Clark Media Productions

Clark Media Productions is a place for me to share my love of audio production, music, trombone, and music technology. Subscribe to my email list for late breaking blog posts, videos, and educational content!

Filtering by Category: Trombonists

I give thanks... for tape transfers! (Students of Neill Humfeld, you will want to read... ;)

I have many things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.  A wonderful, healthy family, colleagues that are the absolute best to work with, and a job that I love.  However, on the music front, one thing stands out to me this November that I didn’t see coming, even a month ago.

I have previously written about my teacher, Dr. Neill Humfeld, and his influence on me, and a little about his musicianship and teaching.  When Dr. Humfeld passed, my dad and I came into possession of a couple boxes of analog tape (the reel to reel kind) containing all kinds of recordings of Dr. H from many years of recitals and concerts.  It has been one of those things that  I look at and say, “man, we really gotta get that transferred so we can listen to it!”  I never knew what that entailed, or how you would even go about doing it, until recently...

Fast forward to the past year, where my own interest in audio, especially in producing and preserving live performances, has come into play.  This fall, coincidentally, I have been taking a course online through Berklee College of Music called Audio Mastering, taught by an expert engineer, Marc Dieter-Einstmann (check out Marc’s mastering studio HERE).  Mastering is the final step in the production process for any audio recording.  A recording gets made (live or in studio), and then gets mixed.  In the mixing stage, the mix engineer takes all the audio that was recorded (sometimes as many as 100 tracks or more), and essentially places all those voices in the stereo field (where you locate that sound when you hear the recording) and gives the recording it’s tonal shape, and many other musical variables that make a certain record sound unique.  In mastering, the engineer takes the fully mixed recording and puts the finishing touches on it.  These can be musical or tonal adjustments (maybe something the mix engineer missed or didn’t hear), technical corrections (bad edits, noise removal), and general quality control.  Finally, a mastering engineer will set the loudness level of the recording, and produce a “master” containing all the tracks of the album, in the correct order, and with great care to ensure there are no functional errors.  

Another function of many mastering engineers is to transfer analog tape to the digital realm. Analog tape machines are hard to come by.  Well cared for and functional analog tape machines are even harder to come by!  So, when I said I hadn’t thought much about this project until a month ago, it was because I hadn’t put 2 and 2 together.  The U.S. Marine Band has, in its audio lab, a Studer 820 analog tape console.  Console is an apt description, because this thing is a beast!  All the tapes I have of Dr. Humfeld are 1/4” 2-track stereo tapes, and that is the exact tape this machine is built to play back.  With the permission of our recording chief, and some amazing help from the swiss army knife of audio in my world, Mike Ducassoux, I had a total master class in operating one of these unbelievable pieces of analog technology.  


To hear these performances come back to life, after over 50 years for some of them, is truly a delight.  To hear Dr. Humfeld’s sound, in performances I’ve never heard before, is truly something to be thankful for.  

So, what to do with these?  Well, after speaking with Dr. Humfeld’s daughter, Nancy Jo Humfeld, I would like to continue to transfer more of these recitals and create a “BEST OF” album of Dr. Humfeld’s recitals over the years.  On many of these tapes, he speaks at length to the audience about the music he performs, and many of the recordings reflect his warm sense of humor that many of us came to love from knowing him.  

Stay tuned, there is much more to come.  I plan to make this project a major focus of my 2019.  

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.  May you all be blessed to love, make music, and enjoy the people in our lives that are important to us!


