"Steaming Blues" - Hot 8 Brass Band
The trumpet melody rattling out of the television speaker and dancing through my brain was familiar enough to cause me to set down my tumbler glass of the always satisfying, sophisticated Wild Turkey and to look up at the screen to see the impossible face of the one and only clothed troubadour, Hunter Pence, relaxing at the piano before taking the outfield for the big game. As I was compelled to offer him the rest of my super-premium Kentucky bourbon, the all-star replied, “Alright, alright… alright.” And at the end of the 30-second blink of an eye, a single Twitter handle appeared underneath the corporate logo to clear up any confusion: @Hot8BrassBand
In Matt Sakakeeny’s book Roll With It, he addresses the influence of corporate sponsors promoting the culture of the New Orleans. On one hand, the financial support helps to provide a healthy lump sum of income for artists as well as for a means for social mobility within an unjust system. The price of which, however, is that the artistic contributions tend to be consumed in the most generic media, for instance as background music or stock imagery for tourism. In other words, rather than spending the resources to fully appreciate the complexities of a cultural voice… well, you get the idea. Look over here!
The trombone solo is a single chorus of Ab blues which makes use of many reliable phrases. Within the first bar, the third shifts from minor to major in order to arpeggiate up to the major 6th (F) and tonic. In the third bar, there is a melodic dance around the b7th (Gb), 6th (F), and 5th (Eb) which creates tension going into the IV chord. Note the juxtaposition of the IV chord over the tonic, where the b7th (Cb) is also the minor third of the key, which resolves back up to the major on the return of the tonic. The walk down from the V and IV chords makes use of a bebop chromaticism starting on the major 3rd, up to the 5th, and then falling to the minor 3rd descending to the root, repeat in sequential manner. For the most part, this solo works within one octave range with its singable melodies, so transpose it to all twelve keys in the practice room.
Here is a YouTube video of the Hot 8 playing this tune at Paste Magazine.
Recommended reading: Roll With It: Brass Bands in the Streets of New Orleans by Matt Sakakeeny. Published by Duke University Press.