Principal Trombone – New York Philharmonic
Trombone Professor – The Juilliard School
Joseph Alessi was appointed Principal Trombone of the New York Philharmonic in the spring of 1985. He began musical studies in his native California with his father, Joseph Alessi, Sr. As a high school student in San Rafael, California, he was a soloist with the San Francisco Symphony before continuing his musical training at Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music. Prior to joining the Philharmonic, Mr. Alessi was second trombone of The Philadelphia Orchestra for four seasons, and principal trombone of L’Orchestre symphonique de Montreal for one season. In addition, he has performed as guest principal trombonist with the London Symphony Orchestra in Carnegie Hall led by Pierre Boulez.
Mr. Alessi is an active soloist, recitalist, and chamber music performer. In April 1990 he made his solo debut with the New York Philharmonic, performing Creston’s Fantasy for Trombone, and in 1992 premiered Christopher Rouse’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Trombone Concerto with the Philharmonic, which commissioned the work for its 150th anniversary celebration. His most recent appearance with the Philharmonic as soloist was in world premiere performances of William Bolcom’s Trombone Concerto in the winter of 2017. Mr. Alessi also has appeared as soloist with the New York Philharmonic in performances of concerti by Kazimierz Serocki, BramweII Tovey, and William Grant Still.
Joseph Alessi has recorded and performed extensively with four prominent trombone quartets: The New York Trombone Quartet resulting in the only recording of Bartok’s 4th String Quartet. Four of a Kind Trombone Quartet, the World Trombone Quartet, and Slide Monsters Trombone Quartet.
Other solo engagements have included the New Japan Philharmonic, Nagoya Philharmonic, Orchestra of Teatro Bellini, Mannheim National Theater Orchestra, Hauge Philharmonic, Helsinki Philharmonic, and the Colorado, Alabama, Santa Barbara, Syracuse, and Puerto Rico symphony orchestras. Mr. Alessi has also participated in numerous festivals, including the Festivale Musica di Camera in Protogruaro, Italy; Cabrillo Music Festival; Swiss Brass Week; and Lieksa Brass Week in Finland. He was featured in the 1997 International Trombone Festival in Feldkirch, Austria, and the International Meeting of Brass Instruments in Lille, France. In 2002 Mr. Alessi was awarded an International Trombone Association Award for his contributions to the world of trombone music and trombone playing, and in 2014, was elected President of that association.
Mr. Alessi is currently on the faculty of The Juilliard School; his students now occupy posts with many major symphony orchestras in the U.S. and internationally. As a clinician for the Eastman-Shires Instrument Co., he has also given master classes throughout the world and has toured Europe extensively as a master teacher and recitalist. He has performed as soloist with several leading concert bands, including the U.S. Military Academy Band at West Point, U.S. Army Band (Pershing’s Own), and the U.S. Marine Band (President’s Own). In addition, he has performed with the Maria Schneider Orchestra, the Village Vanguard Orchestra, and has recorded with jazz greats, J.J. Johnson and Steve Turre.
Mr. Alessi’s discography includes many releases on the Summit record label, including the Trombonastics, and a disc with New York Philharmonic Principal Trumpet Philip Smith entitled Fandango; he also recorded New York Legends on the Cala label. His live recording of the Rouse Concerto with the New York Philharmonic can be heard on Volume II of the recent release, An American Celebration, on New York Philharmonic Special Editions, the Orchestra’s own recording label.
Mr. Alessi was invited by the International Trombone Association to record a solo disc of newly composed works, which was distributed to the Association’s membership of 5,000 trombonists, in early 1999 and is now available as Beyond the End of the Century through Summit Records. Recently, his recording of George Crumb’s Starchild on the Bridge record label, featuring Mr. Alessi as soloist, won a Grammy Award for 1999-2000. Other recordings featuring Mr. Alessi are with the Canadian Brass (Sony Classical and Philips Records).
On December 1, 2015 Mr. Alessi launched www.alessimusicstudios.com an educational website aimed at helping trombonists, both students and professionals alike, in their preparation of orchestral excerpts. The site contains video tutorials on trombone performance, comments and annotated parts for the major trombone excerpts and the Orchestra “Machine”, the ultimate virtual symphonic orchestra to accompany trombonists in practicing excerpts.
Further information about Mr. Alessi can be found on his website, www.slidearea.com.
Guest Facutly – Bass Trombone
Brandt Attema is Professor of trombone at the Hochschule für Musik in Karlsruhe. As well, Brandt is leading the bass trombone classes of the Codarts conservatory in Rotterdam and the Royal conservatory in The Hague together with Ben van Dijk. He is a steady member of the Netherlands Wind Ensemble, the New Trombone Collective and the international trombone quartet Slide Monsters. As a member of the Trombone Collective he is partly responsible for the bi-annual festival Slide Factory. In 2008 Brandt and harpist Astrid Haring were the first worldwide to form a bass trombone-harp duo. Since then more then 15 compositions were especially composed for their duo and they perform concerts all over the world. As a soloist and teacher he is a regular guest of international brass festivals. Between 1999 and 2019 he was bass- and contrabass trombonist of the Radio Filharmonic Orchestra of the Netherlands.
