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The first solo recording featuring Bass Trombone with Brass Band

A Doyen Digital Recording, CD 055

Total time = 80:17

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AUDIO Magazine

March 1998, Vol. 82, No. 3

Few of us think of the bass trombone as a solo instrument, but this extraordinary disc could convert many to that view. Indeed, its very title, Proclamation, could be viewed as an assertion that the bass trombone's value as a solo instrument is the same as that of any other orchestral instrument.

Douglas Yeo, bass trombonist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, displays dazzling tone quality. He plays with a flowing lyricism that is usually associated with woodwinds, not brass instruments. Yeo's impeccable solos are beautifully complimented by one of England's finest brass ensembles, the Black Dyke Mills Band, whose beginnings go back several centuries. Most of the selections were recorded in Peel Hall at the University of Salford, Manchester. The sound is rich and organ-like, with an expansive dynamic range. Striking brass and percussive effects abound.

Perhaps brass recordings aren't for everyone, but this one - with its variety of compositions ranging from Palestrina to jazz, from 19th-century hymns to contemporary arrangements - should go far in winning many new fans. (Patrick Kavanaugh)

Review of PROCLAMATION and In Pursuit of a Dream


January/February 1998

Proclamation, a ground-breaking CD by Boston Symphony bass trombonist Douglas Yeo, is described by its executive producer as "a recording in celebration of the bass trombone." What a splendid celebration it is!

This recording, the first bass trombone solo CD produced with a brass band accompaniment, features the Black Dyke Mills Band and conductor James Watson for seven of the CD's eleven pieces. Four of these works were composed especially for this project and first performed at this recording session.

To American ears accustomed to the sound of a mixed wind band, the purity of intonation and precision of ensemble enabled by all-brass instrumentation are astounding. What is sacrificed in timbral variety is more than made up for by the brass band's subtle coloristic phrasing. The Black Dyke Mills Band is one of the finest musical organizations anywhere and on a par with the best symphonies in terms of musical excellence.

In addition to solos with brass band, Doug performs an unaccompanied solo - David Fetter's Variations on Palestrina's "Dona Nobis Pacem;" Charles Small's Conversations, with Boston Symphony principal trombonist Ronald Barron; Tommy Pederson's Blue Topaz, accompanied by trombone sextet; and a concluding devotional piece - James Curnow's stunning arrangement of Amazing Grace for bass trombone and piano, accompanied by Patricia Yeo, Doug Yeo's wife.

Yeo's playing is impeccable throughout, demonstrating his superb technique, remarkable flexibility, and extraordinary artistry as he negotiates a wide variety of styles, all with equal aplomb. The album's title cut, Gordon Langford's Proclamation, opens with a majestic statement by the solo bass trombone that exhibits Yeo's magnificent tone and control. Stephen Bulla's Rhapsody, a set of variations on the old Gospel tune, In the Sweet Bye and Bye , shows Yeo's impressive technique and flexibility. Tribute To George Roberts, arranged by Bill Geldard, shows a jazzier side of the bass trombone. Yeo's beautiful legato and phrasing, as well as his deep spirituality, are gloriously demonstrated in Joy Webb's Share My Yoke.

In short, this is the finest recorded example of bass trombone playing this reviewer has heard, and an album that is absolutely not to be missed. Extensive program notes on each piece, as well as ordering information, are available at Doug Yeo's website.

Were it not for the vision and dedication of Dr. Roger Challoner Green, this album would not have been possible. A lifelong devotee of the bass trombone and brass bands, Green has written a book to accompany the recording. Proclamation: In Pursuit of a Dream not only details the making of the CD, but also gives insight into Doug Yeo's personality by tracing their fourteen-year friendship through extensive quotations from their correspondence.

