Glenn’s Trumpet Notes

News & Tips for Trumpet & Cornet Students

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Posts Tagged ‘Herb Alpert’

Magnolia Man (39) Takes Trumpet on Journey toward Jazz Quintet

Posted by glennled on December 17, 2010

What motivates a man to pick up the trumpet at 39 years old and start to play? In the case of my 14th student, it’s his love of jazz and specifically, his love and appreciation of  the music played by one of the greats, Miles Davis. My student owns and works out of his 2.5-story home in Magnolia in Seattle, and we practice there weekly in his warm, spacious basement. In “X” years, he’d like to be playing locally in a small band, perhaps a quintet. But for now, like any 5th-grade beginner, the Magnolia Man must first learn the basics, the fundamentals. We started lessons on 9 December.

“Everyone who got where he is had to begin where he was,” wrote Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Treasure Island, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and many other books. And so it was with Miles Davis, too. Miles, the son of a dentist in East St. Louis, got his first trumpet at age 13. He was a prodigy—it was his horn. At 18, he went to New York City. During 1957-1963, he collaborated with Gil Evans, often playing both flugelhorn and trumpet. That’s when I first became acquainted with his music, including the albums ‘Round About Midnight, Miles Ahead, and Porgy and Bess, and this remains my favorite period of his music. To my young ears, it was stunningly beautiful.

Miles was an innovator. He experimented with and led several major developments in jazz music, including bebop, cool jazz, hard bop, modal jazz, and jazz fusion. After he died in 1991, eight digitally-enhanced box sets of his recordings have been released. The 6-CD set, Miles Davis and Gil Evans: The Complete Columbia Studio Recordings, won three Grammy Awards: Best Historical Album, Best Album Notes, and Best Recording Package (Boxed). This was only the third time in Grammy history that that trifecta was ever achieved.

In 1959, his magnum opus, Kind of Blue, was released. And 49 years later (2008), the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) issued its fourth platinum certification for this album, signifying sales of four million copies. In 2006, Miles Davis was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He is considered one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century.

I saw and heard him play only once. When I came back from Vietnam, there was a jazz place down in Pioneer Square, and one night I went there by myself to hear him play. Before going, I had read in a magazine article that he had the reputation of being cold, withdrawn, and distant. They said he would sometimes play with his back to the audience. He did, and I left, having drunk too many “stingers on the rocks” and feeling very alone.

For more about the life and work of Miles Davis, see http://www.milesdavis.com and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miles Davis.

I’ve found that my older students tend to identify with special trumpeters. With the Magnolia Man, it’s Miles Davis. With the downtown Seattle 50-year old, it’s Herb Alpert. When asked what trumpeters he admires, my Bothell 9th grader replied, “Dizzie Gillespie.” I should ask the Magnolia Man which of Miles’ periods, albums, and CDs he likes best. I’ll do that.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” says a Chinese proverb. Three cheers for the Magnolia Man! He’s on the path.

Posted in New Students - Intro Posts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Perfect Christmas Gift: A CD of Christmas Music Featuring the Trumpet

Posted by glennled on December 9, 2010

So you like the trumpet and you like Christmas, right? Then put ’em together and either (1) give a CD to someone for Christmas or (2) add a CD to your own Christmas-gift wish list so that someone can give it you. Not just a CD of beautiful Christmas music—make it a CD that features great trumpeters playing great Christmas music!

Through the internet, I’ve conducted an informal poll, asking other trumpeters from around the world to name their favorite Christmas CDs featuring the trumpet. Here are the results (not in priority or genre order):

  • Canadian Brass, “A Very Merry Christmas CD” (2010)
  • Canadian Brass, “Christmas Tradition” (2007)
  • Canadian Brass, “A Christmas Experiment” (2007)
  • Canadian Brass, “Noel” (1994)
  • Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass, “Christmas Album” (2005)

    Herb Alpert's "Christmas Album" cover

  • Tine Thing Helseth, “My Heart is Ever Present” (2009)
  • Rick Braun, “Christmas Present” (1994)
  • Chris Botti, “December” (2006)
  • Doc Severinsen, “Christmas with Friends” (1991)
  • Doc Severinsen, “Merry Christmas from Doc Severinsen” (2000)
  • Phil Driscoll, “Heaven and Nature Swing” (2000)
  • Boston Brass, “The Stan Kenton Christmas Carols” (2005)
  • Wynton Marsalis, “Christmas Jazz Jam” (2009)
  • Playboy’s “Latin Jazz Christmas: A Not So Silent Night,” featuring Arturo Sandoval (2001)
  • Al Hirt, “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” (2000)
  • Harry Connick, Jr., “When My Heart Finds Christmas,” featuring Roger Ingram (1993)
  • Philadelphia Brass, “Festival of Carols in Brass” (1991)
  • Philadelphia Brass, “Christmas in the Grand Tradition” (2010)
  • The Airmen of Note, “Cool Yule” (2009)
  • The Airmen of Note, “A Holiday Note from Home” (2005)
  • Tom Kubix Big Band, “A Jazz Musicians Christmas” (2002)
  • James Morrison, “Christmas” (2000)

If you have a favorite not listed here, please click on “Leave a Comment” below this post, give me the artist and title, and I’ll add it to the above list.

If you want to learn more about these favorites and even listen to excerpts from some of them, simply copy the bulleted item, paste it into a search engine box, and hit “search.” You’ll find lots of results that link you to websites featuring that item in some way.

And I wish you and yours a Very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, with God’s many blessings!

Posted in Selected Trumpet Music | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Sixth Student–Man from New York!

Posted by glennled on January 7, 2010

Last weekend, J.S. found me on www.TeachStreet.com and enrolled in my class for private trumpet lessons. It turned out that during the holidays he was in New York, where he was raised, visiting his parents who are in their 80’s. A child of the 1960’s, he grew up listening to Herb Alpert and The Tijuana Brass, and he’s always liked mariachi music. A jazz song, “Minnie the Moocher,” featuring a muted trumpet, is a big favorite of his–it’s the “He-De-Ho” song by Cab Calloway, first recorded in 1931 during the Great Depression–very fun to listen to and sing along with. Try it (free) at www.lala.com. It’s a good example of why I claim that the trumpet is the most expressive of all brass instruments.

J.S. always wanted to play an instrument. Flute, guitar and trumpet appealed most to him. Now, at age 49, he’s making the time and effort to do it–bully-bully for him! And naturally, the trumpet stood the tests of time and imagination and won out. 😉

When he returned to Seattle this week, where he and his wife have lived downtown almost six years, we got together and talked things over. Next week, we start working on the horn and his dream. It’s his goal to play for his parents when he returns to New York for another visit next summer. We’ll see if an adult man can learn trumpet faster than my four other beginning students who are 10 to 12 years old. By next July, if we were to unite them all to form a trumpet quintet, who would be sitting first chair? We’ll see. Now really, they’re only in competition in my own head. It’s a fun mind-game for me. “Become your BEST!” is my slogan. That’s really what I want for every student. And now I want to recruit two more–of any age, at any skill level.

Posted in New Students - Intro Posts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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