The Louisville Orchestra Virtual Edition Presents: Wailing Trumpets

Bob Bernhardt, conductor
Byron Stripling, trumpet and Vocals
Bobby Floyd, keyboards
Jim Leslie, percussion
Andy Woodson, bass 

A review by Annette Skaggs

Entire contents are copyright © 2021 by Annette Skaggs. All rights reserved.

I was a bit excited when I saw Byron Stripling’s name as a guest with our Louisville Orchestra as he has a list of musical credentials a mile long.

I can assure you that Saturday evening’s concert did not disappoint.

Mr. Stripling has a varied musical career. Not only is he a brilliant trumpet player who can also sing, but he also serves as the Principal Pops Conductor Chair with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. And when he is not on the podium, he and his fellow jazz musicians are traveling the world as soloists with other orchestras at festivals and in the recording studio.

Mr. Stripling is heavily influenced by jazz, so I was happy to hear that throughout the performance as he paid homage to some of the greats in the world of trumpet playing, such as Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong, and Doc Severinsen. But we were also treated to some of the best New Orleans jazz.

Beginning the evening with After You’ve Gone, which was a lovely aperitif, we went directly into the familiar and uplifting Alexander’s Ragtime Band from Irving Berlin. This piece is a study in technique, human endurance, and stamina as the trumpet solo features some of the longest phrasings in horn scoring, not to mention the range of notations. Case in point, as Mr. Stripling approached the top note, he made the sign of the cross!

Irving Mills’ St. James Infirmary certainly has a deep, jazzy feel to it and while featuring the fabulous trumpet solo and Mr. Stripling’s vocal styling that is reminiscent of Louis Armstrong, the Hammond organ solo by Bobby Floyd was fantastic. A neat aside about Mr. Floyd is that he has worked with some of the most recognizable names in music, including Ray Charles and Dr. John. I also enjoyed hearing the adlibbing of Bob Bernhardt’s name in the lyrics.

And speaking of solo work, Louisville Orchestra’s own Andrea Levine’s clarinet on Down by the Riverside was beautiful and full of the spirit of the evening. While Ms. Levine was front and center on the clarinet, which is a popular instrument of jazz musicians, we had other outstanding sounds from our trombonists Donna Parkes, Brett Schuster, and J. Bryan Heath during WC Handy’s St. Louis Blues, which also included a simply lovely orchestral middle section. As our guest soloist shared, “You can’t lose with the Blues”.

While allowing for breath and lips to return to normal, Mr. Stripling asked Bob if he had ever had the opportunity to work with the great Doc Severinsen, to which our Pops conductor shared that he and the Louisville Orchestra had indeed and that Severinsen had also conducted a 90-minute master class talking about mouthpieces.

Waxing poetic about the New Orleans Jazz scene, Mr. Stripling spoke about some of the movers and shakers of the style and that one could consider Jelly Roll Morton a grandfather of Jazz. Growing up in New Orleans and performing in what was considered “full-service entertainment centers” Jelly Roll’s style of piano playing and sound quickly stretched far and wide throughout the world.

The Ragtime version of Black Bottom Stomp is certainly indicative of Jelly Roll’s sound and our guest artists certainly evoked that feeling, including our principal tuba player Andrew Doub, who provided some essential foundational notes.

Closing out the evening Mr. Stripling and his Jazz band shared a melding of the traditional tunes of Amen and This Little Light of Mine, adding a lot of neat nuances and highlights, not to mention a great background with the orchestra.

As Mr. Floyd played the Battle Hymn of the Republic and When the Saints Go Marching In gently on the organ, Mr. Stripling shared his appreciation and thanksgiving for having music to get us through the challenges of the pandemic. He also shared that he is proud of our Louisville Orchestra (although mispronouncing our city) for the way that they’ve been able to be present and insistent on showing their talents to the area.

We, the audience, are extremely grateful too.

Overall, I think our LO has gone above and beyond its challenge to bring music to our collaborative ears once again.

Bravi Tutti!!!!

The Louisville Orchestra Virtual Edition Presents: Wailing Trumpets

April 10, 2021


Louisville Orchestra

Annette Skaggs is heavily involved as an Arts Advocate here in Louisville. She is a freelance professional opera singer who has performed throughout Europe and in St. Louis, Cincinnati, Boulder, Little Rock, Peoria, Chicago, New York, and of course Louisville. Aside from her singing career, she has been a production assistant for Kentucky Opera, New York City Opera, and Northwestern University. Her knowledge and expertise have developed over the course of 25+ years of experience in the classical arts.