Also included is a wonderful memoir that is of interest to curious about the British brass band scene and customs, as well a brief history of the bass trombone. Green's chatty and personal style allows us to feel that we know both him and Yeo as he develops the theme of his vision, their collaboration, and the tribulations of self-producing a professional recording. Although the text is a bit slow-paced for a "get-it-done" world, it is ultimately a wonderful book and well worth the reading. The book can be ordered from Doug Yeo's website. (Dr. Gordon Bowie)



Official Journal of the North American Brass Band Association, Inc.
June 1997, Issue 68

PROCLAMATION is one of those "must have" CDs for all brass and brass band aficionados. But it is more than just for brass players. Doug Yeo, bass trombonist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, provides a rich, musical treasure trove for all musicians to enjoy and from which to learn. Through this project (See Book Review section for more information) he has significantly increased the amount and quality of music written for bass trombone and brass band, including four world premiere performance/recordings. These include the title work by Gordon Langford, Proclamation, which ends serenely quiet with the bass trombone intoning a low D flat - a beautiful opening to the album. George Roberts is the legendary studio bass trombonist who almost single-handedly established the solo potential of the instrument. Fittingly, a suite by Bill Geldard pays tribute to his legacy in three colorful movements: 1) Stella By Starlight, 2) Feelin' Low, and 3) In the Hall of the Mountain King. Rainy Day in Rio is actually a sensuous, gentle-hearted samba from the talented arranger Goff Richards. The most significant new work is by Larry Wolfe, an American composer who is a colleague of Yeo, playing in the string bass section of the BSO. Though it is Wolfe's first work for brass band, this three-movement piece showcases his fine scoring and symphonic technique.

The playing is top flight by all concerned. The stylistic range throughout the disc is incredible, from big-band swing to sophisticated chamber music to lyrical hymn arrangements. The soloist has written passionately about his experience with Black Dyke and, in the process, has done the brass band movement a world of good. You really recapture his and the band's enthusiasm for the music. This is THE clinic for all aspiring bass trombonists, all aspiring low brass players. What an amazingly rich, flexible, warm sound Yeo projects! The sound quality, accurate intonation, and musical communication that he and Ronald Barron deliver on the unaccompanied trombone duet Conversation ranks this performance among the finest recorded brass playing I have ever heard. You simply must hear this album if you are at all serious about brass playing and brass band music. To say anymore is superfluous; this is one of the best ever. If you are on the Internet, check into Yeo's Homepage for more information: (Ronald W. Holz)



Official Journal of the North American Brass Band Association, Inc.
June 1997, Issue 68

Roger Challoner Green had a mission - to produce a quality bass trombone solo compact disc, one which combined two of his musical obsessions - the instrument and the brass band. A bass trombonist himself and a brass bandsman, Challoner-Green persevered over about a five year period, ultimately getting Doug Yeo and Black Dyke together, and in that process being the catalyst that generated much new music for this combination. The book chronicles every conceivable aspect of the project, and most details of Yeo's and Green's interesting musical lives. You might think, upon first reflection, that it might be rather a dull topic, now that the album is finished. Actually, Green is a humorous writer, rather chatty, informal in style, and he keeps you interested through his fine powers of observation and, above all, his citing of all the details of such a complex task. You'll find out that Black Dyke was not the first band approached and there were frequent detours and near-disasters along the path of production. The book becomes, therefore, a rather valuable document of what worked and did not work in the trial-and-error steps he and Yeo took. While you go on this journey, you will meet a vast array of musicians, especially from the brass band community, but by no means restricted to that arena. The paperback book is handsomely put together, with multiple photos, both black/white and color, lending further insight. This is a warm, friendly tale about a dream, a friendship, an instrument, musical collaborration, and the broad creative processes that so enrich our lives. (Ronald. W. Holz)



Journal of the Internationale Posaunen-Vereinigune e.V. (Germany)
1. Quartal, 1/1997, Nr. 21 - 8 Jahrgang

(English translation)

Right from the beginning of his brand new CD, Douglas Yeo exudes a fascinating and sovereign composure. Whether lyrical, virtuosic or powerful, Yeo never has to resort to technical tricks to gain one's attention. His consistently expressive musical personality is what impresses. Among the absolute highlights of this CD are the world premiere of Gordon Langford's Proclamation for bass trombone and brass band and Charles Small's duet Conversation, which Yeo presents together with his orchestral colleague Ron Barron of the Boston Symphony. This production is an all around success, and shouldn't be missing from any trombonist's CD collection. (Christof Schmidt, translation by William McElheney)

(Original review)

