Affliated Organizations

Recent Recordings by Kenny Carr and the Tigers

Music and Recordings
Piccolo Press
ITEA Historical Instrument Section
The Tigers Shout Band

Make a Joyful Noise: Sound that Shout Band Brass
The Tigers featuring Kenny Carr

When I Get Inside (traditional shout band style) [2:35]
Waiting on My Jesus by Kenny Carr [3:58]
Brass Glory by Kenny Carr [3:30]
Praise Him (traditional blues) [2:32]
Like a Ship (traditional church hymn; vocals by Janet Coleman) [6:11]
How I Got Over by Kenny Carr [1:31]
Father I Stretch (traditional church hymn) [4:16]
Highway to Heaven (traditional church hymn) [2:18]
Walk Around Heaven (traditional church hymn; vocals by Yvonne W. Carr) [4:50]
Know I Love the Lord (traditional shout band style) [5:06]
Lord I Thank You by Kenny Carr; vocals by Kenny Carr [2:10]
Give Me Another Chance by Kenny Carr [3:13]
Swing Low, Sweet Chariot (names of deceased brass players read by Mark Dixon) [6:48]
He's Sweet I Know (traditional) [6:24]
Lord Don't Leave Me (traditional blues) [3:08]
Praise and Worship by Kenny Carr (live recording from Orangeburg, SC) [1:30]
Make a Joyful Noise by Kenny Carr [2:23]
all songs arranged by Kenny Carr

The Tigers and Shout Band Music:
An Introduction for the Brass Player

by Matthew A. Hafar, Winston Salem State University

The Shout Bands of the southeastern United States are a little known trombone treasure. For most of this century, African American brass players have formed bands in cities up and down the Southern Railway, the mainline from Atlanta to Washington, D.C. Many cities in the Carolinas that lie along this mainline, both large and small, boast at least one such band. The foremost of these is The Tigers, a group of talented musicians from Charlotte, North Carolina, a hotbed of Shout Bands.

The Tigers come from all walks of life and do not see themselves as musicians per se; they are simply "men of God" who gather to play and praise. Their members include a lead trombone, 5 "row" trombones, baritone, Sousaphone, and trap set. The Tigers are young and, like most other shout bands, composed exclusively of men. While some members read music, most play primarily by ear. All the Tigers play with great enthusiasm and sincerity as they note, "we play not to other musicians but, instead, to the Lord." The leader stands in front, a common configuration, while the other players gather "'round in a semi circle." Kenny Carr, the Tigers' leader, dances and sways inside this circle. He's communicating with God, the audience, and his band. The other Tigers stand as one body; shoulder to shoulder and play to God with one voice.

Composers have long been aware of the similar timbre of the human voice and trombone. Trombonists often point to Renaissance composer Giovanni Gabrieli, who recognized the instrument's compatibility with voice in his sacred music for Saint Mark's Basilica. Moravians in North Carolina and Pennsylvania have used the trombone choir for centuries. In the Moravians' back yard, the shout bands use the trombone not only to imitate singing but, also, rather to express the full range of the human voice.

African American poet James Weldon Johnson, in his 1927 collection God's Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse, compares the trombone to the black preachers of his youth. These men were trombones, because trombone is "the instrument possessing above all others the power to express the wide and varied range of emotions encompassed by the human voice and with greater amplitude." (1.) A preacher heard by Johnson in Kansas City prompted both this recollection and the very title of this book. The Tigers do not engage in historical performance and do not see themselves as an historic band. They are part of a living tradition and maintain a style of music that has been performed in their town of Charlotte for the past 60 years. The Tigers play traditional shout music, but the repertoire on this album draws upon Jazz, Gospel, Blues, Dixieland, and any other style that is "real" and communicates the group's message of praise.

The Learning of Shout Music
The Tigers view the ability to play trombone as a blessing from God. Kenny says that shout playing is a "spiritual gift, a revelation from God." The Tigers have had little traditional training: some players learned trumpeter other instruments in public school programs. They made the switch by listening and watching. Other Tigers were given trombones at an early age. Either way, the learning process is aural and visual. Beginners learn by listening to the older players around them and by imitating their slide motion. Even when they are not holding a trombone, young players move their arms along with the music. (When the Tigers are not playing, their slide arms cannot remain quiet.) The musicians insist, however, that their ability, opportunity and inspiration come directly from God.

