David Reid is one of Canada’s most versatile and sought-after low brass musicians, active in a wide variety of musical genres on alto, tenor, bass and contrabass trombones as well as tuba and euphonium. Following an active youthful period as a pianist and brass band cornetist, he turned his attention to the trombone in 1980, joining the CPO in 1984 where he served for eighteen seasons as Assistant Principal (tenor) Trombonist prior to his appointment as Principal Bass Trombonist in 2002. From 2004 – 06, he took a leave of absence from the CPO, returning to his native city of St. John’s to serve as Professor of Low Brass at Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN).
Studies in music include the completion of performance diplomas (A.T.C.L. and L.T.C.L) in piano and cornet from Trinity College, London while still in his teens. He later attended MUN, University of Toronto and Indiana University, where he completed a Master’s degree in trombone performance. Principal teachers during this period were Gordon Sweeney, Ed Anderson and Dee Stewart. Since establishing his career in Calgary, he has participated in dozens of recordings in various genres, including many with the CPO, the critically acclaimed album by Albertasaurus Tuba Quartet and sessions on the albums of stylistically diverse artists such as Jann Arden, Steve Pineo, Tim Tamashiro and Heather Blush.
As a jazz musician, Dave can often be heard improvising solo spots at CPO “Pops” shows and was recently featured front of stage with guest artist Chantal Kreviazuk. He has been a regular member of Calgary’s Prime Time Big Band since 2001, a frequent guest performer and clinician at jazz workshops in and around the Calgary area, and when time permits, a club date player in small group settings. For 15 years, he was lead trombonist with the Grandstand Orchestra of the Calgary Stampede.
Recent freelance highlights include playing first trombone in the soundtracks for the Emmy-award-winning music featured in the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, and a Country Music Television production, Christmas at the Grand (also released on CD). He is a “first call” player for traveling professional Music Theatre productions on various low brass instruments, and has also worked extensively for Theatre Calgary in local musical productions.
Dave is married to CPO bassist, Trish Bereti Reid. Aside from their musical lives and the occasional escapes to ski in the Rockies, they’re kept busy raising their two young children and traveling as often as possible to their waterfront summer homes in Saskatchewan and Newfoundland.
Who do you think are or were the masters of your instrument?
George Roberts, Dave Taylor, Bill Reichenbach, Ed Anderson, Charles Vernon, to name just a few great bass trombone players. Among the current generation of great orchestral bass trombonists, James Markey of the Boston Symphony (formerly with NY Philharmonic) stands out as being among the very best in the field, in my opinion. He sets the bar very high for the rest of us.
Tell us a little about your instrument.
The bass trombone is actually the most “modern” of the acoustic instruments in use today in terms of how recently its design has been more or less standardized. Though the basic trombone design goes back to the 14th century (being the only fully chromatic brass instrument prior to the invention of valves in the 19th century), the most popular configurations of the modern bass trombone were established as recently as the 1980’s with significant refinements of mechanism continuing into the past two decades. The instrument that I play in the CPO was hand-made in the late 1990’s by the S.E. Shires company from the Boston area. I found it on eBay and took a chance at buying it “sight unseen” from a computer dealer in Vancouver (after running a police check on it!). Apparently, its original owner decided to trade it in for some high-tech toys.
Do you play in any groups/ensembles outside of the orchestra?
I’m very active as a freelance musician in many styles and genres, on stage, in orchestra pits and in studio. The established groups I regularly perform with are Prime Time Big Band and Bow Valley Brass Quintet. I frequently “sub in” with two other fine jazz ensembles – the Calgary Jazz Orchestra and the Calgary Creative Arts Ensemble (CCAE).
What kinds of music do you listen to when you’re “off-duty?” What’s currently on your iPod?
I definitely lean towards jazz, both instrumental and vocal. Of course I also have a keen interest in world-class brass playing in all styles. Having been raised in the Salvation Army Brass Band tradition, I love listening to the many superb British-style brass bands which are rising to great popularity all over the world these days, particularly in the EU and the US. Listening to symphonic orchestral recordings is most often done in preparation for upcoming concerts, though I sometimes get the urge to rattle the windows with a recording of some big post-Romantic or early 20th Century work. Having lived through (and had my ears survive) the “Walkman” craze of the ’80s, I’ve never had the urge to own an iPod. I still like to spin my vinyl LPs at home. I’ve been very excited (and feel vindicated by the correctness of my predictions) at the huge resurgence in the popularity of vinyl in recent years.
How do you prepare for a concert? Any “pre-game” rituals?
Lots of warm-up exercises and deep breathing (playing the bass trombone takes a LOT of air, even more than tuba, surprisingly!)
How old were you when you started playing?
I took up the trombone at 17, though I had been playing piano and cornet since I was seven.