I've been a resident of Harlem for quite a while - and am thrilled to be included in it's newest professional music project - the brass choir of the Harlem Sound Project. May 5 is the brass' debut concert -- with some heavy programming. Henri Tomasi's Fanfare Liturgiques (a tour-de-force!) and a new work by Sung Jin Hong called Harlem Fanfare. They are also doing Stravinsky's L'Histoire du Soldat... a heavy brass show!
Check it on Facebook
In 2012, the avant-garde collective Anti-Social Music released it’s Sleeps Around record, which includes the heavy-drone work I played on called Music for ASM composed by the experimental hip-hop group Dälek
(hear the work here)
This record is released on vinyl and is contained in an amazing record sleeve that is a work of art on it’s own. (it turns into a cube!) The artist who designed it called “Scrapworm” was just awarded an official patent for it’s design!! Awesome! (www.scrapworm.info)
I finally got a chance to hear the CD by the Jack Grace Band that I played on! It’s a fun, whiskey-soaked romp reminiscent of Johnny Cash, Elvis and Dire Straits. I play on several of the tracks: Bothered to Think, and Poor Boy - which includes a cute tuba solo! I also add some pads to other songs as well. This CD also includes a cameo by Popa Chubby and horn parts by Emmy-winning J. Walter Hawkes.
The initial "hit" song off of the upcoming Dillinger Escape Plan album, called "When I Lost My Bet" (DEP is a popular math rock / metal / grindcore band) got over 100K views in just over 2 days. The song features a literal choir of tuba tracks I recorded as the "sub bass" power chord sound as well as many effected tuba sounds and other brass parts mixed in throughout.
Those brave enough to hear/watch the track (it's intense and the video is GORY) will hear a bass swell at 2:22, a moment people are commenting about -- that's the tuba! Rumor has it that the band is also using TubaJoe samples in their sold-out live shows!
Joe contributed tuba as well as valve trombone layers, textures, and brass orchestrations to several songs on the new Dillinger Escape Plan album called One of Us is the Killer. This anticipated release from the famous mathcore/metal/punk band is to be released on 5/14/2013 on Sumerian Records.
(tracking with Ben Weinman in New Jersey)
A new promotional video for Gato Loco with highlights of shows from Europe and NYC!
Sunday, December 18th, at the Cameo Gallery in Williamsburg Brooklyn, indie-rock-band-with-tuba NEW BEARD will be doing a show to celebrate the release of our EP Moment of Peace. On this bill I'll also play with homeboys Gato Loco de Bajo as it will be a big family affair! ...and on the show our good pals Lavalier will play (with full-sized mics tho... ha ha, that's a joke), as well as the band Toys and Tiny Instruments.
This is exciting for me as the pre-release-release of Moment of Peace has been getting some kickass response! This EP is also to accompany the release of our video to the song "Given" which debuted a few weeks ago on Stereogum.
This is going to be an exciting night -- please join us!!!
This week is packed with some interesting brass music... tonight I got to play an exceptionally eclectic program with the Orchestra of the SEM Ensemble. It was nice to play with them again. I got to do some antiphonal Gabrieli as well as John Cage's Atlas Elipticalis.
Brass players all know to revere every second they get to play Gabrieli's antiphonal brass music (especially in a great space for it!) and Atlas Elipticalis is a work I've known about for some time, but had not, until now, had the chance to perform.
Also, the Paula Cooper Gallery in Chelsea is a great place to perform! It's big but-only-enough echoic space was perfect for both of these works.
Also through the week is some typical holiday brass quintetting. Always a decent time!
And then...tomorrow night I get my ass kicked! I get the pleasure of playing a NY premiere of a work for brass quintet, jazz tenor sax, and drumset, composed by NYC-Toronto sax player Quinsin Nachoff; his 'Pyramid Brass Project.' What a brass quintet to be a part of!! (I'll be shedding this one up until the last second before the gig!) I get to share the stage with brassers Ralph Alessi, Shane Endsley, John Clark, Ryan Keberle, drummer Dan Weiss, and tenorist/composer Qunisin. It's going to be brutal!
