Challenging but Popular Solos to play with Brass Band by Brett Baker

I often look up on line which are considered the best if not greatest solos to play with brass band accompaniment and can never find information on this question, therefore I thought I would come up with my own list of pieces that I am sure many will disagree with but will at least give trombonists some food for thought. After playing a whole range of solos with band over many years these are the ones in my experience that go done very well with audiences and bands alike.

Slow melodies: trombonists are incorrectly always seen as only able to play slow tunes, and in this area, the most popular would surely be ‘Berceuse de Jocelyn’ or ‘Angels Guard Thee’. Three different arrangements exist, and my favourite is that by Gordon Langford but the Eric Ball arrangement is also very good. Also, if looking for something a little more in the jazz ballad style, any of Bill Geldard Arrangements for trombone and band are a must, the most popular is certainly ‘Stardust’ but often requested is Geldards version of ‘Autumn Leaves’ but this is not for the faint of heart. Continuing with the slow melody vain a piece that goes down well as a trombone solo is ‘Over the Rainbow’ there are two versions one arranged by Alan Fernie and another by Norma Bearcroft.

Florid: We then move into solos that are florid but also show an impressive technique. The first piece would undoubtedly be ‘Thoughts of Love’ by Arthur Pryor. One of the first arrangements of this style arranged by Keith Wilkinson back in the 1980s but there now exists a whole series of solos by the likes of Arthur Pryor, Frederick Innes, Herbert Clarke, Bohumir Kryll and Leo Zimmerman. When looking for something a little different but in the Arthur Pryor vain I would recommend ‘Seashells Waltz’ by Frederick Innes and again this is arranged by Keith Wilkinson.

An all-encompassing tenor trombone solo that shows off the full colours and virtuosity of the trombone would have to be Gordon Langford’s ‘Rhapsody for Trombone’ this is a masterpiece that really provides the listener with a complete experience of the instrument’s capabilities. However you need a very good band to accompany you in playing this piece. Also in this vain and equally as difficult, if not harder again for the band (and also written for the great Don Lusher), is a piece called ‘Dance Sequence’ by Gareth Wood.

Other pieces that go down well with audience that work well in a church setting include Peter Grahams solos for instance the slow melody ‘The Name’ works very well, but a more challenging work is ‘Radio City’ that needs a narrator. Other Salvation Army piece well worth trying if you have a very good high register include, Dorothy Gates arrangement of ‘Come into our World’ and Bill Broughtons ‘Let the Beauty of Jesus’. Whilst Ken Downies arrangement of ‘Abide with me’ also works very well during festivals and services.

Then we come to Trombone Concertos, the most popular without doubt is the ‘Concertino by David’ and Rimsky Korsakovs ‘Concerto for trombone’. Only the second and third movements of this piece are published with band accompaniment. However, you may also wish to try a movement from Rob Wiffin or Martin Ellerbys ‘Trombone Concertos’ as something a bit different and for the trombonist that is allowed a 15 minute slot then Edwards Gregsons ‘Concerto for Trombone’ works very well.

Those that prefer something lighter in nature may wish to look at ‘Blue John’ by Peter Kneale or Roy Newsomes ‘Tenor Trombone Rag’. I wish you every success in picking a piece that will appeal to your bands and audiences alike. I hope this was useful.

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