"Vieux Carre" - Trombone Shorty
I had a bit of a breakthrough recently while working on my double-tonguing, or doodle-tonguing, exercises. Through all of these years with the horn, I have never been able to properly reign in the technique, only occurring when the stars and planets seemed to be aligned. But the a-ha moment for me was realizing that double-tonguing effectively allows the tongue work less. Instead of attacking the entire rapid series of notes, I learned to attack only half of the notes and use the back of the tongue to spit out the rest. It was simply a matter of reassigning the sub-divisions of the beat to the back of the tongue, to focus on the rhythmic feel instead of literal notation.
It's still not quite there yet and needs a few more months of solid woodshedding, but the work is already paying off. And it begs to ask the question of how much hard work is required now in oder to make things easier later. When you are crossing the street, do you cross where you are, hopping in between the oncoming traffic, or do you walk down the block to use the traffic signals? (I mean, even The Beatles' work ethic led them to use the crosswalk.) It's kind of like learning to play both trumpet and trombone so that you only have to play half as much when you trade solos with yourself, right? Or maybe like transcribing over one hundred trombone solos so that you might be able to play one yourself someday. I guess what it really comes down to is the sense of pride that is derived from making "these go to eleven." [YouTube video expired]
And the redeeming irony of it all is the lifetime of work in order to play a couple four-bar solos. Thankfully, the melodic qualities of Shorty's shorter solos make for some good practice material. The first bar, for example, is a nice way to practice scales or intervals as the pattern works itself around the chord tones, and its syncopation sets up the next strong downbeat. A good exercise could be to play that one-bar pattern and resolve in the next measure, however you want, then play through that pattern again and resolve it. Modulate to another key and repeat.
Here is a YouTube video of New Orleans' signature cocktail, the Vieux Carre.
Recommended Reading: Arban's Famous Method for Trombone, edited by Charles L. Randall and Simone Mantia. Published by Carl Fischer.