Bass trombonist JJ Cooper was looking to expand the repertoire of music that included bass trombone in mixed chamber settings. I suppose his goal is justified by the fact that I did not even consider using the instrument in such a setting. Sure, I had used it in brass quintets and other “usual” combinations, but JJ’s challenge was to explore other combinatorial possibilities. When he approached me about commissioning a piece for bass trombone in one of these “other” settings, I just had a few questions.
I admit I was getting comically frustrated at his answers, but really more interested in tackling such an odd problem. I finally said in a sarcastic fashion, to really test his agenda, “Ok, let’s go with a lyrical piece for bass trombone, French horn, and cello,” knowing full well that strange combination would be laughed at by any serious bass trombonist.
“Sure, sounds perfect!” JJ replied. Uh oh. We were both in for it, and now I think that might have been JJ’s goal all along.