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Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

Filtering by Tag: Big Band

Strength Is Not the Answer

Andrew Hitz

"Strength is not the answer.  I guarantee you that everyone in this room has the strength to play a high G."
—Jim Thompson, Former Principal Trumpet of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra

Preach, Jim!

Watch this video of the incredible Brian MacDonald of the Airmen of Note and tell me that strength is needed to rip in the high register.

One of my last Boston Brass big band Christmas gigs featured Brian on trumpet. I was knocked out at how ridiculously relaxed he looked while soaring above the whole band. It was a call to action to take a lot of not just unneeded, but counterproductive physicality out of my playing.

And that's why the mirror is your friend. Watch the greats on YouTube and then watch yourself. Can you be doing anything more efficiently? The answer is pretty much always yes no matter who the hell you are.

Harry Connick Jr: Monday YouTube Fix

Andrew Hitz

Harry Connick Jr. is a genius. This is a famous clip for a reason. He is performing for a live studio audience in France. The crowd is really enjoying it and clapping along.

The problem is they are enthusiastically clapping on 1 and 3 with no end in sight.

But Harry has a plan. He slips a 5/4 bar in at the 0:39 mark so smoothly that no one even notices.


Harry Connick Jr: Monday YouTube Fix

Andrew Hitz

Harry Connick Jr. is one of my musical heroes. He is the consummate showman, a phenomenal composer and arranger, and one of the best piano players in the world. You throw in the fact that he can sing and act and he can make you depressed pretty quickly.

I just performed a fantastic arrangement of this chart by Bryan Kidd with the American Festival Pops Orchestra. I personally think more Christmas tunes should have a New Orleans street beat.


Stan Kenton: Monday YouTube Fix

Andrew Hitz

Here is a full concert of the Stan Kenton Orchestra from February 6, 1972 in London.  What an ensemble! Here is the track listing:

00:00 Minor Booze
04:45 Chiapas
11:57 Artistry In Percussion
17:05 MacArthur Park
23:11 Malaga
31:18 Intermission Riff
35:18 Tiare
41:18 The Peanut Vendor
47:56 Artistry In Rhythm

And here is the remarkable lineup of musicians:

Stan Kenton, Mike Vax, Dennis Noday, Jay Saunders, Ray Brown, Joe Marcinkiewicz, Dick Shearer, Mike Jamieson, Fred Carter, Mike Wallace, Phil Herring, Quin Davis, Richard Torres, Kim Frizell, Willie Maiden, Chuck Carter, Ramon Lopez, John Worster, John Von Ohlen

It doesn't get much better than this when it comes to ensemble playing.  Truly remarkable stuff.