Clark Media Productions

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Great 3 days of recording with Stiletto Brass

I recently had a chance to record and produce for an outstanding brass quintet, Stiletto Brass. This ensemble has been around for quite a few years, and has been a consistent presence at international brass festivals and workshops. They have a previous album, featuring none other than Doc Severinsen on trumpet, and they contacted me this spring about putting a new album together this summer.

I simply love recording brass quintet. The ability to hear the sonic blend and resonance of a great brass ensemble, hearing the overtones produced when all the voices are in tune and balanced, is truly a special experience in the musical world. Stiletto Brass has the enviable trait of having 5 individuals who each have a stylish musical voice of their own, able to stand out as soloists, yet still come together to produce a beautiful, sonorous, and blended sound quality that fits the various styles they recorded perfectly.

Speaking of style, Stiletto Brass is able to play anything from jazz, to baroque, to modern music composed just for them, in a convincing way. It was a treat to hear a new work commissioned by the ensemble by Drew Bonner, as well as a jazz tune called Boy Meets Horn (nicknamed Girl Meets Horn by both the group and me), a baroque standard by William Boyce, and a piece by Andre Lafosse that I wasn’t familiar with called Suite Impromptu. Lafosse was professor of trombone at the Conservatoire de Paris from 1948 - 1960, and contributed some important works to the trombone, and brass quintet literature. The piece Stiletto found and recorded is an absolute delight.

For the recording, I covered all my bases and used two sets of main mics (omni and cardioid), plus my stereo ribbon mic to gather the sound in the room where we recorded. Flank mics to add width, and spot mics for any minute balance adjustment in post production rounded out the mic-ing plan. The chapel at Mt. Vernon Unitarian Church was a beautiful venue for us to record in for the three day session.

Oh, and did I mention that this ensemble is all WOMEN?!?! I figured you might guess that… ;) I have to say it is wonderful to see these musicians leading the way as brass players in a field that is starting to see greater numbers of women as professionals. I can only imagine the young girls who might be inspired to know that they can play trombone, tuba, horn, or trumpet, and that they have professional role models to hear and emulate. A discussion about the title of “Boy Meets Horn” needing some reworking for this recording just might have taken place… I can’t wait for you to hear it!

Release details will be forthcoming, and I will certainly make an announcement here when the finished recording is ready. I’m excited for you to hear and to get to know Stiletto Brass.

Stiletto Brass is Amy Gilreath and Susan Rider (trumpets), Rachel Hockenberry (horn), Natalie Mannix (trombone), Velvet Brown (tuba)

You may find their website HERE.

Their first album is HERE.

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Happy faces when the producer says, “OK, that’s a wrap!!!”

Happy faces when the producer says, “OK, that’s a wrap!!!”

New recording: Tuba and 12

I am constantly amazed at the colleagues I have a chance to regularly make music with here in Washington, DC.  Since I started recording and working in audio over the past few years, the chance to record my colleagues in the Marine Band is always a treat.  Today, I’d like to share a recording I made recently for composer Anne McGinty, of her piece called Tuba and 12.  Anne composed the piece for solo tuba, piccolo, flute, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, alto saxophone, 2 trumpets, 2 horns, and 2 trombones.  You can find the music for purchase at Anne’s website, McGinty Music. 

Here are Anne’s notes about the piece:

Tuba & 12 was inspired by a Bedouin proverb that states: “While the words are yet unspoken, you are master of them; when once they are spoken, they are master of you.”

Proverbs, in general, state a general piece of advice. This piece assumed that words were spoken, resulting in tension and an apology. Relationships, the first movement, has brass vs. woodwinds, tonality vs. dissonance, duples vs. triplets, et al. as well as the synergy and cooperation among all. Unspoken Words is the second movement and the dissonant opening theme in the piccolo and flute is presented three times. The third movement is Resolution. Over a constant low pedal G, the horn ostinato adds tranquility as all the themes from the first two movements return in fragmented form, before all is finally resolved.