Vom ersten Titel an strahlt Douglas Yeos brandneue CD eine faszinierende und souveräne Gelassenheit aus. Ganz gleich ob lyrisch, virtuos oder kraftvoll, Yeo hat es nie nötig, mit technischen Spielereien Eindruck zu schinden. Es ist stets die ausdrucksstarke musikalische Persönlichkeit, die beeindruckt. Zu den absoluten Highlights dieser CD gehört neben der Welturaufführung von Gordon Langfords Proclamation und Brass Band auch Charles Smalls Duett Conversation, welches Yeo mit seinem Orchesterkollegen Ron Barron vom Boston Symphony Orchestra an der Tenorposaune vorstellt. Eine rundherum gelungene Producktion, die in der CD-Sammlung keines Posaunisten fehlen sollte. (Christof Schmidt)



Journal of the British Trombone Society
Spring 1997

Whatever problems a bass trombonist may have in becoming a fine player, finding out how the instrument should be played and how it should sound is now dead easy - you buy this CD. B[ritish] T[rombone] S[ociety] member Dr. Roger Challoner Green is behind the release of this recording by his great friend Doug Yeo; he commissioned both original compositions and arrangements for bass trombone and band, in order to present the instrument as a solo voice that can compare with any other. And the final results of this groundbreaking Anglo-American venture are absolutely convincing.

Since 1985, Doug Yeo has been a member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, which he joined after studying with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's renowned bass trombonist Edward Kleinhammer. So much for the pedigree; what about the sound?

Imagine slipping on the overcoat you could only afford if you won the Lottery - the warm glow, the texture, the fit, the sheer greedy pleasure - and you're getting somewhere near it. Making a sound to fall in love with should be the objective of every musician, and this performer positively parades the super-lucious poetntial of his chosen instrument. You can even sense the recording engineers haveing a lovely time caring for it at the mixing desk.

The programme is an easy-listening compilation that contains enjoyable new pieces for others to pounce on and add to their own repertoire, by some of the best known and trusted writers in the genre - a clever bit of planning that has paid off handsomely. There's solemnity, fun, jazz, Latin, ballad-playing - you'd swear the guy had three lungs, sometimes - and throughout the whole, an all-encompassing technique at the service of top-class musicianship.

Gordon Langford's piece Proclamation is a substantial seven-minute work that provides the title for the CD, and is his first work for the bass trombone. It opens with an unaccompanied cadenza which gives you a foretaste of all the things I've described. Gordon's gift for writing appropriate, approachable solos has served him well once again - and offers every reason for bands to feature this new aspect of brass playing in future concerts. Stephen Bulla's Rhapsody is based on the old Gospel song In The Sweet Bye and Bye; a simple little tune that generates a set of fancy variations. Bill Geldard's arrangements for brass band are too well known to need any comment, but for all bass trombonist who have ever fancied a go at the George Roberts style (i.e., all the ones I've ever met) here's another player who can do it; and Roger will happily sell you a set of parts, so you can stick your own neck out. The unaccompanied Dona Nobis Pacem variations are models of rhythmic control, flexibility and intonation - basic technique turned to sheer mastery. David Uber's Skylines - portraits of Manhattan, Chicago and Boston, three important cities in Doug's musical life - were premiered in 1992 at the New York Brass Conference. The cornet solo Share My Yoke transposes beautifully for bass trombone, and Doug is joined by his orchestral colleague Ronald Barron in a tenor/bass duet, Conversation, that explores friendliness and aggravation in a nine-minute work of considerable substance. Six British trombonists (Roger among them) join Doug for Tommy Pedersen's Blue Topaz and the Latin element crops up in Goff Richards' Rainy Day in Rio Lawrence Wolfe's Tryptich is another delightful outing for soloist and band - and by the way, Patricia Yeo, Black Dyke and James Watson are brilliant accompanists throughout. Get your order in for this historic CD - while stocks last! (Anthony Parsons)



Journal of the British Trombone Society
Summer 1997

In Pursuit Of A Dream, subtitled PROCLAMATION, tells of the germination, growth and eventual flowering of the CD of that name by Douglas Yeo and the Black Dyke Mills Band. In frank and unpretentious terms, the author outlines his own musical life as an amateur player "so undramatic and ordinary that (he) hesitates to tell the tale." His journey of discovery - big bands, brass bands, jazz soloists, symphonic music - is a story told in awe and admiration of those he cheerfully acknowledges to have enriched his life with their much greater musical talent.

Roger Green's obsession led him to join the International Trombone Association in 1981, and in an ITA Journal he read about the Ed Thayer valve for bass trombone, used and recommended by Douglas Yeo of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Roger's eagerness to own and play on a Thayer valve was frustrated by the complications of having it fitted, and a brisk correspondence with Doug was begun.

"A greater contrast could not be found between the musical achievements of Doug Yeo and myself" says Roger. "We have both gone different ways, yet we have ended up as happy trombone players. This despite a huge contrast in innate ability." But a common musical enthusiasm formed the basis of their ever-deepening friendship. Their exchanges of letters reveal concern for the bass trombone, its players and its music at every level of ability and in every style, resulting in a crusade to establish the bass among the more regularly featured solo instruments.

Doug Yeo's zeal for the British brass band movement and Black Dyke in particular found practical and desperately-needed expressioen the band made its debut at Carnegie Hall in 1993 - and ran into an unexpected crisis. Doug wrote to Roger, "Carnegie Hall was pressuring the band to change their name because they found it offensive to lesbians and blacks. Roger, what is this world coming to?" Doug and many more of his brass- playing colleagues moved heaven and earth to make Carnegie Hall see sense, and the result was a stupendous success for Dyke.

The real bones of the book are Doug Yeo's artistry and the Proclamation project. The blow-by-blow account of how this dream became reality extends to nearly 300 glossily-produced and generously illustrated pages. It is an intimate story of musicians and their work, their vision and determination, commissioning decisions and practical problems, with daunting financial obstacles - and elation, when the job was done.

Roger Challoner Green writes as he plays, with enthusiasm and honesty, though the attention of a professional editor would have eliminated occasional infelicities. The labour of love also includes a vast amount of historical background, discussion about technique and instrumental developments, and it overflows with an optimism that heralds a lot more limelight for the bass trombone. (Anthony Parsons)



Journal of the New Zealand Brass Bands Association
Volume 43, Issue No. 3, April 1997

This CD was due to the inspiration of Dr. Roger Challoner Green who felt that the bass trombone had, for many years, not been regarded as a sol instrument and therefore had difficulty amasing a credible solo literature. A number of original works were commissioned plus arrangements for bass trombone and brass band.

Douglas Yeo, a long time friend of Rogers, grew up in New York and studied trombone under Edward Kleinhammer at Wheaton College (Ilinois). After gaining experience with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, he joined the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1985. He has appeared as a soloist with the above orchestras as well as the Boston Pops Orchestra. Douglas has written many articles on bass trombone and orchestral playing and currently teaches at Boston University and the New England Conservatory of Music.

This CD is a must for all trombone players and anyone who enjoys listening to very high quality brass playing. The majority of tracks are backed superbly by the Black Dyke Mills Band which shows its versatility in styles while retaining precision ensemble playing. In total contrast the Dona Nobis Pacem is unaccompanied whilst a composition by Tommy Pederson called Blue Topaz is backed by a trombone ensemble. One piece named Conversation is an unaccompanied duet combining the talents of Douglas and Ronald Barron (Boston Symphony) depicting two people having a conversation over the back fence. This is a technically demanding and ingenious duet which displays the fantastic control and agility of both players.

Douglas, as you would expect from a professional player, has all the technique and musicality to produce the first ever CD for bass trombone and brass band. He has a full sound through the whole range and has the ability to adjust the tonal presence to match the style required of the music.

For me the Rhapsody by Stephen Bulla showed the sonority of sound capable from a bass trombone. Share My Yoke arranged by Ivor Bosanko (generally played on cornet) reflects the mellow smoothness as a complete contrast and is my personal favourite.

This CD is more than succesful in showing the full potential of the bass trombone as a solo instrument and all participants involved should be proud of the final product. Let's hope that this CD will help to encourage young players to take up the bass trombone and play an instrument that has the versatility to be played in most musical organisations. (Richard Hogarth)



Issue 61, February 1997

Bass trombone disc reveals noble sound

All bass trombonists with soloist aspirations will want to hear this tribute the the noble qualities and varied potential of their instrument. Douglas Yeo (of the Boston Symphony Orchestra) is the first bass trombonist to make a solo album with band accompaniment. His programme explores a wide range of the instrument's potential and demonstrates the subtlety of its flexibility when featured as an individual 'voice.' The traditional power of the you will hear ocasionally, but never a rough edge to the tone!

