A light hearted, satirical approach to the instrument that we both love and hate simultaneously. At trumpetastic.com you will find all sorts of trumpet related news, articles, product reviews, events, blatant advertising and some completely useless stuff that will make you laugh or curse, depending on your take on playing the trumpet.
Maurice André did for the trumpet what Segovia did for the guitar, bringing the instrument from its humble origins into both the classical mainstream and popular culture. It had a parallel in his own life: he spent five years down the pits before escaping to music school. The trumpet demands perhaps more physical strength than any other instrument; André attributed his own resilience to those five years at the coal-face, “moving 17 tons of coal a day”.
The importance of André’s example is difficult to exaggerate. Paul Archibald, former professor of trumpet at the Royal Academy of Music and Royal College of Music, said: “The impact and influence that he had on generations of trumpeters was monumental. He defined the art of solo trumpet playing with his beautifully refined phrasing and his effortless technique.” But as well as setting standards for the musicians who were to follow him, André enjoyed a huge popular following, appealing to listeners of every stripe and hue, and crossing musical boundaries with ease.
André was born to the trumpet: his miner father played it, in the colliery band, and for local events. Maurice had two years of school solfège before, aged 12, he began to play the cornet, which his father had won as a prize. He made startlingly swift progress, soon appearing alongside his father, who sent him for lessons with a friend, Léon Barthélémy, a teacher at the Conservatoire in Nîmes. André continued to work in the mines until a near-fatal accident forced him to take time off work – time he used with religious devotion, practising for three hours every morning.
Barthélémy suggested his student join the band of the Eighth Régiment des Transmissions at Mont-Valérien, and it was as a military musician that, at 18, André began studying at the Conservatoire de Paris – though playing in uniform and living in barracks. His principal teacher there, Raymond Sabarich, was demanding and uncompromising, even thumping André when he played a wrong note. The unconventional approach worked: after six months André won the Premier Prix d’Honneur for the cornet and the Premier Prix for the trumpet a year later.
To begin with, there was little demand for a trumpet soloist, and André had to settle for orchestral positions, playing with the Orchestre Lamoureux and the Orchestre Philharmonique de la Radio France, and thereafter with the Opéra-Comique. He also played in night clubs and theatres, but his breakthrough came in 1955 when, asked to join the jury of a music competition in Geneva, he chose instead to appear as a competitor, walking away with first prize.
He was soon making records, many for Erato. He notched up some 300 recordings, and enlarged the trumpet repertoire by raiding those of other instruments. One recording – of Vivaldi concertos with the Berlin Philharmonic and Herbert von Karajan – sold 1.5m copies but got off to a shaky start: when André got a call from Karajan’s assistant, he assumed it was a friend winding him up.
It was with Baroque music that he made his reputation: two signature performances were of the Second of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos and the “Badinerie” from the Second Orchestral Suite. He played the high piccolo trumpet with an ease and elegance that astonished – it looked incongruous in his fleshy hands and applied to his round face beneath a thatch of white hair and two bushy black eyebrows. He looked cuddly, approachable, and the TV appearances that began in 1980 brought him an even larger public.
Although André joked that contemporary music reminded him of the noises he used to hear down the mine, composers were hardly going to leave such a resource unexploited, and Boris Blacher, André Jolivet, Jean Langlais and Henri Tomasi were among those who wrote for him.
With the work ethic he had learned as a youth, he had gruelling schedules, averaging 180 concerts a year at his busiest, in the 1970s. But concerts were a family affair: André’s manager was his wife, Liliane, and he often appeared with his brother, Raymond, also a trumpeter, and later with his son, Nicolas, another trumpeter, and daughter Béatrice, an oboist. From 1967-78 he was a professor at the Conservatoire de Paris; his memoir Le Soleil Doit Pouvoir Briller pour Tout le Monde (“The Sun Should Shine for Everybody”) appeared in 2007.
André put the length of his career down to the fact that he had never strained to play and so didn’t tire his lips. He settled in the Basque country in the early 1990s and, though supposedly taking life easier, continued to practise for four or five hours a day, finding time also for painting and wood-carving. His farewell concert was in Béziers in 2008: he should have retired earlier, he explained, but some work on his teeth allowed him to keep going.
