We are all aware (and no doubt proud) that Ian Bousfield’s roots are within the brass band movement. His early musical education encompassed brass bands such as Yorkshire Imperial Metals before he started his orchestral career as Principal Trombone with the Halle Orchestra but soon travelled south to join the London Symphony Orchestra.
Joseph Alessi has been Principal Trombone with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra since 1985. Prior to joining the New York Philharmonic he played with the Philadelphia Orchestra for four seasons and studied at the famous Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. As with a number of top American trombone players Alessi has the ability to 'cross-over' styles extremely effectively, which is something which seems to come naturally with trombone players Stateside - why not over here?
In more recent times the trombone has shed its religious associations and been used both in Western classical music and jazz. It has also been used as a comic instrument because of its ability to play slow and rapid glissandos (these are slides between one note and the next).
THE TROMBONE PLAYS MANY ROLES and appears in many different types of music. In the 17th and 18th centuries it was mainly used in Western classical church music and composers such as Mozart used it in their Requiems and operas.
Since the trombone was based on trumpet design, it seems only natural that the two of them work together as a team. The trombone plays the important role of balancing the high sounds of the trumpet with the rest of the musicians in modern orchestras, concert band, and brass ensembles. Their mellow tenor voice also helps add a lower intonation without the boom of the tubas.
The mouthpiece of the trombone is larger than that of a trumpet, and gives the instrument a more mellow sound. Instead of valves, the trombone has a slide which changes the length of its approximately 9 feet of tubing to reach different pitches.
Brass family instruments produce their unique sound by the player buzzing his/her lips while blowing air through a cup- or funnel-shaped mouthpiece. To produce higher or lower pitches, the player adjusts the opening between his/her lips. The mouthpiece connects to a length of brass tubing ending in a bell. The shorter the tubing length, the smaller the instrument, and the higher the sound; and the longer the tubing length, the larger the instrument, and the lower the sound. The brass family can trace its ancestry back to herald trumpets, hunting horns, and military bugles. The main instruments of the brass family include the trumpet, horn, trombone, and tuba.
The trombone emerged as a variation of the medieval trumpet when the slide, in the form of a U-bend, was created (mid-15th century), immediately producing an efficient and unique low brass instrument capable of playing all chromatics. From that time to the present, the instrument has consisted fundamentally of a bell section including attached inner slides, outer slides, and mouthpiece, the tube being cylindrical up to a gradual expansion toward the bell.
The trombone came about during the 15th century and is believed to have evolved from the trumpet. It used to be called the sackbut and was used in instrumental music.
Like the trumpet, the trombone is one of the most versatile, dynamic, flexible and expressive musical instruments. It covers an incredibly wide range of sounds and moods.