My first tryst with Trombone was in the year 02. My manager then, a gentleman by the name of Ben was a trombonist at a local brass band. I accompanied him on a couple of occasions during his practice sessions and attended their orchestra's live show once as well (well.. I had free tickets..!); When I heard the timber of the instrument, the background musics of Tom & Jerry, especially of the types when Jerry is spoiling Tom's beach vacation or when he is meddling with Tom's lady cat etc., flashed in my mind. I was truly fascinated to see such a looong instrument. The complicated maneuvers to produce such amazing notes were equally fascinating.. Especially when performed in unison by a group of them...The instrument is truly one of its kind.. (To orient yourself to it, you can either read the wikipedia, which I found rather technical or you can read a simpler account here . Also Youtube has tons of videos on Trombone solos although most are jazz based that requires an acquired taste of listening. )

While the instrument is usually played as an Trombone ensemble in Brass bands - accompanying the main theme by giving punching phrases lasting all of single or two counts typically during the end of the given bar, the potential of this instrument to perform a solo act is second to none.

Actually Trombone is quite common in the Indian film music scenario. In the background scores, it is usually played together with other brass instruments to convey the de-facto 'Thigil' (suspense) effect.. like when the villain approaches the hero from behind with a Knife !!!! While in the movie songs, its used heavily as well particularly for partying songs, patriotic songs etc., Works of RD Burman employed a great deal of Brass instruments including Trombone. AR Rehman uses it as well (even today in songs like 'Azeem-O-Shaan-Shahenshah') But this instrument has always predominantly been used as part of the larger Brass ensemble. Pathoda Padhinonnu.. (insignificant !!); Whatever limited scope that existed for a solo in the interludes of movie songs was besieged by more flamboyant instruments of the brass family. After all, Baagyaraaj and Balakrishna look much "cooler" pretending to play the Trumpet or Saxophone in the interludes, rather than err.. a Trombone !

My interest on this lovely instrument was revived after I came to know that it was one Mr. Blasco Monsorate from the Goan Jazz circles, who usually plays Trombone solos for Maestro Ilaiyaraaja. Fascinated by the idea of trombone solo in regional film songs, I went about searching for them .. What I found were clips of mere 15 and 20 seconds.. but then to think that in a song of 4 minutes where more than half is vocals, this is rather a healthy proposition of length given the plethora of instruments. Besides, the exercise of extracting them and listening in isolation might pave the way for non-trombone aware listeners to appreciate the instrument.

1. Prelude of Sangeetha Megam..All along I was thinking this is trumpet. But I think this is in fact trombone (while in the last part of this section, a trumpet can be heard, floating out of no where and joining the trombone); The tone of trumpet is clearly sharper than Trombone.
Prelude of Sangeedha Megam

2. A Solo trombone starts at the end of 2nd line (oh..Kannal kaanugayaam) and continues through the 3rd and 4 line in the background
Aruna Kirana Deepam

3. 2nd interlude of "Hey I Love you.." Orchestration of this song is very very trendy.. Even Today
Hey I Love You

4. In the interludes of 'Suttum Sudarvizhi', the Trombone can be heard intermittently amidst the orchestral colossus.
Suttum Sudar Vizhi

5. Here is Japanil Kalyanaraman:
Vaaya Vaaya

6. And "Vaanam Kezhe" (Thanks Ramesh for the find):
Vaanam Kezhe

7. 2nd interlude of "Ennama Kannu".. Trombone solo repeated by trumphets;
Ennama Kannu

There are much more applications of trombone by Raaja. Rock n Roll beauties (Ram bum bum, Vaanamenna Mel irukka), magnum opuses ("Sundari kannal oru") etc., But as I said they were always part of a wider Brass section .. Solos hidden in (even well known) songs was quite interesting (well.. atleast for me!) Hope you liked it as well.. Please leave a comment when you can think of more Trombone solos in Raaja's songs...

And finally...

When Jazz meets Banthuvarali, we are treated to arguably the best trombone solo ever written in India by an Indian and played by another (Blasco):
Is It Fixed

Can you beat that ..?

With Love

Labels: , ,