Brass Tracks...

Kick In Your "Brass"...

Greetings again all - Michael here again and so great to be here as always.

I know, I know -- I tend to write a lot about things musically and I'll give it a break soon and diversify, but for the meantime, I'd just like to share what I think you might want to experiment with to add a bit of spice to your sound. If you read my other hubs, you'll notice I mentioned investigating the banjo and pedal-steel guitar as possible extra sounds that you might incorporate into your sound. You just never know and when used properly, COULD make all the difference in the world for your music.

One more that I'd like to chat about for a bit that groups over the years have used to great advantage, and that is 'brass' -- you know, horns, trumpets, etc. Let's examine a few artists who had MONSTER success with these instruments:

1. Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass: Back when I grew up in the 50's and 60's, Herb Alpert became extremely popular with the Latin-sound in back-then comtemporary music. He was featured on TV,wrote great hits for other artists, and had numerous hits on the radio like "The Lonely Bull", "A Taste of Honey", "Whipped Cream & Other Delights", and more.

Herb's trumpet playing (tinged with jazz influences) was virtually impeccable. To this day, I don't think I've heard anyone who could play like him and his composing skills were equal. With the Tijuana Brass, he was able to promote the trumpet as a mainstream instrument capable of capturing a wide audience and remaining on the pop charts for a long time. Just was incredible trumpet playing.

2. Chicago (Transit Authority): THESE guys were undoubtedly kings of radio around the middle and late 60's and early 70's. I guess they got into hot water because of the "Transit Authority" part of their name which was the name of the city's public transportation department, so they dropped that to stay at "Chicago". Didn't matter as they remained highly visible and very popular by the mix of a brass section with some pretty cool rock guitar.

I'll always remember Chicago for one song in particular, which was "25 or 6 to 4" which to this day, I don't know what that means. All I remember about that tune was just an incredible lead guitar break featuring much 'wah-wah' pedal and the horn section which permeated throughout the whole piece. When I heard that in my early teens, I was overwhelmed with the sheer power of the song -- rock solid and glued together with a great brass section.

3. The Beatles: Well, what can you say about THESE guys? They were masters of incorporating brass and old-style European symphonic tones to popular music. Just too many songs to list, really, but "Maxwells' Silver Hammer" and "Yellow Submarine" and those types come to mind instantly. And look how popular THEY were.

4. Lawrence Welk: This immortal band leader used to drive me nuts in the early days of TV (50's, 60's). We didn't have much on the tube back then, but Lawrence was always there every week. Of course, at my young age then, I didn't appreciate that sound of the show but when I got older and played music myself, I looked back and remembered him and those shows.

He was awesome, with a great blend of back-then comtemporary 'big band sound', dancers and the like. He brought with him German, Polish, and Russian musical influences into the show and from all accounts, he was a perfectionist and never settled for anything but impeccable performances from all his entertainers, especically the house band which was rich with brass, percussion, and strings.

"And a One, and a Two..."! Mr. Welks' gentle on-screen manner was always polite, never overdoing a performance and always complimentary...to a certain extent. No "woo-hoo's" here and he played it by-the-book. His house band was awesome, bar none, and his shows were watched...a lot! He incorporated Western contemporary and old world things like the big band sound of the USA and the polkas of Europe into a very entertaining show (for mostly older folk back then) and it's only now that I can really appreciate the caliber of musician that he was. Great job, sir!

There are many more: American artist "Billy Joel" liked the saxophone influence as well as those ever fun-loving Brits "Supertramp". And look at the long success of 'ol Doc Severinsens' band as the host group for "The Late Show with Johnny Carson". Almost a full brass section that American has loved for years, with reminences of the big-band sound.

Check out your 'brass'. Again, something that might add a bit of spice to your sound and just might be that one thing that puts it all together. Famous popular artists have long know what this sound is capable of and how it can be used to compliment their work.

Thanks for reading and I PROMISE will talk about something different next time....maybe...*s

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