Here's the video from New Beard's song "Given", produced by Gustav Ejstes of Dungen. (I'm thrilled about the tuba sound... which is the bass sound, but still nice and tuba-y!)
The link to it on Stereogum.com
*note, Stereogum's article mentions that the band will be playing on Dec 2, I will not be on that show due to a family commitment. James Schoen of the band Edensong will be filling in on bass, as will Ben Wigler. I WILL however, be back in the saddle as New Beard's bottom end for our EP release show on December 18 at the Cameo Gallery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
The fall is always a marathon, and I now finally have a couple of days to catch my breath. This fall has been a time of constant motion... Have tuba will travel!
Starting in September, New York's notorious Ja Ja Jas kicked off our Oktoberfest tear with shows in New York at our home base of Zum Schneider. It was madness as always; a line down the street to get in (and we heard that someone actually slept in their car to get a good space in line!)
Right after rehearsing in NYC, the Ja Ja Jas immediately hit the road for the south, first down to North Carolina, then up through Virginia, back to NYC for a few shows, then back down to Virginia again.
(here I am with Herbie Abernathy of Valient Thorr -- was at our show!)
Big festival crowds and new friends and great food and... beer. Those shows are a lot of work, but are worth it for the vibe and the crowd!
I took a break from the Ja Ja Jas' constant string of Blaßmusik rocking, to head overseas again with the mighty Gato Loco for our third European trip in just over a year. We brought our "Psycho-Mambo" brand of jazz-rock to headline the Salzburg "Jazz and The City" festival in gorgeous Salzburg, Austria. (original home of W.A. Mozart, who I share a birthday with)
Gato Loco all converged in Munich, from what seemed to be a million different flights. We finally all made it in and got a great afternoon of rehearsal in a gorgeous art loft transformed out of an old post office in Munich's West End.
Here I'll mention that this was the maiden air flight for the famed Accord tuba case. This is the hi-tech carbon flight case which weights only slightly more than a soft gigbag. It worked great - I had to take 2 different airlines to get to Munich and they obviously put the case to the test (scratched the crap out of the outside of it, and beat the bumpers) but the ultralight case held it's own - no tuba damage! It came right out of baggage claim, right up the conveyor with the normal-sized suitcases, and I was able put the horn right on my back and walk right out of the airport and hop on a train. Tuba players will understand what a HUGE deal this is!
We visited this retro place called a CD store and look what we found displayed prominently!
and of course, we hit some bier halls!
The next morning, we got up early and hurriedly headed up the Alps toward Salzburg.
Once in this very pretty town, we got to the hotel and the band quickly befriended the dirndl-laden hotel staff and everyone got a quick nap to chill in our nice digs before soundcheck.
The venue was great - a large ballroom type of venue. The band and house staff got quickly to work putting together our sizable setup of two separate drum setups, two separate bass setups, guitar plus seven different horns.
During our soundcheck, a representative came to our venue in Salzburg from the Accord Case company in Croatia to modify my case for me! (Rockstar treatment! yeah!!) He set me up well!
Between soundcheck we had the pleasure of heading up the mountain to one of the most notorious restaurants in Salzburg which overlooks the entire town. Amazing! There we dined on Deer and got a chance to catch up with our festival-mates Bobby Previte and Steve Swallow, who had just finished their set. We didn't linger long tho... Gato Loco was on the clock and had a job to do!
We started our usual off-stage entrance and quickly surprised the crowd.
The band threw down for the entire extended-length set. The kind Austrian crowd ate it up, got out of their seats and danced the night away. It was a great show.
After the show, per Gato Loco tradition, we joined some of the locals for some reveling on the town.
Upon my return to the Big Apple, there was no time to rest! First, immediately, the De Bajo portion of Gato Loco played at our favorite home base of Barbes in Brooklyn, and New Beard was in rehearsal. I then headed with the Red Hook Ramblers for a quick jaunt to Boston, then rushing back for a show at Lincoln Center in NYC. Right from LC I ran to a CMJ spot with New Beard at Union Hall in Brooklyn. The next morning it was back to the studio with NB and then break and run to play an orchestral gig at Carnegie Hall, all of this within about 3 days time. Whew!
