Review


Manny Albam
Quintet for Trombone and Strings:
Trombone and string quartet

Vancouver, BC, , Canada
Publisher: Cherry Classics Music
Date of Publication: 1983 / 2017
URL: http://www.cherryclassics.com

Score and parts.

Genre: SOLO MATERIALS

Emmanual (Manny) Albam (1922-2001) was born in Samana in the Dominican Republic where his parents were visiting while en route from Lithuania to New York. In the jazz world he was well-known as a bari sax player, arranger and composer, working with trombone greats such as Urbie Green. From 1958 to 1960 he studied composition with Tibor Serly, and from 1964 he taught at the Eastman School of Music. This virtuoso work for trombone and string quartet was commissioned by Dr. John Marcellus who premiered it at Eastman in 1983. There are three movements, Andante, Adagio and Allegro, which have approximately equal playing times. It is written in a free, atonal style.

 

The trombone is muted for the first 34 measures and its part ascends through the trigger-pedal register from low C to c-sharp2 with many irregular note patterns along the way. Much of the subsequent tessitura lies in the high register and harmony is predominantly dissonant. Nothing in this piece is the least bit easy for the soloist. Virtually the entire range of the trombone is covered, from pedal AA up to e2, written f-flat2. There are 59 full measures of rest out of 381 total, but only three in the Adagio, range BB-flat-e-flat2. Bass and tenor clefs are used with many leger lines. The Allegro includes few dynamic markings and appears to be intended for mostly forte playing. The last note is high b-flat1, sustained for three measures over a bi-tonal chord, ‘resolving’ with a crescendo on a C7 chord in the final measure.

 

This is a significant addition to trombone literature. It is a demanding piece featuring passages of both technical brilliance and lyrical beauty. In the year of its composition, the Space Shuttle Challenger made its maiden voyage. One could think of this Quintet as its musical counterpart.

Reviewer: Keith Davies Jones
Review Published January 31, 2019