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Brookfield trombonist slides music back into his life

Trombonist Dale Ryant has reconnected with his music, appearing with groups such as Top Shelf Chicago.
Trombonist Dale Ryant has reconnected with his music, appearing with groups such as Top Shelf Chicago.

After a lengthy hiatus from music, multi-talented musician Dale Ryant of Brookfield picked it back up just eight months ago. Since then, he has submerged himself in the medium — playing shows, taking lessons, and constantly practicing. Although currently focused on trombone, Ryant also can play bagpipes, piano and guitar.

One of the groups Ryant has been playing with is Top Shelf Chicago, featuring Joe Duna. They recently performed several shows at the Salt Creek Wine Bar, a Brookfield destination for the fruit of the vine and entertainment. Ryant and the band will be back March 15.

In addition to his musical projects, Ryant maintains a full schedule. He’s an anatomy, physiology and terminology teacher in Chicago, as well as a nuclear medicine tech. But music is his passion, and Ryant is determined to keep playing — no matter how challenging the time demands.

When did you pick up the trombone?

Well I started playing piano when I was 5, and the way it worked back then, was that when you got into fourth grade, the band director would come in and try to get people interested in playing instruments. I just thought it looked cool. The funny thing is my arms weren’t long enough. My mom and dad were always into music, so they told me they weren’t going to buy me a student horn, but rather, they would get me a grown-up horn and I would get used to it. I couldn’t reach, so I would just throw the slide out. But I grew into it.

What’s the best part about playing instruments?

I always get two to three hours of practice in, and I study with a teacher because it’s a really fun thing to do, and I wish more people would open up to live music. There’s so many kids that can play a horn well, which is great. That’s what kept me out of trouble when I was a kid. I was always doing it, and my parents had the money to get me a horn, so I would just play. I’ve been really fortunate and I couldn’t have done it without my wife and my mom — they’re all very supportive.

You’ve appeared several times at the Salt Creek Wine Bar. How did that start?

Well, there was a performance (planned) at the Salt Creek Wine Bar, and they said, ‘Why don’t you get your horn out?’ I just sat in with Joe Duna one night and started playing. It’s been a lot of fun, because we play a lot of everything. I also have been playing with a couple of other jazz groups in the area.

What’s in the future for you?

One of the things that I really want to do is to try to work with younger kids coming up in jazz band. I was just talking to a guy that is the band director at UIC College Prep High School (in Chicago). I would like to just help the kids find it’s cool to be in a band. It can be cool if you play it very well. I would love to do that. I would also like to just improve and get out and play different things.

Hear him play

Trombonist Dale Ryant collaborates with fellow musicians including Top Shelf Chicago

When: 8:30 to 11:30 p.m. Friday, March 15

Where: Salt Creek Wine Bar, 8900 Fairview Ave., Brookfield

More info:, or email Dale Ryant at

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