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50,000 people in Switzerland 2012

     Hello World!  Welcome to my maiden voyage in website design. The learning curve will likely leave you dizzier than a ride on a rollecoaster! 

     I’m starting slowly here with links to pages for Youngblood Brass Band and the new groups I’ve joined in the past year or so now that I’m fully settled in Switzerland.  YBB’s 2013 release “Pax Volumi” has finally run it’s course and we’re super psyched to be back in studio recording tracks for our upcoming EP to coincide with 2017 touring.

    Oh yeah, I got married in 2014 and now live in Switzerland!  It’s been a crazy circle from my ancestors leaving Switzerland and ending up in WI to my return 150 years later. Both sides of my Dad’s family on his father’s side are from within 30 minutes drive of where I live. Wild huh?!  My friends here have all seen pics of New Glarus, WI and the Cheese Days Festival in Monroe, WI and simply cannot comprehend why we still yodel or live in chalets and have names like Hans, Ruedi and Tschanz!  Be well and enjoy and please look at the pages from my bands both present and past.

Youngblood Brass BandYoungblood Brass Band: So much to say, so little space. I joined up about 20 years ago and the music gets better and better and we play more countries and meet new people. Band leaders David Skogen and Nat McIntosh and all the rest are as close to brothers as one gets sans biological ties. Our Facebook page is very current and I’ll leave you to explore all the videos and pics at your leisure rather than endure my rambles.                          Look out for our new EP!

New (for me) Swiss/German bands. My new hommies!

TraktorkestarWelcome to the world of Balkan style Brass Band. I met these guys last year when they called up Youngblood for a workshop in Bern, Switzerland (CH). We were thrilled to meet a group coming from a traditional music genre (Balkan) who were struggling to find their own way and break out of/expand beyond convention. YBB has long sought the same goal. Now I’m in the band and find that brass is brass is brass and that these guys want to rip it loud and BE the party.                                                                                       

Check out our new album: Deafening Lullabies and watch the animated video for one of the album singles “Lost Boy & Suicide Girl” featuring guest Simon Jaggi on vocals.

Sarah Chaksad Orchestra: I met Sarah a few years ago after a friend of Leila’s parents took me to the Mohagony Hall here in Bern. Chance had it that the Bari Sax player (Fabian Willmann) had been coming to YBB shows for years. Introductions ensued and a year later (last April) we were in legendary Bauer Studios outside Stuttgart, DE recording an album. Sarah’s music is what I’d call “Modern Jazz” meaning in doesn’t always swing and incorporates a pile of harmonies and rhythms that might not get our grandparent’s out on the dance-floor. THANK GOD!  She’s working with and in a style that needs to push boundaries. Her teacher Guillermo Klein would have it no other way.                                                                                                                                  Check out our new album: Windmond

Jonas Winterhalter Orchestra: Jonas is and extreme marathon runner. WHAT?! That means he runs races in the Himalayas for 24+ hours.  His morning runs are 3-4 hours! Luckily he has time whilst running to work out a bunch of 12 tone melodies and poly-tonal chord progressions and arrange it all for his  band.  He’s a heck of a trumpet player to boot.  I also happened to meet Jonas when checking out the Chaksad Orchestra I mentioned above. He’s from Freiburg, DE (sister city of my home Madison, WI) and takes immense pleasure that I have a quality German last name like Wagner. We’re recorded an album of his music this Fall and will hit a few CH and DE venues to tune up the charts.                                                                                                 Here’s a video from a gig last year: JWOrchestra 

Johannes Maikranz Orchestra: Johannes has the looks, the guitar and the skills. I joined his ensemble for a recording session last year at the Jazz Campus Basel featuring compositions he’d created to complete his Bachelor’s Degree requirements. The ensemble feature the normal compliment of jazz ensemble instrumentation supplemented with Bassoon, Tuba, French horns and a very tone-poem style of writing. The star of the show was the great pianist Aydin Esen who has recorded with everyone and  transformed some otherwise beautiful music into something sublime. He even joined us for a rooftop BBQ organised by bone player Lou Lecuadey and myself (leave it the French and USA guys to know how to party) and proceeded to regale us with stories about Chick Corea and Joe Lavanoe and compliment the heck out of our band. Capital fellow!  This band is working on some dates so stay alert.

Churchhill: 

This is a local Bern band that’s been making hit records for years. I met one of the leaders, David Flach, thanks to having finagled my way into their rehearsal studio via a mutual friend. Soon enough I was playing in the above ensembles with Churchhill’s bone player Lukas Wyss and he corralled me into the horn section. I was shocked SHOCKED to learn they’d been rolling with a horn section SANS TRUMPET!                         Check the teaser video for upcoming single: “Damevello”

My old U.S. bands: 

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The Big Paybackis a Rock/R&B group from Madison, WI and released a great album, “Overture” in 2010. I’m actually very proud of the album and have to admit that it’s the only album I have had the pleasure to record that I’m basically 100% happy with. Ok, The music is all original, Leah Isabel Tirado knocks the vocals out of the park and the collaboration between band members is refreshingly vibrant.

Tony Castaneda’s Latin Jazz Sextet IMG_0116Led by well-know Madison personality Tony Castaneda, the band has been a long-time fixture in the Madison music scene both in the Latin and Latin Jazz crossover scenes.  I worked in this band more than any group other than Youngblood.  They can do it all…club shows, convention centers, university/high school arts programs, music festivals, basketball games, grocery store openings/closings. Have band, will gig.  Tony has been very active in Madison political issues for 30 years and works for a fantastic organisation, Housing Initiatives, Inc. that places chronically homeless people into stable housing who are one step away from falling completely through society’s widening cracks.  I have helped them move residents over the years and have seen how powerful this HUD (Housing and Urban Developement) award-winning program is. Please visit their site and learn/volunteer/give money.

Grupo Candela: 

IMG_1403I believe Latin music to be the ideal musical vehicle for using the Trumpet to its fullest potential. It requires precision playing, articulation, solo and section technique, style, brightness/clarity of tone and machismo! Just check cats like Jesus Alemany from Cubanismo or any number of monsters in Irakere’s long career. Grupo Candela features both covers of famous Latin classics and a growing original library thanks to the talents of music director Carmello Saez III and others.

Mama Digdown’s Brass Band:

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Full disclosure. I’m really a sub with Mama’s but love these guys like the bro’s they are. This band pre-dates Youngblood and many of us cut our teeth sitting in as teenagers plus band leader Eric Jacobson has covered the Sousaphone spot in YBB at times over the years.  Some eventually joined the ranks as full members and many of us are either current members or regular subs today.  I took my first trip to New Orleans at 19 years old to see these guys play at Donna’s Brass Band Bar and Grill and it honestly changed my life. They represent an evolution of the street sound made famous by New Orleans legends like the Rebirth, Treme and New Birth Brass Bands. I recommend their album, “Ascona” recorded in Ascona, Switzerland a few years back and I’m awaiting, for eeeeeever, the arrival of an all Michael Jackson album entitled, “Brass Jackson”.

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