Posts Tagged ‘MUSIC. Phil Smith and the Imperial Brass’

Phil Smith played "You Made Me Love You" with the Imperial Brass

Phil Smith played “You Made Me Love You” with the Imperial Brass. Paul Goldfinger photo ©  Click to enlarge.


By Paul Goldfinger.  Editor Blogfinger.net. March 1,2023:

This is another example of the sort of programming that creates good will for the CMA. This concert was part of the Summer Stars series which the CMA is continuing .  They need to return to that travelled road that helps make the CMA popular with the majority secular resident community as well as with visitors who come to town not for religious reasons but because they love to visit the Grove, stroll  our neighborhoods, walk on the boards, photograph our restored historic homes and tents, and chat with our citizens who are friendly to outsiders as they relax on their porches.

In fact porch concerts, as occur in Asbury Park, should be done here as we shift gears to a more hospitable small town secular atmosphere while supporting the CMA to be successful here as well.   That is a better plan for the future of the CMA rather than the “no win” idea of a predominant  Christian Seashore town a la 1869.

The concert last night was brilliant.  There were about 25 wonderful brass musicians on stage.  Imagine an ensemble with 5 flugelhorns?

The pieces chosen for the event were varied—some obscure (at least to me), some complex, and some familiar, but they were all performed with a high degree of professionalism, emotion and care.  Despite some problems with clarity of the microphone, it only affected speech.

The music, performed with  exquisite clarity and musicianship, was unamplified and enhanced by the great skill and respect afforded it by these musicians.

Phil Smith, of Ocean Grove, former principal trumpet with the New York Philharmonic, not only played, but he conducted as well, although not simultaneously.

His gorgeous  tone resonated with the wooden interior of the Great Auditorium.  That refers to the famous acoustics in the GA—loved by musicians and audiences alike.   His technique was superb, and he got to show it off along with cornetist Mitch Brodsky in an intricate rendition of the “Cornet Duet” by Peter Graham.

This concert, the first of the 2015 Summer Stars series of classical music in the Great Auditorium, was well attended.

The Summer Stars recitals occur on Thursday nights at 7:30 pm. On July 9 is Yun-Chin Zhou, an acclaimed pianist; on July 16  Maksim Shirykov and Misuzu Tanaka—clarinet and piano duo; and on July 23, is the Solisti String Ensemble.

On July 30 will be a very special event:  Gordon Turk, organist and Jason Tramm conducting the Summer Stars Festival Orchestra with “Grand Orchestra and the Great Organ.”


PHIL SMITH:   A recording of  “Someone to Watch Over Me”.  Phil has played this Gershwin masterpiece live in the Great Auditorium on a number of occasions in the past




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Facebook Imperial Brass

By Paul Goldfinger, music editor @Blogfinger.net.  Eileen Goldfinger video clips

July 6, 2017 in the Great Auditorium of Ocean Grove:

We enjoyed this concert by the Imperial Brass very much, as expected, but there were some “knock your socks off” special moments.

As many of you know, the famous trumpeter Phillip Smith has a summer place in Ocean Grove. His tone and technique are so good that it makes you want to jump up and cheer, which is what happened.  Phil Smith played an intricate duet with Mitch Brodsky called “Deliverance.”  In the second half he soloed on an amazingly complex piece called Scherzando.

Phil told the audience that he has missed playing in the Great Auditorium and how much he loves the salt air and the pleasures of being back in his little cottage on Pilgrim Pathway.   Phil retired from his  long-term position as principal trumpet with the NY Philharmonic and now he is on the faculty at the University of Georgia.

Other highlights included a lovely trombone solo of an African American spiritual “Swing Low” by Robert Tiedemann. (We have a brief video from that below.)

We have been attending musical performances in the GA for years, but my greatest wish, until now ungranted, was to hear authentic live jazz in that terrific venue. Tonight the Imperial Brass granted that wish in what I suspect was the first time a real jazz man played, without amplification, on our stage.

Warren Vaché is an acclaimed jazz cornetist  from New Jersey who had two beautiful solos with the Brass, but the one that I savored was his rendition of Charlie Chaplin’s  “Smile”  Vaché delighted the crowd with a vocal chorus as well as a jazz solo.  Hopefully we can get some more jazz players at the Grove.

If you like jazz, check with the Axelrod Theatre in Deal where they often feature first rate live jazz.  Last year they had John Pizzarelli.  Also, Shanghai Jazz in Madison is a fine restaurant that features jazz and has done so for years. It is worth the trip.


The Imperial Brass is such a fine ensemble, and they vary their content so that you never get bored.  The instrumentation is thrilling for you brass fans–a diverse collection of horns— baritones, French, euphoniums, trumpets, and more that I couldn’t identify.  But the end result is a magnificent sound where the components come together in a remarkable way.

They have a web site if you want to sign up for their mailings or buy their recordings:

Imperial Brass

The group astonished the crowd with their last number, a most unusual rendition of the “Stars and Stripes Forever” by John Phillip Sousa whose premier march is often played in the Great Auditorium, but it is always done “straight.” However tonight the Brass astonished us with a raucus, jazzy, 21st century version of this piece including the classic piccolo solo done tonight by a marvelous soprano cornet player.  I wish Sousa could have been there.  Below is a bit of that march:


But there was an actual composer present–Joseph Turrin, who got to have a standing O because some of his brass compositions were performed tonight including a marvelous tribute to New York City called “Landmarks.”

Here is a brief segment of Robert Tiedemann’s trombone solo: “Swing Low”  Video by Eileen Goldfinger

And here are two selections from the Imperial Brass & Friends CD.

PHILIP SMITH (Trumpet)  with a hymn that he loves  (he introduced it and played it tonight.)

WARREN VACHE´ (Trumpet)  “April in Paris.”  ( I could not find a recording of “Smile”)

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Imperial Brass. July 7, 2011. Photo by Ted Aanensen, Blogfinger staff

By Paul Goldfinger

Last night, in the Great Auditorium, the first Summer Stars 2011 Thursday concert was held. The Imperial Brass is a fine organization of about 30 musicians who play brass instruments like euphoniums, horns and trumpets. They put on a two hour program of music from Leroy Anderson to Tchaikovsky. It was excellent, but then Phillip Smith, the evening’s soloist,  showed up mid way in the event. Phil is an Ocean Grover who lives on Pilgrim Pathway. But he also happens to be the  Principal Trumpet of the New York Philharmonic.

Phillip Smith, Principal Trumpet, New York Philharmonic. Photo by Ted Aanensen

He told the audience that there is “joy in Ocean Grove” and that being here “refreshes our spiritual souls.” He had my attention when he said that he was our neighbor, but I was mesmerized when he played his first solo, called “Jubilance” by William Himes. It was absolutely lovely, and his tone and phrasing were magical. It never ceases to amaze me how superb the musical programs are in this little town with its big musical heritage. Here, for $15.00, was one of the world’s best musicians, playing for us live…no microphone; just him inside the big cello of an auditorium, with an ensemble of accomplished brass players (also unamplified) to back him up. I don’t know how it is that so few people come to these events.

Later in the program Phil’s wife Sheila Smith, a soprano, sang an enjoyable Broadway medley and then a duet with her husband and piano accompaniment on the standard “They Can’t Take That Away From Me.”  Phil also soloed on”What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” but I really enjoyed his turn, with piano, with  Gershwin’s “Someone to Watch Over Me.” I took the liberty of recording that gorgeous solo with my iPhone, and here it is. It’s not exactly a professional audio crew, but enjoy the sound of a brilliant musician who also is our neighbor—–Philip Smith:

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