For Paul Archibald, the trumpet “was part of him and he sang with an intensity that was pure heart and soul … He was much more than an instrumentalist. His musical personality was natural, honest and sincere and the integrity of his playing is an example to any musician.”
Maurice André, trumpeter: born Rochebelle, Cévennes 21 May 1933; married 1956 (one son, one daughter); died Urrugne, Bayonne 25 February 2012.
Interview with jazz trumpeter, bandleader and Taylor Trumpets Artist, Yervand Margaryan.
JazzBluesNews.Space: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?
Yervand Margaryan: – I was born and grew up in Tbilisi (Georgia). My first interest towards music was in early childhood. I loved singing songs from famous cartoons since I was 4 years old. And at that time I remember I gathered a huge collection of such cartoons with original songs on the vinyls. I played them everyday and sang along all of these by heart.
JBN.S: –What got you interested in picking up the trumpet? What teacher or teachers helped you progress to the level of playing you have today? What made you choose the trumpet?
YM: – My father is a big musical fan especially of the French singer with Armenian heritage Charles Aznavour. He didn’t miss any old or new record of that singer. Besides this he also loved listening to jazz music. All of this didn’t miss my attention. At 14 I discovered a tremendous vinyl of Louis Armstrong and from that moment on fell in love with jazz! I have been lucky in life. When I moved to Yerevan, a famous American pianist of Armenian heritage Armen Donelyan came here with master classes! After literally a couple of his workshops I understood in which direction I had to develop and this was a deciding period in my choice for my future path!
JBN.S: –How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?
YM: – Sound is a language . We express an idea with a language. The idea itself is born from the context which is always different. Accordingly sound always arises from context and can change depending on the composition. And in music context is; style, tempo, emotional substance, etc. I have a small daily routine to always maintain the shape of my technical apparatus which is responsible for my context dependable flexible sound.
JBN.S: –What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?
YM: – When there is time for practice I love to play and improvise standards in a variety of tempos from the slowest to the fastest in completely different styles from pop and reggae to straight 8 and hard bop in all keys.
JBN.S: –Which harmonies and harmonic patterns do you prefer now?
YM: – For me the priority in music, just like in life is the context. Everything arises from the context. For me it all depends what kind of music I play at that moment. Let’s agree, that it would be clumsy to imagine using pentatonic patterns in dixieyland music or to play bibop patterns in bossa nova. Everything has to be natural and arising from the context.
JBN.S: –Which are the best jazz albums for you of 2017 year?
YM: – I really like Arturo Sandoval’s last album “Ultimates Duets.”
JBN.S: –What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?
YM: – Of course the best that can be done is to combine the intellect with the soul! And I try to walk on that path. But nonetheless for me the priority in music and life is the heart and soul! Only the outcome of the heart and soul can reach out and touch the hearts and souls of your listeners!
JBN.S: –Please any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?
YM: – I have had many memorable gigs, concerts and studio recordings. All of them are precious for me in an equal manner. I can only note that I’ve been lucky to work with such performers as Michel Legrand (France), Igor Butman (Russia), Charles Davis (USA),Roy Hargrove (USA),Ramon Flores (USA) Victor Espinola (Paraguay), Ziad Rahbani (Lebanon), Ventzislav Blagoev (Bulgaria), Roger Wright (England), Arno Van Nieuwenhuize (Netherlands), Arto Tunchboyajian (USA), Adam Rapa (USA), Zaid Nasser (USA), Michel Delakian (France), Stephane Stefan Patry (France), etc.
JBN.S: –Many aspiring musicians are always looking for advice when navigating thru the music business. Is there any piece of advice you can offer to aspiring students or even your peers that you believe will help them succeed and stay positive in this business?
YM: – My main advice is to be dedicated to your work and believe in what you do! Sooner or later it will bring you to success!
JBN.S: –Аnd furthermore, can jazz be a business today or someday?
YM: – Yes, I firmly believe that jazz can also be a business in addition. Everything depends how you do your work and deliver it to the audience.
JBN.S: –Which collaboration have been the most important experiences for you?
YM: – I consider a very important collaboration with the famous composer and pianist Ziad Rahbani. For me that collaboration has started in the beginning of my musical career and lasts until now. I like his non-standard approach to music. These are original compositions in which you always have to thoroughly approach each of your solo performances. Minimalism, stylistic opportunities and also a unique musical color which combines jazz music as well as national motives; all of this is extraordinarily interesting and captivating! We also talked a lot with Ziad on music and I noticed the similarity of views with him. All of this also influenced me when started composing my own music.
JBN.S: –How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?
YM: – That’s a good question! In my opinion there are several ways and they are not mutually exclusive. Most importantly is the form in which the music is delivered. We need newly composed music, which reflects our life with its rhythm, harmony. It will definitely be close to young people because it originates from our daily lives. And evergreen repertuar is a classic. And there’s two ways for it to develop; perform them like classics without changing anything or perform them them using new and interesting rhythmic and harmonic solutions. But this doesn’t mean that the priority here is to change something. The priority is the sense of taste and style! That’s the most important thing!
JBN.S: –John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life?
YM: – This is how I imagine it all. All of us received this life as a gift. And each one of us has a special mission uniquely suited to him. Our life is the dream of God. And God sent us here to manifest various divine qualities; talents and good acts to make this planet the way God and ideally each one of us would have wanted to see! And only when we accomplish the mission assigned to us we become happy! And we make the people around us happy too! It’s a different issue that a lot of people often don’t believe in their mission in this life, don’t believe in miracles, in good. And it gets them to waste the missions assigned only to them and making them unhappy. You always need to believe in your mission and listen to your heart!
JBN.S: –What are your expectations of the future? What brings you fear or anxiety?
YM: – I look optimistically into the future. I have a lot of ideas and projects in mind! It also concerns the development of jazz in Armenia. New concerts and festivals by their format. It also concerns Armenia’s presence in the international arena as well as joint international projects! Let’s hope there’s much energy and health to accomplish all of this!
JBN.S: –If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?
YM: – Maybe this is a utopia, but I would make all the news channels and shows to broadcast good music, concerts and recordings instead of bad and horrific news about catastrophes,murders, etc. Then our world surely would turn in the right direction!
JBN.S: –What’s the next musical frontier for you?
YM: – From my early devotion to jazz one of my idols was the singer and trumpet player Chet Backer. Quite recently I caught myself on the thought that there are song lyrics that are in sync to my life experience and I have a message to express with them, to sing them more specifically. Very recently I sang “When I Fall in Love” for the first time in my life publicly at the Armas Wine & Jazz Festival. I think everything went alright and I would very much like to prepare a new project in which I would completely sing famous standards in a couple of months. That’s my next goal!
JBN.S: –Are there any similarities between jazz and world music, including folk music?
YM: – There is a little similarity between jazz and world music. But I still think that a mix of genres can give wonderful fruits both creatively and as a means to popularize jazz in the whole world!
JBN.S: –Who do you find yourself listening to these days?
YM: – I always love to listen to a variety of music from classical to rap. From the jazz performers of our time I like to listen to Тill Brönner, Arturo Sandoval, Roy Hargrove, Chris Botti, etc.
JBN.S: –Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go?
YM: – I really believe that I was born in a time right for me. But often I would like to travel on a time machine through all the historic periods!
JBN.S: –I have been asking you so far, now may I have a question from yourself …
YM: – How do you ideally envision the future of jazz in Armenia and the role of the Armenian musicians in the international arena?
JBN.S: –Thank you for answers. I am sorry, I do not want to offend a compatriots.
The maestro, Arturo Sandoval, has brought together an eclectic array of the world’s finest singers, from Pharrell Williams to Placido Domingo, in this album of duets featuring Arturo in a celebration of artistry. As Arturo once said, “It’s all just music.”
Wynton Marsalis is an internationally acclaimed musician, composer, bandleader, educator and a leading advocate of American culture. He is the world’s first jazz artist to perform and compose across the full jazz spectrum from its New Orleans roots to bebop to modern jazz.
By creating and performing an expansive range of brilliant new music for quartets to big bands, chamber music ensembles to symphony orchestras, tap dance to ballet, Wynton has expanded the vocabulary for jazz and created a vital body of work that places him among the world’s finest musicians and composers.
The Early Years
Wynton was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, on October 18, 1961, to Ellis and Dolores Marsalis, the second of six sons. At an early age he exhibited a superior aptitude for music and a desire to participate in American culture. At age eight Wynton performed traditional New Orleans music in the Fairview Baptist Church band led by legendary banjoist Danny Barker, and at 14 he performed with the New Orleans Philharmonic. During high school Wynton performed with the New Orleans Symphony Brass Quintet, New Orleans Community Concert Band, New Orleans Youth Orchestra, New Orleans Symphony, various jazz bands and with the popular local funk band, the Creators.
At age 17 Wynton became the youngest musician ever to be admitted to Tanglewood’s Berkshire Music Center. Despite his youth, he was awarded the school’s prestigious Harvey Shapiro Award for outstanding brass student. Wynton moved to New York City to attend Juilliard in 1979. When he began to pick up gigs around town, the grapevine began to buzz. In 1980 Wynton seized the opportunity to join the Jazz Messengers to study under master drummer and bandleader Art Blakey. It was from Blakey that Wynton acquired his concept for bandleading and for bringing intensity to each and every performance. In the years to follow Wynton performed with Sarah Vaughan, Dizzy Gillespie, Sweets Edison, Clark Terry, John Lewis, Sonny Rollins, Ron Carter, Herbie Hancock, Tony Williams and countless other jazz legends.
Wynton assembled his own band in 1981 and hit the road, performing over 120 concerts every year for 15 consecutive years. With the power of his superior musicianship, the infectious sound of his swinging bands and an exhaustive series of performances and music workshops, Marsalis rekindled widespread interest in jazz throughout the world. Wynton embraced the jazz lineage to garner recognition for the older generation of overlooked jazz musicians and prompted the re-issue of jazz catalog by record companies worldwide. He also inspired a renaissance that attracted a new generation of fine young talent to jazz.
A look at the more distinguished jazz musicians of today reveals numerous students of Marsalis’ workshops: James Carter, Christian McBride, Roy Hargrove, Harry Connick Jr., Nicholas Payton, Eric Reed and Eric Lewis, to name a few.
Journalist, musician, writer. Gets off to Virginia Woolf, Joyce, Faulkner, Toni Morrison, realism, and the Gothic Sublime.
I Flew to New York to meet the enigmatic trumpeter. He felt like talking.
When Miles Davis walked into the Carlyle Hotel in New York City in 1985 I deliberately let him pass me by while he was looking around to figure out who he was meeting for his luncheon interview. He was probably looking for some scruffy dude in jeans like one of those misfits who write for Rolling Stone. I was dressed in a blue jacket and red tie. I remember he was dressed in all black, wearing a black hat and carrying a black cane. He was walking. When he came back by me I called to him — Miles. He looked surprised; I was not who he was expecting. He said — Oh, it’s you? He seemed pleased.
Miles is my legal name, but it is not the name I was born with. My parents named me something no kid should have to go through life with (No, I’m not telling you). I promised my mother that as soon as I came of age I was going to change it, and when I turned 21 I walked into the office of a probate judge and did just that. Had I imagined that I might have even the most remotest chance of ever meeting the man, or that I would someday try to play jazz (at the very least I had to give up the trumpet, so I picked up the saxophone), I would have chosen a different name. I am still haunted by the choice I made. I had heard he hated interviewers, but at the time USA Today was the mammy jammy on the entertainment media scene — everybody wanted to get in it.
The tough sale was with my editors. If you are not the pop culture flavor of the moment you don’t really get into USA Today. I begged for months to interview him. Did he have a Top Ten album? Well, no, but he is Miles Davis. The thing is he had been retired for half a decade and was still just getting back to stride. He had released The Man with the Horn in 1981, hailing his comeback, and Star People two years later, but it was when he released the monstrous Decoyin 1984 that I went to my editor again and, probably to shut me up, she said fine. Go interview him.
He ordered lobster salad for lunch. I have no idea what I ate. I didn’t come there to eat. I sat a tape recorder on the table and we started talking. I do remember asking him about Cicely Tyson, whom he was married to at the time. It was the only time during the interview that he took a bite out of me — Talk about music or don’t talk at all!, he snapped, that fierce look in his eyes. He scared the shit out of me. He saw it. I was young and stupid, and very naive. He lightened up. She balances my life, he said, tossing me a bone. Then he started telling me stories — about the time he was riding a taxi cab with Charlie Parker, who was giving some gal some head and Bird told him to turn his head and not look, to which he replied — Man, I don’t want to see that shit.