Although tuba has top billing in the title, each instrument is equally important.

Many thanks to Mt. Vernon Unitarian Church for the use of their beautiful space to make this recording, and to Ryan Nowlin for his conducting and fantastic producer’s ear.

Personnel on this recording are:

Tuba - John Cradler

Piccolo - Courtney Morton

Flute - Beth Plunk

Clarinets - Tracey Paddock, Bill Bernier

Bass clarinet - Barbara Haney

Alto Sax - Steve Temme

Trumpets - Matt Harding, Michael Mergen

French horns - Hilary Harding, Mark Questad

Trombones - Bryan Bourne, Tim Dugan

Conductor and Producer - Ryan Nowlin

Producer, engineer, mixing - Chris Clark

Mastering - Michael Ducassoux, Red Room Productions



Thanks for listening! 

Oz meets Texas!

In May of 2015, two trombonists met at a trumpet workshop, no less...

They knew their lives had reached a new low, hanging around trumpeters and such...

They decided they MUST. TAKE. ACTION.

Introducing....

WORLDWIDE BONE

Oz meets Texas

Australian composer and trombonist Brendan Collins
Trombonist Chris Clark

Jazz Duet No. 1, by Brendan Collins

Sometimes you get lucky in life and run into people you just really have a great time with!  Brendan, in addition to being a talented trombonist, is a fantastic composer.  He has written a large amount of brass music, and continues to write interesting and fun compositions!  He has recently written a great quintet that Valor Brass hopes to perform this year.  I also took his Trombone Hymn for 4 trombones and recorded that with some friends this spring - that is a really beautiful piece.  Check out his music and give it a play!  

Brendan has generously offered to make his Jazz Duet available as a free download here on the site.  You can get it HERE.  Please take the time to join the email list on the site as well if you download the piece!

For the video, Brendan recorded the top line at home in Australia, and I recorded the bottom line and put the two together for the video.  It was great fun collaborating in this way.  We are already looking to do some more virtual projects together soon!  Virtual projects can yield REAL results...cool!

Enjoy.


I never thought I would discuss this!?!?

This week's post feels a little gratuitous, but it's a service that I have found quite useful over the past couple of months, so much so that I have been surprised by it!  Thanks for watching and let me know if you've found this useful as well. :)

David Bowie and brass quintets...

No not really, sorry!  But I am embarrassed to say that it took David Bowie's death for me to discover his music.  And wow, have I been missing out!  His new album, Blackstar, is amazing, and due to my wife's amazing Christmas gift to me of a new turntable, I did order it on vinyl!  

Tonight, I watched a great video produced by the BBC, with producer Tony Visconti, about the recording of another seminal Bowie album, Heroes.  The video was posted by one of my favorite writers, Austin Kleon, and it's well worth the 20 minutes you'll spend watching...

http://bbc.in/1QqfRTZ

I think one of the most interesting things about insights like this is the debunking of the myth that great creations spring from some fully formed vision of the artist, and that it all comes out in one clear and finished product.  Just like one of my favorite podcasts of late, Song Exploder, you see that that is most often not the case...

So, what does David Bowie have to do with brass quintets?  Well, nothing yet... maybe we can get our good friend Tom Holtz, who has arranged so many great tunes for Valor Brass to arrange something cool...???  Tonight, we had the chance to perform on a recital of the Composers' Society of Montgomery County in Bethesda, Maryland.  We played a new piece by composer Jeffrey H. Bauer, titled Danse Macabre.  Jeff is a conservatory trained (Peabody Institute) pianist and trombonist, and he contacted Valor Brass a few months ago about working together.  We really enjoyed his new work, and it just reinforced the fact that relationships between creators (composers) and musicians (performers) are such a rewarding experience.  Check out Jeff's scores at Balquhhider Music.

Here's a rehearsal recording from a few days ago of Danse Macabre...

 

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