When Cameron University’s Dr. Lucas Kaspar takes the stage on Saturday, November 13, music lovers can look forward to a slate of entertaining and buoyant music emanating from the trombone, widely considered to be the most versatile of musical instruments. The recital will take place in the McCutcheon Recital Hall at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, and $8 for senior citizens, K-12 students and members of the military. Cameron students, faculty and staff are admitted at no charge with valid ID. To reserve a seat, call 580-581-2346. Facial coverings are strongly encouraged.
“When selecting the music for this program, I purposely chose music that is fun and upbeat,” Kaspar says. “The music really shows off the capabilities of the bass trombone – which many people may see as an instrument that can only play loud and slow music. Though this recital has some very loud and aggressive moments, there are also moments of finesse and nimbleness.”
The recital will open with “Variations on Barnacle Bill the Sailor” by Steven Frank.
“Barnacle Bill is a fictional character loosely based on a 19th-century San Francisco sailor and Gold Rush miner, William Bernard,” Kaspar explains. “The theme of this piece can be heard in the original 1933 cartoon ‘Popeye the Sailor,’ in which it was first used as a recurring theme to represent the Bluto character. In this number, the theme will be varied three times, each time adding a higher level of difficulty for the bass trombonist.”
Michael Davis’ “Blackhawk” will follow. Davis is best known for being the trombonist of the Rolling Stones for five world tours and served as Frank Sinatra’s exclusive trombonist.
“Davis wrote ‘Blackhawk’ using a combination of recorded sounds and synthetic sounds,” Kaspar says. “The melodic hook of the tune is established by the accompaniment track at the onset of the piece. This hook is played by the bass trombone and then altered throughout the composition. ‘Blackhawk’ is written at a very fast tempo and frequently shifts meters from 2/4 to 6/4 to 5/4.”
For “Mahogany Moods,” Kaspar will be joined by J.D. Little on saxophone and Yiuka Little on piano. Composer Jim Stephenson wrote the piece in 2015 for saxophonist Tim McAllister, bass trombonist Randy Hawes and pianist Kathryn Goodson. He likened the invitation to compose for great instrumentalist soloists to “being asked if you wouldn’t mind winning the lottery.”
“I chose this piece because I wanted to perform something that featured my great colleague, Dr. J.D. Little,” Kaspar says. “Dr. Little and I performed Carter Pann’s ‘Duo for Alto Saxophone and Bass Trombone’ last spring, and I thoroughly enjoyed working with him and believe I became a better musician in the process. ‘Mahogany Moods’ spoke to me when I heard the McAllister/Hawes/Goodson recording. Jim Stephenson wrote the piece in a way where it truly sounds like a dialogue between the saxophone, trombone and piano, almost like the three of us are just sitting down at the table discussing our week.”
Kaspar will follow that with ‘On Your Own Now,’ composed in 2017 by Steven Verhelst, a young Belgian composer and trombonist. He has quickly become one of the prominent composers for brass, as many top brass players from around the world are performing and recording his music. As the title suggests, the piece is for solo bass trombone with no accompaniment and is divided into six primary sections which represent different stages of life for an individual. The music takes the listener on an individual’s life journey and includes moments of pure joy, laughter, sadness, hurt, anxiousness, and boredom.
“The double valve bass trombone is a very young instrument in relation to other instruments, as it is only around 60 years old,” Kaspar says. “The instrument was also not originally designed as a solo instrument, but rather to be played in the orchestra. Because of this, there is not a lot of quality solo repertoire for the instrument. It is exciting to see composers like Verhelst write new compelling music for the bass trombone.”
“Suite of Negro Spirituals” will close the program. This suite will include three traditional spirituals arranged in a jazz style: “Deep River,” “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” and “Go Tell it on the Mountain.” Extended trombone techniques included in this suite include flutter tonguing, lip trills, and use of the wah-wah mute.
“The arrangement I will be playing was created and recorded by Jim Markey, bass trombonist of the Boston Symphony,” Kaspar says. “I first heard the piece in 2011 at the University of Georgia. I was a graduate student at the University of Alabama at the time and went over to UG to hear Mr. Markey perform a bass trombone recital. I was particularly blown away with his performance and arrangement of ‘Suite of Negro Spirituals.’ The suite really shows off the trombone’s singing sound and flexibility.”