Boston Brass Series BB-1006CD



From the toe-tapping rhythm of Tommy Dorsey's Trombonology to the grand landscape of Eric Ewazen's Sonata, this 74 minute presentation of six American works shows a broad cross section of American sound from the 20th century. Accompanied by piano, trombone quartet, and wind ensemble the solo trombone shows a musical palate as diverse as American culture and geography.


Concertino (1984): Frank Ticheli (b.1958)

Conversations Opus 42C (1977): John LaMontaine (b.1920)

Fantasy Opus 42 (1947): Paul Creston (1906-1985)

Aria and Dance (1970): Thom Ritter George (b.1942)

Sonata for Trombone and Piano (1993): Eric Ewazen (b. 1954)

Trombonology (1946): Tommy Dorsey (1905-1956)


International Trombone Association Journal Vol. 31, No. 4, October 2003

AMERICAN SHOWCASE is a composite of recording sessions by Ron Barron. In 1996 he recorded the LaMontaine, in 2000 the Ticheli, and in January 2001 the other works on the album. Barron did his own very fine production of the album. Throughout the recording his musicianship, technical control and tone sound effortless in their execution.

The three movements of Ticheli's Concertino are played without pause. The nearly four-octave range is performed flawlessly by Barron, as are the angular leaps and intervals. His soft muted passages in the second movement, with every note perfectly centered, are barely audible above the band accompaniment. The Harvard Band, under Tom Everett, does a fine accompaniment to a very technical tour-de-force for trombone.

Conversations is an interaction between piano and the solo instrument throughout its four movements. Originally written for clarinet, it has been arranged for flute, violin, marimba, viola and trombone. It is a complex work based in all the movements on a 12-tone row. The composer believes that the source of meaningful music is in "human feelings, impressions, aspirations, relaxations, actions, reaction, etc." The four movements (Encounter, Dispute, Affections and Word Games) all portray emotions of two people in dialogue with one another. Both performers have equally difficult parts in this very demanding composition. It is a work that should be heard more often.

Creston's Fantasy is one of the best and still one of the most demanding works in trombone literature. The piano reduction takes a virtuoso pianist, and Fredrik Wanger is certainly that. Both artists make the work sound easy. Barron's ease of sound in the high tessitura section in the second movement is excellent, and his last high F-sharp instead of a high B as is written, is a fitting ending to this challenging composition.

Thom Ritter George's Aria and Dance is one of the staples of the trombone ensemble literature. It is written for solo trombone and four accompanying trombones. This Boston Symphony section recording is excellent. The somber opening is beautifully in tune, with the fast, mixed meter dance performed flawlessly.

Written in 1993, Eric Ewazen's Sonata has become a very popular and often performed addition to trombone literature. Composed in three movements, Allegro Maestoso, Adagio, and Allegro Giacoso, it has a very listener-friendly appeal. It has some rather technical sections for both musicians, but the slow, melancholy Adagio is this writer's favorite movement. The control of the entire trombone range is musically expressive and beautifully performed by Barron, as is the piano performance of Wanger.

Dorsey's Trombonology is a cute little bit of fluff with which to end. It is played a little too heavy in style, but all the notes are there.

This album does exactly what the title suggests. It truly showcases some of the most often performed compositions with some of the lesser-performed ones. It is a good addition to anyone's trombone library.

Larry B. Campbell, Louisiana State University

The Trombonist (British Trombone Society) Spring 2002

American Showcase, Ronald Barron, trombone, Fredrik Wanger, piano, Harvard University Wind Ensemble, Thomas Everett, Conductor

January 2001 was a busy time for Ron Barron. Not only did he record the French album reviewed above but also nearly all the tracks of American Showcase.

The world at large knows more about American trombone players through the likes of Tommy Dorsey than, for instance, French exponents. In this recording we are spared the almost obligatory Arthur Pryor banality of other recordings (Barron did a sizable amount in his Cousins recording with Gerry Schwartz) for Dorsey's Trombonology. Written on board Tommy's boat while enjoying his third honeymoon, this doodley little number gives Ron a chance to let what's left of his hair down, and makes a light relief to much of the heavy stuff which precedes. The opening Concertino by Frank Ticheli is no exception, being a hefty number for trombone and wind ensemble that shows off the soloist's virtuosity to great advantage. This angular, non serial, non tonal music includes a brief and lyrical slow interlude of 'night music' whose effective use of tuned percussion is interrupted by a wild dance. (I would like to ask Ron where he found a mute that works so well in the bottom register.)

Equally or more demanding is the Creston Fantasy. This 15-minute work received its British premiere with the Halle Orchestra and its famous girl trombonist, Maisie Ringham, not long after its first performance in Los Angeles (1948). One can only marvel at the stamina, range and technique of both Ron and Maisie in performing this challenging work.

The remaining two solo works by John LaMontaine and Eric Ewazen are worthy of note. The Ewazen Sonata is rapidly becoming popular with players of average ability for its accessibility, although at close to 20 minutes it seems to outstay its welcome a bit. LaMontaine's Conversations is another rather lengthy 4-movement work. It is rather austere in character owing to the piano part being almost totally devoid of any chords. The first movement, Encounters, is a hauntingly slow, growing counterpoint between the two voices over a repeated piano Eb. The second, Dispute, is an effective play on single repeated notes developing into a more complex toccata-like movement. Affections (3) is a simple but effective cantilena set against a background of spread piano octaves recalling elements of the opening movement. The aptly named Word Games (4) is a highly rhythmic 5/8, 7/8 interplay between the soloists that again refers back to the haunting opening movement. A worthwhile piece, if slightly too long for the level of material.

Throughout the disc Ron Barron plays with an enviable consistency of sound and intonation and with a great sense of flair. The recorded sound presents trombone and piano in a believable balance in a warm but precise acoustic. Dudley Bright