Tomás Peña: Congrats! “Titanes del Trombon” is the “feel good” album of the summer.
Doug Beavers: Thank you.
TP: Production-wise, it is ambitious!
DB: It’s huge! But it’s all about having a vision. I started conceiving it after my last record, Two Shades of Nude, which did OK but didn’t with the people I was meeting and the places I was going. From an orchestration standpoint, my primary goal was not to feel inhibited in any way during the scoring process. As a result, the album runs the full gamut, featuring extended brass for rhythmically intense salsa selections and delicate string and harp scoring for two of my favorite tunes, Engima, and Folhas Secas.
TP: Where did you study?
DB: I studied in California and at The Manhattan School of Music in New York, and I majored in Composition. Which, in hindsight, was a great call. I studied with Mike Abene, got my chops together and learned how to create a band sound.
TP: That comes through on the recording. You also established the Harlem School of Urban Music and Recording Arts, which we will discuss later. Where were you born? What’s your nationality?
DB: I’m mixed. My mother is from Spain, and my dad is Black, he was born in Kansas and raised in Los Angeles. That’s where I’m from.
TP: You currently live and work in California.
DB: Yes, I work at the California Jazz Conservatory, where I’m creating a Latin concentration program however I am also involved with Eddie Palmieri and the Spanish Harlem Orchestra. Conrad Herwig introduced me to Eddie, and there goes that story.
TP: You won a Grammy with Eddie Palmieri for the album, Listen Here (2005).
DB: That’s a great record for a lot of reasons. I got to sit in the control room and listen to Michael Brecker tell Barry Rogers stories, after which they rushed him off to the hospital. No one had any idea that he was so sick. The whole thing with Christian Mc Bride, Regina Carter, sitting next to John Scofield in the control room and the other room, right behind us, was Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez and Giovanni Hidalgo. At the time, I was in my twenties, but it wasn’t like an “Oh, My God!” thing, it was cool.
TP: Titanes del Trombon is a departure from Two Shades of Nude.
DB: Two Shades of Nude was more of a jazz thing with adventurous writing but getting back to this record. I wanted to create a very listenable record that to touches the people I play for. When you’re touring in Colombia, Mexico and Peru, your fans want to hear the music that touches them, and I wanted to make a record for them. I knew I didn’t want to do a salsa record, but I wanted the salsa I chose to kick ass and be on the money.
TP: Which, you did. I should mention, the project is an Artists Share fan-funded project.
DB: It’s a great label. I’m proud to be in the company of Maria Schneider, Brian Lynch, the Clayton Brothers, Ingrid Jensen and Danilo Perez among others. Moreover, it pays tribute to the great trombonists of both jazz and Afro-Cuban music, through the lens of varied Latin idioms including mambo, guaguanco, bata, boss nova, samba and Latin jazz and tells the story of a modern trombonist.
TP: Also, it brings attention to the fact that trombonists are formidable composers and arrangers.
DB: You could say it’s the center point because we are shedding light on the fact. J. J. Johnson wrote for films like, Across 110th Street, Cleopatra Jones, and Top of the Heap among others.
TP: The album opens with Trombón Moderno.
DB: The tune pays tribute to Generoso Tojo Jimenez aka El Trombón Majadero, a pioneer of the Latin trombone. He set the standard and Barry Rogers and everybody else came after that. I start with the cadenza he did on Trombone Criollo and hit the listener in the fact with the orchestra’s big sound. There’s a DJ Edit at the end, where we do some different things to keep it at the six-minute mark.
Esa Mujer – I was looking for a story that went to the heart, love lost tune about a chick that causes pain and Carlos Cascante, who I met through (bassist) Joe Santiago, gave me a great tune. As soon as I heard it I imagined a big sound and flowing lines. You can hear some Ray Santos in there.
Interludio I, II and III – Viaje – The Suite pays tribute to Barry Rogers and fittingly he’s at the end because he is everything to us, not to just as a trombone player but for any Latin soloist.
Voy Manejando is the first tune I wrote for the record, even before I knew what it was going to be about. The core concept was to create something extremely listenable and accessible. Featured are, Conrad Herwig and Oscar Hernandez.
Tu No Sabes is a Son Montuno and an homage to Eddie Palmieri, who asked me to arrange and transcribe La Perfecta’s repertoire in 2005. The tune features (pianist) Oscar Hernández and (percussionist) Eddie Montalvo.
Enigma – J.J. Johnson wrote such a beautiful melody that I wanted to put words to it. Believe it or note, my mother Anna Rovira came up with the primitive (idea). We took her idea and gave it to Hector Aponte, who fleshed out the lyrics and sang the lead. It has a nice intro and bolero feel, goes into a cha-cha, followed by an interlude. It’s very orchestrated, arranged kind of thing. My heroes Nelson Riddle and Rene Hernandez, I love their stuff.
Take it to Ozone is a Freddie Hubbard tune. The idea was to present the trombone in a modern light. Thanks to the great trombone players past and present we could hang on those tempos and play those lines. The featured guest is the drummer Dafnis Prieto.
TP: Boranda pays tribute to Papo Lucca y La Sonora Ponceña. When I first heard it, I mistook Carlos Cascante’s voice for Cano Estremera. Suffice it to say; you nailed it.
DB: To even record Boranda takes some balls! What’s cool about it is, you get to hear the New York swing because Puerto Rico has its flavor. Plus you have Oscar Hernandez, George, Delgado and Luisito Quintero and for a twist I transcribed Papo Lucca’s arrangement and used the French Horns is to accentuate what he did. The arrangement is incredible; you can’t mess with it too much.
TP: Agreed! You advocate for music education.
DB: I’ve served as an adjunct professor, lecturer, and advisor at colleges and universities in the U.S. around the world. I established the Harlem School of Urban Music and Recording Arts (harlemschool.org), which offers students in the South Bronx the opportunity to study jazz, salsa, hip-hop and rock through music theory and modern audio production training. I’ve also conducted master classes at many institutions.
TP: When will the album be released?
DB: June 16th (2015).
TP: The CD Release Party is at Sounds of Brazil (SOB’S) in New York on June 19th.
DB: Yes! I want people to listen to my music; I invite everyone to join me!
TP: Thank you. It’s a fine recording! Good luck!
Tracks: Trombón Moderno (Doug Beavers) (7:09), Esa Mujer (Carlos Cascante) (6:09), Interludio I ‘Viaje’ (Doug Beavers) (1:19), Tu No Sabes (Carlos Rosario & Doug Beavers) (6:00), Voy Manejando (Doug Beavers) (5:56), Interludio II ‘Viaje’ (Doug Beavers) (0:50,Folhas Secas (Guilherme de Brito) (7:41), Empezando de Nuevo (Doug Beavers) (7:09), Enigma (J.J. Johnson) (5:30), Interludio III ‘Viaje’ (Doug Beavers) (1:26), Take it to the Ozone (Freddie Hubbard) (6:07), Borandá (Eduardo Lobo) (7:00), Viaje (Doug Beavers) (5:41), Trombón Moderno DJ Edit (6:00).
Featuring: Frankie Vazquez, Eddie Montalvo, Conrad Herwig, Luisito Quintero, Dafnis Prieto, Edsel Gomez, The Curtis Brothers, Luis Bonilla, Reynaldo Jorge & many more.