I asked him the real story about how he damaged his voice after being told to not talk after vocal cord surgery. According to him, a club manager was pissed because Stan Getz was high and wanted him to do something about it, so he yelled at the guy to go yell at Getz instead of him. After this, he said, is when he began talking in his famously raspy tone. I asked him about death. He said he wasn’t afraid, and offered me as simple an affirmation of belief in an afterlife as I have ever heard — There’s something, he said. He also made a very plain and honest assessment of his career and time on earth, which was simply: I’ve done something with my life.
Near the end of the interview, I’m not sure how we got on the subject, but he offered this comment, which I memorized word for word. He said: If somebody told me I only had one hour to live, I’d spend it choking a white man. I’d do it nice and slow.If I got tired I’d stop, have a glass of water, and choke him some more. I was stunned. I had every intention of using it and I asked him if he was concerned people would think him a racist. He didn’t blink. It’s the prejudice white people I’m talking about, he said. If the shoe don’t fit they don’t have to wear it.
Flashback to 1959. Miles is standing outside Birdland in New York where he is playing a gig. He had just helped a white woman hail a cab, and a white cop saw it. Miles decides to have a smoke and the cop comes over and tells him he can’t stand there. Miles tell the cop he is playing there and points to his name in lights on the marquee. The cop doesn’t care. Miles refuses to leave and a scuffle ensues. A plainclothes cop shows up out of nowhere and opens Miles’ head up with a blackjack. He is covered in his own blood. It was an infamous incident that by the time I talked to him was buried in nearly a quarter century of old newspaper headlines, all but forgotten. At the time it was widely covered. Photos of him — wounded, defiant, and indignant — flashed across the country. Years later, I believe he still brooded over the indignities he put up with being a black man in America. In her 2006 portrait of pioneering jazz musicians, Three Wishes, Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter, a member of the Rothschild family (born Kathleen Annie Pannonica Rothschild) and who had been a patron to Thelonious Monk and other jazz greats, asks each of them to tell her three things they wished for. Miles gave her only one: “To Be White!”
When the lunch was over and we were both gathering up our belongings, the CBS publicist chaperoning him asked — Do you want anything else, Miles? Both of us, without looking up, blurted — no. We looked at each other bemusedly, simply having forgotten we shared the same name. He smiled at me. He asked me about the name. I told him my father gave it to me because he was a fan. What the hell was I gonna say? A few weeks later I was sitting at my desk and the phone rang. I picked it up. It was him. I was stunned again. Why was he calling me? Was he pissed at the article? Hardly. He called to tell me he was leaving Columbia, where he had been for three decades, and going to Warner Bros, who had offered him a huge signing bonus. Who’s going to turn down a million dollars?Not me, he said. I called around but could get nobody to verify that piece of information, so my editor decided not to run it. It turned out to be true. I remember him saying to me before he hung up — I’m glad I told ‘you.’
Timofei Dokshizer was born on December 13th, 1921 in the town of Nezhin, Ukraine to the family of musicians. He received his initial education at the Glazunov Music College in Moscow under the tutelage of Ivan Vasilevsky. He continued his studies at the Central Music School in the class of professor Mikhail Tabakov. In 1950, Dokshizer graduated from the Gnessin’s Music Institute under the supervision of the same professor. Mr. Dokshizer received his Master Degree in conducting from the Moscow State Conservatory in 1957, studying with Leo Ginzburg.
At age 19, Timofei Dokshizer won the Soviet-Union brass instruments’ players competition and in 1947, Mr. Dokshizer won the International Competition in Prague, which jumpstarted his performance career. From that point on, his profound artistry and creativity set a standard of excellence for other trumpeters to follow.
He frequently toured the USSR and abroad, winning aclaim from critics who praised his timber, beautiful tone, unique phrasing, and filigree technique. In addition to his solo performances, Dokshizer worked at the Bolshoi Theatre of Opera and Ballet in Moscow. Here, he was revered for his brilliant renditions of some of the most difficult orchestral trumpet solos, particularly in Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake,” Prokofiev’s “War and Peace” and “Romeo and Juliet,” Khachaturian’s “Spartacus,” and many others.
