|Steel City Ambassadors was first keyboard job, playing vibes!|
Inventor of: Musique Concrete
Edgard Varese -
The Steel City Ambassadors drum & bugle corps always delighted and wowed audiences with their drum-line. I marched snare drum for a couple of years after aging out of Finleyville jr. corps; unchallenged moved on to the "Pit", where percussive embellishment and soul are added to the ensemble. (with Marimba, Vibraharp, Bells, Xylophone, Crotales, Gongs, Congas, Timbales, Cymbals, Tympani, and various percussion instruments and drums) Valuable keyboard experience was acquired by learning various four mallet techniques and playing marimba and vibes. To this point, my keyboard playing was limited to a few tunes in high school band and a block of private lessons with Mike Kumer (Dean of Music Duquesne University) in preparation for college auditions. (I passed all auditions) Many scales and exercises on xylophone and tympani with music theory were the heart of the lessons. Musser grip proved to be my strength, so I worked hard at accomplishing the nuance of the hold. The repertoire included a Frank Zappa tunes called Peaches en Regalia, arranged by Rande Sanderbeck, as well as a jazz tune called: "You Made Me Love You" which featured an 80 second duet by Kurt Hawkins on soprano and myself on drum-set. That was the first time in history a trap kit was used on the field for drum corps. A Barry Manilow tune kept me practicing and learning new chords and 4 mallet Musser rolls, and glissandos, for a couple of months, under the auspices of vibraphone player Mark Ortega, who had just returned from a summer tour with the world champion Blue Devils from Concord California, winning the DCI national championship. As Mark's room mate, I was lucky enough to draw "full time" on the expertise he aquired at Devils, (from Kathy and Tom Float) and previously from the incredible Blue Stars "pit" he marched in before that. (Mark was also in the Royal Crusaders) Percussion instrument experience was gained and featured in the picture on the cover of the national drum corps publication showing me doing a major cymbal roll in the Bill Chase (trumpet player and band leader) tune. (Chase pictures) Ortega and I taught Carrick high school simultaneously along with this gig and a couple of other jobs.
Above: Debbie Bokean played quads in the Blackhawk corps also!
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