FONT 2014: Second Night at Smoke

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Steve Fishwick from London played a touching tribute to Kenny Wheeler. That’s Frank Basile on baritone sax.
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Nadje Noordhuis and Sara Caswell played a beautiful set of originals, also with a Wheeler tribute, called Big Footprint.
Keyon Harrold and Paul Williamson also played smoking sets. Visit Jeremy Pelt’s instagram account, peltjazz, for more great photos.

FONT Interviews Louis Hanzlik

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How did you become a trumpet player? 

My parents were both “band directors” so it was inevitable I would pick up an instrument.  When they asked me “what instrument would you like to play, Louis”, I said “drums”.  They paused, repeated the question, and I said “trumpet!”

Were there recordings in the beginning that drew you into the trumpet’s sound and possibilities?

My first recordings were of the Count Basie Band, and Maurice Andre – I continued to pair jazz and classical listening (and playing) well into my twenties.  The recording that really inspired me to practice:  Wynton Marsalis’s album “Carnaval”; an album of virtuoso cornet solos he did with the Eastman Wind Ensemble.  I was 13 or 14 when I first heard that album, and just “had to do that!”

People often talk about how the trumpet is the hardest instrument to play. Do you feel this is true? What doesn’t the general public understand about playing the trumpet that you wish people would realize?

It does require regular attention to achieve mastery (or simply, consistency) – I have to remind my students of this, frequently, general public aside.  Even the most accomplished players must be somewhat selfish; protective of their trumpet (or brass) time, in order to see patterns of  consistency.   

If you had to identify with one or two gurus, trumpeters or otherwise, who had the greatest impact on your musical journey to date, whom would they be?

My teachers – Tom Tressler and Derek Stratton for early inspiration.  Andrew Classen, for routine.  David Greenhoe for artistry and love of all things trumpet. Ray Mase and Mark Gould for polish, teaching myself, inspiration, uh, just about anything!

My colleagues – every player I’ve ever shared a stage with – I’ve learned from them all.  

What do you find most compelling about your current work? I mean, for you, what is the aspect of what you are presenting in the festival that most absorbs you?

 

Collaboration, collaboration, collaboration.  Brass chamber music requires you to listen, learn, and (hopefully) evolve as a musician and person.

FONT Interviews Raymond Mase

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How did you become a trumpet player? Did you play other instruments before the trumpet? If so, did those instruments inform how you played trumpet? Or did your view of how music is played change once becoming a trumpeter?

I began trumpet at an early age, as my father was an amateur trumpeter and got me started. I never played any other instruments until college when I became interested in historical performance and learned cornetto and natural trumpet. 

Were there recordings in the beginning and even years into learning the instrument that drew you into the trumpet’s sound and possibilities?

My first sampling of trumpet recordings were of my father’s favorite players–Louis Armstrong, Harry James, and Rafael Mendez. That list grew pretty early on to include Doc Severinsen, Al Hirt, Maynard Ferguson, and Maurice Andre. By high school the list was even longer and more diverse. 


People often talk about how the trumpet is the hardest instrument to play. Do you feel this is true? What doesn’t the general public understand about playing the trumpet that you wish people would realize?

I don’t believe the trumpet is the hardest instrument to play. But we are faced with some different challenges than other instruments. For one, playing the trumpet makes a lot of demands on us physically, so we have to be intelligent about how we practice and perform. Trumpeters also face the challenge that we are always heard even in tutti passages, so even small flaws in our performance can be noticeable to the audience. 

If you had to identify with one or two gurus, trumpeters or otherwise, who had the greatest impact on your musical journey to date, whom would they be?


I’d have to say Armando Ghitalla, my teacher at New England Conservatory, was a really important mentor to me. Also, as a young player coming to New York back in 1973, I learned a great deal from trumpeter colleagues Allan Dean, Lou Ranger, and Jim Stubbs.

Who are some of the most inspiring trumpet players or composers you’ve come across lately?

