I had played gigs with most of the members of the band before we formed our group, but never in a combo setting. I have always wanted to have my own jazz combo but was distracted for a few decades with family, university teaching jobs, summer music festivals and numerous freelance opportunities. I have a been faculty member at the University of Minnesota School of Music since 1990 and have also had the opportunity to play many hundreds of "gigs" with the SPCO and the Minnesota Orchestra, as well as numerous Broadway shows at the Ordway Theatre. In a previous life, I played lead trombone in the North Texas State University One O'Clock Jazz Lab Band, ran my own big band (Mom's Jazz Band) in Dallas and worked as a studio and general freelance musician in Dallas and Fort Worth. In between Texas and Minnesota, I was a member of the Kansas City Symphony and taught trombone and jazz improvisation at the University of Kansas. I also taught and performed for a year in Australia, but that's a whole other story.
As life began to slow down a bit, the Fireside Five was formed in December of 2014. We rehearsed a few times at my home and then played a number of times at the Underground Music Cafe in the Como Park neighborhood in 2015. We did one recording session at The Terrarium studio in Minneapolis in April 2015 to create a few demo tracks, and then everyone got really busy with life and other gigs. I decided to get the band together again earlier this year and this is the first of what I hope will be many performances together.
What is the collaborative process like with the band?
Since I'm fortunate to be working with some of the most talented and experienced musicians in the Twin Cities (or anywhere else), there is no lack of great ideas for music, grooves, arrangements, etc. We also have a myriad of horn combinations and colors to explore, with Brian Grivna on alto and tenor sax, clarinet and flute and me on trombone, euphonium and bass trumpet. We have not generated any original tunes yet, but we have come up with some interesting and unique approaches to many great jazz standards.
You have an eclectic mix of jazz planned for this Thursday (dixieland, swing, bebop, bossa nova and beyond). Can you tell us a bit about what we'll hear?
As all of the band members are a bit over fifty (I am pretty sure), there aren't many tunes that someone in the band hasn't played before. We do have a good time presenting very authentic performance of jazz classics, as well as taking new approaches to many standards. Our audiences can expect to hear everything from "Struttin' With Some BBQ" with Brian Grivna burning on the clarinet, the lovely bossa nova "Ceora" with flute and euphonium (think really big flugelhorn) and Coltrane's usually burning-tempo "Giant Steps" played as a loping jazz waltz... and just about everything in between. It would be great to have an audience of music lovers come out and enjoy an evening of diverse, inspired and swinging jazz!
The Fireside Five presents an exciting evening of jazz, including dixieland, swing, bebop, bossa nova and beyond. The band will include leader Tom Ashworth on trombone and assorted low brass, Brian Grivna on multiple woodwinds, pianist Phil Aaron, Gary Raynor on bass and Joe Pulice on drums.