Fortunately this week I have a few days to recover and then in a week it's back to the studio with New Beard, Halloween with Gato Loco de Bajo, then back to Germany for a few more shows with the full Gato Loco.
Lots of things to come... some great media from both New Beard and Gato Loco to be released soon and more shows shows shows with all sorts of bands. Tuba Life is never boring in NYC!
Simple, Post-Summer update:
This time of year is always a point of change and rejuvenation. Leaning into Oktoberfest is always symbolic - it's more than a bier-soaked gropefest powered by Oom and Pah, It's a transition out of the slower moving, fragmented summer into the work-frenzy that Autumn always is for me.
Summer was good, but I am glad the fall is here. As usual, I been working with quite a few bands and ensembles, but here's a few summer highlights from a few of the groups I am more vested in:
Big growth for the indie rock band of New Beard... from the big show we all put on at Littlefield, to the recent pre-hurricane show at Union Hall (which kicked ass!), and Zebulon and others between, that band just keeps getting better (and soon will hopefully release the awesome CD that we spent a year recording...!) The songs and dudes are just great.
I spent a lot of time in the trad trenches with the Red Hook Ramblers... we played all over place, and did several records. Highlights included our residency at Galapagos' Floating Kabarette, and now to add the Way Station. We made a live EP of original tunes recorded direct on to wax cylinder on an original Edison cylinder phonograph from 1908. The Ramblers will also appear in an upcoming episode of TLC's hit TV show "Four Weddings" to air in January.
Gato Loco has been working hard, much of it behind the scenes. We've kept the fire burning around town, but more importantly we've been working on two trips to Europe: Austria in October, then a larger trip in November which includes, Germany, Switzerland, and Holland. We have a number of trips already in motion for 2012. Stay tuned for upcoming media coming from this group!
Stay tuned for updates from NYC's legendary Mösl Franzi and the Ja Ja Jas. This coming Saturday kicks off our rockstar whirlwind that is Oktoberfest. Wish me luck!
Other CDs are coming out or recently came out with me on them: Recordings by Jack Grace, Kiku Collins, Voltaire, and Sabrina Chap' in addition to bands listed above. I go in this week to record another... I don't yet know who it is for!
I want to share a new case situation with you all... as well as a plunge I am taking!
For years I have searched for an optimal tuba case situation -- something similar to what almost every other non-tuba playing instrumentalist enjoys: a case that is usable on a day-to-day basis and is also protective. Constant dings, dents, and damage while-in-the-case is considered to be an expected inevitability for tuba players, especially ones who drag their horns around constantly, such as myself.
As of now, tuba players must rely on soft cases for day-to-day use, and then switch to an industrial bohemoth for more protected transport.
Players of other instruments, even large instruments, don't seem to have this issue, or at least as much of one.
Cello players for instance, enjoy superior portability versus protection while their instruments are exponentially more valuable and fragile. I have also noticed that many of my trumpet, trombone, and sax playing colleagues have form-fitting cases which are lightweight and ergonomic.
Most current tuba hard cases are simply too large for reasonable cartage, much less daily use, and pose major logistic challenges and consequences for the player. The philosophy behind many of them is often one of excess and often downright ballistic in their design.
Protection of the horn is of course a good thing, but protection means little when practically unusable. I need a case that fits to what my personal logistic situation is - I haul the tuba most every single day to different locations, in a wide variety of transportation situations. I average 150 gigs a year, and that's not including rehearsals and giving lessons etc. This means I am dragging my horn with me constantly, and to venues which vary greatly. I often find myself in crowded, bustling situations where a gig bag is simply not enough protection. I require protection and maximum portability at the same time.
To add to this, I am playing more out of town lately, making the need for a better case situation paramount. I need a touring-quality case where I can reasonably go from an airplane to a train to a normal-sized car all within the same logistic sweep. I need a protective case which will easily pass through varying international airlines and airport situations. Before, I would use a standard flight case and take my empty gig bag along in a suitcase, then I'd have to beg people overseas in the city I was flying into to stow the flight case (and pick it up) while I traveled on with the horn in the gig bag via trains and cars.
