Dave Bargeron, from the heart of New England, may be jazz's own Thoreau. Inner-directed, introspective and articulate, you've heard him. Check out Johnny Griffin's Dance Of Passion, Michel Camillo's One More Once, Gerry Mulligan's Re-birth of the Cool or Miles & Quincy Live at Montreux, and he's there -- the trombonist, the backbone of the ensemble sound.
"For a long time I never felt comfortable making a record myself," explains Bargeron, who spent eight years and 11 records with Blood, Sweat & Tears and currently works with the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band. "It was me and this unwieldy trombone that I wanted to wrap around a post most of the time.
"Can you imagine having this music run around in your head, your soul, your heart, for 30 or 40 years, and not be able to play it? It's been terrible at times; that's why I also play the tuba, the euphonium: because I found some movement possible on them. Now I've superseded them -- with my own instrument -- and I'm flying, I'm off the ground! Now it's time to make a record," Barge Burns...Slide Flies (Mapleshade Records)-- with BS&T cohort Larry Willis on piano, Kenwood Dennard on drums and Steve Novosel on bass -- debuts a number of originals by Bargeron, several Willis tunes and one standard, a straight-ahead "There is No Greater Love."
Bargeron...credits his recent breakthrough to a special valve he invented for his mouthpiece, which he calls the Bargeron Rapid Articulating Valve Option, or BRAVO. Briefly, BRAVO is a stem that travels in a rectangular slot cut perpendicular to and through the throat of Bargeron's mouthpiece, a Bach 6.5 AL. In the stem are two holes, separated by a solid section. As the stem is depressed, it moves through the solid section, momentarily closing off the air stream.
"It doesn't change the basic integrity of the slide trombone at all," he says. "It's far clearer and cleaner than any double-tonguing technique. It puts a beautiful, clean point on the beginning of notes, no matter how fast they're played. It takes time to get it together, but it's well worth it."
Bargeron is emphatic about it not being a gimmick or shortcut. "My only impulse has been to further the music, to play what I've been hearing for all these years." ...Meanwhile, Verve has scheduled a CD release of Howard Johnson's Gravity, a tuba sextet plus rhythm section, featuring Johnson and Bargeron as soloists, due out in February.
"I'm very confident now, in a peaceful way," Bargeron says, reflecting on his recent achievements. "It's not ego now. It's like, man, I know that I can do this, and I know who I am, and I am getting better all the time."
Reprinted with permission of author.
NOTE: Earlier versions of BRAVO were constructed in the mouthpiece as mentioned in the above article. Current models stand alone: you plug your mouthpiece into BRAVO and BRAVO into the horn.
Please note: The B.R.A.V.O is not available for sale at this time
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