Wait, what? Is this actually a NSFW post? Hold on. Let me explain…

While the bulk of my day to day music life revolves around the bits and bytes of synthetic sound, my musical background is actually much more traditional. I began by singing (poorly) in school and church choirs as a young kid. I also have a number of relatives who play various instruments, ranging from the traditional like the guitar or clarinet, to the more obscure like the organ or the accordion. The relative with the most impact to my future musical endeavors was my cousin Jeff who is two years older than me. While I was in 2nd or 3rd grade I found out he started playing the saxophone. This was the very early 80’s and saxophones were really cool then, so of course I raised my hand as wanting to be a sax player too!

Clarence Clemmons and The Boss

Bruce may have been “The Boss”, but Clarence Clemmons was THE MAN!

That opportunity presented itself in the 4th grade when my school created a band for its students. Man, was I excited, I’d finally get to start playing the sax. There was one problem though, so did everyone else. By the time it was my turn to ‘try out’ and find a good musical fit there were already more than enough saxophone players. I was dejected but still wanted to play something. I was tall for my age and had long arms, so the instructor recommended that I try out the trombone. While the trombone is no tuba when it comes to size, it is an unwieldy instrument, especially for a fourth grader. All of the weight hangs out in front of you, and instead of easy to use keys, it has this wonderful two and half foot long slide thing that doesn’t allow you to easily find an actual note. But on the flip-side, as a fourth grader with no skill yet, I could make it create these wonderfully loud and BLATTY sounds. No, at the beginning you couldn’t classify it as sound. It was just noise. But it was wonderful, glorious noise that I made using this big unwieldy tube of shiny brass.

trombone cartoon

As the years passed I kept playing the trombone, and actually became rather good at it. By junior high I could read music like it was a second language. I was even writing basic tunes using my Commodore 64. Junior high is also the time when hormones are running rampant in the students, so one started learning about double entendres. Most instruments have a statement regarding the basics of playing it that can also be taken as a sexual statement. Finding proper pitches on a trombone means moving the slide in or out, and there are seven primary slide “positions” where one will find the majority of pitches. This leads to the wonderful double entendre of “trombonists know all of the positions”. I guess you could say we’re the Kama Sutra of the musical instrument world. Ha!

High school is where I really came into my own as a musician and I started to discover my musical voice and direction. I added playing the bass trombone and baritone (an instrument akin to a small tuba) to my repertoire. I jumped at any opportunity to play both in both symphonic and jazz ensembles. More importantly though is that I started writing original music and arranging existing music in earnest. During my junior year my good friend Chris and I even re-arranged a good chunk of our marching band field show music. It was based on music from the Star Wars movies, and with both of us being huge Star Wars fans we decided that our band’s arrangement wasn’t accurate enough. Never underestimate a band geek who is also Star Wars nerd.

Then life moved on. I played a bit in college, but realities of life caused me to change course professionally, and music was relegated to being a passionate hobby. The trombone stayed in its case for the better part of the 90’s, but the love of writing and arranging never stopped.

In 2000 I started guest playing again with a local church, and that led to me joining a couple of community bands which I’ve played with since. This has kept the fire of writing and arranging more symphonic or cinematic pieces alive and well. As such I actively try to meld the electronic and the symphonic whenever I can.

A demo I recently finished in early 2014, ‘The Divination of Andraste’ is a great example of this melding of styles. It hasn’t been officially released, but as a thank you for being a listener and subscriber I’d like give it to you for free.

Download ‘The Divination of Andraste’ here.
The Divination of Andraste cover art

If you like what you hear, you might also be interested in a couple of the tracks from my 2011 remix album “Robot Junkyard – Derivative”. The opening track, ‘Last March of the Robot Junkyard” is a dark electro-cinematic piece. The 10th track ‘La version per pianoforte di connessione ciclica’ is a classical piano solo piece. You can hear these tracks along with the rest of the album here.

Thanks for listening.
Cheers!
Jim