Sunday, March 2, 2014

Dallas Brass

The Dallas Brass has recently emerged as one of the most distinctive brass ensembles in America.  Along with their characteristic use of brass instruments and percussion, the Dallas Brass is also known for it's extensive choice in repertoire.  A concert with this ensemble could include anything from Johannas Brahms to the Pink Panther Theme by Henry Mancini.  Founder Michael Levine once described the group by saying, "a Dallas Brass Concert is intended for the entire family."

One particular aspect of the ensemble that I enjoy is their use of social networking.  The site is actively maintained and includes anything from tour dates to educational clinic information.  The website also includes access to all of their CDs as well as a link to their 'sound cloud' that features an audio sample of every song they have ever recorded.  That link can be accessed here.  The group also has an operational YouTube channel with professional made videos and promotions.  I believe this group is a great example of how to a professional brass ensemble should be run in this day & age!

(Their great promotional video can be seen here:

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The American Brass Quintet

Today's focus will be on the American Brass Quintet.

Trumpet: Louis Hanzlik, Kevin Cobb (Previously Raymond Mase, pictured above)
Horn: Eric Reed (Previously David Wakefield, pictured above)
Trombone: Michael Powell
Bass Trombone: John Rojak

The ABQ is very important in the history of brass ensembles because it was founded on the idea that it will perform music originally written for brass.  Predating their first performance in 1960, brass chamber music was still a relatively new idea.  The concept of the 'brass quintet' had originated ten years earlier with groups like the Chicago and New York brass quintets.  When the American Brass Quintet was formed, the ensemble distinguished itself from these groups by using a bass trombone instead of the conventional tuba for brass quintet.

Today, the ABQ has accumulated dozens albums together and has performed all over the world.  Throughout it's 54 year history, the group has had many esteemed musicians come and go(see the 'family tree' below) but consistently remains an elite ensemble.