How did you go about teaching yourself the transition from Trombone to Tuba?
MB: That’s actually an interesting story. Studying with bass trombonist Betty Glover, while I was playing tenor trombone the whole time, it was her sound I always had in my ear, and always loved that sound. I loved the bass trombone, and I guess I gravitated lower as life went on. I keep getting attracted to lower sounds. I was playing trombone in a free (like free jazz) group in San Francisco called the United Brass Workers Front. It was scored for 2 tpts, 2 tbns, and tuba, but we did not have a tuba player. We tried several people and it never worked out and one day I was looking at it (the tuba) and thought, how hard could this be? Let me try this! I found out it was quite difficult, but really fell in love with it, and I guess the rest is history. We recorded 2 albums and I just kept on going.
Down the road I took my group, Paradigm Brass, to Canada where I met Jens Lindemann, and it was through that experience that I was provided an opportunity to study at UCLA. I was living in San Francisco at the time, and Jens said, “How can I get you down here?” I wasn’t planning on moving, but did some research and realized that Patrick Sheridan was teaching there and he had everything that I wanted to personify musically and as a person and teacher. So I talked to my wife about it – she is really supportive and was ok with the move – and now here I am in LA and really enjoying it.
After you tried out a variety of Denis Wick mouthpieces, how did you go about finding the right mouthpieces that would support all your needs?
MB: As for a process, I picked mouthpieces that were similar in diameter to what I’m used to playing, but what really piqued my interest at the NAMM show last year was the 2.5CC Heritage. I usually don’t change mouthpieces – I just made them work. A friend took me over to your booth and I tried the 2.5CC for the first time. I really liked the sound and response, and was interested to try the rest of the line.
A lot of people will play the same diameter for all their trombones or all their tubas, but when I’ve tried this I never match the sound that I have in my head, so there’s never been just one mouthpiece that fits all for me. I play a different mouthpiece for every scenario. On my sousaphone I play the 2.5CC all the time. It gives me great presence, it projects well, and sounds really good in all registers… it’s amazing. I play the 1L on my big horn, 2SL (Patrick Sheridan helped DW develop this one) on my Eb, and I ended up choosing the 4AL on my big tenor, 9BL on little tenor, and 00AL on Bass Trombone.