Tom Ball Quartet
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Tom Ball Quartet


Band Jazz Latin


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"Fishleather Jacket CD"

"Tom Ball brings very inventive and fresh tunes to the table. His playing creates images of Chuck Mangione and his relaxed character shows through
- Adam Frey, euphonium soloist (

"I really, REALLY, like Tom Ball's new jazz euphonium CD. This is straight-ahead, nailed to the wall main-stream jazz as it should be! Very, VERY, tasty playing with terrific ideas and a great solid euphonium sound. My first thought was this is Gus Mancuso fifty years later!! Grab a copy of this as soon as you can ... you gotta hear it!!!"

R. Winston Morris, Tenn Tech University
Founding member: Modern Jazz Tuba Project

Reviewer: John
Very smooth, soulful, mature ideas that come across effortlessly.
This CD is very refreshing to listen to. The tunes are innovative and well executed. Ball has has a great sound that is perfect for jazz and his ideas are smooth, soulful, and mature. The rhythm section is great, well-balanced, and knows exactly what to do and when to do it. This CD should do really well. The music and musicianship is too high quality for it not to do extremely well.

Reviewer: Mr Bob
Very tasty. Smooth, rich, playful and sophisticated.
I first listened to this CD a few weeks ago and have gone back to it time and time again. It is extremely tasty jazz. The Euphonium sound is smoother than a trombone and Tom's talent shine's through. I find it hard to say anything negative about this music. The flavorful percussion, piano and bass blend perfectly. The recording is superb and it changes the whole mood of my office when I put it on (and that's a good thing!)

Reviewer: Bmakin Music
Whoa Dog!! This disc SMOKES!! FRESH and ORIGINAL, these cats GROOVE HARD!!
Whoa Dog!! This disc SMOKES!! FRESH and ORIGINAL, these CATS GROOVE HARD!! Truely a pleasure to hear fantastic original music being written and performed by today's JAZZ GIANTS. The Latin twist is FUNKY. Ball's ballad, With Grace, is played with more FEELING and TASTE than I've heard from any other contemporary jazz musicians on THE SCENE. This CD will do justice in anyone's collection.
- various

"Fishleather Jacket Winner of 2006 Recording Excellence Award"

The jazz-latin CD Fishleather Jacket, produced by Ben Makinen and Tom Ball, has received the 2006 Roger Bobo Award for Excellence In Recording. The award was presented to Tom at the International Tuba and Euphonium Conference in Denver on June 30, 2006 - Bmakin Music

"Unusual instrument highlight of new CD"

Tom Ball didn't want to be just another trumpet player. Trumpet is the sexy instrument in band (yes, there are sexy instruments in band), the one all the guys want to play, so the competition is fierce.

Ball, in middle school at the time, was a decent trumpet player. But he found a dusty, old instrument stuck in the back with valves, the one with valves but a deeper sound and sounded like a trombone.

Not only was he instantly first chair, the place of honor for the best players, he found his first love.

Ball, 37, continues to play the euphonium, and he loves it so much, he plays jazz with it. He released his first album, "Tom Ball Quartet Fishleather Jacket," in April, featuring him on the euphonium.

The euphonium is popular in drum corps and symphonic bands but rarely seen in the jazz world. Only Rich Mattison, who died several years ago, and a few others, including Bernard McKinney, who played on Freddie Hubbard's "Ready for Freddie," have played it with any success.

Ball plays the more common trombone, too, and has done well. So well, in fact, he played lead in the prestigious Lab Band I at the University of Northern Colorado, and he hopes to complete a doctorate in trombone performance at UNC by next year.

But he prefers the euphonium.

"I realized early on that it's hard enough to make it as a musician on a normal instrument, let alone an unusual one like euphonium," Ball said. "But I am serious about trying to play it."

So serious, in fact, Ball brought the "funny-looking tuba thing" to jam sessions as a New York musician early in his career and he continues to bring it to gigs with the hopes of getting a chance to solo on it.

"Some are really receptive to it," Ball said, "and for some gigs I'm hired just to play that specifically. Others just sort of tolerate it."

Jazz, he said, tends to be busier and, as a result, beyond the reach of only the finest trombone players. Many trombone players try to develop a "doodle" tongue to keep up with the saxes and trumpets, but the technique takes years to learn, and even then, many can't learn it well.

Ball also plays the conch shell on a track. He got the shell while working on a cruise ship in the Caribbean and used to play it outside Coors Field with the percussionist who also plays on the album.

