. I’ve played it several times before, but only for about a week at a time. From Thanksgiving up until the New Year is a different story! Our Principal trumpet Jim Vassallo figured he has played it over a thousand times over the years!

Still, it’s a great piece of music, and lots of fun to play. And compared to Lohengrin, the Wagner opera we just finished, it clocks in at half the time, two hours instead of four!

I won’t spend all my time in the pit, though. This coming Saturday, December the 5th,  I’ll be playing with Ambient Brass and the Houston Choral Society for their Christmas show. I’m also playing Christmas concerts at the Grace Presbyterian Church and St Luke’s United Methodist Church. 

If you want to check out some cool jazz, come to River Oaks Baptist Church on December 13 at 6 pm, where we’ll play with Matt Lemmler’s sextet. Also, on December 19 we’ll have an in-store concert at Cactus Records at noon 0910_rep_nutcrackerframewith my own group promoting Slide Side, my new CD. Hope to see you there!