I love creative settings of well known tunes. It doesn’t get too much more creative than this arrangement of Paul Desmond’s Take Five. It is not only a great setting of the tune by Alexandre Silvério but all four members of the Osesp Bassoon Quartet (Francisco Formiga , José Arion Linarez, Romeu Rabello, and Silvério) are fantastic.
Somewhere, Dave Brubeck is smiling over this arrangement of Take Five for Bassoon Quartet.
To be honest, I would be okay with never hearing another version of the Carnival of Venice. But as soon as I say that, I come across a truly effortless and musical rendition like this one, and I’m happy to hear it all over again.
French trumpet soloist David Guerrier is one of those players who is so technically accomplished that all that’s left to worry about is the storytelling. This fantastic rendition of the Carnival of Venice is done on an antique coronet. And if you really want to get mad, he also plays the horn. What a talent! May we all aspire to have our playing sound as effortless as that of David Guerrier.
Here are five steps to mastering any piece of music. If done correctly, it will work every single time.
- Record yourself.
- Listen to it.
- Analyze it.
- Change something.
How do you know when the tomato sauce you’re making from scratch has the right amount of salt? You taste it. If it needs more you do two things: add a little salt and then taste it again. Too often as musicians we record something, hear something that needs changing, change it, and then we’re done with it.
Always taste the musical sauce before it is served.
With painters here at the house, if you need the score to Rite of Spring, it is in the shower.
© 2014 Andrew Hitz
This is a spectacular example of someone starting with a creative idea and through technology and the internet, sharing it with the world. Trombone player Christopher Bill put together this brilliant version of ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams using nothing but his trombone and his body for some percussion.
In a little over a month this video already has over 400,000 views and there’s a reason for that: It’s unique and it’s cool as hell. This thing made my day.
If I could play the piano like Oscar Peterson, I would never get off the piano bench. His ability to solo both vertically and horizontally in such a fluid manner was truly stunning. I love listening to him periodically sing along with himself in this clip.
Ray Brown has always been one of my heroes, someone whose playing I try to emulate when playing bass lines on the tuba. You then throw in the sweeping phrasing of Ed Thigpen on the drums and you’ve got one hell of a band.
This version of C Jam Blues was recorded live in Denmark in 1964. Oh to have been in the crowd on this occasion. It makes me happy to see that this video has over one million views.
“Be able to play a love song with and without vibrato.”
-Arnold Jacobs (via @JacobsQuotes)
Vibrato is one of the best tools we have at our disposal as musical storytellers, but it can frequently be either overused or predictable. As Mr. Jacobs stated above, it is very important to be able to play something like a love song without any vibrato at all.
A great exercise is to record a love song or melody with the vibrato, then without. If you have the ability to make the second version just as convincing as the first, you will have gone a long way towards conveying a clear story to your audience once you add it back into the equation.
Be sure to use vibrato as an enhancement, not as a music crutch.
(A fantastic performance a year ago by Harry Watters inspired me to write this blog post with lots of thoughts on vibrato.)
Izabella guarding the souse and tuba.
© 2014 Andrew Hitz
Here is the Vienna Philharmonic under the direction of Valery Gergiev performing Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade” live at the Salzburg Festival in 2005.
“The man who grasps an opportunity as it is paraded before him, nine times out of ten makes a success; but the man who makes his own opportunities is, barring an accident, a sure-fire success!”
These words were uttered many decades ago and had nothing to do with the music business but could not be more true today. Most music schools are churning out graduates without teaching them how to make their own opportunities in the music business. And if you take a look around, the vast majority of people “making it” in the music business these days are the ones that are doing just that.
What have you done today in an attempt to create an opportunity for yourself?
An aerial shot of my alma mater, Northwestern University, where fortunately I was taught how to make my own opportunities.
© 2013 Andrew Hitz
This is a live performance of Carl Nielsen’s Wind Quintet, Opus 43, played by the Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet. This was performed on October 5, 2012 at the Samobor Music Festival in Croatia.
Michael Hasel, Flute
Andreas Wittmann, Oboe
Walter Seyfarth, Clarinet
Fergus McWilliam, Horn
Marion Reinhard, Bassoon
The Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet is everything I look for in a chamber ensemble. Each member is playing every note like a soloist and yet the most important line or lines are always stepping to the foreground.
I instantly fell in love with the music of Carl Nielsen when I performed his Fifth Symphony at Tanglewood as a high school student. He was a brilliant composer and his Wind Quintet is simply fantastic.
Last week the world lost one of the greatest musicians of all time, Paco de Lucia. This performance of Joaquin Rodrigo’s “Concierto de Aranjuez” for guitar and orchestra, will leave you speechless. If there is a musician who phrases with more relentless passion than Paco de Lucia did, I am not familiar with them.
The second movement of this live performance is spellbinding. When commenting on this melody, Miles Davis once said “That melody is so strong that the softer you play it, the stronger it gets, and the stronger you play it, the weaker it gets.” I’ve never heard it played better than Paco does here.
We lost a truly great one last week. RIP, Paco.