Posaune Decuple, Trombone "super group", Performs near Philadelphia

I had a wonderful experience this past April. Wonderful in many ways, not the least of which was a chance to honor my former teacher and former Principal Trombone of the Philadelphia Orchestra, the late Glenn Dodson. While Glenn was alive, he nurtured a passion for trombone choir music among his students and colleagues. Glenn spearheaded the ensemble Posaune Decuple. The choir consisted mostly of Glenn’s former students at the Curtis Institute, but was also honored to have colleagues and friends perform on many occasions. Since Glenn’s passing, the group has endeavored to keep performing, even if they are only able to gather once per year or so. Joseph Alessi, Blair Bollinger, and Darrin Milling have been stalwart supporters, organizers, and performers for many years with the ensemble, and they are continuing the hard work of organizing concerts and coordinating the schedules of so many busy performers. I was fortunate to be invited to play this year, and due to an abundance of players (and having some pieces off on the concert), I asked if I could record audio and video for this year’s concert. I’d like to share the first video I’ve put together of the concert. There was so much fantastic playing, it was hard to choose what to showcase! I hope you enjoy!

Posaune Decuple 2018 Roster:

Tenor Trombones:

Joseph Alessi - Principal Trombone, New York Philharmonic

Eric Carlson - Second Trombone, Philadelphia Orchestra

Chris Clark - "The President's Own" U.S. Marine Band

David Finlayson - Second Trombone, New York Philharmonic

Nitzan Haroz - Principal Trombone, Philadelphia Orchestra

Mark Lawrence - former Principal Trombone, The San Francisco Symphony, currently faculty at The Colburn School

Carl Lenthe - former Principal Trombone, Bamberg (Germany) Symphony Orchestra, currently faculty at Indiana University

Jim Nova - Second Trombone, Pittsburgh Symphony

Matt Vaughn - Co-principal Trombone, Philadelphia Orchestra

Colin Williams - Associate Principal Trombone, New York Philharmonic

Bass Trombones:

Blair Bollinger - Bass Trombone, Philadelphia Orchestra

George Curran - Bass Trombone, New York Philharmonic

Darrin Milling - Bass Trombone Principal, São Paolo State Symphony

Music by:

Anthony DiLorenzo

G.F. Handel/arr. Carlson

Steven Verhelst

John Williams/arr. Glenn Dodson

Audio/Video recording: Clark Media Productions

Photography: Steven Osborne, Matthew Lynch, Chris Clark

Ever hear of HER???!!!

So, after my David Bowie post recently, I came across another amazing musician that I'm mortified to learn I had never heard of, nor heard... My wife and son brought home a book from our public library today called "Little Melba and Her Big Trombone".  What an amazing story.  I actually thought, when we began the book, "this must be fiction..."  Once again, truth is stranger than fiction... That an African-American woman could do what she did in the 1950s and 60s, is amazing.  She went on the road with Dizzy, Duke, Quincy, and many others. There's a great NPR profile called "Women in Jazz", as well as another NPR Music piece called Melba Liston: Bones of an Arranger.  Check them out!  

Here's Melba Liston, 1960, Lausanne, with Quincy Jones...

Many thanks to Bruce Faske! Here's another great recording to check out...

For those of you who've read my page about Dr. Neill Humfeld, you know that he was a graduate of the Eastman School of Music, where he studies with the great Emory Remington.  When he began teaching at East Texas State University, he brought the great trombone choir tradition from Eastman to Commerce.  This is a recording of Tommy Pederson's Cogent Caprice, featuring Dr. Humfeld and the trombone choir at the 1974 Texas Music Educator's Association convention.  Dr. Bruce Faske is a graduate of Texas A&M - Commerce (as ETSU is now called), and took the time to put this performance online.  Many thanks, Bruce!

American Trombone Workshop, Friday report

Hey everyone,  I got to spend quite a bit of time at the ATW this week at Ft. Myer, Virginia.  What a great event!  As always, Chris Branagan, Sam Woodhead, and the entire US Army Band does a fantastic job of putting on a world-class workshop.  I have a number of things I want to write about, but I'm going to start with some events and exhibitors from today that made a great impression on me... First off, exhibitors...

