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Y. grad to play in Army band

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Bassist Regan Brough of Orem will be going to boot camp soon.

Bassist Regan Brough of Orem will be going to boot camp soon.

Scott G. Winterton, Deseret Morning News

For Regan Brough's first "real" job out of college, he had to compete for the spot with somebody 15 years his senior and with much, much more experience. But in the end, Brough — a Brigham Young University graduate with a 2006 bachelor's of music — won the place for bassist in the U.S. Army Blues Band.

The U.S. Army Blues Band is the premier jazz ensemble of the U.S. Army, and to be considered for the coveted spot, Brough had to submit a CD that demonstrated his playing in a variety of styles. Of all the applicants, only six were chosen to travel to Washington, D.C., for the final cut.

Two by two, four of the applicants were whittled out during the live auditions, leaving only Brough and a man who was 38 years old, highly qualified, highly experienced and known and liked by the band.

After one final round, Brough said that the band got together and deliberated for about a half hour before making a final decision. "Everybody in the band had a say," Brough said, "because once I'm in, I'm in as long as I want to be unless I'm a complete idiot and do something to get myself kicked out of the band.

"They want to make sure they select someone they want to be with. So there's personality involved. It's not just how you play, it's also who you are, how easy you are to work with."

Half of the band, he said, wanted the other finalist because they already knew and liked him and because he had so much experience. "But the ones who wanted me said, 'Well, the fact that (the other guy) is 38 years old means that he's probably set in his ways and a developed musician. (Brough) is pretty much keeping up with the guy. Who's to say that 10 years down the road, he can't surpass him?"'

In the end, Brough said the band's drummer was the tie-breaker, choosing Brough because he liked his quarter-note bass line and the way that they locked together.

Brough grew up with music. His father, Ron Brough, is on the faculty of BYU's music department. And ever since he was a kid, Brough played in his family's steel-drum band. In fact, that's exactly why he took up playing the bass in the first place.

But along the way, he found he had a passion for jazz music, an interest fueled by the monthly GAM-sponsored Jazz in Salt Lake City concerts at the Salt Lake City Sheraton, which donates tickets to student groups throughout the valley. "That has been a huge thing that has contributed to my development as a jazz musician. I've been able to see so many of my heroes. I got to see Gene Harris, Ray Brown, Milt Jackson — which are some of my favorite players — before they passed away."

Of course, Brough has been playing in local jazz bands — junior high and high school jazz bands, two years of high school all-state jazz band, a JAM big band, BYU's Synthesis and freelance gigs with "just about everybody in the valley."

He continued his studies in college, choosing to take the classical bass route rather than jazz. "That was where I had the most room to grow, even though jazz is what I really love to play and what I feel most talented at." Besides, he added, the skills he acquired through classical study increased his technique so that he could play jazz better.

Now, in order to continue his musical career, he'll need to make a short detour to boot camp. "I enlisted in June, so I'm a member of the Army. I go into basic training here in two weeks." And once there, "I will be just like everybody else. I'm no one special when I go to boot camp. And that's just fine."

Once that's finished, he'll join the band at Fort Meyer, Va., which is "just across the river from Washington, D.C."

Part of Brough's duty will be to play for "presidential-type events," along with quite a lot of outreach concerts. They'll tour for about a month each year — a trip is planned to Italy next May. They'll also play for the International Association of Jazz Educators Convention and the Monterey Jazz Festival in California.

Brough said he's also excited about the opportunity to compose and arrange for the band — something that both he and the band want to see happen.

And if he wants, he can go touring with the USO to perform for soldiers in combat around the world. "I've talked with members of the band who have said that's their favorite, most rewarding part of the job — providing support to the soldiers that are fighting to protect our freedom. I'm excited about that, I think it would be a neat opportunity."

E-mail: rcline@desnews.com