I’ve heard it said that trombone is the devil’s instrument, but I think the alto is Godly. This site is dedicated to all things alto trombone and is the world’s leading resource for this great instrument. Be sure to check out:
- The blog containing articles ranging from tips on learning the alto to improving your musicality to explanations of how I record and perform
- Some of my music that combines alto trombone with a wide variety of beats and orchestrations
- A free preview of my book Alto Trombone Savvy
- The full-length video interviews with five of my favorite jazz trombonists (they are tenor players but I don’t hold that against them!)
- A couple of videos below that I think you’ll find interesting
Be sure to check out my book on the alto – Alto Trombone Savvy. As I like to say, it is the missing manual for helping you learn and master this fabulous and under-rated instrument.
About Michael Lake
At the age of 8, piano was my first instrument. The egg timer was set by my mother for 30 minutes every day atop the small spinet piano in the living room. Regardless of other goings on tugging at my interests, piano practicing always came first.
At age ten, I discovered the trombone. No longer did practicing need to be mandated. Playing trombone would become my favorite activity fueling a passion that would last a lifetime.
I attended Arizona State University where I studied with renowned jazz educator Dan Haerle. It was at ASU where I first saw an alto trombone, the odd instrument I would play for the rest of my career. My trombone teacher at ASU, a graduate assistant named Kevin Hedges owned an alto and first introduced it to me.
Deciding to play alto exclusively
Professionally active and pursuing a jazz performance degree, abandoning the tenor trombone in favor of my beautiful instrument of clarity and efficiency was not a practical move. Nonetheless, I was determined to make it my musical voice. From that point, it would become the instrument I would play professionally and exclusively.
Mid-way through his ASU education, I was awarded a National Endowment of the arts grant to study for a summer with Frank Rosolino. In November prior to the summer of study with Frank, I learned of Frank’s tragic death.
Looking for an alternative that would be acceptable to the National Endowment board, I reached out to avant garde trombonist George Lewis. George, I learned, would be teaching that summer at the Creative Music Studio in Woodstock NY, and welcomed the opportunity to work with me. I was exposed that fascinating summer not only to George Lewis, but would also study with Anthony Braxton, Roscoe Mitchell, and other members of the Art Ensemble of Chicago.
I traveled and performed throughout the country, I settled for a while in Boston where I joined a four-trombone salsa band called Caribbean Express. A year after joining the band they signed with A&M Records and upon the release of their debut album were nominated for a Best Latin album Grammy.
Next, I moved to New York City where I played professionally for 10 years. I performed in a variety of settings playing mainly jazz and latin music with notables like Lalo Rodriguez, Frankie Ruiz and for several years was Ray Barretto’s trombone player.
I eventually moved back to my beloved Phoenix Arizona where I perform throughout the valley. Having spent the past 20 years collecting state-of-the-art and vintage audio gear, Michael has rebuilt his impressive recording and performance studio where he recorded his latest album, “Roads Less Traveled”.
I currently live with my youngest son and enjoy hiking and biking in the nearby mountains of Cave Creek.
Check out these two videos:
Get your free 23-page excerpt from Alto Trombone Savvy
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Sample portions of several chapters from the book that include exercises for learning positions, helping you read better on the alto, sharpening your intonation, strengthening your sense of time and rhythm, introducing you to improvisation fundamentals, and some cool play-along tracks,