Ergo: Multitude, Solitude

At NYSWU’s recent Electronics and Trombone symposium, Brett Sroka graced our ears with the sweet stylings of his band Ergo, featuring Sam Harris on rhodes electric piano/synthesizer/piano and Shawn Baltazor on drums. Needless to say, the set was enchanting and the whole NYSWU audience was grateful for their musical contributions to the greater beauty of our world. Like all NYSWU events, both Ergo and the Rick Parker Trio’s set that night were recorded, and now I can’t wait to have them finished so we can share with the world, but to hold us over for the time being, here are some words from Brett about his approach to the trombone, to electronic, to Ergo and to the New York Slideworkers’ Union…

Trombone and electronics seem like an odd pairing, but when I think back on it my path to combining them feels rather organic. Like many trombonists I’ve had a conflicted relationship with the instrument, feeling inferior to slicker, more glamorous instruments, and marginalized in even the most marginal styles of music. At some point I began to think that any contribution I made on trombone would be largely ignored and irrelevant, so out of that frustration I started looking for other avenues of expression and got entranced by electronic music. However, as my understanding of electronic music developed my approach to the trombone began to change as well. To integrate the two seemingly disparate worlds, centuries apart in technology, I started thinking about the instrument in more textural, timbral and lyrical ways and in realizing it’s unique possibilities I found new fulfillment in playing it and in making music. At the performance we discussed the objective in making this music and my intuition is that the objective is less important than the experience. The best experiences of life are beyond words, even beyond thoughts, as with the experience of music (when it really gets you). Our experience making it might be something like being at the bottom of a well, and yours listening like being at the top. You may be able to draw water or not, we can do our best to play it, but that will largely depend on you, your perspective and your experience of life. While generally I make music for my own pleasure and my own experience, I also do it with the aspiration that it could be worthy of yours.

Learn more about Brett and Ergo: