Not so long ago — well, maybe it was pretty long ago, I did a little write-up on Yamaha Slide Oil. Give it a look, I’ll wait. Why do I bring it up? Well, there’s a good article about this Yamaha mixture at The Reforming Trombonist that is well worth reading, both because of the Yamaha stuff and a certain other lubricant.
Well, it’s been a while since there have been any posts here. To make matters worse, your’s truly has allowed most of Jazz Appreciation Month to pass without any jazz appreciation represented here. Thankfully, though, there’s still time. There’s always time. I think Albert Einstein said that.
For some (really) belated jazz appreciation, let’s go back to nearly the beginning of the previous century to a little thing called Livery Stable Blues, recorded by The Original Dixieland Jass Band for Victor in 1917. In these early days of “jass,” this sort of music was supposed to be somewhat comedic. The nascent recording industry used this idea of fun, novelty, and “jass” to “get over” with a popular market. In the case of Livery Stable Blues, this also meant — in part — a barnyard tie-in featuring musicians imitating animal sounds. Arguably, this constituted a disservice to both the animals and the humans. Other ODJB titles: Barnyard Blues, Ostrich Walk, Bow Wow Blues, and Skeleton Jangle.
Similarly constructed bands of this time played a music that musicians mostly identified as “ragtime,” and which didn’t need to be “funny.” The non-comic musical influence was coming from musicians like Joe “King” Oliver, whose band wouldn’t record for another six years.
Happy New Year to all those who came by this website in 2013, and even those who didn’t. Sorry Commander Trombone wasn’t updated more often. I’ll endeavor to do something about that this year. Maybe a nine part series on trombone slide lubrication? Or slide maintenance? It’s a simple process, really, but you’re going to need a belt sander and your own lathe . . .
A book of solo transcriptions by Mike Medrick
Mike Medrick’s book of Slide Hampton solos features Slide’s improvisations over the compositions of Tadd Dameron, including The Scene is Clean, Sid’s Delight (aka Tadd’s Delight), If You Could See Me Now, Lady Bird, The Squirrel, and Hot House.
As has been mentioned here before, in the 80s I was fortunate enough to attend The University of Tennessee for music school. It has to be admitted that my first university ensemble was the Pride of the Southland Marching Band. While that was a life-transforming experience, I was soon on to greener pastures in UT ensembles that were 1) more edifying, and 2) actually more fun.
One of these ensembles was the UT Trombone Choir, which played in both the jazz and western-art-music traditions. It was directed by the trombone professor, Don Hough. Importantly, in the recent past previous to my joining the trombone choir, that ensemble had achieved a remarkable claim to fame by playing and performing with legendary jazz trombonist Slide Hampton. There was a cassette tape of the resulting UT Music Hall performance that was passed from trombonist hand to trombonist hand (no mp3s then, you ungrateful kids). On the basis of everyone’s experience with Slide’s visit, it was apparent that he 1) was pretty cool, 2) was also one of the most avid practicers in jazz, on the order of John Coltrane or Booker Little, 3) was a pretty amazing practitioner of the style of jazz referred to as “be-bop” on the slide trombone, 4) and had considerable skill as an arranger and orchestrator.
Mike Medrick, a soon-to-be trombonist chum who joined the Trombone Choir a short time later, also thought Slide was great. We’d often discuss jazz recordings. J.J.? As much as you could get your hands on. Slide on A Day in Copenhagen? A must-have. Mike was (and is) an avid arranger, and he soon was writing for both the trombone choir and UT jazz ensemble.
In the jazz program at UT run by Jerry Coker (did I mention this? The jazz department was run by Jerry Coker!), we did solo transcriptions for Coker’s Jazz Styles and Analysis class. Through Jerry, it became clear to us (if it wasn’t already) that one of the best ways to learn the nuts and bolts of jazz music is to listen to, take note of, and study what has been performed by the great practitioners of the music.
Now, just like in Back to the Future, a fair amount of time has gone by, and quickly. But the great lessons and ideas are more like constants. Accordingly, my friend Mike Medrick is back from the future with a wonderful book filled with Slide Hampton solo transcriptions. If you are any sort of musically literate student of jazz — not necessarily a trombonist — this book is well worth investigating. (See the sidebar for how to get a copy.)