The Mnozil Brass are infamous for their high caliber performing mixed with their unique and extravagant entertainment style. They play in a wide array of styles and genres to make sure to always engage the audience. Falling into these genres are multiple pieces in assorted Latin styles.
The Mnozil Brass was formed in 1992 and consists of seven brass players from Austria: Thomas Gansch, Robert Rother, Roman Rindberger on trumpet, Leonhard Paul on bass trumpet and trombone, Gerhard Fubl and Zolton Kiss on trombone, and Wilfried Brandstotter on tuba.
In a prior post, I wrote about tangos and their appearance in the repertoire. A few nights ago I had the pleasure of seeing the Iowa Brass Quintet perform live. The performance was a joy to see, and there happened to be a latin style piece on their program. The piece was Killer Tango, a work that was written for the Canadian Brass by Sonny Kompanek and recorded on Canadian Brass Takes Flight. It is an enjoyable piece written in the tango style, I have provided a link to their performance of it for SiriusXM Satellite Radio.
The next ensemble I would like to present in the ensembles series is the Venezuelan Brass Ensemble. On my first post in this blog I gave a link to one of their performances, but now I would like to go more in depth.
The Venezuelan Brass Ensemble was founded in 2004 as part of El Sistema. The group is composed of the best of El Sistema’s brass players, many of which are taken from the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra. Most of the performers in the group are educators in Venezuela’s El Sistema. Although it is often led by many famous guest conductors, it is currently under the direction of Thomas Clamor.
In the ABEL class today Jonathan Payne presented on various ensembles, one of which was Kerry Turner’s “Farewell to the Red Castle.” A wonderful piece being played expertly by the Berlin Philharmonic Horn Ensemble as seen below.
While listening to this I contemplated the timbre of the horn in various registers and pondered over how well it matches with the trombone. Due to these thoughts I decided to investigate literature written for trombone and horn. While doing this I stumbled upon a significantly under performed and virtuosic piece written for horn and alto trombone by Michael Haydn (Franz Joseph’s brother). This piece was known about for some time but scholars assumed that it was a mistake that it was written for trombone and was assumed for two horns. At this time scholars had little research about the infamous Thomas Gshlandt, a famous trombone virtuoso of the Salzburg court in the mid to late 1700s.
Now the piece has recently began seeing performances again on horn and alto trombone.
In a similar fashion to the series on musical styles I wanted to give a series dedicated to brass chamber groups as well. The first ensemble in this list is the Spanish Brass (Also known as Spanish Brass Luur Metalls. The Spanish Brass is a quintet based out of Valencia, Spain that were founded in 1989. The members of the ensemble are Carlos Beneto on trumpet, Juanjo Serna on trumpet, Manolo Perez on horn, Indalecio Bonet on trombone, and Sergio Finca on Tuba. They are all currently in the faculty and teaching at the Berklee College of Music in Valencia.
They have released 20 separate albums, and play in a multitude of styles. As a quintet they have founded three international festivals: the Spanish Brass Alzira Festival, Brassurround, and Brass & Wines.
The following is a link to their “Best Of” album on Spotify.
For the second part in the series of Latin music styles I would like to explore the use of the Bossa Nova in brass ensembles. The bossa nova originated from Brazil in the 1950s and 60s and translates to “new trend” and is a fusion of jazz and samba.
The bossa nova is a dance style that is typically in 4/4 or 2/4. The basic rhythm found in a bossa nova in 4/4 is a quarter note, eighth rest, eighth note, quarter rest, quarter note in the first measure, and quarter rest, quarter note, eighth rest, eighth note tied to a quarter note rhythm. Many bossa novas are strongly influenced by blues and in a 12 bar form.
We see some brass chamber ensembles utilizing this. There are many examples of it in the trombone quartet literature, this is due to the fair amount of jazz trombone quartets that are actively performing.
Here is the Jon Welch Bone Zone quartet performing the piece Sanibel Sojourn.
The following are the performances I presented for my second in class presentation.
Street Song by Michael Tilson Thomas as performed by the Center City Brass Quintet
Concerto in C for 7 Trumpets by Johann Ernst Altenburg as performed by the Philharmonia Virtuosi
Pandragon by Yong-Won Sung as performed by the Stockholm Chamber Brass
Romanian Folk Dances by Bela Bartok arranged by Graham Ashton as performed by the New York Brass Arts Trio
Who Cares by George Gershwin as performed by Sonny Rollins and the Big Brass
Buleria as performed by Trombamania
Suite for Bass by Johann Sebastian Bach as performed by the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble
Often an issue found when discussing music is the tendency to lump a wide variety of genres into one category. This is seen when talking about someone refers to “classical” when they are referring to composers ranging from Bach to Brahms, or “rock” and ranging from The Beatles to AC/DC. This too is done when we refer to Latin music. In an effort to narrow the scope some more I will have a series of genre posts covering specific styles.
The first style that will be discussed is the Tango, an extremely commonly used style in today’s repertoire. The tango is a style that is in 2/4 or 4/4 time that is built around a dotted quarter, dotted quarter, quarter rhythm (in 4/4 time) or variations within that framework.
Originating from Cuba and Spain, today’s tango variants were developed from Argentinian and Uruguayan performances. Tangos were originally performed on guitars, violins, pianos, flutes, double bass or bandoneon. This style was originally associated with the lower class and is often linked to machismo.
Today it is common to see tango styles utilized in both popular and art music. An example of it being used in the brass literature is the Canadian Brass performing Astor Piazzolla’s famous “Libertango” where we can hear a constant drive of the dotted quarter, dotted quarter, quarter framework.
As you may have seen on my previous blog post about my in class presentation, one of the groups I presented for listening was the Boston Brass. They are a brass quintet that was founded 29 years ago. At this time they have gone through a few different performers, the members are currently: Jose Sibaja on trumpet, Jeff Conner (an original member) on trumpet, Chris Castellanos on horn, Domingo Pagliuca on trombone, and Sam Pilafian on tuba. They frequently perform music in a latin style, often stemming from the jazz tradition. In 2008 they released an album called Latin Nights, featuring all latin pieces.
A while back I gave a presentation in class that included a variety of mixed brass ensembles and their music. Here is a full list of the music that was in my presentation.
Olympia by Daniel Schnyder as performed by Trombone Unit Hannover
Symphoniae Sacrae II, 1615: Magnificat by Giovanni Gabrieli as performed by The London Cornett and Sackbut Ensemble
Tico Tico No Fuba by Zequinha de Abreu as performed by the Venezuelan Brass Ensemble
Ritual Fire Dance by Manuel de Falla as performed by Boston Brass
“March to the Scaffold” from Symphonie Fantastique by Hector Berlioz as performed by Locke Brass Consort
Boléro by Maurice Ravel as performed by London Brass