Unity: Secrets to the Success of the Maniacal 4

by Maniacal 4


 Matt Jefferson : Wick 2NAL

We’re committed to being genuine while doing our best to put out a high quality product. “Genuine” comes easy for us, since we have been friends for over ten years. However, the work, dedication, and practice it takes to take a group’s genuine unity and turn it into a consistent quality product is not understood by most people. It takes a lot of hard work to present our music in a digestible way so our group transcends the title of “Trombone Quartet” and becomes a classic rock band with guitar soloist, jazz band, or quartet playing a world premier composition. One thing that helps us prepare for tours these days is that we are playing more of Carl's music. Since he knows us all, personally and musically, our respective parts are pretty much catered to our strengths. It's easy and fun! 


Carl Lundgren : 5ABL (Heritage) large bore and 10CS (Heritage) small bore

When a chart is one of mine, we sometimes sight-read it on the concert -- we like to show that it can be a valuable experience to create spontaneously. It can actually be advantageous to be "nervous" and bypass the rehearsal process. Some really neat music making happens that way. Otherwise, charts and sometimes MIDI to play along, will be sent to players in advance. If it's deemed easy enough, a chart will be Air Dropped when we meet, and we rehearse before we concertize.

Sometimes we do arranging while we’re on the road, inspired by our location. We turn those into Hotel Jams sometimes (“New Ulm Waltz,” “Amarillo by Morning”). Some arrangements are inspired by audience requests, arranged at intermission and sight-read, or simply played by ear -- loose instructions are enough (Nick- melody, Matt- oomp, Alex- pah, Carl- harmony). Other Hotel Jams are inspired by things that are going on in our lives, like birthdays, special holidays, etc. (“Eu Sei Que Vou Te Amar,” “Que Sera, Sera”). Many of these make it into our concert rotation.

 I arrange longer, more "substantial" music in a more concrete way on manuscript paper or via Finale and/or Logic. I use voice notes on my phone when I compose, so I can sing and talk to myself when I'm biking, hiking, driving, etc. My piano is my best friend. Much of what I arrange (and especially, compose) reflects what I've been listening to/absorbing.


Nick Laufer : 5ABL (Classic) large bore and 10CS (Classic) small bore)

I rarely put pen to paper, but I really enjoy playing tunes by ear with the guys. We’ll take a simple melody and create an arrangement on the spot, without the aid of any chart, trading melodies, harmonies, and bass lines between the four of us. New music is memorized quickly individually and is ready to go when the group has a chance to rehearse/review. I also like to play M4 melodies in different keys to strengthen the ears and improve the quality of the music, exploring different perspectives, and different approaches. Life on the road can be great -- seeing the country, meeting all kinds of wonderful people, playing music and making money with your best friends. It’s also exhausting, dirty, frustrating, repetitive, and I do get a little homesick. Life on the road is what you make it! We’re constantly striving to tour better. Each of us has responsibilities that help each other and the group run smoothly - everything from driving to meal planning to new arrangements/materials. We keep a varied playlist on the stereo for everyone’s sanity.


Alex Dubrov : 7CS (Small Bore Tenor),  5AL (Large Bore Tenor), and 2AL (Bass Trombone)

When we’ve been apart for a while, we usually have a full day or so of intensive rehearsal before a tour to get the collective sound going once again. But at home, if it is familiar music that we have previously performed, I listen and play along to recordings or YouTube videos if we have them. It is helpful to imagine playing with the entire group while practicing, especially when playing from memory.  New material can be practiced individually first and memorized. Then playing all together before a performance really helps to hear each other's part in context and reinforce the memory. 

 We really work well as a collective. Each member has a role in helping to keep things running smoothly and to further the popularity of the group. Carl is constantly coming up with new compositions and arrangements that define the sound and style of M4.  Matt creates videos on a regular basis that promote us on YouTube and Facebook. Nick comes up with social media strategies and posts new content daily to keep momentum going. And I help with planning for tours and assist with the M4 website and other administrative tasks. Our new management, CAM, works behind the scenes to take care of logistics, booking, website, social media strategies, etc. We’re all working hard to increase M4’s visibility to take the group to the next level.

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