The Beat Goes On – Matt Niess and The Capitol Bones

The Beat Goes On – Matt Niess and The Capitol Bones

Label: Summit Records

Release date: April 2021

Catalog number: 778


The Beat Goes On
comp: Sonny Bono / arr. Alan Baylock
comp: Raymond Premru / arr. Matt Niess
Song for Bilbao
comp: Pat Metheny / arr. Alan Baylock
Duke Ellington's Sound of Love
comp: Charles Mingus / arr. Marc Stasio
Fanfare for The Capitol Bones
comp: Matt Niess
Single Petal of a Rose / arr. Matt Niess
comp: Duke Ellington
In Walked Horace
comp: JJ Johnson / arr. Matt Niess
In a Sentimental Mood
comp: Duke Ellington / arr. Matt Niess
comp: Lennon & McCartney / arr. Matt Niess
Chicago Medley
comp: James Pankow, Robert Lamm / arr. Matt Niess
comp: Raymond Premru / arr. Matt Niess
Bonus Track: Two Pieces for Three Trombones
comp: Raymond Premru / arr. Matt Niess
Bonus Track: Yesterday (part one)
comp: Lennon & McCartney / arr. Matt Niess
Bonus Track: Yesterday (part two)
comp: Lennon & McCartney / arr. Matt Niess

The long awaited fourth release has finally arrived!…featuring some of the best jazz players in the Nation’s Capitol!

Matt Niess is a Washington, DC based cross-over trombonist who served in The U.S. Army Band (Pershing’s Own) for 30 years. He was a member of The Army Blues Jazz Ensemble and The US Army Brass Quintet. Here, he has joined forces with some of the best jazz performers and writers in the Nation’s capital to showcase the awesome power and musical range of this incredible ensemble. To hear this group live is to hear something truly special. The musicality and technical expertise is incredible. “The Beat Goes On” puts this all on display. The level of musical maturity and seasoning mixes perfectly with the collective love of the artform. This is an album for serious listeners. The music will challenge and energize lifelong fans of the group, as well as those who hear them for the first time.


JAZZTIMES says of the Capitol Bones:  

“…Whether playing bop, ballads, funk, or Latin jazz, this sensational D.C.-area band generates ensemble and solo work that brings the oft-ignored trombone to glorious prominence…”


Tenor Trombones: Matt Niess, Jim McFalls, Jay Gibble, Zach Niess

Bass Trombones: Matt Neff, Jerry Amoury, Jeff Cortazzo

Piano: Tony Nalker

Guitar: Shawn Purcell, Jim Roberts

Bass: Paul Henry

Drums: Todd Baldwin



Seven, count ‘em, seven trombones make up the entire horn section for the rhythm team of Tony Nalker/p, Shawn Purcell-Jim Roberts/g, Paul Henry/b and Todd Harrison/dr to steer on this big, bold, ballsy and brassy collection of “big” band bravado. Three bass trombones (Jerry Armoury, Jeff Cortazzo, Matt Neff) team up with four tenors (Matt Niess, Jim McFalls, Jay Gibble, Zach Niess) to create some hip arrangements of modern tunes and some originals.

The horns meld like glorious light through a stained glass window as they show on their own without support on “Felicity” and a textured read of Ellington’s “Single Petal Of A Rose”. The team goes bel canto on a full bodied approach to The Beatles’ “Yesterday”, and show they know how to rock on the “Chicago Medley” and on the Coplandesque “Fanfare for the Capitol Bones”. The rhythm team shuffles hard on the macho “The Beat Goes On” and bops till they drop for “In Walked Horace”. This is a fun one, and if they ever do a gig, either sit in the front row to take it all in or way in the back if you want to avoid getting run over!

-George Harris for Jazz Weekly



Matt Niess and The Capitol Bones shuffle their way into my listening space with the familiar Sonny Bono song, “The Beat Goes On.”   It’s full of spunk and funk.   Matt Niess is a trombonist based in Washington, D.C., who played with the U.S. Army Band for over thirty years.  He was also a member of the Army Blues Jazz Ensemble and the US Army Brass Quintet.  On this recording, he is joined by some of the best jazz musicians in the Nation’s capital and they swing hard!  During the fade of this arrangement, the guitarist, Shawn Purcell, trades fours with Matt Niess’ trombone. Todd Harrison is spectacular throughout, taking a brilliant bow at the very end, with flashing drum sticks and admirable drum skills crashing into a crescendo of rhythm.

“The Capitol Bones inaugural performance was in a restaurant called Firenzi’s in Arlington, VA; 1990, … not long after I joined the U.S. Army Band.  Our first big concert was the International Trombone Festival at the Eastman School of Music in 1991, after winning the Kai Winding Competition sponsored by the International Trombone Association.  The competition was the impetus that motivated me to forge the group into a trombone band like no other,” Matt Niess sang the praises of his band.

This is the long awaited fourth album for the renowned Capitol Bones.  Group founder and leader, Matt Niess, has every right to feel proud and enthusiastic about this recording.  It is absolutely terrific. The level of musicality and uniqueness is ‘off the charts;’ literally.  Matt’s arranging skills are also on parade and richly sparkle.

Matt arranged a well-known work in the trombone world that’s called “Two Pieces for Three Trombones.” He arranged it originally in 2010, for the Eastern Trombone Workshop (known now as the American Trombone Workshop).  For this recording, Niess expanded it to five bones and it’s become one of three bonus tracks included on this project.  Part two of this suite of music is actually called “Episode” and stands alone as track two on the album. The drums give the piece an Afro-Cuban feel, then part the curtains so that Jim McFalls can step through and solo on his tenor trombone.  The electric guitar makes an amazing statement on his own. Purcell steals the spotlight briefly away from the trombones and thoroughly entertains us.

Pat Metheny composed “Song for Bilbao” and the trombones sound fat and full at the introduction of this piece.  Metheny’s tune features Jim Roberts on guitar.  “Duke Ellington’s Sound of Love,” written by Mingus, is beautifully performed and aside from the awesome harmonies of the trombones, pianist Tony Nalker is given ample time to show off his musical skills.

Here is an album packed with musicality and a variety of songs and arrangements that will thrill and entertain you.  Take for instance the harmonics on “Yesterday” that ring dynamic and memorable.

Matt Niess adds a couple of his original compositions for good measure.  One is titled “Fanfare for the Capitol Bones” and it reminds me of a freight train plowing down the tracks. Niess combines traditional jazz with a contemporary perspective, sparking the song with funk drums and playing his trombone with gusto.  The guitarist adds electronic rhythm to the piece and brings the element of fusion along with him.  There’s a Medley of music from ‘Chicago’ including “Make Me Smile,” “The Approaching Storm” and “Man vs. Man” and another original composition from Neiss titled, “Felicity.”   If variety is the spice of life, and you’re prone to unique experiences, sprinkle this music liberally onto your CD player and enjoy.

-Dee Dee McNeil for Musical Memoirs