Canadian Musician - May/June 2017 - Page 30

BRASS Trombonist Audrey Ochoa is a rising star on the Canadian jazz scene. After having completed studies in classical trombone at the University of Alberta, Audrey began performing professionally across Canada and abroad as a member of multiple ensembles. Audrey has found a home in jazz, composing her own tunes that often have a Latin feel and definitely convey her sense of humour. She has just released her sophomore album, Afterthought, on Chronograph Records. By Audrey Ochoa I The Highs & Lows of Jazz Trombone   leaving the low brass to puff along on some boring mid-range ostinato. We rarely get the melody. In high school or college big band, one out of every 10 ar- rangements might be called a “trombone feature.” The educational repertoire does not demand the same technical skills of a trombonist that they do for woodwinds and trumpets, and yet when we arrive on stage at a jam or gig, we are asked to perform using the same bebop language. This is a huge leap to make for many students and young players. Bebop language, while totally attainable, seems like an impossible ideal for a begin- ner brass improviser, so I recommend that for younger players, you actually encourage them to embrace and explore some other characteristic sounds of their instruments. Whenever the stress of a high tempo tune would set in, I had a few improvisational tools I would use to compensate: plungers, flutter tonguing, double or triple tonguing… I re- duced these skills to party tricks that I used to hide the fact my single tongue would never be as fast as I wanted it to be; however, I’ve come to realize that these skills aren’t party tricks. They’re actually examples of under- used brass improvisational language, as are multi-phonics, pedal tones, trilling, and high range whistling. Beginner Brass Improv Consider that when brass players begin in school concert band, low brass parts are of- ten rhythmically simple compared to wood- wind parts. For example, imagine that you are being forced to sit through a high school concert band playing an arrangement of Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face.” Never mind the fact it’s always odd to listen to a concert band play a pop tune; it’s common arranging practice to give the melody to the upper woodwinds, Suggested Listening The first brass recording that changed my perspective on tone and brass language was Nat Adderly on “74 Miles Away.” Nat mimics the Arabic vocalizations of an Umm Kulthum or Cheb Mami by lip slurring and half valv- ing. Nat ended his solo with some outra- geous out-of-tune pedal tones and finally by singing through his horn, because why not? Ku’umba Frank Lacy’s solo on “Gunsling- can still remember a local jazz jam when four trombonists ended up on stage at the same time, and the crowd began shouting, “Lower! Slower!” That scene basically sums up the trombonist’s unfortu- nate inferiority complex – constantly trying to prove that we can keep up tempos and that our slide doesn’t keep us from playing seamless lines. Being a jazz trombonist is novel. Com- pared to our saxophone-wielding and trum- pet-touting counterparts, trombonists aren’t often credited as innovators, style setters, or language developers. While the history of jazz trombone is rich, our portrayal in academia and casual conversation is not well honoured in the jazz canon. Much of the trombonist’s worth is linked to how well they can keep up with the facility of a saxophone or the piano or the range and ferocity of the trumpet. I played for years in school before a teach- er gave me a list of trombonists ]H[[ܚXKH][YX[Hۘ\]B[^XYܙH\H\[[HH]BXۚ\؜\KXۙH\[\B\X\]Z]\\\[[Y[ˈ\B\[ H\[[[^H^Z[Y\[ B\X[\^ۚ\]˰H[XY[H\š\H[[ۈ^\Y[K8(HHHHHHHHH[\8'H[ZHH[HZ[ٙ]\B[KOX]\HوH\ \ Y\\x&Y]\X\XܙY]]\ݙ\ܝ\\ˈ[]HXۙH[]\]HXYH][ [YZHۛH B[[[H[[ZHH ܋][]\[X]H]X\]8&\8'HX\\]x'BX]\\[YY[ܛ[[\[ˈY8&\[Y\H\Yۂ[\]\[[ܜܘ]H[\[X›X\\]YHH\[ۚX\Y\[ٝ[X\\Z[Y\[ˈ\]B\[ۘ[H[ZHH[HX][[“X^XK]]8&\[XYH]\[Bۈ[H]\[[X\[\[ܙH] BX]YX[܈^ۙ\˂^H[\ۈ\ۙHو^H]\]BXۚ\ˈH\Xܙ[و\B]\X\\8'HZޙK'HۛB\HXY[\\[H[HقHܛ[H^H[Hۙ]]\ܚ][HHXۙH^Y\]\[ܚ][[\[H[\][ۋY\[ܚX[H[KHX[^Y]XۙKX[Xܚ][[YZK^H[\ۈ\[BX\\وۙHX[\[][ۈ]H[\[HYۘ\[\^KB[][\]H\[[Y[و8'\XK8'H]\X\HY[YH][]KBX[YY][\[]HۙH[\H[YH\܈[[Y[ \XYXš[\ݚ\][ۈ[XYH[^[XYB[\]\H][YHH^Bۚ\ZY[]H[\˜[XH\KH[\YH\^Y\™^][[Y[]XZH\[\]YB[\H[H]\]X[\X\B\HH[XYHو\[[Y[