Wish I could say that I’m out and around checking out new things all the time, but that’s not really the case with the schedule I maintain. But the most recent ABQ recording—Chesapeake of David Sampson—is some really remarkable brass chamber music. I’ve had the pleasure to perform Sampson’s music for nearly 35 years and have the utmost respect and admiration for his work. I encourage people to get a listen. 

Mike Irwin

Wednesday, September 24
Ibeam: 168 7th St, Brooklyn, NY 11215
Emerging Players – $10
9pm Sam Neufeld, 10pm Benje Daneman, 11pm Mike Irwin.
9pm:

How did you become a trumpet player? Did you play other instruments before the trumpet? If so, did those instruments inform how you played trumpet? Or did your view of how music is played change once becoming a trumpeter?

As long as I can remember I’ve always loved the trumpet. I had a Conn New Wonder cornet that was given to my family by our downstairs neighbor, Bennie Wallace. I would carry it around the house (and presumably try to play it) all day when I was a toddler. My father bought me a Bb Baritone horn from a thrift store when I was around 9 years old. I loved the sound of that instrument. I learned to play “When the Saints Go Marching In” and a few major scales that he’d written out for me. Shortly thereafter he bought me a trumpet. I think playing the baritone horn first made a big impact on how I thought the trumpet should sound. Other people’s high notes still amaze me.

Were there recordings in the beginning and even years into learning the instrument that drew you into the trumpet’s sound and possibilities?

One of the first records that really drew me in were Clifford Brown’s sessions as a leader on Blue Note. The way that he could play with such drive and attack at fast tempos and then play a ballad so beautifully made a big impression on me.

Before I started playing the trumpet when was 7 or 8, my mom took me to hear Dizzy Gillespie at one of the Jazzmobile concerts at Grant’s Tomb. I remember that as one of the most exciting shows I’d ever seen. His small group recordings were daily listening for me in when I was in middle school. I also really loved Dizzy’s early big band records like “Manteca.” His entrances are electrifying.
Kenny Dorham’s “Quiet Kenny” was a touchstone for me when I first started playing trumpet. My father gave me a tape of that LP and it wasn’t labeled. I remember being in my room and playing it on my boombox for the first time and saying “Yeah, Miles!” thinking it was Miles Davis playing with that sweet, tart tone. I eventually figured out that it was KD; I listen to a lot of his records ever since.

People often talk about how the trumpet is the hardest instrument to play. Do you feel this is true? What doesn’t the general public understand about playing the trumpet that you wish people would realize?

Most people aren’t aware of the high level of discipline it takes to play the trumpet with any degree of proficiency. It’s just not common knowledge. I think this creates a feeling of solidarity among trumpet players that might not always be found in groups of other instrumentalists. It’s like: “Hey, do you blow air into a metal tube every single day of your life hoping to make a beautiful sound?” Me too! Let’s grab a beer!” I think you see that same kind of fraternal feeling among double bass players. It comes from sharing a certain kind of suffering. I love seeing trumpet players share their knowledge with one another in the hopes of making their musical lives easier. Having a good teacher from the very beginning is essential.

If you had to identify with one or two gurus, trumpeters or otherwise, who had the greatest impact on your musical journey to date, who would they be?

My first guru is of course my father, Dennis Irwin. As a child I heard him play with The Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra, Chet Baker, Dom Salvador, Johnny Griffin and many other great jazz musicians. My journey in music is a direct outgrowth of his dedication. The beauty of his life, and all the people in it, inspired me to choose music. When I first started playing his friends would give me lessons. I took a few lessons here and there with some really amazing trumpet players, but when he took me to see Laurie Frink I knew I was on the right track. I took only a handful of lessons with her over the years, but those lessons stuck with me. She made me feel, when I was twelve years old, that I could do anything on the trumpet.

Who is your favorite trumpeter today (as in today, the day you are writing this email) and what recorded song available to the public best exemplifies why this trumpeter is so badass?

Louis Armstrong is my favorite trumpet player today and just about everyday. Listen to him play and sing “Stardust.”

