Fanfare For Brooklyn (A Brass Fest is Born)

The late trumpeter Lester Bowie will be honored at the first annual Brooklyn Brass Festival. Photo by Robert Serra

I played trumpet in junior high band, in Brooklyn. My father-in-law is a professional trumpeter. When I’m in New Orleans, I hang out with trombonists and tuba players.

Brass players are their own breed, with calloused lips and unusual ideas about harmony and volume.

Earl McIntyre was born in Brooklyn. His career as a trombonist, composer an arranger includes work with a long list of famous names that spans genres and generations: Charles Mingus, Miles Davis, Stevie Wonder, Elvis Costello, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, among others, and the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra, with which he was associated for more than 20 years.
He’s gathered some of his best brass-wielding friends in his (and my) home borough for his first annual “Brooklyn Brass Festival,March 7-9 at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music and Long Island University’s Kumble Theater (for a schedule, scroll down or go here). It includes a tribute to one of McIntyre’s closest collaborators, the late trumpeter Lester Bowie, featuring the brilliant trumpeter Tom Harrell and including Bowie’s rarely (as in inly once before) performed piece, “Beyond The Gray Haze.”
For anyone who plays, teaches or studies brass instruments (like McIntyre, most of these musicians are distinguished educators) or anyone in Brooklyn who just likes the sound of them, this festival should offer many and rare joys (such as 11 trombones in one band). The website says that students attend free.
We discussed the event via email:
How and why did you create the Brooklyn Brass Festival?
I created it to increase the brass presence in the New York City area. Years ago, we had many stores and vendors dedicated to selling brass and band instruments in New York. Now, we have very few. New York City students receive a limited amount of exposure to band instruments. We had brass conferences and other events where professionals met and shared ideas. Up and coming artists met masters of their craft.
We no longer have that for various reasons, including the cost of real estate, hotel prices, and changes in educational priorities. Brooklyn, as a borough, and both the Brooklyn Conservatory and Long Island University as sponsors strike me as components of what could be a positive situation. We hope to make this an annual event.
Do you think the festival communicates anything about the identity of brass players, and about Brooklyn’s scene?
I think it communicates Brooklyn’s “cutting edge” status within the arts community. Things that aren’t possible in other areas of New York for various reasons are occurring here. As for brass players, I think many of us miss the camaraderie that our community had years ago. Things are a bit far-flung, making it harder for us to exchange ideas, and certain performance practices are much easier to exchange live instead of online.
What do you think audiences will get out of this that they don’t normally get from the New York scene?
Students will learn how to improve their abilities and develop a greater understanding of the various cultures that use brass instruments to perform their music. General audiences will see great brass players in a higher concentration than in other situations. Also, we’re presenting the New York premiere of Lester Bowie’s “Beyond The Gray Haze.” This work has only been performed once—in Chicago, 15 years ago—and never in a brass/percussion configuration with trumpet master Tom Harrell, and an all-star version of [Bowie’s former band] Brass Fantasy. We’ve got the incredible [trombonist] Steve Turre! A David Taylor-Slide Ride event featuring 11 trombones!
What were your experiences with Lester Bowie like?
I met and began to work with Lester Bowie through the “Musicians of Brooklyn Initiative”. This was an organization Lester, [alto saxophonist] Oliver Lake and [pianist] Cecil Taylor started in order to increase music performance situations in Brooklyn. I later went on to write quite a bit for Brass Fantasy and for special projects involving the Art Ensemble of Chicago [of which Bowie was a founding member] and other bands.
Lester and I had similar backgrounds. Family bands, brass bands, the Salvation Army band. We also both had a wide musical concept, and a love for musical humor.
Lester never told me what to write. I do remember him telling me this, when he had me do an arrangement of “My Way”: “All the things you always wanted to do to the tune that no would let you do—Do that for me.”
Brooklyn Conservatory of Music presents the
First Annual Brooklyn Brass Festival
in Association with the
Long Island University Brooklyn Campus
March 7-9, 2014
Event locations
BCM Concert hall
LIU Brooklyn Campus
LIU Kumble Theater LIU Kumble Theater
Friday March 7th
Steve Turre Quintet & 7:30 & 9pm BCM Concert Hall
Saturday, March 8 Long Island University Brooklyn Campus
10:00 am-6:00 pm Exhibits

10:00 am-1:00 pm Spotlight Performance with High School/College Band & critique
Bob Stewart, Conrad Herwig, Wayne Escoffery, Jerome Harris

Lunch Break 1-2pm (vendors remain operational)

2:00-3:20 “Classical, Jazz & Beyond” Workshop for Euphonium & Tuba with Dave Bargeron
2:00-3:20 pm Art of French horn Improvisation” Workshop with Jeff Scott
2:00-3:20 Jimmy Owens Wilmer Wise Trumpet discussion.

