Tag Archives: Conn

HOWARD MIYATA AND HIS MAGIC HORN (Jan. 7, 2012)

When the eminent brass player, teacher, and historian Howard Miyata and his wife Susan (she plays the French horn among other instruments) came to visit us this afternoon in Sonoma, California, I didn’t expect that there would be an impromptu concert-demonstration . . .but I am so delighted to be proven wrong!

For those of you who don’t know Howard, he is famous for playing with many bands — beginning with the Royal Society Jazz Orchestra and continuing up through the Zinfandel Stompers, the New Eldorado Stompers, Clint Baker’s New Orleans Jazz Band, and the High Sierra Jazz Band — which is where I first met him.  Howard studied at San Jose State University and directed bands for the Gilroy Unified School District. He also directs the Pacific Brass Band — one of only three authentic British style brass bands in California.  You might have encountered him on a JazzDagen cruise or at a jazz party; brass players will know him through his work as a tuba / trombone / euphonium artist and clinician for Kanstul (http://www.kanstul.com).  He is also a superb singer – vaudevillian (I’ve posted his performance of THE YAMA YAMA MAN here

and, more recently, A KISS TO BUILD A DREAM ON here.)

And before I had ever heard Mr. Miyata play, I had known of him as “Uncle How,” the man behind Gordon, Brandon, and Justin Au — and no doubt hundreds of grateful younger players.  (He is a superb teacher — but more about that in another post sometime.)  Most recently, I’ve posted videos of the Au Brothers Jazz Band with Uncle How, Katie Cavera, and Danny Coots in the rhythm section.

Howard had two horns in his car — a huge tuba and his Conn double-bell euphonium.  And when I said I had only heard of the latter horn in the lyrics to SEVENTY-SIX TROMBONES, he was more than happy to bring it in to show off how it sounded.  About ten seconds into his cheerful presentation, I asked him to hold everything, and I brought my video camera — thinking that this was too good not to share:

Even without a double-bell euphonium, Howard Miyata makes music wherever he goes.  We are very lucky to have him!

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CONN MEN at THE EAR INN (November 20, 2011)

The Conn men came to town last Sunday.  I don’t mean shifty-eyed slickers who shortchange you, sell you a dying car with a new paint job or a service contract on a $10 item.

No, the players at The Ear Inn (326 Spring Street, Soho, New York City) — the EarRegulars — were candid, frank, open and aboveboard.  Good men and true.  But enough of them were playing musical instruments manufactured by the C.G. Conn Company to make the title of this post a whimsical statement of fact.

Jon-Erik Kellso played a 40s Conn 22B trumpet; Scott Robinson an 1931 Olds French model trumpet, as well as his metal clarinet and tenor saxophone); Joel Forbes on string bass and Chris Flory on guitar had their own allegiances, but they looked pleased by the Conn job they were hearing.

I am not enough of a trumpet maven to know who was playing which horn when, so I was sorely tempted to call this blog TWO OLDS CONN MEN, but I calmed down just in time.  Whatever name you might give the horns and stringed instruments, the music was delicious.  Scott and Jon have elegant surprising fun — a pair of starlings having an energetic conversation on the fence as the sun comes up — and they clearly are laughing like mad through their horns.  Watch the great grins that blossom at the end of every performance.  Joel Forbes was in particularly eloquent and super-charged form this night: bass players should be making pilgrimages to study his lavishly huge sound, his fine time, his melodic inventions.  Chris Flory can swing seventeen men with his guitar, so what he can do for three or four is spectacularly mobile.

A tune from 1928 — a show tune, as a matter of fact — more like a delighted effusion as the title suggests — OH, BABY!:

For Billie Holiday and the great balladeers, Scott essays YOU’VE CHANGED — on both tenor sax and then trumpet.  What a combo he is!

Two trumpets paying tribute primarily to the Kansas City Six, sexondarily to a whole romping trumpet tradition: not a cutting contest, but friendly fun on ‘WAY DOWN YONDER IN NEW ORLEANS:

“Don’t forget — this was your idea!” says Scott as they start.

And a closing BLUES FROM THE HEART (my title, but no one objected):

Next week I will post a jam session JAZZ ME BLUES from the second set that mixes Bix and Basie.  I think it will seem superb.

Would I Conn you?

ENDORSED BY “PEE WEE” (1939)

And Chester Hazlett, too.