Two weeks ago (Aug 5 - 10th, 2013) I spent some time in Santa Fe, Argentina as a guest artist of the Trombonanza Festival. Trombonanza is in its 14th year and is run by an incredible visionary trombonist named Ruben Carughi. His festival is truly changing the low brass landscape of Argentina, and the entire continent of South America. The festival is an immersive experience where the participants and faculty engage in masterclasses, workshops, rehearsals and performances each day. We spent the days chatting, playing and learning from each other. It was such an inspiring experience to see all these passionate people eager to learn about music and the trombone - one young man even traveled five days by bus to be there! 

I was lucky enough to have twenty three students who had decided to take the "jazz/popular music" track. These guys were in for it! My spanish was quite rusty (which I later discovered was pretty much comparable to the language skills of a three year old) and I had never taught through a translator before - a new challenge for sure! I never realized how often we speak in metaphor, slang, etc., that doesn't really have a direct translation to another language (not to mention jokes...). But I am truly thankful for the people who volunteered to help translate for me! (Muchas gracias Alex, Pablo, Heini, Jonah, et al!) 

We spent our time talking about trombone technique, sound development, musical concept development, learning about how to navigate improvising over harmony, listening to music, and playing together. The jazz group worked really hard to get together two arrangements for the participant concert on Thursday - Horace Silver's "Song for my Father" and Hoagy Carmichael's classic "Stardust" (not to mention the time we spent playing probably my favorite arrangement for trombone ensemble - Slide Hampton's arrangement of "Lament" by JJ Johnson). 

Outside of the teaching, there was no short of inspiration from the other faculty members, I mean wow - sometimes I forget the realm of sonic possibilities that the trombone has. From such power to such beauty, what a great instrument. These guys were all masters of their craft, something I won't forget and will inspire me to get back in the shed starting yesterday! You can check out the Trombonanza website at to see the list of all the faculty. Thank you all!!! 

During the week I had the chance to perform twice - once with a small group of local Santa Fe musicians where we played music from my January '13 release "Exposition" (if you don't have a copy yet, you can get it on iTunes, CD Baby, and Amazon!). And the second performance was the conclusory concert of Trombonanza with the Santa Fe Jazz Ensemble (big band) - we played three original big band arrangements of mine! It was thrilling to get the chance to perform my own big band charts, all three of which hadn't been performed yet. We also played one of my favorite trombonists' original - JJ's "Say When". The concert was an absolute blast! 

I think the most unexpected part of the week occurred when during the whole group rehearsal (yes, 150 participants - trombone, bass trombone, euphonium, and tubas), Ruben handed me a score to an arrangement of Herbie Hancock's "Chameleon" (thanks Conrad Herwig for the arrangement!) and said "OK you're up" and I conducted the mass ensemble! WOW - now THAT is a lot of brass. Having to play over the whole ensemble, I was immediately thankful for the time I spent with Wycliffe Gordon - learning how to belt out over such a big group! 

Full of twists and turns, this week at Trombonanza is one that I won't soon forget. From the first day to the last, everyone was eager and open to learning new things, and working hard. I feel lucky to have met everyone there, and to have had the chance to experience the trombone in a new way. Thank you to Ruben and Heini for the invitation, I can only hope to come back again to see how this festival has continued to evolve and flourish!

Until then, I'll be in the practice room playing long tones! 


- Nick