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 was a classical piano player before I picked up the trumpet. My piano teacher’s husband played the trumpet, and so when I had the opportunity to learn a band instrument, it was my natural choice. I thought it was really easy – I only had to read one note at a time, and only in treble clef! I was sold immediately. My view of music didn’t change, but it certainly became more social. Classical piano was such a solitary activity, and I liked being in bands with my friends. (And playing fabulous arrangements of 80’s tunes like Neutron Dance and Macarthur Park).
Were there recordings in the beginning and even years into learning the instrument that drew you into the trumpet’s sound and possibilities?
There was always classical radio playing in my house, so I would mainly hear the trumpet in an orchestral setting. I don’t recall listening to any trumpet albums early on, but as a teenager, I had a recording of Hadyn’s trumpet concerto. I hated it.
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 an unyielding, difficult beast. It’s like having a child that never grows up. It requires constant maintenance and attention. Sometimes I ignore it as much as possible, and I’ve even left it alone for years, but somehow it always seems to find me and pull me back into its clutches. Perhaps I’d want people to know that sometimes playing this instrument really physically hurts, and we should be rewarded for our efforts with donations of cash, generous steak dinners and perhaps some wine.
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 teacher during my masters program at Manhattan School of Music. She was too much of an influence for me to be able to put into words. I also admire the playing of Kenny Wheeler, and it was his album, Kind Folk, that really drew me into the European jazz world when I was in college, and in a way, let me know that people may like to hear beautiful melody played with a great sound. I wasn’t really sold on bebop at that time – I found it very hard to relate to, but immediately loved anything released on ECM.
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?
Today, I was listening to Louis Armstrong. It’s impossible to have a bad moment while listening to him. I have the “All Time Greatest Hits” album. It’s fabulous.