"I think I'm very good, but I spent so many years practicing the heck out of the trombone," Ball said. "Euphonium is just the natural voice for me."
Dan Engla - Greely Tribune

"Tom Ball Quartet"

Tom Ball Quartet
Fishleather Jacket (Self-released)

When kids choose what instrument they'd like to play, few of them pick the euphonium, which looks like an undersized tuba and is generally relegated to a supporting role in the rare jazz ensembles that include it. Ball attempts to prove that such pigeonholing is unjustified by repeatedly putting the euphonium in the spotlight, and this modest recording proves his point.

Tonally, the euphonium is similar to a trombone, which Ball handles in several Denver-area groups. No wonder his playing on the likes of "Peter Rabbit" feels so warm and familiar. The performances -- by Ball, pianist Vlad Girschevich, bassist Eric Thorin and drummer Ben Makinen -- aren't particularly adventurous; they generally settle for post-bop safety. Nevertheless, offerings such as "Bluz 4 T Man," boosted by a trickier-than-usual arrangement, exude an effortless charm.

Elementary schoolers may not clamor for euphoniums because of Ball's undertaking. Still, Fishleather Jacket wears well.
Michael Roberts - Westword (Jul 7, 2005) - Westword

"Fishleather Jacket"

One aspect of jazz that often lacks the genre’s requisite creativity is instrumentation. Trumpet, sax, trombone, piano, bass, drums, and guitar seem to have the jazz world’s instrumental preferences locked up. A euphonium is rarely seen even in the depths of a large jazz ensemble, much less out in front of a quartet. This is only one of the reasons that jazz euphoniumist Tom Ball’s independently released Fishleather Jacket is so fresh and rewarding.

Fishleather Jacket is a very accessible, fairly straight ahead jazz quartet record. The eight original compositions range from latin grooves, to hard swingers, and include a jazz waltz and a ballad. None of the tunes exceed six minutes in length. Ball’s euphonium sound is crisp and clear, and the valves no doubt are a factor in his exceedingly smooth and uniform articulations. The band swings hard, and the latin grooves feel good. All four musicians show exemplary skill and taste, and pianist Vlad Girshevich really shines. The recording quality is excellent.

Several performances stand out. Exit 183 is a New York style modern tune with a vibe very reminiscent of Don Grolnick. The group seems to stretch a little more on this one than on anything else on the CD. The title cut features a Cuban style percussion section, although only Ben Makinen is listed as a percussionist in the liner notes. If he overdubbed these parts he did a fabulous job of creating a coherent groove throughout. Peter Rabbit is a jazz waltz in the Bill Evans vein. Eric Thorin (bass) and Ball both play very tasteful solos before giving way to Girshevich who is really starting to cook when the theme returns.

If you have ever harbored doubts about the viability of the euphonium as a mainstream jazz instrument, this CD is the evidence needed to erase those doubts. The well-crafted compositions, excellent musicianship, and superb production combine to make a very enjoyable jazz record…that just happens to feature a euphonium player in the starring role.
Jeff Albert - Online Trombone Journal (Aug 25, 2005) - Online Trombone Journal


"Fishleather Jacket" 2005 release.

Winner of the 2006 Roger Bobo Excellence In Recording Award from the ITEA.

Eight originals in a jazz/latin stlye. For sale at


Feeling a bit camera shy


Tom Ball is a professional musician living in Colorado. Tom plays all brass instruments specializing in trombone and euphonium. He is also a master of the conch shell.

 "My original inspiration on euphonium was Rich Matteson but Trane and Miles have had much more influence on my style."

Tom has performed with world class musicians and groups including Eddie Daniels, Dave and Don Grusin, Nicholas Payton, Rashied Ali, Manhattan Transfer, Conrad Herwig, Jimmy Dorsey Band and others.

He has performed at the Blue Note Jazz Club in NYC, the Kansas City Jazz and Blues Festival, and Red Rocks Amphitheater.

Tom has also performed in bands that have opened for Tito Puente, Hugh Masekela, and Eddie Palmieri.
Ben Makinen is a performing artist, composer, and producer living in Denver.

Seeing Miles Davis perform live three times and then meeting the Dalai Lama in person forever changed the way Ben would approach the art of music.

He is a 2006 Independent Music Awards Finalist: Film/TV-Multimedia.

As a drummer and percussionist, he has been touring the world as a sideman since 1985 with R&B, funk, and rock bands, jazz trios and big bands, avant-garde electronica ensembles, in Broadway shows, on international cruise ships, and with opera troupes and symphonic orchestras.

As a leader and sideman, Makinen has performed on over 20 CDs. He also leads the high-energy jazz trio AREA 15. (

He has produced 5 CD's:"Rekha"; "Area 15 Live"; "Lost Lullaby"; "December"and "Fishleather Jacket".

This year (2006) he is currently producing three more : " The Goliath Beetle and the Ladybug Jam"; "Quizzical Glance"; and "The Underworld".

Makinen maintains a busy schedule producing and performing. His plans include scoring music for film.