I play a fairly standard tuba - an old Mirafone (Miraphone) 186 CC that I use for everything. I'm not really an F tuba fan, and a tiny travel tuba is out of the question for use in performance. For most of what I do, the 186 is perfect; not too big, not too small. I can dig deep and sound like a b.a.t., and I can make it sound light when I need to. Plus, I have played on this horn pretty much exclusively for 20 years. It fits me and I fit it. My relationship to this horn sort of akin to Willie Nelson and his guitar named Trigger.
In searching for a better case situation, I contacted some makers of fiberglass form-fitted cases for other wind instruments, and none were interested in making a tuba case.
I then ventured into the world of casemakers of other types of instruments. It seems that string players have the most options (probably due to sheer numbers of players) and have access to higher-tech materials such as carbon and kevlar. I figured something had to work for me. Size-wise a tuba is around the same size as a cello, and as far as tubas go, my tuba is not all that heavy, weighing in at around 18lbs.
I sought out hi-end string case makers, and surprisingly found that one actually listed a new hi-tech tuba case. I had never heard of it, but it seemed like it might fit the bill.
The company is Accord Case from Pula, Croatia, right accross the Adriatic from Venice. They are primarily known for their ultra high-end cello cases (Yo Yo Ma and Rostrapovitch use them. Yo Yo Ma's cello is an $8M Stradavarius!) and guitar cases (Santana, Sting, Eddie Van Halen) and their carbon and Kevlar technology is so revolutionary that Ferrari used them to make seats for their F1 racecar.
I found the representatives at Accord to be incredibly responsive and professional and were more than happy to work with me and help to put together a case that fit my needs. We corresponded constantly for weeks, always with a prompt detailed response and no language barrier. I had to provide them with many detailed measurements, photos, as well as a full-sized concise tracing/blueprint of my horn which I shipped to Croatia in a box. In turn they provided me with photos of my case, as well as photos of their prototypes with horns in them, showing how it would work.
It seems that their design is made for something similar to a 186 and/or any German-style 4/4 CC or F. The case is not too much bigger than the tuba itself, and then the fine-tuning is made with adjustments are then made to the the suspension on the inside, which is designed to suspend the horn with a series of bumpers, pads and straps. (more details on this when I take delivery of the case)
My tuba weights about 18.5 lbs (it's unlaquered and fairly lightweight) and that's about just what the case is supposed to weigh as well. So, what I should have is a flight package that weighs UNDER 40lbs! (my previous setup is 98lbs, having it in a prosound crate case)
Here is a stock photo of someone standing on the demo case, demonstrating the rigidity of their flight model case.
Here are photos of my personal case (while still at the factory) which is has a more rugged matte finish in Ferrari Red (with a design I commissioned from NYC artist Dima Drjuchin http://www.avrodesign.com/dima/ )
This is a whole new era and approach to instrument cases. Here is a Toyota TV commercial with classical guitarist Berta Rojas, with her guitar in an Accord case, which is very similar to the tuba case I had them make for me.
On June 21, I joined about 20-ish other brass players at the shores of the Central Park lake to create / perform an ambient work set up just for NYC’s Make Music New York. This annual event presents large-scale (and I mean really large, to the point of being environmental) works throughout the city.
This specific mass-brass event was made up of members of and hosted by the new-music-brass collective named TILT which I occasionally play with, peppered with a nice handful of other players.
The day prior we met for a rehearsal at the amazing Seventh Regiment Armory on the Upper East Side. This great old building and sufficed well as we worked out and experimented with our plan for the outdoor concert the next day.
Set up by three Australian “sound artists”, the work was designed to be best heard from rowboats (which are cheap to rent from the city) out in the lake. We were to perform two sequential performances, each about 45 minutes in duration. It was ridiculously humid out, and we were sweating like mad, as well as swatting a mosquito or two or three or four. We pressed on positively.
We were segregated into many trios and were peppered surrounding the lakeshore. We all did our best to reflect our assigned tones off the water and to hurl them out into the midst as best as possible. My trio was the only low/conical trio, two euphoniums and myself on tuba.
The event got a pile of press including coverage by the NYTimes and NPR. Here is one good clip someone posted from a boat itself, I’m quite audible, sort of resembling a bullfrog, but not intentionally.