3:40- 5:00 pm Trombone Workshop (Conrad Herwig)
3:40- 5:00 Rhythm master class (Jerome Harris)
3:40-5:00 Wayne Escoffrey saxophone master class

5:00-6:00 Exhibits continue
6:00-7:00) Break

7:00-9:00pm
Brass Fantasy
Tribute Concert to Lester Bowie with Brass Fantasy/Carnival with guest artist
Tom Harrell
“Lester Bowie Day Award” to Deborah Bowie
(Lester Bowie’s wife)
Sunday March 9th
BCM 3pm
Dave Taylor Solo set
Slide Ride
Round table Discussion on Contemporary trombone
(where is it going and why?)
I played trumpet in junior high band, in Brooklyn. My father-in-law is a professional trumpeter. When I’m in New Orleans, I usually hang out with trombonists and tuba players.
Brass players are their own breed, with calloused lips and, often, unusual ideas about harmony and volume.
Earl McIntyre, who was born in Brooklyn. His career as a trombonist, composer an arranger includes work with a long list of famous names that spans genres and generations: Charles Mingus, Miles Davis, Stevie Wonder, Elvis Costello, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, among others, and the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra, with which he was associated for more than 20 years.
He’s gathered some of his best brass-wielding friends, including trombonists Steve Turre, Dave Taylor and Conrad Herwig, and trumpeter Tom Harrell, for his fist annual “Brooklyn Brass Festival” (for a schedule, scroll down or go here). It includes a special tribute to one of McIntyre’s closest collaborators, the late trumpeter Lester Bowie, and includes Bowie’s rarely (as in inly once before) performed piece, “Beyond The Gray Haze.”
For anyone who plays, teaches or studies brass instruments (like McIntyre, most of these musicians are distinguished educators) or anyone in Brooklyn who just likes the sound of it should offer many and rare joys.
We discussed the event via email:
How and why did you create the Brooklyn Brass Festival?
I created it to increase the brass presence in the New York City area. Years ago, we had many stores and vendors dedicated to selling brass and band instruments in New York. Now, we have very few. New York City students receive a limited amount of exposure to band instruments. We had brass conferences and other events where professionals met and shared ideas. Up and coming artists met masters of their craft.
We no longer have that for various reasons, including the cost of real estate, hotel prices, and changes in educational priorities. Brooklyn, as a borough, and both the Brooklyn Conservatory and Long Island University as sponsors strike me as components of what could be a positive situation. We hope to make this an annual event.
Do you think the festival communicates anything about the identity of brass players, and about Brooklyn’s scene?
I think it communicates Brooklyn’s “cutting edge” status within the arts community. Things that aren’t possible in other areas of New York for various reasons are occurring here. As for brass players, I think many of us miss the camaraderie that our community had years ago. Things are a bit far-flung, making it harder for us to exchange ideas, and certain performance practices are much easier to exchange live instead of online.
What do you think audiences will get out of this that they don’t normally get from the New York scene?
Students will learn how to improve their abilities and develop a greater understanding of the various cultures that use brass instruments to perform their music. General audiences will see great brass players in a higher concentration than in other situations. Also, we’re presenting the New York premiere of Lester Bowie’s “Beyond The Gray Haze.” This work has only been performed once—in Chicago, 15 years ago—and never in a brass/percussion configuration with trumpet master Tom Harrell, and an all-star version of [Bowie’s former band] Brass Fantasy. We’ve got the incredible [trombonist] Steve Turre! A David Taylor-Slide Ride event featuring 11 trombones!
What were your experiences with Lester Bowie like?
I met and began to work with Lester Bowie through the “Musicians of Brooklyn Initiative”. This was an organization Lester, [alto saxophonist] Oliver Lake and [pianist] Cecil Taylor started in order to increase music performance situations in Brooklyn. I later went on to write quite a bit for Brass Fantasy and for special projects involving the Art Ensemble of Chicago [of which Bowie was a founding member] and other bands.
Lester and I had similar backgrounds. Family bands, brass bands, the Salvation Army band. We also both had a wide musical concept, and a love for musical humor.
Lester never told me what to write. I do remember him telling me this, when he had me do an arrangement of “My Way”: “All the things you always wanted to do to the tune that no would let you do—Do that for me.”
Brooklyn Conservatory of Music presents
First Annual Brooklyn Brass Festival in Association with the
Long Island University Brooklyn Campus
March 7-9, 2014
Event locations
BCM Concert hall
LIU Brooklyn Campus
LIU Kumble Theater LIU Kumble Theater
Friday March 7th
Steve Turre Quintet & 7:30 & 9pm BCM Concert Hall
Saturday, March 8 Long Island University Brooklyn Campus
10:00 am-6:00 pm Exhibits

10:00 am-1:00 pm Spotlight Performance with High School/College Band & critique
Bob Stewart, Conrad Herwig, Wayne Escoffery, Jerome Harris

Lunch Break 1-2pm (vendors remain operational)

2:00-3:20 “Classical, Jazz & Beyond” Workshop for Euphonium & Tuba with Dave Bargeron
2:00-3:20 pm Art of French horn Improvisation” Workshop with Jeff Scott
2:00-3:20 Jimmy Owens Wilmer Wise Trumpet discussion.

3:40- 5:00 pm Trombone Workshop (Conrad Herwig)
3:40- 5:00 Rhythm master class (Jerome Harris)
3:40-5:00 Wayne Escoffrey saxophone master class

5:00-6:00 Exhibits continue
6:00-7:00) Break

7:00-9:00pm
Brass Fantasy
Tribute Concert to Lester Bowie with Brass Fantasy/Carnival with guest artist
Tom Harrell
“Lester Bowie Day Award” to Deborah Bowie
(Lester Bowie’s wife)
Sunday March 9th
BCM 3pm
Dave Taylor Solo set
Slide Ride
Round table Discussion on Contemporary trombone
(where is it going and why?)

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