Henry Wolking
The Best Dam Trombone Quintet Ever:
Four tenor, one bass trombone

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Date of Publication: 2019

Score and parts

Primary Genre: Trombone Ensembles - 5 trombones

The title will catch everyone’s eye. One-part audaciousness and two-parts tongue-in-cheek, the piece is actually not far from what one would expect. Largely through composed, The Best Dam Trombone Quintet Ever is built like a crowd pleaser. The five-trombone construction adds a thickness to the texture that effectively wards the pleasing harmonies against triteness, or empty simplicity. The result is a feel-good piece that can be taken seriously. 

The music moves in three basic fashions: tutti, imitative or hocket. In large part, the piece seems clearly delineated by those moments where all five trombones come together tutti. The result is a small musical movement characterized by players chasing one another in imitation until all arrive to agree in a lyrical section. After the accord has been reached, they each break off and repeat the process. This accordion structure lends itself to Wolking’s highly rhythmic and motivic writing. The result is a consistent drive that endures throughout each of the major texture changes.

Range is moderate but is best accomplished by advanced players. The fourth trombone part, although written in the lower tessitura, is indeed a tenor trombone part, rather than a first bass trombone part. The importance of this distinction is clear when the unique role of the bass trombone is considered throughout the piece. The work itself fits beautifully as an opener or closer to any recital, and is a welcomed addition to the repertoire. 

Reviewer: Joe Murrell
Review Published June 19, 2023