Happy 2015

Happy 2015 to everyone. I had a very busy last couple of months. It’s typical for me to have a lot of rehearsals and performances during December, but this last month was busier than I usually have. The good news is that for the most part everything I performed was very fun.

One of the recent highlights was conducting the Land of the Sky Symphonic Band in concert at the Diana Wortham Theater at the very end of November. We always perform a varied program. This one included Aegean Festival Overture by Andreas Makris. If you’re not familiar with this piece, it is probably the most challenging piece of music I’ve ever conducted due to the mixed meters that change almost constantly throughout. Everyone in the band worked really hard on that music (and the rest of the concert).

The Asheville Jazz Orchestra performed our annual Stan Kenton Christmas Concert just before Christmas, as usual. This year we performed two concerts, instead of the typical one. It was successful enough that I think we’ll be doing the second performance again next year. This show is always fun. If you’re not familiar with Stan Kenton’s Merry Christmas album, the charts, all written by Ralph Carmichael, are really a lot of fun to play and quite difficult. The Twelve Days of Christmas is one of the ones that I always look forward to playing for the challenge.

I got to play one of the dances at this year’s Lindy Focus swing dance camp again this year with the Jonathan Stout Orchestra. I was fortunate that the dance I played on was the Duke Ellington tribute night. I’ve played a lot of Ellington music before, and of course I love to listen to his recordings, but this was probably the first time I’ve played three sets of nothing but Ellington charts. Jonathan had us performing the actual Ellington/Strayhorn arrangements, not stock charts. I ended up playing mostly the Juan Tizol parts the whole night. Since I played slide trombone, not valve trombone, a few of the lines were pretty tricky to handle. There were only a couple of us from the local area in the band, everyone else was from out of town as far away as L.A., New York, or New Orleans. It was a very fine band and one of the most enjoyable gigs I’ve played in quite a long time.

Last weekend the Low-Down Sires played a dance for the Triangle Swing Dance Society near Durham, NC. Jason Krekel played with us on banjo and guitar for this show. Jason is an excellent musician and I hope to get to play with him a lot more in the future. It was also fun to talk with Jeffry at this dance, who read this blog and had some embouchure questions we talked about during one of my set breaks. It’s always fun to meet readers of this blog in person, especially at my out of town shows.

I plan on catching up on some blogging this month and especially getting to the pile of emails I’ve gotten with questions and suggestions for topics. If you’ve sent me a question and not heard back from me please feel free to drop me another line and remind me. I’ll try to get to each of those in the order they came in, so look for your response in the next couple of weeks or so, either as a private reply or here as a blog post (and I’ll email you if I post an answer here). Please remember that if you’re looking for embouchure advice that I really need to see your playing to help and this page here will let you know what you can do to help me help you better.

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