THIS COLUMN BEGAN with a nice review of my interview with Stan Keach from an old friend and fellow teacher, Larry Morrissette. It seems he’s the founder of a brass quintet called Innovation Brass and that group will be performing on Sunday, July 17, at Hallowell City Hall. This I discovered in a series of emails and seeing that town’s smack-dab in the middle of my readership, a phoner was definitely in order, not to mention reconnecting after, how long has it been?

Morrissette: It’s been a long time, 37 years. It was ’83 when I left Warsaw (Junior High at that time, now Warsaw Middle School). That was the year they eliminated my job in the budget. I left teaching when I left there, but I went back to it and ended up doing a total of 33 years.

Q: Are you still teaching?

Morrissette: No, I retired in 2011.

Q: Would you talk about this brass quintet you’re involved with now?

Morrissette: Well, we’ve been together about three-and-a-half, four years now, and it’s made up of Peter Stuart on trumpet and flugelhorn; Abby Stratton on trumpet; Emily Widdoes on horn, trumpet and trombone; myself on trombone, euphonium and bass trumpet; and Parker Kenyon on tuba, bass trombone, euphonium and electric bass. There’s a fair amount of material out there, either written originally for brass or transcribed for brass, but we take it one step further in that three of us are arrangers and I also compose, so we’ve got a bunch of stuff in this next program that are either our own arrangements or things that I’ve composed for the group.

Q: Oh, neat! Now where is this going to be happening?

Morrissette: This is going to be at City Hall Auditorium, which is on the second floor. We play for the library quite often, two or three times a year, and this time I proposed we do a fundraiser for them. And that is Old Hallowell Day weekend. You see, technically, Old Hallowell Day is Saturday, but the activities have crept back into Friday and into Sunday, so the committee is promoting our concert as well. They are going to contribute all that money to the fund to restore the stained-glass windows in the library. It’s a huge project, so we’re going to try to help out.

Q: That’s a real worthwhile endeavor. Is this what you do now that you’re not teaching anymore?

Morrissette: Part of what I do. I’m also working as a cabinet maker part-time, but this is also a part-time thing. I spent most of the winter writing and arranging and rehearsing. We don’t perform real often because three of them are full-time teachers, so they don’t have a whole lot of time for that, and the other player is a full-time professional musician, so his evenings are a little tight. We perform frequently enough, and we push ourselves. Lucky, we push ourselves to play really challenging stuff and play it extremely well, so it’s great fun.

Q: Now what kind of material do you arrange for your group?

Morrissette: Well, in this program we’re doing a medley of Latin tunes. They’re old standards like “One Note Samba,” “Wave,” “Night And Day,” the kind of tunes anybody that knows any Latin jazz standards will know. We’re also doing a set of swing tunes, “Take The A-Train” and “Putting on the Rit,” and a medley of jump swing tunes from the ’40s and ’50s, high tempo, high speed, fast jump jazz swing: “Jump, Jive and Wail;” “Zoot Suit Riot;” and “You and Me.” So, these are typical of the arrangements that we do, things that are fairly recognizable.

Q: This is amazing. I had no idea that an interview with Stan Keach would have led to reconnecting with you after all these years.

Morrissette: Well, I’m happy to have the chance to chat with you, as well. I’m kind of anxious to have this concert happen, this is the most I’ve contributed to any of the programs in terms of my own compositions. I’m anxious to get those out there and find out how they go over.

Q: Okay, then please tell me more about that aspect of this Hallowell performance.

Morrissette: Well, the octets are especially neat. One of them began life as a movement in a piece I was commissioned to write for high school band; it’s called “Jester’s Frolic.” My original sketch of it was for eight different instruments, then I got looking at it afterwards and thought, “Gee, that would sound good with just brass!” So, I reworked it for brass octet; that’s three trumpets, two horns, two trombones and a tuba. So, we brought extra players in: Jerry Bates on drums, Andy Forster on trumpet, Loren Fields on horn and Adam Newton on tuba. And since that time, I just finished this a few weeks ago, we’re doing another octet called “Innovation Plus Three.” I’m anxious to get those out there and see what people’s reaction will be. It’ll be fun. This is a really varied program.

Q: It certainly sounds like it, that’s for sure. Is there anything, Larry, that you’d like me to pass on to the folks reading this article?

Morrissette: Well, I think the main thrust of this is we play challenging, interesting music that people will enjoy, and we try to craft the program so it’s got some surprises and some delights — things that they know — and some things that are just really fun. It’s a broad range of music with a broad range of presentation, which makes it a really interesting, fun program for the whole family.

Lucky Clark has spent 47 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

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