Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Trombone Dixie (by special guest Honorio Barranco)

(on the photo : Rico Rodríguez)

Hello everyone. I’m Honorio Barranco and it’s an absolute honour for me receiving a River’s Invitation from Nicolas (I mean being invited to participate in his excellent blog). I consider Nicolas a very good friend of mine, although we never met face to face (but we can solve this for sure too). I respect a lot his opinions and his approach to music, always fresh and based on the feelings that music can produce and not in the “objective” values. Only a pearl from Nicolas taken from a debate on the Acclaimed Music forum (in which we both participate):

“What I value in music is personal expression (that's why I love blues and folk) and how it reaches your inner being, something that is far beyond the range of words and reason.” Well said, Nic.

I was doing some re-listening of The Specials, Tom Waits and Rubén Blades for the forum and I realized how much I love the sound of the trombone. Usually viewed as the poor companion of trumpet and sax, the ones that always gets all the attention, it has however a distinctive sound capable of sounding playful but sometimes sad (even funerary), humble but sometimes epic (even military), clumsy but sometimes warm (even sensual). Rummaging among my record collection I’ve found some jewels.

1. The Specials - Ghost Town (buy)(1981)

Rico Rodríguez (photo), of course. The only musician that participated actively in both original Jamaican ska and second wave British Two-Tone ska. This is the original 12” release including the excellent Rodríguez trombone solo at the end of the song.

2. Rubén Blades & Willie Colón - Ojos (buy)(1978)

Singer-songwriter Rubén Blades and fabulous trombone player Willie Colón recorded in 1978 “Siembra”, probably the best salsa album ever. Rubén put the songs but Willie put the thunderous brass arrangements with four trombone players playing simultaneously. If you want to see/listen a Colón trombone solo you might see “Juan Pachanga”.

3. Tom Waits - In the Neighborhood (buy)(1983)

The reverse of the rollicking music of Blades is that funeral march from Tom Waits’ masterpiece “Swordfishtrombones” (an appropriate album title, isn’t it?) and its ragged parade backed by bells, parade drum and… three trombones.

4. Goran Bregovic - Mesecina (buy)(1995)

Goran Bregovic formed his Wedding and Funeral band with gipsy musicians that played brass as loud as a buffalo stampede. And, although the solo parts were played by sax and trumpets (again), the tireless rhythm was supported by three trombones and a tuba. This song was part of the soundtrack for Emir Kusturica film Underground.

5. Chicago - You Are on My Mind (1976)

Jimmy Pankow was/is the trombone player of Chicago and occasional singer and songwriter too. Here we can see him singing his own (awesome) composition “You Are on My Mind” included in multiplatinum “Chicago X”. Sadly in this live version the original trombone solo has been substituted for a trumpet solo. You should check the studio version.

6. Jimmy Cleveland - Posterity (1958)

Jazz, of course. I admit that I’m cheating here, this is not on my record collection, I simply found it on youtube. But I had to post it, just listen to it and you will understand.

7. Serguey Prokovoev - Romeo and Juliet: Montagues and Capulets” (1936)

And classical, of course. My favourite classical piece ever here in a superb version for piano and trombone played by histrionic trombone virtuoso Christian Lindberg.

8. Sisa - Maniquí (1975)

The eccentric Catalonian singer-songwriter Jaume Sisa created a very own music style called by himself “galactic cabaret”. This love song to a mannequin exemplifies it perfectly with simultaneous solos of clarinet, sax, trumpet and trombone in the ragtime tradition.

9. Extremoduro - So payaso (1996)

Hard-rock with trombones? Why not? The Spanish band Extremoduro did it. And quite brilliantly.

10. The Beach Boys - Trombone Dixie (buy) (1990)

And, last but not least, a throw-away from the sessions of the acclaimed “Pet Sounds”, not officially released until 1990 (it was recorded in November of 1965). A refreshing way of ending this (incomplete and very personal) trombone Top 10.

Sorry, sorry, I need to post a bonus track. This is probably the best trombone solo ever, played during a Dizzy Gillespie birthday celebration by jazz virtuoso Slide Hampton

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