Sterling Music Editions - Sterling is run by US Navy Band (and former Kalmus Music employee) trombonist David Miller.  Now, normally most people wouldn't get all that excited about a music publisher, but man, I can tell you David has some amazing things!  I have a pet peeve, and that is poorly produced (and highly priced!) sheet music.  I hate it when I spend a significant amount on a new piece only to find it is printed on low quality paper, with poor page turns, and (gasp!) white glossy paper to boot (too much glare).  Everything David publishes is absolutely beautiful.  Nice paper, which I admit to having a fetish for... I got that from my friend and former roommate Jack Sutte, who loved to walk in to Patelson's Music in New York and just smell all the old French paper...... yeah, I know, weird, but strangely compelling as well, and I guess it rubbed off on me!   Anyway, David's works are produced as printed music should be, for the performer, and quite inspiring to look at.  In addition to his own arrangements, he publishes works by his Navy Band colleague Andrew Skaggs.  Andy is a beautiful trombone player, and I had the fortune to play next to him on a few pieces on the Washington Trombone Ensemble concert at the workshop on Wednesday night.  David just published a new edition of Adolphe Danhauser's solfege book, in alto clef.  For anyone who has endured sight singing from the Danhauser book, this if a fabulous walk down memory lane, and it is a challenging and enjoyable addition to the alto trombone repertoire.

Dillon Music - always a treat.  The folks at Dillon provide fantastic customer service, and this visit was no exception.   Jose helped me out trying out some Greg Black mouthpieces, and was a pleasure to chat with.  They have just about anything you would ever need as a trombonist!

Giddings and Webster - Ivan Giddings is a no nonsense guy that makes some of the most awesome mouthpieces on the planet.  Stainless Steel, baby! Ivan has a large selection of sizes available, and they play wonderfully.  I bent Ivan's ear while I worked on finding something that works for me, and he was very helpful.  Go check it out, or better yet just order a Euros or Boreas and be done with it!  Seriously, Ivan has a large number of sizes and signature mouthpieces available, and he has something to work for YOU!

Soulo Mute - Soulo makes both Cup and Bucket mutes.  Man, I have NEVER played a bucket mute that sounds this good.  Absolutely beautiful.  The bucket has a couple of different positions it can be placed and the sound is just so... BUCKET... and mellow... and dark... and just, man, it just makes me want to play something (anything!) with a bucket mute.  I might even play Tuba Mirum with this thing I like it so much!  The cup mute is very nice... adjustable cup, and it gets a very "old school" cup mute sound.  Gorgeous.

Tonight's Concert

Wow, what a trio of soloists!

Dr. Benjamin McIlwain performed Polina Nazaykinskaya's Concerto for Trombone ; Pittsburgh Symphony trombonist James Nova performed Norman Bolter's "Of Mountains, Lakes, and Trees" with the composer conducting; and Vanessa Fralick, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, performed Henri Tomasi's Concerto for Trombone.

The soloists all performed beautifully.  These were three very difficult pieces.  The Nazaykinskaya started out deceptively tame, but beautiful, and got progressively harder and more interesting as the piece went on... As someone sitting near me said at the end, "my face hurts!".  Very challenging and interesting - Dr. Mcilwain gave the piece its due diligence and performed beautifully.  The Bolter piece was a tour de force for James Nova.  Playing alto, tenor, and bass trombone, Jim demonstrated not just what it means to be a "utility" player in a major symphony (Pittsburgh), but what it means to be a true musician first, and complete student of the instrument as well.  What an incredible piece.  Each movement is published as a separate work as well, just in case you don't happen to play bass, tenor, AND alto!  Finally, Vanessa Fralick gave a very interesting and beautifully jazzy performance of the Tomasi Concerto.  Vanessa has a beautiful approach, and such an easy sounding high register.  Anyone who thinks "girls can't play high", well, Ms. Fralick gave us all a master class in lyrical high register playing, not to mention STYLE, tonight!  Well done, all around.

I have some other thoughts on events I have heard this week, so stay tuned!





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