Logistically, the work was signaled to start via a sent text message to the leader of each trio, which came from the lead sound artist out in the lake. Thank goodness AT&T was behaving that afternoon. Each trio would then wait for a previous trio to start the long sequential pattern and start at an approximate self-counted time length after. The work had three consecutive “movements” per se, each following a specifically dictated row of tones, dynamics, and intent.
One of my trio was a composer / euphoniumist from Boston, Jason Belcher. He was interviewed about the experience here, it captures the event well.
(this page also includes a link to the great work for TILT Brass by Jason’s teacher, Anthony Coleman, which consequently ends with yours truly belting out a screaming *but* melancholy, unanswered tuba solo, recorded on the recent TILT release, which was a joy to record)
This particular event was surprisingly nice and extremely well received. I ended up enjoying it quite a bit.
It’s takes a certain type of energy to create an actual cohesive “vibe” out of tones out across a lake. I think we succeeded.
I am writing about this event after-the-fact as I was so wrapped up in the planning I was not able to do much else beforehand! Last Saturday night, 3 bands (2 of which I am a part of) came together to create a fun event called “Farewell to Normal Scene” this last Saturday night.
This event involved a host of performers: 3 main bands, an acapella ensemble an aerialist, and a cook. It all started about 6 weeks ago, when representatives from New Beard, Yula and the eXtended Family, and Gato Loco, descended on “The Hive”, the Bushwick, Brooklyn lair of my friend Yula Be’eri.
Representatives of each ensemble started to meet about 6 weeks ago and we came up with the concept in a really synergetic way and produced this promotional video.
We booked the show at this beautiful space in Park Slope called Littlefield, and worked it out to rock a Saturday night. The show turned out GREAT. We brought in a great crowd over the course of the night and all 3 bands rocked it. It was a big accomplishment for me as I had not been involved in the production of a big show in quite a while (it's a huge task!)
It was a night of great performances, New Beard emerged from it’s long hiatus with a bang, Yula and her family charmed the crowd, and Gato Loco, was well... Gato Loco! Our aerialist was wonderful, and while we had to squeeze the Bandanna Splits into a different slot, they were charming as well. I thought the whole night really went wonderfully. It was a lot of work, but well worth the effort. Response was great. Special thanks to Andrew Dunn and Stefan Zeniuk for really digging in and doing a lot of the legwork involved... special thanks to Darren Morze for the sound, Dmitry Drjuchin for the poster, and Caroline Craighead of Craighead and Company for publicity.
It's always an exciting day when a new CD that I'm on comes out! I absolutely adore the art of recording.
Recently, I got the pleasure to jam alongside my pal, trumpet monster Al Chez on the leading track of the rock-jazz trumpeter Kiku Collins' new record "Red Light." Kiku, boneman David Gibson, Chez and myself all get to bring it home on the jam-session styled tune called "Blue Patrol".
ps - all you trumpeters can pick up a copy in person, as she'll be at ITG this week
Mia Wolff does some great drawings of Gato Loco as we play. She was there at the abandoned convent last weekend. She captured me looking like a tuba hunchback as I stoop over a bunch of stompbox electronics.
Cool drawings!! Thanks Mia!
See the whole set HERE
While unearthing some archived media, I just discovered a documentary about a studio orchestra recording session I did about a year and a half ago. The video documents the recording of a beautiful and moving work by Kenny Werner entitled "No Beginning, No End". He wrote the piece about the untimely death of his daughter.
At about 2:06 in the video it shows me closely as we work out some of the orchestration and chord voicing.
One of the recently released CD's I am on is is a recording of new works for brass ensemble. The "Tilt" Creative Brass Band is actually a standard-sized full brass ensemble made up of more than just great players, every member is a creative artist all in their own. I was honored to be a part of this group and to play this amalgomation of works by NYC "Downtown" composers. It was an inspirational group of folks to play amongst!
The group is led by trombonist Chris McIntyre and the CD was prodced by the legendary Anthony Coleman. We recorded it at Oktaven Studios in Yonkers, NY.
Here's some tuba-centric excerpts: