Category Archives: Flute
I was watching a bunch of you tube videos of flute players playing jazz standards the other day, and I was covering my ears.. the tone just wasn’t there. It doesn’t matter how well you play… Moto Perpetuo at double time, if the TONE is not there. Call me a snob, but I just don’t want to hear it.
Speaking of tone, I am getting my Lafin head joint tomorrow… 22 K gold of beautiful tone.
As the legend has it, from what I hear, Vincent Van Gogh would perhaps never had sold a painting were it not for his brother Theo. He just liked to paint, had to paint, but apparently had no clue as to the business of being an artist. Joni Mitchell waxed poetic about the visual arts versus the performing arts on her “Miles of Aisles” record. She philosophized about how a painter paints a painting, and is done, that’s it. But a musician plays their songs many times. Joni said that “Nobody ever asked Van Gogh to paint another Starry Night again… he painted it, and that was it!”
Well, I’m no Van Gogh, but I am on a quest for my Theo. That person who will say to me… “Dave, just play your flute… I will take care of the rest”
To quote a title from a favorite Moody Blues song… “I Know You’re Out There Somewhere”
Oh, by the way, did you hear about some Japanese emperor, who had bought a Van Gogh painting, and wanted to be buried with it? He would probably like Michael Jackson’s glove as well…
Brannen Brothers has just launched a new twitter site… firstname.lastname@example.org
This will be a great resource for the flute community. They will help promote all aspects of the Brannen flute world,
such as new releases, concerts, masterclasses, newspaper articles, and more. If you like my music, it would be wonderful
if you were to send comments to Brannen, which they may post on twitter.
Many thanks to all at Brannen Brothers for this great resource to the flute universe!
For you flute afficianados, I thought I would mention that the head joint that I used on this recording, part of an all gold flute ( for the C flute… there was also alto and bass flute ), was originally made by Brannen Brothers for then New York Philharmonic first flutist Julious Baker. He in turn sold it to Seattle Symphony first flutist, Scott Goff, who then sold the head joint to second flutist Pamela Mooney, with whom I was studying. Pamela loaned me this fine head joint for a while, and it ended up on this recording. Finest head joint I ever played!
While student model flutes are usually made of nickel, better flutes are made of silver. You can also get flutes made of gold, or platinum, even ebony. Each material has different sound qualities. Personally, I prefer gold. I went to a concert once, in a church, and the flutist had both a silver and a gold Brannen flute. She chose the silver flute, feeling that it had a better sound in that particular acoustic environment. Nice to have the choice. Gold tends to have a deeper, darker, more projecting sound. Silver a bit more airy, lighter. Platinum has a very strong tone as well. If you have a hundred grand to spend… why not get all three? With flutes, most of the tonal quality depends on the head joint. And on the head joint, much of the sound that it produces depends on the lip plate, or embouchure. You can have a student model nickel flute, and put a really great head joint on it, and get a fine sound. It really comes down to personal preference. What is best for one tune, might not be for another. If you really want to get a great flute, try to find a flute fair somewhere. The largest flute event in the world is the National Flute Convention, held in August every year in a different U.S. city. Many of the major flute makers are there, and you can try out flutes to your heart’s content. Personally, I think that Brannen Brothers Flutemakers, in Woburn, Mass., near Boston, make the world’s best flutes. Their flutes range in price from around $5,000 up to perhaps over $50,000. Time for a bake sale!!!
Bonjour la France!
I got an email this morning from one of the world’s greatest flutists, Michel Debost. Michel is in the same league as Jean-Pierre Rampal & Sir James Galway. When I lived in Paris, I went to a recital of Michel’s students, who were all fabulous players. I met Michel, and he invited me to listen and attend his classes at the National Conservatory of Music, which is one of the most prestigious music schools in the world. He said that Sir James Galway would be there that week. I went every week for several months. Amazing! Aside from the music, it was a great way to learn French. At the first class, Sir James singled me out, and said… “You’re American, you’d know about this” “Sure Sir James!” “Got ya covered!” He was referring to some style of playing. “I’m all over it, Mr. Galway!” “Formidable!!!”
Towards the end of the school year, I took a lesson with Michel. I think I played a bit of a Handle sonata. Michel told me that I had all the talent in the world.. that all I needed to do was work. He said that he often played fifteen hours a day, between the Paris Symphony, Chamber ensembles, recording, touring, teaching, etc. Oh, is that all it takes?
I gave Michel a cassette, of my first real performance, about which he later commented…
“Bravo! Good tone & interpretation. All the talent needed!”
Michel’s email to me today was to give his consent for me to use this wonderful statement.
It just doesn’t get much better than this!
I have an old friend, Cary Black, who lives in Olympia, WA. Cary is a wonderful bass player, a virtuoso on the upright acoustic. We were in a band together at Cornish in Seattle, with Gary Peacock as our coach. Cary had way more experience than the rest of us, and had been gigging professionally for years. He was there to work with Gary… one step away from Miles Davis. Cary has recorded and toured with a bunch of great musicians, including the Kingston Trio, Joe Craven, and many more. Gary helped put Cornish on the map, known as kind of the West Coast Berklee. We would trade off being leaders for a week or two at a time, where we would pick the tunes, and tell the other musicians how they should play a certain part. This was a great experience. One time, Gary stopped us in the middle of a tune, and said to Doug, the sax player, “Man, what were you doing?” Doug said “I was playing outside” Meaning kind of avant garde, Ornette Coleman, or something. As if he meant it that way, being a cool jazz cat. Gary said… “Doug, there is a difference between playing outside in the heat, and outside in the cold” You were out in the cold, and you didn’t know where the door was to get back in!” Gary was always so great to work with. One time, during practice, Art Lande showed up. Art was applying to teach at Cornish. Gary played drums…he is a great drummer, and Art played piano. First time they had played together. Fantastic!
I thought I would share my thoughts about the musicians I have in mind to play with for my touring band. Subject to their availability when the time comes, those I have in mind at this time are Michael Powers on guitar, in Seattle, Todd Zimberg on drums, Vashon Island, either Cary Black, or Keith Lowe, on bass. Cary is in Olympia, Keith in Seattle. John Danberg, vibes and percussion, Anchorage, and my high school buddy, Fred Wackenhut, piano, in the Ozarks. I have played with all these guys, in various combinations, dating as far back as 1975, in my school band with Fred. You can google these hot players! Together, their resumes are astounding. They are all interested in touring with me, under the right conditions. Good paying gigs, good traveling, comfortable lodging, healthy food, maybe a nice massage here and there. Some of these guys have gigs many months in advance. The line up may change when the time comes, but this would be a band made in heaven.