A bunch of London’s best brass and percussion players wanted to make a record but lacked the readies. So they went on Kickstarter and pitched their case. Many of these music appeals fall flat, and for any number of reasons. This one came in well over its target. We asked artistic director Roger Argente to explain how and why (below).
I run a group called Superbrass, it’s been going since 2005 It’s called Superbrass because it was put together at very short notice to replace a pro group that cancelled on me…
Until April 2012 I was Head of Brass Studies at bTrinityLaban, but my main job (21 years) has been playing bass bone in the RPO. Reaching a certain age, I thought this Superbrass idea needed much more of my full attention so I gave up my 50% TCM salary.
At Trinity, Philip Jones (of Philip Jones Brass Ensemble) was a previous principal. The PJBE are regarded as the founders of a whole genre of music making (albeit quite niche), and this genre has been copied around the world. I went to hear Venezuela Brass at the RFH, very mixed emotions… PJBE NEVER played at the RFH and would have never filled it either like Venezuela did…
My group, 10 brass and 2 percussion,is made up of the top orchestral, session and jazz players drawn from all the main performing ensembles. It’s not unusual to do a concert/workshop with members of the BBC Big Band, LSO, RPO, LPO etc all sitting next to each other sharing and supporting and enjoying each others playing on stage….and because this is so evident to our public and young musicians, it works well…..there is a definite NO EGOS ALLOWED policy!
So, what music do we play ?
We look around and we work with emerging talent Tom Harrold, Duncan Ward and fellow brass players, composers, jazz musicians that are out there playing every day themselves…people like Mark Lockheart, Mark Bassey and Gareth Wood. What we do with brass instruments is very physical and the deliberate cross genre nature of the repertoire we get commissioned shows this to the full.
We did a debut CD in 2011 which we recorded on a shoestring and was called Under the Spell of Spain (I have Spanish roots, so it seemed a good idea). This got plenty of great reviews from within the brass and band niche world but no-one outside such as Classical Music, BBC Music, Classic Fm would touch us because we also played jazz and folk music too.
I make no apologises for planning our 2013 project as cross genre again. This time the title is Brass Taps. We’ve recorded 11 new tracks for this album which will be available in September.
The amount I asked for was about 20%/25% of the overall commissioning, recording, producing, designing costs…but I knew we could never achieve the full amount and you have to start somewhere….
Superbrass only do 3-4 projects a year at present, because we’ve all got busy playing and teaching schedules and I can’t spend too much time chasing gigs and projects. What I find interesting is that an ensemble like Superbrass, that started by accident, works mainly in the outreach/workshop world, is passionate about commissioning and performing new repertoire and is comprised of some of the UK’s top performers, has found the right pitch to appeal to the Kickstarter crowdfunding platform. Thanks to everyone for your support.