Sam Neufeld

Sam2How did you become a trumpet player? Did you play other instruments before the trumpet? If so, did those instruments inform how you played trumpet? Or did your view of how music is played change once becoming a trumpeter?
When I was in first grade, I begged my dad to let me get a trumpet and start lessons. Unfortunately, the couple teachers we called said I was too young and should wait until fifth grade to start in concert band.
I’m not sure what it was that attracted me to the trumpet; I do know that my dad has been a jazz fan since at least when I was a a young child. He played Clifford, Dizzy, Miles, and all the great trumpet players. I’m sure that had a large influence.
Were there recordings in the beginning and even years into learning the instrument that drew you into the trumpet’s sound and possibilities?
I can remember very clearly listening to “Miles Ahead” on my dad’s hand-me-down mini-disc player when I was about eleven years old. I was at my friend’s little league baseball game, just walking around with these bright yellow earphones in my ears, listening to Miles Davis. When I look back on that memory, it was a pretty strange thing for a little kid to be doing, but there was something about the music that drew me. Until I found jazz, I never listened to music unless my parents or friends were playing it on the radio.
People often talk about how the trumpet is the hardest instrument to play. Do you feel this is true? What doesn’t the general public understand about playing the trumpet that you wish people would realize?
I really don’t think I have a natural affinity towards the technical aspects of the trumpet. My jazz vocabulary and ability to hear things were pretty strong from a young age, but I still struggle a lot with the technical aspects. It’s hard! Not necessarily the hardest, but it definitely wears you out quicker than most instruments. Once I get into my fifties and sixties I am going to have to learn how to sing… haha!

Who is your favorite trumpeter today (as in today, the day you are writing this email) and what recorded song available to the public best exemplifies why this trumpeter is so badass?

Miles for sure. Somehow, I imagine he will always stand on a pedestal in my mind. And that’s a funny thing to say, because it is almost illogical to have a favorite on any one instrument – there are just so many greats. But, there is something so different about Miles. One of my favorite recordings of Miles is on the album “My Funny Valentine” from 1964 when he plays “Stella by Starlight”. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Riok08Y_ri4

FONT Interviews Jonathan Saraga

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How did you become a trumpet player? Did you play other instruments before the trumpet? If so, did those instruments inform how you played trumpet? Or did your view of how music is played change once becoming a trumpeter?

The trumpet was the first instrument I actually practiced. My mother had a piano in the house, and she played it for fun, as did my two older brothers, who didn’t live with me, but who would be over often enough, at least until I was about 10 or 11. I would say, this had no influence on my conception of music or trumpet playing though. Around that time, I was assigned trumpet in my middle school band class, I did not choose the trumpet. It turned out that I was able to produce a good tone and sound on the instrument, and was section leader for all three years. My parents decided I should stick with it, and after a much needed embouchure change early on in high school, I began to like playing more and more, second only to video games.

Were there recordings in the beginning and even years into learning the instrument that drew you into the trumpet’s sound and possibilities?I hadn’t really understood why I was playing the trumpet until sophomore year of college when my mother picked up a free copy of Clifford Brown with Strings from some store, I can’t remember the name, but they were just giving copies of this record out for free.. She hadn’t heard of Brownie, but she saw that he was a trumpet player, so she brought it home. As soon as his sound came through the speakers of the boombox at home, I felt that I had been hypnotized. I couldn’t believe that the trumpet could sound that way; it was angelic, deep, and passionate. I can still remember how it felt to hear his sound for the first time. I knew then that I wanted to be able to sound that way, like Clifford, and that was how my journey into jazz, and music that wasn’t high-school-band-material came about.People often talk about how the trumpet is the hardest instrument to play. Do you feel this is true? What doesn’t the general public understand about playing the trumpet that you wish people would realize?

The trumpet is a paradox within itself because there really are so many variables that factor into how someone will sound on it. Mouthpiece, air, the instrument, posture, facial features, jaw and tooth alignment, mental and spiritual states, and the list goes on. The instrument is hard to master, but what instrument isn’t. The trumpet is definitely not one that you can just pick up and sound like a master on. It takes consistent, diligent, focused practice, and sacrifice to play the trumpet at a high level; and again any musical instrument has the capacity to be played at an infinitely high level. There is no limit to how good one can get at anything in life. I don’t wish that the public would realize any of this though. That is not necessary. All I want from them is the same thing I want from myself: to be present and to listen.

If you had to identify with one or two gurus, trumpeters or otherwise, who had the greatest impact on your musical journey to date, whom would they be?

It’s hard to just thank one person, because there are hundreds of people, both living and not living, that have made an important impact on me, and each one as important as the last. So, I will go with “otherwise” and say that the consciousness that has brought all of those people into my life, that I have learned from and been touched by, is a great and powerful force that I depend on for my abilities as a trumpet player and musician, and for my time on this earth. I thank this force for directing me towards the musicians and teachers of many kinds that I have learned from. I am thankful to have the opportunity to repay them by offering people the best version of myself I can embody, and playing music from that place within me.

Who is your favorite trumpeter today (as in today, the day you are writing this email) and what recorded song available to the public best exemplifies why this trumpeter is so badass?

There are so many incredible trumpet players out there today. I am going to go with Wynton Marsalis Live at the House of Tribes. Just put on any song from that record. His playing on that record, and truthfully all times that I have heard and seen him play, is just at such a high level, and his intention that is behind what he is playing is so real and truthful, and coming from this very deep-rooted place. It’s hard to think of a present day trumpeter that touches me as deeply as de does. www.jonathansaraga.com

Benje Daneman

Wednesday, September 24
Ibeam: 168 7th St, Brooklyn, NY 11215
Emerging Players – $10
9pm Sam Neufeld, 10pm Benje Daneman, 11pm Mike Irwin.
9pm:

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How did you become a trumpet player? Did you play other instruments before the trumpet? If so, did those instruments inform how you played trumpet? Or did your view of how music is played change once becoming a trumpeter?

I started in the public school systems in Grand Rapids, MI. No one in my family was a musician so I learned everything from the schools. I originally wanted to play french horn, but was convinced otherwise to play trumpet by my parents because they thought the size would be better for carrying it on the bus. I can’t thank them enough now!! The only other musical background I had before that was learning the “Mission Impossible Theme” on a keyboard by a family friend – even with that, I had a great sense of excitement creating even that little music. It was just a foreshadowing of what was to come.

Were there recordings in the beginning and even years into learning the instrument that drew you into the trumpet’s sound and possibilities?

In seventh grade I somehow got a “Big Band Classics” CD played by a random orchestra that introduced me to all the big band era classics (“String of Pearls”, “Stardust”, “In the Mood”). It was my first introduction to jazz. Later, a “Best of Maynard Ferguson” CD introduced me to to the jazz trumpet world, then the door blew wide open in high school by listening to Clifford Brown (“A Study in Brown”) and Lee Morgan (“Sidewinder”), while being inspired by the music of Charles Mingus (“Mingus Ah Um”). Later in college, some instrumental steps came with Tom Harrell (“Look to the Sky”) and Chet Baker (“She Was Too Good to Me”).

People often talk about how the trumpet is the hardest instrument to play. Do you feel this is true? What doesn’t the general public understand about playing the trumpet that you wish people would realize?

The trumpet is obviously difficult, but I’ve also found it to be quite a psychological instrument. As I’ve grown as a person, I feel as though my trumpet playing has changed and morphed with it. Specifically, I’ve found as I’ve disconnected myself from personal attachment to my performance and grown more in my personal life, my performance on the horn has become much more consistent and personal.

If you had to identify with one or two gurus, trumpeters or otherwise, who had the greatest impact on your musical journey to date, whom would they be?

