John Frith
Big Riff:
Eight trombones

Vancouver, BC, , Canada
Publisher: Cherry Classics Music
Date of Publication: 2016

Score and parts

Primary Genre: Trombone Ensembles - 8 trombones

John Frith’s new composition, Big Riff  was commissioned to be the the opening “Anthem” for “Trombonanza 2017,” a festival held annually in Santa Fe, Argentina. Frith resides in the U.K., has written extensively for brass, winds, strings and voices and has many published works. Big Riff is scored for one alto, five tenor, and two bass trombones. Similar to Ravel’s Bolero, Big Riff begins quietly and gradually builds its way to a grand, climactic ending. The piece opens with a bass line that continues throughout, and off-beat clapping with an intent for the audience to continue clapping throughout the duration of the piece. Frith explains, “Although there is no percussion indicated in the score, a kit drummer (if available) would provide a great ‘ad lib’ addition to the slow ‘rock beat’ as it builds to the final climax.” While the 1st part extends up to high f2, and the 8th part descends to pedal EE-flat, the middle parts are playable by intermediate performers. The two bass trombone parts often double one another in octaves with the lower part frequently going between the trigger and pedal registers. The 2nd trombone part includes chord changes for a 16-bar improvised solo, which helps the piece build into its final climax. Equally as strong as an exciting opener or closer, Big Riff is a nice option for  for any trombone-centric event.

Reviewer: Russell Ballenger
Review Published June 13, 2023