Sunday, January 2, 2011

Canadian Brass, eh?

Canadian Brass
As people who know me will attest, I am pretty much a neophyte when it comes to music.  But I do love hearing Scott play the trumpet and was bowled over when I saw his brass quintet, C Street Brass (, play last year with organist extraordinaire Donald Sutherland.  Scott's trumpet instructor at Peabody is Joe Burgstoller.  Joe has been instrumental (pun intended) in Scott's development as a musician, helping him to become more centered and focused on his music.

Instructors at conservatories don't give up performing in order to teach (if they did, the students wouldn't be nearly as inspired) and Joe spent 7 1/2 years with Canadian Brass, a brass quintet that has been in existence since 1970.  So when I found out that Canadian Brass was playing at the Van Wezel Center in Sarasota, we got tickets, even though Joe is no longer with them.  Among other things, I thought this would be a good opportunity to understand more about what C Street Brass is hoping to do.  

The concert started with the musicians parading into the theater playing an upbeat number.  This is one way to launch a performance that seems to always take the audience by surprise and make them smile.  (C Street Brass has done this as well.)   The quintet then played a variety of compositions, with a bit of patter from the musicians introducing the numbers.   There was some Bach (including Air on a G String, which I realized was the processional at our wedding), some "Well Tampered Bach" arranged by Luther Henderson, who took Bach compositions and jazzed them up,  a suite of numbers from Porgy and Bess and even some Beatles.   Some numbers were great--the encore featured 24 year old Brandon Ridenour on the trumpet playing Amazing Grace and was, well, amazing--but there were a number of missed notes, some arrangements that we didn't care for (the Beatles numbers fell flat for me and the arrangement of Summertime for the French horn was a disappointment) and the patter felt a bit contrived in places.  Jay and I wondered afterwards if the sound in the hall was an issue as the group didn't have the power that we had expected.   I couldn't help but think that the performance would have been different if Joe were still in the group rather than Chris Coletti (who I think Scott could take in a blind audition).  At the end of the performance, I leaned over to Jay and mentioned that the trombone player had not had any solos.  Chuck Daellenbach, the only original member of the group, seemed to have heard me and made his way to the mike to thank the audience for attending.  He told us then that their trombone player was stuck in Toronto with the snow storms so a local trombone player had joined him.  I don't know if this threw the group off--he didn't seem to be a weak link to me--but it probably had some impact.

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