[Trombone-l] your choice

George Carr georgecarr at gmail.com
Tue Nov 15 14:49:37 CST 2005

I agree with everything you're saying here.  Part of learning the
instrument is learning the "state of the art" - what the commonly used
basic techniques are, and being able to sound like you know what
you're doing.  That standard keeps rising: for instance, in jazz, more
and more "standard" tunes must be memorized, and in orchestral
playing, more and more excerpts must be mastered.  Players who can't
play up to the "state of the art" find their employment opportunities
(and probably their satisfaction behind the horn) limited by it.

But past that basic threshold, there's a whole universe of
individuality and innovation going on: Joe Alessi doesn't sound
anything like Ron Barron, who doesn't sound anything like John
Marcellus, and Slide Hampton doesn't sound anything like Conrad
Herwig, who doesn't sound anything like Wycliffe Gordon.  The types of
innovation are different (e.g. sound, projection, breathing,
articulation, and for improvisors, harmony, thematic development,
etc.), but the principle is the same: beyond just "making the gig,"
players should inject their own ideas/feelings/nuances into the music.
 That's when a listener can identify them ("wow, what a huge sound on
the Mahler 3 solo - that must be Joe Alessi's seminal 1989 recording
under Bernstein" or "wow, I'd recognize Rosolino's soloing anywhere"),
and that's when the craftsmanship turns into artistry.


On 11/15/05, dslide13 at aol.com <dslide13 at aol.com> wrote:
> I think that my initial point was to illuminate the difference between
> being a "craftsman" and being an "innovator". One is not necessarily
> better than the other, but there could certainly be a difference in
> profitability. I used JJ, Curtis, Slide and Frank as my templates...but
> I have gotten to a point in my life where I want to be me.
>   One evening at the NYC Blue Note, Slide and I were warming up
> together. We started playing some standards as a trombone duet. When we
> finished Slide says to me, "David, you have your own language!" I was
> shocked. I thought about it during the next set and approached him
> after the gig. I said, "Slide, I don't understand how you can say that,
> since my whole approach is based on one solo you played in 1969." But
> now, I realize that I can never really sound just like Slide. I embrace
> the fact that even while I was using concepts and ideas that were
> introduced to me through his playing, I can only tell my story. Around
> that time, I was approached by a long time associate of Slide's who
> asked me if I studied with Slide since I sounded "just like him". Soon
> after, I began to embrace the idea of being "me". Now when people in
> the know, like Scott Yanow, talk about my playing, they refer to me as
> "a slightly more modern Curtis Fuller." Is that progress??? :-\

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