Rhapsody: The Music of George Gershwin (CD)

ITA Journal,  July 1, 2011

SPECTRUM BRASS QUINTET. Scott Thornburg, Brian Buerkle, trumpet; Eric Reed, horn; John Rutherford, trombone; Jacob Cameron, tuba. Aviram Reichert, piano; Elizabeth Stoner, soprano; Alex Trajano, percussion.

BRASSJAR MUSIC 002 (3925 Bishop St., Detroit, MI 18224, USA; www.brassjarmusic.com ; www.spectrumbrassquintet.com ).

George Gershwin/James Stephenson: Gershwin Overture: Strike Up the Band ; Porgy and Bess Suite ; Walking the Dog ; Fascinating Rhythm ; American Song Suite ; I Got Rhythm . George Gershwin/Brian Buerkle: Rhapsody in Blue .

The Spectrum Brass Quintet is a very fine ensemble, and Rhapsody is a very fine CD. Great musicians all, they play with great confidence and swagger, perform comfortably in a myriad of styles, and deliver a recording that should appeal to any and all George Gershwin fans. The instrumentation throughout the recording is brass quintet with other forces (percussion, piano, soprano, and combinations thereof). The arrangements “share the wealth” among all ensemble members with regard to melodic and technical (at times pyrotechnical) interest. They offer contemporary settings of your favorite Gershwin fare. For example, when the Summertime melody is set against the Take Five motor rhythm (albeit stretched into 6…) it makes for, well, fascinating rhythms. Speaking of Fascinating Rhythm, this track might be described as “Gershwin meets Tower of Power in Latin America” with a swinging piano interlude midway through the track – definitely not traditional brass quintet fare!

If you want to hear a great vocalist paired with brass quintet, you’re in luck! Elizabeth Stoner is in excellent form in the American Song Suite. Happily, like everything else on the CD, these tracks are musical collaborations, rather than soloist with background instrumentals – the horns play lots of “meat” in these tracks as well. The solo and tutti brass work in How Long Has This Been Going On? is quite spectacular.

Two favorite works on this CD are Walking the Dog and Rhapsody in Blue. Walking the Dog features high-quality solo playing from the trumpets and horn. It’s just easy to listen to. You should own this CD if for no other reason than to hear the arrangement of Rhapsody in Blue. Aviram Reichert gives listeners a superior performance at the piano on the this track (and every other track he performs on), yet the quintet really steals the show here – they capture the nuances of the orchestra score perfectly, from the opening “clarinet” solo all the way through to the end. It is clear that Brian Buerkle is arranging not for any brass quintet, but for himself and his friends, Scott, Eric, John, Jacob and Alex. This is a GREAT offering on a CD full of great offerings! You need this one in your collection.

– Michael Davidson, The University of Kansas, International Trombone Association Journal

 

 

ITG Journal, January 2011

The Spectrum Brass Quintet—Rhapsody: The Music of George Gershwin

Brian Buerkle and Scott Thornburg, trumpets; Eric Reed,
horn; John Rutherford, trombone; Jacob Cameron,
tuba; Alex Trajano, drums; Aviram Reichert, piano
soloist; Rob Conway, piano; Elizabeth Stoner, soprano
BRASSJARMUSIC 002 (CD); Brassjar Music, 3925 Bishop
Street, Detroit, MI 48224
http://www.brassjarmusic.com
http://www.spectrumbrassquintet.com
Gershwin (Stephenson): Gershwin Overture; Gershwin (Stephenson): Strike Up the Band; Gershwin (Stephenson): Porgy and Bess Suite; Gershwin (Stephenson):Walking the Dog; Gershwin (Buerkle): Rhapsody in Blue; Gershwin (Stephenson): Fascinating Rhythm; Gershwin (Stephenson): American Song Suite; Gershwin (Stephenson): I Got Rhythm.

Committed to creative collaboration, the Spectrum Brass has partnered with an impressive array of guest artists, including composer James Stephenson, to create a wonderful and fresh recording of the music of George Gershwin. From the exciting start of Gershwin Overture: Strike Up the Band, through the Porgy and Bess Suite, to the culminating I Got Rhythm, the brass playing and musicianship on this recording is first rate. Trumpeters Scott Thornburg and Brian Buerkle successfully soar on the challenging trumpet parts. They have an uncanny ability to match style and blend their sound. Their contribution is not alone, as an exciting sound and musicianship emanates from the entire ensemble. The playing of Eric Reed, John Rutherford, and Jacob Cameron is equally up to the task and helps solidify an already impressive group effort. Additionally, Elizabeth Stoner’s vocal performance on this recording is a good fit for Gershwin’s classic songs. It is worth noting the excellent piano performance of Aviram Reichert on Rhapsody in Blue. Brian Buerkle’s arrangement of this iconic concerto for piano, brass quintet, and percussion is very successful and enjoyable. James Stephenson, arranger of the rest of the music on this recording, has added an impressive collection of brass quintet arrangements to his already well-stocked catalogue of music for brass, something that brass players will enjoy for some time to come. It should be noted that the collaboration between The Spectrum Brass and James Stephenson has evolved into a full length concerto for brass quintet that was premiered at the Midwest Band & Orchestra Clinic in December 2010. The Spectrum Brass’s debut recording is certainly worth a listen and is suitable for all audiences. (Jason Bergman, visiting instructor of trumpet, The University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, MS)

 

 

American Record Guide , MAR/APR 2010

GERSHWIN: Rhapsody in Blue; Porgy & Bess Suite; American Song Suite; Strike Up the Band; Walking the Dog; Fascinating Rhythm; I Got Rhythm
Spectrum Brass Quintet
Brassjar 2–69 minutes

The only way this kind of brass quintet program sounds good is if the players have terrific skills and play with abandon–not to mention with all the basics of good tone, blend, and intonation. And of course, it helps if the arrangements are imaginative. Each of these elements is most definitely true of this recording. Spectrum Brass Quintet makes spectacular things happen, individually and collectively.

The big piece is Rhapsody in Blue, arranged by ARG’s own Brian Buerkle, with Israeli piano soloist Aviram Reichert (now a piano professor in Seoul, Korea). His reading is excellent, and the work sounds very good, even with none of the string and woodwind timbres Gershwin had in mind. Spectrum gives a wonderful account of a suite from Porgy and Bess, and a close-miked Elizabeth Stoner is the fine soprano whose tone ranges from breathy to brassy in American Song Suite (`But Not For Me’, `Embraceable You’, `How Long Has This Been Going On?’, `The Man I Love’, and `’S Wonderful’).

Most of the arrangements are by composer James Stephenson, whose trumpet works I have praised before (SEP/OCT 2009: 247, JAN/FEB 2008: 203, MAR/APR 2005: 210). There is nothing average about them; they capture the original Gershwin while adding his own personality, and they challenge the players.

I am rarely excited about this kind of brass quintet program, but this is one of the best. The group consists of trumpeters Brian Buerkle and Scott Thornburg (his solo album is one of my favorites, JUL/AUG 2003: 202), horn player Eric Reed, trombonist John Rutherford, and tuba player Jacob Cameron. They are assisted ably by drummer Alex Trajano.

Barry Kilpatrick, American Record Guide

     
 
     

Who Could Ask for
Anything More?

An All-Gershwin Revue

Rowan County Concert Association, Salisbury, NC

The recent presentation in Salisbury, North Carolina of the All-Gershwin Revue was a great success with many favorable comments from the audience.   Spectrum Brass quintet composed of trumpets, trombone, horn and tuba played throughout the concert and the addition of piano, drums and soprano was an unusual combination.  Many commented that the pianist  on “Rhapsody In Blue” was the best ever heard and gave him a standing ovation.  The Drummer added an unusual quality to the Brass.  After Intermission, the beautiful vocalist sang many familiar Gershwin numbers ending in another standing ovation!   One of the Best!

Floyd Walcher, Rowan County Concert Association

 

Dogwood Center for the Performing Arts, Fremont, Michigan

Dear Jacob, Scott, Brian, Eric and John of the Spectrum Brass Quintet…along with special guests Alex, Tony and Elizabeth…

It is with profound professional pride and pleasure that we thank you for your stellar performance this past Friday here at the Dogwood Center for the Performing Arts.  We strive to bring artists of the highest quality to our community and Spectrum fit right in!  You are as exceptionally talented, individually, as you are as an ensemble.  Your performance and style was impeccably ‘first class’ and your mastery of your art was flawless!

We appreciate the time you spent after your performance with our guests.  Your warmth and genuine kindness did not go unnoticed.

We are immensely grateful to you for your support of the work we do here at Dogwood Center to keep the arts growing strong in our Community.  We now consider you part of the Dogwood Center family of entertainers and we wish you great success.