Simply considering the range of music that Marshall Gilkes has played over the course of his career, it would be easy to assume that the trombonist/composer is a musical chameleon, able to alter his sound to fit into whatever situation he finds himself. After all, it seems unlikely that an individual sound would be able to express itself in such diverse contexts as the lush impressionism of the Maria Schneider Orchestra; the unique Slide Monsters Trombone Quartet; or the fiery combustion of New York’s thriving Latin music scene.
But listen to the five albums that Gilkes has released under his own name – in particular his latest, a stunning set of compositions for the WDR Big Band named Always Forward– and it immediately becomes clear how the versatile trombonist can integrate myriad influences into a singular and distinctive voice. Gilkes combines the spontaneous invention of jazz with the elegant architecture of classical composition; straightahead swing with adventurous modernism; virtuosic technique with passionate emotion. It’s a rare combination that has made Gilkes an in-demand performer, composer, sideman, and clinician since his arrival in New York City in the late 1990s.
They’ve also garnered him accolades from critics, audiences, and peers alike. Most recently Gilkes received two Grammy Nominations for his album-Köln. Best Instrumental Composition and Best Jazz Large Ensemble Album. In 2003 Gilkes was a finalist in the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, and won the Rising Star category in DownBeat Magazine’s esteemed Critics Poll as well as “Best Trombonist” in Jazz Times 2018 Critics’ Poll. Bill Milkowski of JazzTimes has called Gilkes “compelling, harmonically intriguing and ferociously swinging,” while bandleader Maria Schneider refers to him as “one of those musicians who continually just drops my jaw and leaves me shaking my head in disbelief.”
While his musical career has taken him to stages around the world, including four years in Cologne (Köln), Germany, as a member of the WDR Big Band, Gilkes became familiar with travel long before a trombone ever touched his lips. Gilkes’ father was a trombonist and euphonium player and later conductor in the Air Force, which led the family from Washington D.C. – Gilkes was born on Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland – to New Hampshire, New Jersey, Alabama, Illinois, and Colorado.
It was his father’s influence that led Gilkes to pick up the trombone – apparently much earlier than he should have. Members of his father’s Air Force band recall their conductor, who by that time had decisively traded his trombone for the baton, suddenly keeping his instrument in his office. It seems his young son insisted on trying it out for himself, and was doing more harm than good.
That early experience laid the groundwork for Gilkes to study trombone in school once the music program started handing out instruments, however. While his early training was in classical music, Gilkes heard jazz from an early age through the Falconaires, then one of the Air Force’s premier jazz ensembles, and on his own initiative began collecting albums by the likes of Dizzy Gillespie and Louis Armstrong. Gilkes ultimately entered the jazz program at the Juilliard School, though he continued his classical education in parallel, including studies with Joseph Alessi, the longtime Principal Trombonist of the New York Philharmonic.
From the time he settled in New York in 1998, Gilkes spent the next twelve years working steadily as a sideman while honing his own highly individual voice. In the ensuing years he’s played and recorded with a staggering variety of artists and ensembles, including Richard Bona, Billy Cobham, and Edmar Castañeda.
Gilkes released his debut as a leader, Edenderry, in 2004 with a quartet featuring pianist Jon Cowherd, bassist Matt Clohesy, and drummer Johnathan Blake. He followed that with the quintet recordings Lost Words in 2008 and Sound Stories in 2012. His latest two releases, Köln and Always Forward, team Gilkes with the German WDR Big Band, with whom he was a member from 2010-2013.
During his four years in Cologne, Gilkes worked with renowned soloists, composers and arrangers including Michael Abene, Vince Mendoza, John Scofield, Chris Potter, Kenny Wheeler, Randy Brecker, Patti Austin, Mike Stern, Ron Carter, and Maceo Parker. The influence of those experiences can be heard on Always Forward, which showcases vivid ensemble writing and arranging which marks the furthest evolution to date of Gilkes’ deft combination of his jazz and classical influences.
Those complex and memorable compositions have begun to attract notice from jazz festivals and educational institutions across the country and around the world, leading to invitations for Gilkes as a composer, bandleader and clinician. While he returned to New York in early 2014, life after his interlude in Germany has begun to once again resemble his childhood as an on-the-move military brat. He continues to work regularly with the Maria Schneider Orchestra and his own band while teaching and offering master classes at institutions around the world including the Banff Center, Berklee College of Music, New England Conservatory, the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, and the Brubeck Institute. Gilkes teaches trombone at Manhattan School of Music and an artist for Edwards Instruments.
Eijiro Nakagawa was born in Tokyo(1975), Eijiro is already busy playing along side some of the top musicians in both Japan and the USA.
Eijiro is also a very fine classical trombonist. Since his solo debut in 1996, performing the David “Concertino” with the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony, He was a huge success when he performed along side fellow Yamaha trombonist, Alain Trudel. Eijiro has also had the privilege playing and recording with such elite trombonists as Joe Alessi, David Taylor and Jim Pugh.
Eijiro Nakagawa is certain to become a prominent musical voice on both sides of the world.