Nonetheless, the leaders of shout bands do often take younger players aside for one on one instruction. These sessions are not concerned with the finer points of embouchure or technique. The leader communicates melody and rhythm, giving each student the chance to hear the leader's voice directly. The student does what he can to match the leader's powerful, spiritual voice.

Shout Music: Repertoire and Style:
Traditional shout band music is divided into several sections. Each section has a unique ostinato figure in the background. This rhythmic and melodic figure, called backtimin', is played by the trombones and baritone horn and is most apparent in "How I Got Over" and "When I Get Inside." While the Tigers are backtimin', Kenny improvises above them. Despite his large bore horn (often a King 4B), he stretches the trombone range to its upper limit. He has a wide emotional range, too. He is sometimes lyrical ("Give Me Another Chance"); slow and trembling ("Waiting on My Jesus"); or, more often, he is scatting rapidly over everyone ("Know I Love the Lord, Brass Glory"). After a backtimin' pattern has been exhausted, the leader moves the group on to the next figure. The Tigers make this transition from one section to another. This change comes without warning to the casual listener; the group's signal is called a "rise" and is a subtle melodic cue from the leader. Kenny may also turn around to the Tigers and give a signal with his trombone. The other players stand with shoulders touching and seem to communicate with each other by physical feeling as much as by eye and ear. This intense communication seems immune to outside distraction.

In addition to "How I Got Over" and "When I Get Inside," this album has many other cuts in this traditional shout style: "Like a Ship," "Father I Stretch," "Know I Love the Lord," and the title cut, "Make a Joyful Noise." Some tunes ("Brass Glory" and "Praise Him") are in a more homophonic, Gospel style. The harmonies are close and chromatic and the driving backtimin' is gone. The leader and band breathe and play as one voice, rising and falling with the shape and intensity of the melodic line.

New tunes are taught primarily by humming. The leader "gets" an idea, works out the main features in his head and on his horn, and passes it on to the others. He hums or plays a simple lick and, while the first player mimics those pitches, continues humming to the next player. The lines of backtimin' are layered until the thick, powerful ostinato pattern is "worked out." Anybody can contribute ideas at this informal jam session, as long as new ideas fit in with the leader's inspiration. "How I Got Over" provides a nice portrayal of this process. Kenny says it doesn't take long for the band to learn a new piece. His advice sounds simple: "Feel it and roll with it!" It just takes the right players, and he has them!

The Tigers want their music to be "real." There are no fabrications because they are not after perfect music. Mistakes are excused as long as they are not too noticeable. The group avoids that artificial perfection of some recorded groups groups that can be a big disappointment when heard live. The "live" Tigers do not disappoint. They thrive on the enthusiasm and spirit of the audience. The live cut on this album, "Praise and Worship," provides a small taste of the fervor of audience and band together. When the Tigers play, there is not a passive listener in the house. After an evening of their music, the audience is as tired and euphoric as the band.

Kenny's ideas come from all places. His earliest come from listening to his grandmother hum while working. He also credits the recordings of many artists: the ones he respects as "real." In this category he includes Luther Vandross, Sting, Whitney Houston, Regina Bell (a cousin), Horace Brown (also a cousin and the sousaphone player on Dancing with Daddy G, their first album), and Stevie Wonder. Kenny also credits his father, Isaiah Carr, Sr., for much of his success. He "stayed on" Kenny, making him practice when he wanted to play football with friends. Kenny's brother plays trombone in the Tigers and their mother is also heard on this album, singing "Walk Around Heaven."

The Tigers represent a rich tradition of African American church music. The tradition's varied history and myriad styles are here. For the trombonist, the Tigers make a musical sound few have heard before. The incredible emotional range of the instrument is present throughout this album. Their enthusiasm for the instrument, combined with their unique harmonies and driving rhythms, create a wonderful timbre. The Tigers are a wonderful discovery for all trombonists. We can learn from their technique, pedagogy, and, most of all, their spirit. The shout band tradition has flourished for 60 years and a recording of this quality is long overdue.

1.) Johnson, Viking Press, (Viking Press, 1927.)
For those who wish to explore further the shout band repertorie, outstanding scholarship has been conducted by Dr. Thomas Hanchett, Ms. Meg Glaser, and the Center for Black Music Research (Chicago, IL).

exploring the role of
early 19th century brass
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