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,
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
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
Salsa Metales (Brass Sauce)