Two items are totally unaccompanied. David Fetter's Dona Nobis Pacem variations for bass trombone express its very essence as a solo instrument in the same way that Bach's suites did for the unaccompanied cello, albeit on a grander scale. Also Charles Small's Conversation for tenor (Ronald Barron) and bass trombonist (Yeo) is even more impressive as it intriguingly portrays a discussion between two neighbours over a picket fence, alternating "between friendliness and agitation." At 10 minutes length and with its ingenious contrapuntal writing this is probably the most significant trombone duet yet written. The characteristics of the respective instruments are clearly distinguished, and it is a really classy musical dialogue.

The most immediately appealing serious piece however is Lawrence Wolfe's Tryptich for soloist and band (which features an unusual march, a barcarolle and a tarantella). At a length of nearly 14 minutes, it has virtually all the stature and many of the artistic qualities of a concerto.

Another fine serious item is Gordon Langford's Proclamation in which he provides a skilfully wrought behicle for the bass trombone to demonstrate great dignity, lyrically declaiming in broad resonances (like an imposing opera singer) a musical message of some subatance. There is also a beautifully shaped Share My Yoke.

Two items pay tribute to the style and personality of George Roberts, former bass trombonist with Nelson Riddle. They are Bill Geldard's Feelin' Low [from his Tribute to George Roberts] which seems to evoke those days especially well (expressive shufflings in the depths of the range), but Tommy Pederson's Blue Topaz (accompanied by tormbone snembels) seems the more ingenious. (Vernon Briggs)



Issue 4920, February 1, 1997

Who would want to record an entire CD of bass tombone solos, you might ask? The answer is Dr. Roger Challoner Green, whose vision was fulfilled when his friend Douglas Yeo, bass trombonist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra since 1985, flew in to the UK to record 11 items (17 tracks), one with his wife Patricia at the piano, one an extended unaccompanied duet with Ronald Barron, one unaccompanied, an item called Blue Topaz - played by a trombone ensemble (which includes Roger Challoner Green) - and the remaining 13 tracks with Black Dyke Mills.

The disc includes four world premieres: Gordon Langford'sProclamation, the title track, Bill Geldard's arrangement in Tribute to George Roberts (famous for his work with Nelson Riddle and Stan Kenton and affectionately known in the business as Mr. Bass Trombone), Goff Richards' Rainy Day in Rio and Lawrence Wolfe's Triptych.

The musical styles are nicely varied and it is hard to imagine anyone else's bass trombone sounding better.

The music on this disc will fall fresh on most British ears. Apart from the aforementioned new commissions, there is a pleasing arrangement by James Curnow (Amazing Grace), an effective transcription of David Uber's Skylines, and the ubiquitous Share My Yoke by Joy Webb, arranged by Ivor Bosanko.

The disc is a bit short of great music (pity Holst hadn't got round to a Concerto for Bass Trombone) what what's here is all very palatable and is programmed so that the disc can be played in its entirety with comfort. Enterprising and enjoyable. (Peter Wilson)



Issue 4925, March 8, 1997

Roger's passion leads to book

To embark on the daunting task of making a CD of bass trombone and brass band solos, with no background in the recording business, could be seen as courageous or foolhardy, depending on one's attitude to life. To go one step further and write a 300-page book on the project might be termed lunacy. But not for Roger Challoner Gree, producer, sponsor and inspiration behind the recent recording by Douglas Yeo and Black Dyke Mills.

With engaging frankness, trombonist Roger tells of his playing days - a fascinating cocktail of experiences, ranging from his early attempts to emulate Glenn Miller (right down to the rimless specs) to his heady days with Flowers Band on a Swiss tour.

But the main purpose of this handsomely-produced book is to chronicle the making of the CD, a labour of love, punctuated by glorious highlights, and moments of deep despair. The tale of the author's struggle to bring his dream to fruition is told humble and in incredible detail. it cannot fail to move. (Peter Wilson)

Return to PROCLAMATION Page | Go to PROCLAMATION Program Notes | Read Reviews of PROCLAMATION and "In Pursuit of a Dream" | Read an article about "In Pursuit of a Dream" author Roger Challoner Green

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