Peter Bacon reports:
Are there trombones in heaven? I’d like to think so. In fact, as soon as I imagine an eternal afterlife that is trombone-free, I realise what an unutterably dull place it would be. ‘Bones would make that vital difference!
That seems to have been the view of Jacob Garchik, too. The San Franciscan now resident in New York had been a fan of gospel music for a long time and heard trombone choirs on the East Coast playing this style of music – that’s according to Birmingham promoter Tony Dudley-Evans who is bringing a UK version of Jacob Garchik’s Atheist Gospel Trombone Choir to three English stages next weekend.
I asked Birmingham-based trombonist and leader of Young Pilgrims, Richard Foote, who has organised the British version of Jacob’s choir, how he got involved.
“I have been a really big fan of Jacob’s music and trombone playing for a long time, starting with his trio with Dan Weiss and Jacob Sacks, then trying to find any record he was on. When he released The Heavens – an album for trombone choir – I was very excited and needless to say absolutely loved it! I was speaking to Tony Dudley-Evans about it and to my delight he was also a huge fan and this led to the idea of trying to Jacob over at some point to play the suite.”
How is the band is shaping up:
“The UK Gospel Trombone Choir is shaping up great and I’m super excited to be working with such incredible musicians! The first set of the concerts will be a small group performance featuring myself and Jacob on trombones, Andrew Bain on drums, Andy Woodhead on piano and Olie Brice on bass. We’ll be playing some of Jacob’s small band compositions and some from the other members of the band.
“The second set is The Heavens suite and we have Oren Marshall on tuba, Nichol Thomson, Rob Harvey, Kieran McLeod, Tom Dunnett, Michael Owers, Jacob Garchik and myself on trombones, and Andrew Bain on drums. On the album, Jacob composed and recorded all the parts himself.”
What could Richard tell me about the vibe of the music?
“The music is absolutely incredible! It’s an emotional roller-coaster of an album full of heart-felt music that is rooted in both the gospel and New Orleans brass band tradition but has its own unique voice. The material has a great balance of composed material with plenty of space for improvising, it’s technically challenging and lots of fun to play. I think people can expect something different from the usual jazz concert with two sets of contrasting music and a whole lot of trombone related shenanigans!”
The Jacob Garchik UK Gospel Trombone Choir plays these dates:
Finally, here’s a little bit of that trombone heaven: