Journal: June 19, 2011

Hello again. My apologies for the big break in between journal updates. Things have been busy in my life, all good things! My wife and I are expecting a daughter in September. We are very excited. I just moved The Brassark into a new storefront with my good friend, trombonist, and business partner, Brad Close. Juggling my time with gigs, students, web updates, photo editing and family time proves to be a challenge. I’ll try to be updating more frequently in the future.

Today for the journal, we have a really special horn that resides in my collection. I received a call last Novemeber from a woman named Stella. She had two vintage trombones that belonged to her father and she wanted me to come appraise them so she could donate them. Imagine my surprise when I opened the case and found a very rare Earl Williams bass trombone! Turns out Stella’s father was Louis Castellucci and he played bass trombone in the Los Angeles Philharmonic in the 1930s and 40s, right after Spike Wallace (the original partner of Earl Williams Trombones) vacated the bass trombone chair. In addition to his orchestral work, Mr Castellucci played trombone on many of the great film scores of the time and conducted many bands and orchestras in Los Angeles. I plan on writing a entire section on Mr. Castellucci, as he was a legendary musician in Hollywood with an amazing musical story. In the meantime, here are some detailed pictures of his Earl Williams bass trombone.

I believe Earl used a variety of parts from various makers when assembling this bass trombone. The bell is unstamped but appears to be from a Conn 70H. The valve looks similar to the valves being used on the New York Bach 50B bass trombones. The valve section was hand assembled by Earl with his own braces.

The hand slide has the trademark Earl Williams curved hand grip, as well as his slide tuning mechanism. It is a wide slide, much larger than similar slides from other makers of the period. It is constructed from parts that Earl made, as well as, what I believe are Olds parts. Interestingly, there is no stamping or patent numbers other than a serial number on the bottom outer tube. From what Stella has told me about her father, I believe this horn dates to the early 1930s and it may be one of the first bass trombones Earl assembled.

The sound of this trombone is incredible. It has a beautiful singing timbre with a large powerful sound. Listen for the bass trombone in the soundtrack on Gone With The Wind (Yes, that’s Mr Castellucci and this bass trombone) and you’ll know exactly what this horn sounds like. It is an honor to be the caretaker for such a historic instrument. Stella and I have remained in contact from the first day we met. She’s an amazing lady and a dear friend, as is her whole family. If you have any questions about Mr Castellucci or his trombone, drop me an email.

Till next time!