Laurie Frink – My time spent studying with her changed my approach to not only playing the trumpet, but the process of growth. She opened up to me the world of “teaching”, “allowing” and “trusting” my body how to do what it knows how to do. The lessons I learned in her apartment truly changed almost all aspects of how I approach the trumpet – definitely physically, but even more so psychologically.

Who is your favorite trumpeter today (as in today, the day you are writing this email) and what recorded song available to the public best exemplifies why this trumpeter is so badass?

Dave Douglas – Not only as a trumpeter, but also because of the all around package. His unique approach and sound to his music and playing is so personal and honest, you get a sense that you know him just by hearing his music. His career reminds me of Miles’ career, where as you look at it in the broad view, you see clearly his continual development musically and artistically – it inspires me to be true and honest in my next musical steps. I’m also inspired by the projects and groups that he initiates – including his non performance projects like Greenleaf Records, FONT and his public masterclasses. His continual movement, direction and tenacity in the music world inspires and reminds me to continually be taking a step forward – whatever it might look like.

Jesse Neuman

Sunday, September 21
Brooklyn Children’s Museum FREE!
12pm and 1pm – Blast of Brass: An interactive concert featuring the science and fun of making music with the brass family of instruments at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum: 145 Brooklyn Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11213 (718) 735-4400.

Featuring: Jesse Neuman, Elizabeth Frascoia (trombone), John Altieri (tuba), and Brian Adler (drums).

How did you become a trumpet player? Did you play other instruments before the trumpet? If so, did those instruments inform how you played trumpet? Or did your view of how music is played change once becoming a trumpeter?

​When I was in 4th grade, they lined up all of the different instruments and let students try them. The trumpet was the only one that I could get a sound out of, so that became the obvious and only choice. It was pretty random, but in retrospect it’s probably better that I wasn’t heart-set on the trumpet in particular. It took me a while to get into it, and growing an interest slowly and steadily worked out.

Were there recordings in the beginning and even years into learning the instrument that drew you into the trumpet’s sound and possibilities?

In middle school I listened to a Miles Davis’ Greatest Hits album my parents had quite a bit. It had that live version of My Funny Valentine where he plays the melody solo with lots of dramatic pauses, and then rips into a super high phrase when Tony Williams comes in. That was pretty powerful, and definitely got me thinking about how playing a jazz solo could really command a lot of focus and attention. ​When I was in high school and began to get more serious about playing the trumpet, I took the train from the suburbs where my family and I lived into Manhattan to see live shows. I saw Graham Haynes at the (old) Knitting Factory, and later bought the album he had just put out, “Tones for the 21st Century.”​ ​He was–and still is–one of the most unique influences on me. On the surface, his use of electronics was pretty exciting (I played a solo with my high school jazz band plugged into my friend’s guitar fx pedals–it was groundbreaking, and awful!), but even more significant is the absolute solidity and commitment he makes to every single phrase.​ I loved Dave Douglas’ “Five” and “Tiny Bell Trio” records a lot (really, I’d say that even if he wasn’t the founder of FONT :), especially because they opened my eyes to how versatile the role and sound of the trumpet can be. I also went to see Maria Schneider’s Jazz Orchestra when they were still playing every Monday night at Visiones in the Village. Up until that point, big band was mostly about playing loud and high and obnoxiously, but seeing Maria’s band was like a revelation. She had Tony Kadlek, Greg Gisbert, and Dave Ballou in her trumpet section. Any one of them would be a windfall, but to have 3 of the most polished, fearless, and complete trumpeters in the world all lined up in the back row of your band is just ridiculous. The way they played–both the ensemble parts and improvised solos–was so clean and lush, it made a big impression on me.

People often talk about how the trumpet is the hardest instrument to play. Do you feel this is true? What doesn’t the general public understand about playing the trumpet that you wish people would realize?

