Clark Media Productions

Clark Media Productions is a place for me to share my love of audio production, music, trombone, and music technology. Subscribe to my email list for late breaking blog posts, videos, and educational content!

Filtering by Tag: trumpet

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!!!”

American Conical Ensemble records James Curnow

There’s a new brass group on the block! This summer, at the Great American Brass Band Festival in Danville, Kentucky, a new “super group” of brass musicians took the stage. Trumpeters Chris Martin (New York Philharmonic), Mark Ridenour (Chicago Symphony), and Matthew Harding (U.S. Marine Band), were joined by alto horn virtuoso Nathan Miller (Asbury University), Hiram Diaz (U.S. Marine Band) on euphonium, and Christopher Tiedeman (U.S Marine Band) on tuba.

Long time brass band supporter and world renowned composer and arranger, James Curnow, arranged a new piece for this virtuoso ensemble, which they premiered at GABBF. The group returned from Kentucky and really wanted a chance to record Jim’s wonderful arrangement of Appalachian fiddle music.

This recording features Amy McCabe and Anthony Bellino on trumpet (both members of the U.S. Marine Band), as well as Matthew Harding on piccolo trumpet, Nathan Miller, Hiram Diaz, and Chris Tiedeman.

Summer, and a very personal recording project

29 year ago, I spent the first of 3 unforgettable summers at the National Music Camp at Interlochen, Michigan.  That summer, I met a young trumpet player that completely knocked me out with his positive attitude, musicianship, fearlessness, and friendship.  I seem to find large projects to take on in the summer, these days.  With my boys home from school, and many hours spent parenting, and learning how to be a better father and husband (and that is an ONGOING thing!), I have taken to the example set by an author whose book I read a couple of years ago, Jocko Willink, and I find myself getting up many mornings (not all, still working on it) at 0430 to get a couple of hours of work in before the house stirs itself awake and the needs of my young ones overtake my own.  

Many of you are very familiar with Valor Brass, and the work this fabulous group of musicians has done over the past 13 years.  Our recording, Inaugural, in 2014, really changed a lot of things in life for me.  It was the first time I had really been an integral part of a creative process to make something lasting, throughout every stage of the process.  Specifically, the process of recording an album, and seeing it through to completion, absolutely fascinated me.  Our audio engineer, Ed Kelly, really captured what I felt was the true essence of our quintet.  That was the beginning of my interest in recording, and my exploration of that art, and what I could bring to my own recordings.  Needless to say, I took to it with a lot of focus and motivation, and began looking for every way that I could learn more about it, and put my skills into practice.

This June that trumpet player, Jack Sutte, and I reunited in Cleveland, to record two complete etude books, written by a young composer in Texas, Nathan Ost.  Jack and I have remained in constant contact since that summer of 1988, rooming together at Curtis, and again in New York while we worked on our masters degrees at Juilliard.  Jack has spent the last 18 years as 2nd trumpet of the Cleveland Orchestra, and continues to push the bounds of new music as a trumpet soloist and with his brass trio, Factory Seconds, in his spare time.  

The three days of recording we had in June were just fantastic.  Jack has the ability to get to the heart of a piece of music like few people I have ever known, and he showed up to the sessions ready to make music.  Juggling a tough week of work performing the complete West Side Story film score in evening concerts, we recorded, during the day, all 42 of Nathan’s etudes at Baldwin-Wallace Conservatory, where Jack is a faculty member.  I am very excited about the recording, and the fantastic musicianship it portrays.  I hope you’ll take a listen.  

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Nathan Ost has written two collections of etudes that I have no doubt will become a well-used and familiar resource to trumpet players around the world.  Modeled after the characteristic studies of Arban, and lyrical studies of Bordogni, his Lyrical Studies and Characteristic Studies are a fresh and interesting musical approach to developing technical facility, but most of all, musicianship.  I am so glad I had the opportunity to put Jack’s playing to “tape” and give budding trumpet players a beautiful reference with which to explore these new compositions.  

Nathan has a great deal going on his website... If you buy either book in PDF delivery format, you receive the recordings of Jack playing all the etudes, for free!  Cheers!

As you may now suspect, producing personal, musical recordings is a passion of mine.  Check out clarkmediaproductions.com for more examples of what I’ve been up to lately.

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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