TBJ112: Matt Niess


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TBJ112: Matt Niess on The Capital Bones, 3 x 3, and getting help from the "Trombone Angel"

Matt Niess is a cross over trombonist who served with The U.S. Army Band in Washington, DC and currently serves as Adjunct Associate Professor, Classical and Jazz Trombone at Shenandoah Conservatory.

From his bio page:

Matt Niess is a cross over trombonist who served with The U.S. Army Band in Washington, DC from 1988-2018 where he played with The Army Blues and The Army Brass Quintet. He is from Levittown, PA where he attended Woodrow Wilson High School. He earned an undergraduate degree in Instrumental Music Education from West Chester University in 1988, a Masters degree in classical trombone performance from George Mason University in 1996 and a DMA in classical trombone performance from The Catholic University of America in 2015.

He was director of bands at Calvert High School in Prince Frederick, MD from 1986-1988, and has taught on the jazz faculties of Shenandoah, George Mason, and Towson Universities.  He also served as director of jazz studies and professor of trombone at West Chester University from 2003-2007. Currently, he is the professor of jazz trombone at George Mason University and professor of trombone at The Shenandoah Conservatory teaching both jazz and classical. With The Army Blues he has served as Senior Producer and Jazz Coordinator of the Eastern Trombone Workshop producing over 300 concerts at various venues ranging from The White House to the Monterey Jazz Festival.

In 2008 he founded the National Jazz Workshop which runs two summer camps and sponsors a year-round honor band. To date over 1,000 students have participated in “NJW”. The year-round band has performed at The Kennedy Center, The Jazz Education Network, New Orleans, St. Louis, Dallas, Blues Alley, and numerous jazz festivals. He is the founder and director of The Capitol Bones, a jazz trombone ensemble, which has received national recognition and was winner of the 1991 International Trombone Association Kai Winging Award.

He has appeared as a soloist, clinician, and adjudicator at numerous venues including The Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic, IAJE, JEN, ITA, ETW, MENC, PMEA, VMEA, University of Las Vegas, University of North Texas, West Virginia University, Disneyland & Disneyworld All-American College Band, James Madison University, UARTS, University of Utah, The Nebraska Jazz Orchestra, Longwood College, The U.S. Air Force “Noteables”, Mary Washington College, Shepherd College, University of Kentucky, University of Texas, George Mason University, University of Wisconsin, Towson University, University of North Carolina, Shenandoah University, Longwood College, West Chester University, University of Tennessee and others.

With The Army Band he has performed with Clark Terry, Doc Severinsen, Bill Watrous, Phil Wilson, Conrad Herwig, Carl Fontana, Don Menza, Chris Potter, John Clayton, Alabama, Rany Travis, Ertha Kitt, Allen Vizutti, Jon Faddis, The New York Voices, Terrell Stafford, Michael Abene, Dave Steinmeyer, Steve Turre, Tim Hagens, John Swana, James Moody, Buddy DeFranco, Dr. Billy Taylor, Bob Curnow, Mike Tomaro and many others.  Venues include  numerous Universities, schools and jazz festivals, I.A.J.E., ETW, The Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic, MENC, The Montreux Jazz Festival, The Monterey Jazz Festival, Elkhart Jazz Festival, International Trombone Festival, National Trumpet Competition, The Trumpet Guild, Performances abroad include Germany, Switzerland, Kuwait, Uzbekistan, Russia, Cuba, Afghanistan, Norway and Sweden.

As a sideman he has performed with Ray Charles, Franky Valli, Pancho Sanchez, Shirley Jones, The Temptations, Diane Shuur, Joan Rivers, The Ink Spots, Merv Griffin, Mel Torme, Frank Sinatra Jr., Ben Vereen, The Four Tops, The Manhattan Transfer, Pia Zadora, The Smithsonian Masterworks Orchestra, David Baker, Bobby Caldwell, The Rob Parton Jazz Tech Big Band, The Gene Krupa Orchestra, Slide Hampton and many others.

He has produced CDs with The US Army Blues Jazz Ensemble, The West Chester University Criterions Jazz Ensemble, The Capitol Bones and The Capitol Bones Big Band and has appeared on many recordings to include The Mark Taylor/Steve Fidyk Big Band, The New Gene Krupa Orchestra, The Alan Baylock Big Band, Graham Breedlove, Doug Hamilton, The Mike Tomaro Big Band, over 100 recordings with The Studio A Big Band and The Washington Winds, Warner Bros. Publications, Alfred, FJH Music, Carl Fischer Music, Belwin Publications and Hal Leonard Publications. He has also recorded soundtracks for FOX TV, HBO, Discovery, and TLC.

In this fun and lively discussion, we cover:

  • Earbuds

  • From Houston to West Chester

  • Army Band

  • Lance is bad at math (3x7+3=? hint: not 30)

  • Becoming a band director in Frederick MD

  • Meeting the Navy Commodores and finding out about the Army Blues gig

  • Learned jazz

  • In his mind, he's 6'2"

  • Preparing for the Army Blues audition

  • Getting help from the "Trombone Angel"

  • Replacing Harry Watters in the Army Brass Quintet

  • Do everything three times, three times a day

  • Teaching at Shenandoah

  • Saddled with a work ethic

  • USAF Band stories

  • Mike Tomaro

  • National Jazz Workshop

  • The Capital Bones

  • The importance and value of sight-reading skills

  • Charles Colin "Rhythms Complete" book

  • What's the payoff for a piece of music

  • Bill Watrous running sound for The Capital Bones in Rochester

  • New Capital Bones album coming soon

  • Matt's kids are both freaky good musicians

  • The importance of speaking the language of jazz

  • Terry Bingham and a sweaty bald head


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Expertly produced by Will Houchin with love, care, and enthusiasm.