His Repertoire was incredibly vast and included nearly everything ever written for the trumpet, along with works previously arranged for the instrument, from Bach, Haydn, Hummel, Albinoni and Vivaldi to his contemporaries, Shostakovich, Wainberg, Schedrin, Gershwin and others. Many works performed by Timofei Dokshizer were his own transcriptions, of which there were over 80 along the course of his lifetime. Among these were popular miniatures, originally written for violin, piano or voice by Kreisler, Sarasate, Debussy, Ravel, Rimsky-Korsakov, Rubinstein, Rachmaninoff, Chopin and he often included his own cadenzas for concerti by Haydn, Hummel and Arutiunian. Mr. Dokshizer was responsible for a tremendous expansion of trumpet repertoire, both through his own contribution to the art form and through compositions written especially for him throughout his life.
Nearly a quarter century of Mr. Dokshizer’s career was dedicated to pedagogical work. He was a professor at the Gnessin’s Music Institute and has brought up scores of talented trumpet players. He has left behind invaluable teaching materials. Mr. Dokshizer conducted and adjudicated countless teaching seminars, master classes, international competitions and festivals. He moved to Vilnius, Lithuania in 1990 where he lived until his passing on March 16, 2005.
“Though there is too much poverty, too many wars, too much hatred and divisiveness in the world, we believe that with love, understanding, kindness, compassion, warmth, respect and humaneness, this beautiful world of ours could be a much better place for every woman, man, child and all of the animals, creatures and nature that live on our planet.”
All proceeds are dedicated to the Louis Armstrong Foundation
The Italian Brass Week is an international festival born 19 years ago under the artistic direction of Luca Benucci, the first horn of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. During these years, the festival and the Association have dealt with the formation of thousands of young artists from all over the world, with the aim of consolidating a reality that too often goes unnoticed and give the opportunity to emerging musicians to participate at a primary visibility event for the world of brass and music.
The mission is the enhancement of great Italian and foreign talents, through promotion and cultural exchange. The festival gives the opportunity to young students, new professionals and professionals to take part in an event of international importance, to play and learn from the most important musicians in the world of brass, being part of the greatest orchestras, conservatories and universities.
The high level of training and the quality of the event were rewarded with the bronze medal of the President of the Republic and with many other awards, obtained for the importance of the event and for involving generations of young musicians, who were trained and they have become excellent interpreters.
The Italian Brass Week has moved to various locations in Tuscany, Santa Fiora, Vinci, to land last year in Florence, because Florence is an important reference for cultural growth. It is a city devoted to hospitality and already culturally renowned as a meeting point between present and past.
During these years the artistic quality of the festival has always been guaranteed by the presence of virtuosos and soloists from all over the world, Italian, European and international teachers, jazz bands and brass ensembles who participate, compare and play together in an important moment for the professional growth of all the young people taking part in the festival.
Larry Meregillano is a Bach and Eclipse artist/clinician. He started his professional career playing in big bands in San Diegoin the early 1970’s. In 1976, he was hired to play in Tom Ranier’s Show band at Disneyland.
A year later, Mr. Meregillano joined the gospel group Truth and soon after went on to perform and tour with The Bill Gaither Trio. While traveling and recording with The Bill Gaither Trio, he also recorded with Sandi Patti, David T, Clydsdale, Ron Huff, Don Marsh and many others.
In 1980, Larry returned to California and became the lead trumpet player
for the world-famous Disneyland Band. In the late 1980’s, Larry was hired to play in the PTL Television Orchestra with Jim and Tammy Faye Baker. From there he joined Princess Cruise lines as Musical Director.
After many years, Mr. Meregillano moved to Orlando, Florida, where he performed with many bands at Walt Disney World, MGM Studios, Epcot Center, Universal Studios and Pleasure Island. He has also been the Musical Director and performer for many cruise lines including the world-famous Queen Elizabeth 2.
Larry has toured with the Temptations and The Four Tops, and has been a sideman for Rosemary Clooney, Joe Williams, Jack Jones, Bob Hope, Celia Cruz, Frankie Avalon and many, many others. Mr. Meregillano has recorded with many artists including Hubert Laws, Latoya Jackson, and Rick Dees.
