Christan Griego provides us with his thoughts on jazz trombone artist Craig Klein
I met Craig Klein while he was on the Come By Me tour with Harry Connick Jr. He called saying that he would be in Madison, WI, and wanted to try some of the jazz trombones we were making. We got together and after a few weeks of work, we found a good fit and got him on the road with his new Edwards. He introduced me to the other trombonists in the group and Lucien Barbarin soon fell in love with an Edwards jazz bone and made the plunge into modularity via a .508 bore horn. Craig did more than introduce me to his fellow workers, he played me some music that changed the way I viewed the trombone in music. “Brass band music is the roots of New Orleans music,” Craig explained to me as he gave me a Storyville Stompers CD. Listening to the music kept a constant smile on my face. The trombone sounds were inventive and kept me wanting more.
Craig introduced me to the Storyville Stompers, Nightcrawlers, and Mulebone, which have all found their way into my car and home CD players. I have not tired of listening to these CD’s and enjoy them daily. A few months back Craig let me know of a new group Bonerama that consists of five trombones, sousaphone, and drums. You can find their website here. After you recover from the shock of opening the CD and get the disc into the player you will be pleasantly surprised by the upbeat music that will hit your ears. Where Brass band music meets Rock is a way to try and describe it. You can purchase the Bonerama CD from the website as there is a link to a Louisiana music shop in New Orleans that can take care of your needs. For information about some of the other groups, check out www.neworleansnightcrawlers.com, which has free MP3 files on the site.
Craig Klein, Lucien Barbarin, Mark Mullins, David Miller, and Brian O’Neil are the current trombonists on tour with Harry Connick Jr. Everyone able should try to catch them in concert if they come to your area. The musicians are treated in many ways as equals on stage and are given a lot of artistic license to shine in their individual ways. The soundman mixes the band incredibly and I have never been disappointed in the performances that I’ve seen.
Craig just found a new T302 and made his older Edwards a backup horn. His new horn has a new satin finish that is probably the most beautiful Edwards I’ve put together to date. You can count on seeing more of this finish in the future.
Craig Klein is an Edwards Performing Artist/Clinician. If you are interested in booking him for a clinic or performance, you can reach Craig at craig (at) neworleansnightcrawlers (dot) com.
The following article appears courtesy of The Times–Picayune © 2000 – The Times-Picayune. Reprinted with permission.
Loving His Job… Arabi Trombonist Takes Music on the Road
When Craig Klein of Arabi attends a Harry Connick Jr. concert, you might say he has one of the best seats in the house – onstage, in the band, playing the trombone. For the past two years, Klein, 39, has been one of the 16 members of Connick’s big band touring to promote the Come by Me album. He’s been to Australia and Japan, Europe and throughout the United States. When Klein returns home to his wife and four children, he’s anything but idle. The prolific musician, who also plays tuba, counts membership in at least six local bands, including the Storyville Stompers and the New Orleans Night Crawlers, which recently released its third CD. Klein, an East Jefferson High School graduate who grew up in Metairie, also plays with Harry Connick Sr.’s band at Tipitina’s in the French Quarter. He works about 30 gigs per month and is called out frequently to play on recordings of artists including Bruce Hornsby, Tori Amos and The Neville Brothers.
A trombone player since the third grade, Klein grew to be a teen who hung out at Preservation Hall while his buddies headed to Pat O’Brien’s. He credits his introduction to serious music to his uncle, Gerry Dallmann, also a professional trombone player. “Through my uncle I met a lot of old New Orleans musicians,” Klein said. “They brought me to see things like the second lines in the Treme neighborhood. That’s real New Orleans street music; there’s nothing else like it.” Klein graduated with a degree in marketing from Southeastern Louisiana University in 1984, began selling real estate and playing music on the side. His break came in 1990.
Harry Connick Jr. had a hit with the soundtrack from the movie When Harry Met Sally, and was looking to put a big band together to tour for six months, Klein said. Some New Orleans musicians recommended Klein for a spot, and one day, Klein got a call from Connick and his musical director. “They said ‘You can send a tape or play something over the phone,’ ” Klein said. “I told them to hold on.” Klein grabbed his trombone and played a few bars of a favorite New Orleans song. “And when I picked up the phone, they said ‘OK, you got it.'” The international tour lasted four years, during which the band recorded Connick’s Christmas CD, among others. It was a turning point in Klein’s career. “Playing with Harry is like nothing else, it’s a whole ‘nother level,” Klein said. “He demands perfection, and he’s very talented, almost geniuslike.”
Connick writes his own arrangements on a computer program, sometimes introducing the pieces to his band only hours before they perform. On stage, each musician has his own computer with his own music, instead of stacks of sheet music. When Connick begins a concert, he’ll tell the band the first two songs they’ll play. The rest he decides along the way, depending upon the feel of the audience, Klein said. “The order of the show is never set. We have about 60 songs – and usually play half that in a two-hour concert. Harry just calls out what he wants to do or plays a few keys on the piano – and you just go from there. It’s the highest level of concentration I’ve ever experienced,” Klein said. Despite the implied glamour of touring internationally, Klein said he doesn’t want or get celebrity treatment from his family or friends. “It’s just a job, I’m just lucky to be doing it,” he said. “To be able to play music is a blessing. It’s something not many people really do.
“There’s a small community of musicians in the world,” he said. “It’s rewarding to be a part of that and to play for people who appreciate it. If you can communicate through music, that’s pretty rewarding.”