A few months ago, Christan Griego called me to tell me about a new bass trombone he was building — the B454-D Edge. I was completely interested — that is until he told me it had dependent valves. Now I’m not the biggest proponent of using the second valve by itself, but I did like the flexibility an independent horn gave me. Christan seemed to understand my reluctance as he had been through this before.
Let’s jump ahead. Christan visited Dallas on his way to TMEA in mid-February. I had been playing the new horn for about 3 weeks. When he told me that he would have another one built for me, I politely told him, “No. That won’t be necessary. I’ll go ahead and keep this one.” Two things changed my mind — sound and ease of playing.
This latest innovation from Edwards completely floored me. From the moment I took it out of its case, I knew that I didn’t want to play anything else. Never before had I played a bass trombone that responded so quickly, with so much life in the sound. On gigs and concerts, I am still amazed at how little work it takes to play this instrument.
Like most bass trombonists, I am somewhat obsessed with sound. The B454-DE has a natural ring, due in large part to the way the horn is assembled. I was always worried about my old B454’s bell connections coming loose, and they often would in long performances. As I tightened them, I realized that these connection points deadened the sound somewhat because of their position on the horn. Alas, this was the price to pay for a modular horn. If I wanted to be able to switch out the bell or add an open gooseneck, this was the only choice I had — that is, until Christan and Edwards developed Edge Bracing. Edge Bracing is as close as you can get to permanent braces on a modular horn. The result is a more natural ring and more sound.
Another aspect of this horn that aids in tone production is the open gooseneck. On my other Edwards, I loved the sound and response of a low F with the second valve, especially at soft dynamics. It was more work to play these notes with the F attachment. The response of the B454-DE on these notes made me forget about second valve possibilities. Yes, I do have to have a faster slide in some situations, but that comes with being a trombone player. My transition to the Edge Braced Dependent Bass would have been more difficult had I learned long ago to play with my Gb valve in more situations. I’ll admit, there have been one or two occasions when I pressed the second valve trigger down and nothing happened. But these were few and far between, and I feel as comfortable on this setup as I ever did on my B454.
I played the B454-DE on a concert with Slide Tradition in early February. After the performance, I asked a bass trombonist in the audience (an independent player) if she wanted to play the horn. She politely said no thanks. Her initial reaction was very similar to mine, but I persisted. The moment she played the horn, her eyes lit up. That has been the reaction from most of the bass trombonists that have played this horn.