Alison Balsom makes it look effortless, how does she do it?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by turtlejimmy, Aug 10, 2010.

  1. AKtrumpet

    AKtrumpet Piano User

    Jun 4, 2010
    @rowuk: Hey now! I said she uses her air! Briefly..
    but yea rowuk is right.
  2. Scatmanblues

    Scatmanblues Pianissimo User

    Jul 19, 2010
    West Texas
    Nothing to add to the discussion except another player who makes it look effortless.

    Because I know from the other thread you are getting into the jazz scene, I figured I'd introduce you to a name and series you should get to know:

    Norman Grantz and Jazz at the Philharmonic

    He spent years putting together touring all-star jam sessions featuring the best of the best, and this particular video comes from a session with two of the best trumpet players (Dizzy Gillespie and Clark Terry) and in my opinion the best jam session piano player of all time (Oscar Peterson). You can get the album on CD as the "Oscar Peterson Jam Session." Anything by Oscar is worth checking out, especially his series of albums with trumpet players (Dizzy, Clark, Jon Faddis, Roy Eldridge, etc.) I also recommend his "West Side Story" album.

    As to the trumpet stuff -Clark is a master and it's hard to believe the sound coming out of his horn looking at his face.

    Last edited: Aug 11, 2010
  3. Markie

    Markie Forte User

    Jan 4, 2009
    Clarksburg, WV
    rowuk sez:
    This level of playing is NOT just the embouchure. It is the whole body, mind, and soul.
    He is absolutely right. It takes it all.
    Intrestingly, the face is one of the first things to show distress, happiness, anger, ect..
    While I have no data to support this claim, it appears that learning to keep the face calm while playing can have an effect on those other parts. We know the face shows emotion and often is a good gauge for when a student is doing something wrong such as the nervous look of improper air use.
    This could be a great research topic for anyone looking for a idea for their Master's Thesis.
  4. stumac

    stumac Fortissimo User

    Oct 19, 2008
    Flinders Vic Australia
    I think we equate playing with the face because that is the part that is visible, ( I have never seen a naked trumpet player ). I had a moment of realization some years ago when I happened to see myself in a mirror while playing and was horrified to see how much my neck was expanding, I practiced with a mirror on my stand for a couple of months and got rid of the tension that was the cause.

    The teachers I had at the time never addressed tension in playing. I look at my fellow players in orchestra and big band and see how much tension is showing in their face and neck.

    Regards, Stuart.
  5. turtlejimmy

    turtlejimmy Utimate User

    Jun 6, 2010
    Rowuk, yes that post of yours has the ring of truth in it. It's not just one thing, it's everything. I'm really beginning to understand that ..... thanks for the insights. Alison certainly has a gift for making it look easy.

    And Scatmanblues .... Thanks for that introduction. I thoroughly enjoyed that clip and will be looking for more. I'm already an Oscar Peterson fan from the last winter I spent in B.C. Canada, listening to one of their great jazz stations. THAT was my introduction to jazz in general and Oscar was featured a lot (he's Canadian, right?). He's a gas. I'm wearing out my copy of "Anita O'Day Sings the Most" (weird title, huh?) with Oscar. You'd think the two of them together would be blinding fast, but only a few tracks are. Haven't heard or seen much of Clark yet, but whoah, that'll change fast. Thanks!!!

  6. turtlejimmy

    turtlejimmy Utimate User

    Jun 6, 2010
    Another part of the question that I have about Alison's playing is the sound itself, the quality of the tone she achieves. Is it my imagination or is her sound quite different from other soloists and players in the classical world? More towards the sound of french horn, maybe, or something like that but just very different? And by different, I also me absolutely awesome., to my ear anyway.

    I asked my private teacher about this, he's mostly a classical player, and I thought his answer was interesting. He agreed, loves her playing and said that she "pioneered her own new sound and spent some years developing it."

    Any thoughts about this???

  7. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    It is her personality coming out. Much less testosterone than many male soloists!

    I have often mentioned that what we often attribute to the sound is more the elegance than the amount of overtones!
  8. Markie

    Markie Forte User

    Jan 4, 2009
    Clarksburg, WV
    That is certainly a different way to describe Alison's sound and sound in general.
    While I disagree with your assessment, I'd fight for your right to say it.......errrr, hey, wait a minute, your located in Germany. I don't think the Constitution stretches that far.
  9. turtlejimmy

    turtlejimmy Utimate User

    Jun 6, 2010
    I hadn't thought of that. When it comes to "tone" I'm usually thinking in terms of technical or physical characteristics of the sound. But the way a person plays is always a part of the mix, makes sense ..... She certainly is elegant and IMHO we need more women trumpet players. Men look cool with a trumpet, women look sexy .... It's just the way it is. She's undoubtedly a great role model for young players, especially girls. Bravo! Alison.

  10. Phil986

    Phil986 Forte User

    Nov 16, 2009
    Near Portland, OR.
    Markie I believe that quote is originally from Voltaire. It certainly should not be limited by geographical considerations or the presence of any kind of document.

    Allison Balsom is as relaxed as any player must be in order to play as good as she does but on this vid, we can see that she also uses some amount of pressure (@3.58). My personal reference for how relaxed one should be is Mendez. Too bad there isn't more vids of him around.

    YouTube - Libertango (Alison Balsom) - Last Night of the Proms 2009

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