Positively,

Diane Yonker, Program Manager, Dogwood Center for the Performing Arts

 

Bay City State Theatre, Bay City, Michigan

“From start to finish of the show, you were wondering how they make such great music with so few instruments”

“This group is an amazing group of musicians and singers, that appeals to any audience”

– Mike Bacigalupo, Executive Director, State Theatre, Bay City

 

Danville Concert Association, Danville, VA

In nearly 60 years as a presenter, the Danville Concert Association has brought to Danville some of the best brass out there, including Canadian and Empire. Spectrum’s imaginative arrangements and polished performance place it in some pretty rarefied company.

Percussion only added to the excitement. The piano, especially in the hands of Gershwin master Roger Votapek, delivered on the promise for “Rhapsody in Blue.” The edgy sound really did recall the Paul Whiteman mid-1920s orchestration, complete with original Gershwin cadenzas. It was an electrifying echo from American musical history performed with style and verve—a tour de force.

G.R. Grant, long-time volunteer, Danville Concert Association

 

Merrick-Bellmore Community Concert Association , Merrick, Long Island

If you passed by Calhoun High School on the evening of Nov. 12, you would have heard much clapping, whistling and hooting coming from the auditorium.  The audience, members of the Merrick-Bellmore Community Concert Association, was enjoying the performance of the Spectrum Brass playing an all-Gershwin program that featured many of his best known instrumental and vocal works.

The five members of the Spectrum Brass (Scott Thornburg-trumpet; Brian Buerkle-trumpet; Long Island native Shelagh Abate-French horn; Jeremy Moeller-trombone; and Jacob Cameron-tuba) joined by drummer Alex Trajano, presented a jazzy, bluesy, sultry arrangement of famous melodies from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess.  The highlight of the first half, however, was their performance of Rhapsody in Blue with the pianist Ralph Votapek, winner of the first Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.  Mr. Votapek played with fire and rhythmic flair.  The give and take between him and the brass ensemble was simply electrifying.

The second half of the evening centered on Gershwin’s vocal music.  Soprano Elizabeth Stoner, with the Spectrum Brass, Mr. Votapek and Mr. Trajano, presented a series of arrangements of songs including Embraceable You, But Not for Me, The Man I Love and S Wonderful.  With her sweet, soaring voice and personable stage presence, Miss Stoner’s interpretations won over the audience.  To end the concert, all seven instrumentalists performed a rousing, over-the-top rendition of I Got Rhythm.  The standing ovation they received was well deserved.

Barbara Turchin, Chairperson, Merrick-Bellmore Community Concert Association (Long Island)

Stanly County ConcerAssociation, Albemarle, NC

Chamber music reaches new heights through The Spectrum Brass Quintet in their George Gershwin revue, Who Could Ask For Anything More?

Although organized only three years ago, Spectrum Brass members have years as professional credentials  in the brass arena as world-wide performers, university teachers, symphony/band members, producers, composers and arrangers.  SBQ created the Gershwin concert to promote the brass quintet genre with music recognized and loved by all audiences.  Every facet of Gershwin’s music from the classical Piano Prelude No. 1, the popular “folk opera” Porgy and Bess, to his jazzy I Got Rhythm bring memories of the icon.  Adding a percussionist, the beautiful soprano voice of Elizabeth Stoner performing Embraceable You, How Long Has This Been Going On?, The Man I Love, and more, the Naumburg Award winner and Van Cliburn Gold Medalist Ralph Votapek performing the complete seventeen-minute Rhapsody In Blue, brings to full-circle the genius of Gershwin.  Our audience was totally entranced throughout the concert and embraced SBQ with standing ovations after the first half of the show as well as the end of the evening.  While observing the audience during Rhapsody In Blue, it seemed no one was even breathing!

As part of our outreach program, we offered local music students free tickets and we were thrilled to see their enthusiasm!  For many it was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Anyone in the chamber music market should definitely consider the Spectrum Brass Quintet. With several concerts in their repertoire, we will definitely be inviting SBQ for a return engagement!

 Pam Medlin, Stanly County Concert Association, Albemarle, NC

 

First Tee of Boyne Highlands Benefit Concert, Bay View, MI

“We had the Spectrum Brass perform at a fund raiser and they brought the house down. This is a wonderful group of energetic people that really know how to entertain.”

“If you are looking for great entertainment the Spectrum Brass is your group.  They excel in their performance of Rhapsody, The Music of George Gershwin.”