Mr. Meregillano can often be seen playing with The Tom Kubis GWC Big Band and is a busy freelance musician playing recording dates, theater and stage shows in the Los Angeles area and around the country.
JN: This podcast is about the psychology of peak musical performance. And in order to talk about performing at our best, sometimes we need to talk about times when we weren’t at our best. So can you tell us a story of a time when you expected to play well but it didn’t work out as you thought it would? And then how you dealt with it.
LM: When I was 19 years old, I was a featured soloist in my father’s church. I had decided to change my mouthpiece just a couple of days before. So there’s always a learning curve when playing a new mouthpiece, and when I got up to play the solo, I couldn’t make it halfway through. There were a few hundred people there. My lips just collapsed.
So how did I deal with it? For all the hours and hours of practice I had put in to that point, I felt as though my trumpet had let me down, that I had let myself down. So I slammed my trumpet down in the case, marched out of the church and walked the 5 miles home. I was so upset (laughing). Today, I deal with things like that a little differently. But that was progbably the worst moment of my young career. I was so humiliated and so let down.
The problem with the trumpet is no matter how good a musician we are, if the physical elelments are not happening, we simply can’t get the music out of our bodies. No matter how much we study, how much we know the style, intonation, how music should flow. If we don’t have the chops to produce the tone, we are nothing. That’s why trumpet players are notorious for calling themselves slaves to the instrument. WE always have to practice every day, certain rudimental aspects of playing. Otherwise we could very easily make a fool of ourselves, no matter how high up the ladder we might be.
JN: What was the difference between your old and new mouthpiece in that story?
LM: I think I was playing a Bill Chase Jet Tone. Remember this was the 1970’s. Bill Chase was all the rage and I wanted to sound just like him. So ultimately, I just didn’t have enough time to make the adjustment physically in that particular case.
JN: Not everyone listening to this is a trumpet player, so not everyone knows that the slightest chance in any part of the mouthpiece can make a tremendous difference in how it feels to the player. It usually takes a little while for your body to get used to a new mouthpiece. So looking back at that experience, aside from the obvious of playing a new mouthpiece before you were used to it, what could you have done differently in that situation?
LM: The way I handle it today when I’m not 100%. The fact of the matter is the audience had no idea I was struggling. I should have been more gracious, put my horn down, smiled and got on with my day. That’s the way to handle it. As long as you’re doing your very best at any given time, you’ve done your best to prepare, you’ve done everything you can do to make a good performance, there’s no reason to feel bad about missing a few notes. I probably remember it worse than it really was.
So how I handled it then as a new pro player was a lot differently than today. Today I would just laugh it off. But then I internalized it. I got mad, I stomped 5 miles home.
JN: Perhaps there was some slight ego issues you had to work through.
LM: I don’t know if it was ego or if I was just so disappointed in myself. I had tried so hard, practiced several hours a day. But today, you realize that your worst is still at a level that’s acceptable. You just relax and roll with it. Collect your check and go. You split a note, you might miss an entrance. The best advice in such a situation is when you’re not feeling well and not up to par, hide what you can’t do. Let them think you can do it. You don’t have to show them if it’s not written.
Sometimes we’re just too hard on ourselves and we want to sound like Maynard Ferguson when all we’ve got is Herb Alpert. No disrespect to Herb Alpert, but I want to sound like Maynard!
JN: What’s the highest profile gig you’ve ever done?
LM: It’s hard to pick one out, but since this podcast is on the topic of performance anxiety and such, let’s go back to 1980. At the time, I was working at Disneyland and I was chosen to be the lead trumpet player of the Disney show that performed there for their 25th Anniversary. We took the show to New York City with part of the United Nations delegates. I got so nervous. Here I am sitting with the top guys on Broadway, all these high profile figures at a black tie event in at Lincoln Center. I’m 23 years old.
My mouth was getting dry, so I drank a bunch of iced tea before the show. Fortunately for me, the show didn’t last that long. I nailed it, but I don’t think I’ve ever had to go to the bathroom worse than I did during that gig. It was rather painful (laughing)
After the show, one of the top Broadway players came up to me back stage and said, “Larry, come move to New York. I’ll put you to work right away.” I’m just a kid, 23 years old. Scared to death of the Big Apple. I often wonder how my career would have ended up had I taken him up on his offer. But I was working quite often at Disney and I really didn’t need another job.
