Top Brass: Interviews and Master Classes with Jazz's Leading Brass Players
Bob Bernotas' articles about the art and craft of jazz brass playing are collected, in revised and expanded form, for the first time in this single volume. Musicians and serious jazz fans alike will enjoy and be enlightened by these interviews and master classes with J.J. Johnson, Clark Terry, Art Farmer, Benny Powell, Al Grey, Lester Bowie, Slide Hampton, Claudio Roditi, Steve Turre, Grover Mitchell, Wallace Roney, Robin Eubanks, Conrad Herwig, Valery Ponomarev, Ingrid Jensen, Bob Stewart, Byron Stripling, Ray Vega, plus a dozen more jazz brass artists.
"I highly recommend this important collection of articles, interviews, and master class transcriptions to brass performers, students, and teachers of all styles! Top Brass ... gives its readers insight into a world often unexplored in today's music industry, that of the serious jazz artist. ... The artistic integrity of each artist as well as their heartfelt dedication comes through loud-and-clear in each and every dialogue. ... Top Brass is required reading."
-- Steve Wiest, The International Trombone Association Journal
Table of Contents
PART I: PORTRAITS AND SKETCHES
Boss Man: Al Grey
In Wynton's Wake: Philip Harper, Roy Hargrove, Rebecca Coupe Franks, Wallace Roney
The Art of Sound: Art Farmer
"I Know I Can Do That": Vincent Chancey
Trombone Karma: Robin Eubanks
Bass What?: Rich Willey
Of Synthesizers, Twinkies, and Harmon Mutes: Byron Stripling
A Day in a (Double) Life: Claudio Roditi
Bronx Horn: Ray Vega
PHOTO ESSAY: Blues Backstage: The Grover Mitchell Big Band (photography by Lesley Peacock)
PART II: CONVERSATIONS
"I Want to Be Wallace": Wallace Roney
A World of Trombones: Slide Hampton
Trombone Evangelist: Steve Turre
Beyond Category: Clark Terry
"Find Somethin' to Play!": Bob Stewart
Trom-bon-ist: Grover Mitchell
Jazz Turns Samba: Claudio Roditi
The Master Craftsman: J.J. Johnson
Brass Fantasies: Lester Bowie
Twenty-first Century Trombone: Conrad Herwig
"What Do I Have in Common With Miles Davis?": Ingrid Jensen
From Russia With Jazz: Valery Ponomarev
An Honorable Profession: Benny Powell
PART III: MASTER CLASSES
Art Baron: An Introduction to the Plunger
Lester Bowie: Using Half-Valve Techniques
Stanton Davis: Developing a Personal Solo Style
Robin Eubanks: Getting a Clean Attack
Art Farmer: Doubling on Trumpet and Flugelhorn
Laurie Frink: An Introduction to Musical Calisthenics
Dick Griffin: Multiphonics for Trombone
Conrad Herwig: An Introduction to Doodle Tonguing
Conrad Herwig: Pentatonic Improvisation
Earl McIntyre: Writing for Low Brass
Grover Mitchell: Advice for Lead Trombonists
Tim Newman: Practicing on Tenor and Bass Trombone
Benny Powell: Presentation and Programming Tips for Trombonists
Douglas Purviance: Sound Production on Bass Trombone
Steve Turre: Making Music With Sea Shells
"Top Brass presents the reader with a truly unique and fascinating anthology, one that offers up the passions of grand musicians in their own words. A must-read for true fans of the jazz brass greats, Top Brass is a welcome and highly recommended addition to any personal, professional, academic, and community library Jazz History collection."Midwest Book Review
"Top Brass is an apparent labor of love that provides the reader with an intimate visit with many of the best jazz musicians of our day. ... For readers interested in the lives, philosophies, and idiosyncrasies of famous jazz brass greats, this book will bring a great deal of pleasure and information."
Online Trombone Journal
"At last, an intelligently conceived, beautifully written, handsomely produced book about jazz, jazz playing, and jazz players that delivers on the promise of its title with substance, sensitivity, insight - and wit. This valuable book ... tells the whole story of twentieth-century brass playing."
The Brass Player
"Top Brass must have been written by a musician. ... [A]ll of the musicians sound so open, candid, relaxed, and revealing. ... Top Brass is full of very good advice, culled from years of experience in the jazz world."
Space Coast Jazz Society Newsletter
"Aimed at brass players, Top Brass proves insightful for other instrumentalists, singers and non-musicians, too. ... Bernotas writes in a straight-ahead style, and as an interviewer he asks pertinent questions, staying on course."
"Is Top Brass just for brass players? Absolutely not. ... While Top Brass could be a valuable resource for players of any level of experience, it may be particularly important to emerging players."
Books by Bob Bernotas
"If you play, or even listen to jazz, these are important books. They entertain, are easy to read and also educate."
-Jack Simpson, Jazz on the Beach, WUCF-FM