Getting the quintet back together

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By Kirsten Laskey

The members of the Black Mesa Brass go way back. And after a period of separation, Larry Bronisz, trombone; Joe Holland, trumpet; Jan McDonald, trumpet; Jerome Morzinski, tuba; and the newest member, John Hardgreaves, French horn; have gotten the quintet back together. And their first concert will be the Brown Bag show at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday at Fuller Lodge.

“Joe, Jerry, Larry and I have been playing together in some form for (about) 20 years,” McDonald said.

He added Hardgreaves has performed in the group for the last six months.

Recently, “we just recently wanted to re-form the brass quintet,” he said.

“It’s great,” Holland said. “It’s a real delight to play quintets.”

Living in Los Alamos, where everyone knows everyone, allowed for the quintet to form. McDonald said he taught Bronisz in junior high and high school, “So I’ve known him for a long time.”

He added Holland is an ex-band director and “we’ve been friends 20-30 years.”

As for Morzinski, McDonald said he taught most of his kids in school.

Hardgreaves expressed an interest in being a part of the quintet.

“(He’s) a terrific player,” McDonald said, “Really dedicated to the music.”

 Hardgreaves said he has enjoyed, “Just playing. They’re a good group and have a pretty high level of musicianship.”  

 “It’s just really nice to have the opportunity to play this music again,” Holland said. “This is really our first public concert (and) we’re hoping it will be very informal.”

The program for the concert, McDonald said, will include music by Malcolm Arnold, Fats Waller’s “Handful of Keys,” Percy Grainger’s “Londonderry Air” and some of Handel’s “Water” movements.  

“It’s very versatile,” Bronisz said, “because of the grouping of instruments we can play a wide variety of music.”

He added since brass is a relatively modern grouping of instruments, mostly contemporary pieces are written for the five-member group. Therefore, “mostly we steal music from everybody else,” Bronisz said.

The technical term, he added, is the band plays a lot of transcriptions.  

The quintet members are eager to share this music with the audience at the Brown Bag show.

“We’re going to play a variety of pieces that will appeal to listeners,” McDonald said.

“I think people will really enjoy it,” he added. “It’s always a joy to play for a lot of people.”

Hardgreaves said, “It’s a chance to play a large variety of music. We’re playing a broad selection of things.”

And many member of the quintet feel the Brown Bag show is a perfect venue to showcase this music.

“It’s a convenient way to hear really great music at lunchtime,” Bronisz said.

He added he would like to see a lot of young people attend the show.

“It’s a nice thing that the town does,” Holland said. “It’s an attractive venue. It’s in the middle of the week and the middle of the day … it offers a chance to have fun without a lot of fuss.”

Hardgreaves added, “It’s a chance to meet people and play music I hope they enjoy.”

The informal atmosphere appeals to him, too. There is no need to wear a white tie and tails, Hardgreaves said.