Currie Weed, Founder, First Tee of Boyne Highlands

 

Van Buren School District Fine Arts Center, Van Buren,  AR  

“The Spectrum Brass Concert in Van Buren was one of the best concerts we have presented in the last three years.”

“The musicianship and  quality of the musical arrangements was first-rate.”

“The unabridged rendition of Rhapsody in Blue was one of those once in a lifetime experiences that none in the audience will forget.”

“The Gershwin Revue was a nostalgic, enjoyable evening.”

“Spectrum Brass is a true joy to work with.”

 Tom F. Watkins, Executive Artistic Director, Van Buren School District Fine Arts Center, Van Buren,  AR

 

Charlotte Peforming Arts Center, Charlotte, MI

In what many audience members are calling one of the finest ensemble performances they have ever attended, the Spectrum Brass Quintet definitely presented a truly memorable performance.

Our high school symphony band students thoroughly enjoyed working with the Spectrum Brass musicians in the joint presentation of the world premiere of movements two and three ofDodecafecta.  Even months after the concert, the performance is still the talk of the town.

Jacob Cameron and the rest of the Spectrum Brass musicians were extremely easy to work with and very accommodating to our needs.  They are truly a presenter’s dream group.

 Gavin J. Smith, Director, Charlotte Performing Arts Center

     
 
     

American Masters
Celebrating American Ingenuity Through Music

Check back soon for reviews!

     
 
     

All Hallows Eve
Scary Sounds and Terrifying Silent Films

Premiere performance 10/27/12 at BAY CITY STATE THEATRE, Bay City, MI

     
 
     

Salsa Metales (Brass Sauce)
Brass Quintet and Orchestra

Bozeman Symphony Orchestra, Bozeman, Montana

To Whom It May Concern,

It is with great pleasure that I write this letter on behalf of the Spectrum Brass Quintet. This is an exciting group of gifted musicians who bring a fresh approach to their work. Having performed with them I can see a bright future for them indeed.

I was introduced to Spectrum Brass when I engaged composer/arranger James Stephenson to create a new pops show for the Bozeman Symphony. I asked for a show featuring brass quintet, that would focus on Latin music, and I asked for his recommendations on a quintet. James wrote a magnificent show titled Salsa Metales, and suggested Spectrum Brass. Although I was hesitant at first to hire a group that was relatively new to the business, I trusted my friend James Stephenson and went ahead with the project. I’m glad I did because this quintet proved to be wonderful and the performance was a great success.

Working with Spectrum Brass was easy thanks to the wonderful leadership of Jacob Cameron. Jacob was always accessible to me through the process and was very easy to work with. He was amenable to suggestion and made sure that the quintet was not only wonderful musically, but accommodating to the needs of the Bozeman Symphony.

I can recommend Spectrum brass without hesitation!

Sincerely,

Matthew Savery,

Music Director and Conductor , Bozeman Symphony Orchestra

 

     
 
     

Dodecafecta
Brass Quintet and Band

Charlotte Peforming Arts CenterCharlotte, MI

In what many audience members are calling one of the finest ensemble performances they have ever attended, the Spectrum Brass Quintet definitely presented a truly memorable performance.

Our high school symphony band students thoroughly enjoyed working with the Spectrum Brass musicians in the joint presentation of the world premiere of movements two and three of Dodecafecta. Even months after the concert, the performance is still the talk of the town.

Jacob Cameron and the rest of the Spectrum Brass musicians were extremely easy to work with and very accommodating to our needs. They are truly a presenter’s dream group.

Gavin J. Smith, Director
Charlotte Performing Arts Center
378 State Street
Charlotte, MI 48813

     
 
     

Spectrum Residency
Music Business, Pedagogy, and Performance 

Charlotte Peforming Arts CenterCharlotte, MI

In what many audience members are calling one of the finest ensemble performances they have ever attended, the Spectrum Brass Quintet definitely presented a truly memorable performance.

Our high school symphony band students thoroughly enjoyed working with the Spectrum Brass musicians in the joint presentation of the world premiere of movements two and three of Dodecafecta. Even months after the concert, the performance is still the talk of the town.

Jacob Cameron and the rest of the Spectrum Brass musicians were extremely easy to work with and very accommodating to our needs. They are truly a presenter’s dream group.

Gavin J. Smith, Director
Charlotte Performing Arts Center
378 State Street
Charlotte, MI 48813