My best friend still teases me…”You only have 3 buttons, what more do you need to practice!?” The trumpet is an incredibly difficult instrument to play. I always tell new students that unlike a piano (where you touch a key and it sounds good), the trumpet takes a looooooong time to sound anything but horrible. Mastering the trumpet, technically speaking, is based on micro-precise manipulation of a set of muscles in your face that are designed by nature for smiling and chewing. It’s a miracle that anyone sticks with it!​ ​ The upside though is that when you finally do acquire a modicum of technique, the possibilities for sound are endless. Your body, from the thickness of your lips, to the weight of your hands, determines to an enormous degree how your instrument will sound. Not only that, but your brain and sense of hearing dramatically shape the sound that comes out at the end of the day, because there is a tremendous amount of ‘room’ on each note and attack to personalize the sound. I think that many people think that the trumpet is just loud and macho, but in fact there is a world of nuance available to a good trumpeter.

If you had to identify with one or two gurus, trumpeters or otherwise, who had the greatest impact on your musical journey to date, whom would they be?

Ralph Alessi is a monster trumpet player, but he is also a deep, deep improviser in the truest sense of the word. He questions everything, and would rather ‘miss’ reaching for 1 new idea than sound great repeating any of the 99 amazing ideas he already had. I took a workshop with him before my senior year in high school, and it literally changed my life. I thought that improvisation meant making something new-ish with a few tricks you picked up from scale books (and man, I thought I was pretty good at it!). Ralph, in his typically subtle way, showed me that real improvisation meant to step out on a limb, and use tools as means to get to new, risky, unfamiliar, but ultimately thrilling ends.

Laurie Frink was my true, once in a lifetime role model. I can’t put into words the depth of impact she had on my life–as a trumpeter, musician, teacher, friend, son, husband, and person. She came from very bleak and limited circumstances and became a flawless technician, consummate professional, and guru-like teacher with a following ranging from orchestral principals to high school students. It’s a testament to her character that so many of her students recall how she helped them overcome difficult musical obstacles, as well as personal troubles. Laurie has a way of making it feel like you and her were the only people on the planet, and her only goal was to help you succeed. She was a truly extraordinary human being, and her death was devastating for the music community. I had her initials tattooed on the inside of my arm, and I think about her every day.

Who is your favorite trumpeter today (as in today, the day you are writing this email) and what recorded song available to the public best exemplifies why this trumpeter is so badass?

Can I get away with 2 if they are from the same state? There must be something in the water in Colorado, because it produced Shane Endsley and Ron Miles. Shane has a truly unique language on the trumpet. When he plays, it’s like every sentence starts with something you know and then winds up on a completely different–but equally interesting–topic. He never seems to be playing very loudly or working very hard, but everything that comes out of his horn is pin-point accurate and compelling. His band Kneebody gives all of us trumpeters hope that we can still be in a rock band when we grow up. Ron Miles has the most luxurious and earnest trumpet sound I have ever heard, and his playing evinces a patience and maturity that is breathtaking. One of his records was recorded in a room so dry that it makes my teeth hurt worrying that he’ll crack a note…but I think he’s just happy to put out his trumpet sound ‘as-is’ because he is so confident in his message. His compositions are gorgeous, and they way he floats along lyrically gives us plenty of perspective on how the trumpet can function as a leader, background voice, or texture in between. ​ ​And while they are not from Colorado, if you haven’t heard Eric Biondo or Nate Wooley then you are missing out.​​

FONT Interviews Tim Hagans

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How did you become a trumpet player? Did you play other instruments before the trumpet? If so, did those instruments inform how you played trumpet? Or did your view of how music is played change once becoming a trumpeter?

“I started playing the trumpet when I was nine years old. I chose the trumpet because more than any other instrument I was fascinated and excited by its sound and emotional impact. I also thought it looked very hip, like an extension of the soul. I was exposed to Louis Armstrong, Harry James and Doc Severinsen through their television appearances in the early 60′s and was fascinated by the orchestral and big band trumpet sections that I heard in concert.  I also had a record titled A Child’s Introduction To The Orchestra that featured a character named Crumpet The Trumpet.  I was sold on the trumpet!

As a teenager I played the guitar and wanted to be the next Woody Guthrie. I learned tablature and listened to a lot of folk music and early blues. I played the trumpet along with Leadbelly records. This music described what was going on in the streets of America at that time and showed me that music was a powerful and influential force.

