About the Sonoran Marimba Band

About the Sonoran Marimba Band:
An interview with Dr. Doug Nottingham

Why would very busy artists such as yourselves take the time and effort to put this group together?

Brett and Doug formed the SMB as a duo in 2004 when Brett moved to Phoenix. They were friends from Albuquerque where they were students of Chris Shultis in the late 80’s.  As performers known for doing more “serious” chamber music (with the ensemble Crossing 32nd Street) they thought the SMB would be a way to engage the community and be commercially successful. The former was the case, but the latter not, J Given their teaching schedules and work in other genres, the group went or hiatus in 2007.

Doug, Sonja and Jeremy met at ASU Herberger Institute in grad school where they were students of Dr. Glenn Hackbarth, Dr. JB Smith and the late Dr. Mark Sunkett. Sonja and Jeremy collaborate in the internationally-acclaimed Western African group Ensemble N’deye Soxna, and all 4 have played together in Crossing 32nd Street ensemble and various Phoenix freelance groups.

Sonja and Doug had talked for several years about putting together a variety marimba band and this Musica Nova opportunity seemed like a good time to do it. Reformed as a quartet, this is the inaugural concert of the new Sonoran Marimba Band.

What’s the group’s mission?

Our mission is to engage the community present a broad diversity of assessable marimba literature and increase awareness and appreciation for the instrument and its “relatives.”

The program is an impressive variety of styles and composers (who would have thought there was so much literature for marimba-xylophone-vibraphone ensemble?).  Are you the only group like this in Phoenix?  

We are to only dedicated professional marimba quartet in Arizona, to our knowledge. There are many school group that perform this type of literature and, given the strength of university and community college programs, several outstanding professional and avocational marimbists throughout the state.

Why do you think anyone should come to hear the concert?  What will they hear?

They will hear a diversity of literature ranging from serious, historically significant literature, groovy jazz and pop, light=hearted novelty and works highlighting marimba and similar traditions throughout the world.

Is there a message beyond diversity of material available and a unique mix of instruments?

Doug and Brett studied and played with Mexican Buzz Marimba Steve “ the fastest hand this side of the Rio Grande” Chavez. As Steve’s self-appointed moniker suggests, he was a hyperbolic individual. Among his famous quotes  (many of which decorum prohibits us sharing), he said. “It’s impossible to be bummed out while playing or listening to marimba.” 

We hope and think you will find this to be true.

October 4, 2016

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