Another high profile gig was for the opening of Pocahantas, again in New York City. They had several acts on, and I was up there with a rock and roll band from Disney World. And there were 450,000 people there at this live concert. I’m having fun, no dry mouth, no issues at all. I just had a great time. I play a jazz solo, and I’m having fun until I look over my left hand shoulder and who’s watching me play but Wayne Bergeron? He’s just staring at me.
Wayne was lead trumpeter with the Disneyland band, this is early in his career, so that didn’t bother me too much. But then I looked over my right shoulder, and there stood Arturo Sandoval. He’s staring at me too. I suddenly started shaking in my boots.
So the huge crowd didn’t bother me, but those two people did. Interesting how that goes.
JN: What do you think the difference between this time when you’re playing in front of 450,000 people with no problems, and playing at your dad’s church where you fell apart in front of 300 people?
LM: I was 19 years old when I fell apart. By the time the first gig I mentioned came, I was 23. I had grown a lot, had a lot more experience. And at the second gig, I was in my 40’s. So as you grow as a pro musician, you just learn to adapt this mindset that you’re as comfortable as you are in your own living room. Doesn’t matter who you’re playing for.
In the 80’s, I was one of the trumpet players in the TV series, “PTL Show” with Jim and Tammy Baker. Every day, I’d have to remind myself that at the end of my microphone were as many as 68 million people listening on a live cast. There’s no taking back a clam. So it’s okay to have a little bit of edge, a little bit of stage fright. It’s motivation to heklp you concentrate on what you’re doing. So we’d get comfortable, laughing with each other and all of a sudden the producer is saying, “5,4,3,…” And you’d better play that note correctly.
JN: It’s just a matter of making those nerves work for you rather than against you.
LM: Absolutely. A little bit of nerves is good for you. You’re on edge, you’re concentrating, ready to go. The worst thing you can do is be in a situation like that and be lethargic. That does happen to us as professionals. Day after day, it can get lackadaisical, you’re not concentrating.
JN: Larry, you are now on the Hot Seat. Do you think you can stand the heat?
LM: I think so.
JN: It’s 5 minutes before you go on stage for an important performance… What are you doing?
LM: It depends on what I’m doing, whether it’s a Broadway show or an entertainer I don’t know. I’m looking at the book. What will I play, what are the key changes, how should I pace myself? I’ll do an instrument inventory, mutes, oils, right mouthpiece, etc. Most important is the mental preparation. You can rehearse the show in just a few minutes by flipping through the book. Make sure it’s in order. Every aspect of musical performance I’ll review prior to playing.
JN: What’s the best performance-related advice you’ve ever received?
LM: Think before you stink.
JN: Can you share one tip for our listeners to help deal with stage fright? (Physical, mental, etc.)
LM: I struggled with this for a long time. What I’ve learned is just relax. Luck is when opportunity meets preparedness. When you’re prepared, you have confidence you’re not going to clam up, that your chops are up to par, that you’ll play what you need to play. If I haven’t practiced before a performance, I’ll be nervous because I’m not 100% sure how it’s going to go. But when my guns are loaded and ready to go, I have confidence to know it’s okay. I can do this.
JN: Imagine you’re on stage. It’s the end of the performance and the audience is on its feet, applauding. They don’t want any more and they don’t want any less. Everything is perfect. What have you just done? Give details: Venue, repertoire, band mates, etc. Get Creative!!!
LM: One of the most poignant memories I have in my career was a Latin weekend at Disneyland and Celia Cruz was there. I was doing a trumpet battle with a friend of mine at this show. We went back and forth, Celia is calling for us to keep going. We kept answering each other and we ended up on a double high D together. And spontaneously, the entire crowd stood up on their feet, yelled and cheered. That was one of the greatest feelings I’ve ever had. That was a special moment, and I’ve had many that are similar to that.
JN: Larry Meregillano can be found on the web at trumpetlegacy.com. Larry, thank you for being on the podcast, and for bringing us one step closer to understanding the Secrets of the Musical Mind!
LM: Thank you for having me. It’s been a real honor!