I decided to become a professional trumpet player after hearing Ray Maldonado with Mongo Santamaria when I was fifteen years old. I stopped playing ice hockey (which also has a great deal of improvisation) and began focusing on improving my trumpet technique and learning about music theory. I listened exclusively to jazz recordings, performed odd jobs to finance record buying and concert tickets and, most importantly, became aware that jazz is the ultimate celebration of individualism and, with trumpet in hand, to devote a life to self-exploration in the improvised moment that will inspire others to think freely and search for truth is indeed an honorable mission. “

Were there recordings in the beginning that drew you into the trumpet’s sound and possibilities?

“I borrowed LPs from the public library in Dayton, Ohio.  The first record that I borrowed was Miles Davis Friday and Saturday Nights at the Blackhawk.  So the dark and up close sound on that record became my model for how a trumpet should sound and also how a rhythm section should play and interact with a soloist.  I played along with that record quite a bit. I also love Freddie Hubbard’s sound on the Hub of Hubbard.  And what he plays on that recording!  It is one of the best examples of ultimate swinging harmonic hipness.

Bitches Brew was the first record that I bought as a newly released recording and life changed during my first listening. The energy and vibe of the late 60s America was captured and amplified with a cry for freedom and a demand for a deeper understanding of glorious diversity.  Bitches Brew, packed with Miles’ melodic painting, deep grooves and suspenseful space, encouraged me to imagine how music could heroically impact the good future. Miles’ playing always emphasized playing the perfect note to best describe the emotion of the moment.”

People often talk about how the trumpet is the hardest instrument to play. Do you feel this is true? What doesn’t the general public understand about playing the trumpet that you wish people would realize? 

“I always give it up to french horn and oboe players first although I am starting to rethink that concept.  My first trumpet teachers were fantastic in relaying how to make music from a phrase or melody. They spoke about dynamics and phrasing but very little about the mechanics of trumpet technique. Consequently, I had to overcome many embouchure weaknesses and then research and teach myself the proper way to play.  Bobby Shew has been a great help and I am constantly asking trumpet players questions about chops, tonguing and breathing. As an improviser I am always hearing ideas that are just out of reach of my technical level, so I devise exercises to enable those ideas and then the next wave of humbling melodies appears in my ear’s mind and the process of improvement continues. Trumpet players are lucky to have such an arduous but ecstatically rewarding endeavor for a life’s mission.  It keeps one young, humble and honest.

Because of the difficulty of trumpet performance and the great service we provide to society, I do believe that the general public should agree that trumpet players should be given first class upgrades on all flights, lifetime alternate-side parking suspensions and free coffee on gig days.”

If you had to identify with one or two gurus, trumpeters or otherwise, who had the greatest impact on your musical journey to date, whom would they be?

“John Coltrane for his searching vibe and extremely personal way of combining global spirituality with music. Thad Jones for being a true 100% improviser and for the joy of life that pervades his playing and writing….and for that big smile and those rib-crushing hugs.”

In your upcoming performance you’ll be improvising music to a silent film. What is it that appeals to you about adding a visual element to improvisation? Is it something you do often?

“I have always been fascinated with film music. I will watch films just for the music and ponder the composer’s choices concerning orchestration, harmony, density and space.  Sometimes I wonder if the music is needed at all and sometimes I wish I could mute just the music and add my own.  So the project with Aaron and James is exciting for me because we will be adding a score and it will be improvised.  The film could be considered the soloist that we are accompanying or maybe as just another member of the band although the film’s interaction with us is, of course, limited. It is very easy to play literal ideas to support the visual but I think a more interesting approach for the musicians is to portray the core emotion as abstractly as possible.  This enables each audience member to freely interpret the integration of music and film on a personal level rather than being told what to feel. For me this is the primary mission of any film composer or any group of two trumpeters and a vibraphonist improvising to a Japanese silent film.”