Favorite Trumpet Playing Memory

  • My trumpet playing tenure is lesser in both duration and accomplishment to many of the players on this forum, but I do enjoy it, and there have been so many times that playing the trumpet has just made my life better. I picked a memory or two from that time that stands out, and invite you to do the same.

    Several years ago, my uncle was diagnosed with cancer, and the downhill slope was a quick and slippery one. Within a few months he was under 24/7 care in home and the family was just kind of sitting around watching him slip away before their eyes.

    We dropped by one afternoon to check in on him and the family. At that point he was mostly unconscious, and even when conscious, his responses were limited to a hand squeeze or to briefly flutter his eyes. We tried to talk and interact with him for a while, but he was completely unresponsive, and my aunt said he'd been that way for 48 hours with only a few signs of consciousness.

    We'd been there for over an hour, and my aunt asked if I'd brought my trumpet. I happened to have it in the car, and she suggested playing a few of his favorite hymns to see if it garnered a response.

    I played 3 or 4 of his favorite hymns, and my aunt had tears of joy as he fluttered his eyes, squeezed her hand, and kept trying to smile. He was hearing the music, it made him happy, and he was giving all available effort to let us know. Pretty well got all of us choked up. It was an amazing and humbling experience, and I was grateful that my trumpet could bring joy to my uncle and the family in his waning hours. He died later that week.

    In re-reading that, it seems sad, but it really wasn't. The tears shed were happy ones.

    Regardless, here's another and happier memory that happened a few years prior to that when my second son was about 2 or so. He was quite ambulatory, but wasn't really talking much. I was practicing the ole horn one morning before work, when I heard a small voice crooning monotonously, "woooo-wooooo." I looked down to see my son with a plastic toy trumpet someone had given him, trying to emulate my long tones. It was pretty cute, hilarious and awesome all at once. My wife got a quick photo of it, and it's one of my favorites. Maybe I'll hand that photo to him one day when he's playing trumpet in college or something.

    I'm no musical savant, but I'm not a complete hack, either, and I can say that playing trumpet has made my life better a million times over. There's a bit of my trumpet story, what's yours?

  • I remembered an outdoor wedding gig. Not so much the playing, but after the band finished. I was bending down to put my horn in the case when I felt a pinch on my buttock. I was astonished when I tuned around and found the bride with a pleasant smile and her hand still positioned in a pinching position.

    My response to her was, "That will cost you an extra $20." The next thing I felt was the bride placing a $20 bill down the front of my pants. I just smiled back and thought, how long is that marriage going to last.

  • My most gratifying performance was after I was asked by my trumpet idol, Till Bronner, to join him on stage to trade 8's on an improv he was doing, and after we finished, his announcing to audience while pointing to me: "What an amazing F**king set of chops!"

  • However... Right up there was playing back to back improv solos with Allen Vazzutti, both of us on flugelhorn playing Wayne Shorter's "Footprints". Allen started the song on trumpet, but I played flugelhorn around his parts, leading into the first solo. Allen took my lead and changed over on his solo with his flugelhorn. An amazing call and response moment that I will always remember.

  • @Dr-GO Til Bronner is great, and that's a cool story.

  • Global Moderator

    My most exquisite trumpet memory is a recital by Maurice André in Munich - or, rather, not the recital but what happened afterwards.
    I attended the recital and afterwards, went to the stage door to perhaps get Maurice to autograph my special "signatures case". When I got in, I found Maurice heartbroken and almost in tears. He had broken off the screw to the tuning device on the leadpipe of his picc. It was Saturday night, he had not thought of bringing a second instrument, and was due to play a matinee concert next morning.
    Well, I got him to calm down a bit and told him I could help him get that fixed within the next few hours, if he would leave everything to me and just hop into a taxi with me. From the taxi, I called up my good, now departed friend Hermann Ganter who lived over his workshop as an instrument maker and repairer. I just told Hermann that I was coming within the next half hour and that he should be awake and sober.
    When our taxi arrived at the very outskirts of Munich, Hermann was on his doorstep with his working apron over his nightshirt and, without really looking, growled that I was in for some rough treatment if... "Oh, Monsieur André, I am enchanted..." The repair was a very minor affair, but Maurice was happy, and invited me to stay a week or two at his place in the South of France. Which I did. We became firm friends, and a few weeks after Maurice's passing, I got a parcel with a lawyer's letter saying that the contents of the parcel were intended by Maurice as a last parting gift to his saviour after the Munich recital.
    The contents? A 1966 Selmer high-G picc that Maurice had played during the first years of his career. He still remembered that I did not really like a Bb or A picc, and willed that high-G to me...

  • Manny Klein suddenly standing up on the band bus and playing a bullfight fanfare on my borrowed pocket trumpet.

    On a tour with Mendez, him falling backwards and disappearing behind the curtain but re-emerging, still playing. The audience went wild, thinking it was part of the show. He and the MD had found some of Mendez' favourite Tequila that afternoon.

    Playing periodically for a regional home for the severely handicapped. It always had a funny smell and one group was so far gone that they were laid side-by-side in a bed like firewood. One guy always stared at me with menacing eyes. I thought he was going to spring up and attack me at any moment. Very unsettling, yet I persevered. I think the residents liked it because I kept coming back.

    Going shopping for a trumpet with Jimmy Nottingham. What was touching was that he wanted me, light years behind him, to test out the horns because he had chop problems.

    Having Maynard autograph my ex-girlfriend's photo because it was spontaneous and I didn't have any other paper . . . and I was high. Maynard thought it was funny.

  • Three memories linger in my mind.

    The first was during my first year playing trumpet (my second year playing brass - the first being alto horn), I was at home playing "Wonderland by Night", albeit without the intro (didn't have quite the range for that at the time, nor could I do a glissando like Charlie Tabor did). A couple in the neighborhood happened to be walking by at the time and wondered why the radio was on so loud when it occurred to them that it wasn't the radio. A few days later they told me the about it and said that I sounded just like the recording. Made me quite happy and a little surprised.

    The second was during State Band Contest in my Junior year of high school. The last composition was Tchaikovsky's "Symphony #4 Finale" played up tempo. Yes, you read that right; the director, a perfectionist, played a recording of a major symphony before we first started practicing and remarked that we would eventually play the faster parts faster than the recording as a greater contrast to the slower parts. Daunting. Anyway, the auditorium was packed to standing room only with our peers and competitors, due to our reputation. After we finished, the standing ovation and cheering was deafening; we thought the applause would never stop.

    The third is much more recent. As a member of Bugles Across America, I play "Taps" at military funerals, and I am touched when members of the deceased's family go out of their way to thank me and tell me how grateful they were that I took the time to do so. At one such funeral the family members said that their loved one had been a musician and that they were musicians also, and that they recognized what I had put into playing the tune. I told them, as I always do, that it's my honor to be allowed to participate.

  • Another memory was triggered after reading Kehaulani's brush with celebrity.

    During the time I was playing lead trumpet for the Statesmen at Colorado State University in Ft. Collins, there was a golf tournament that the wanted the Statesmen to play for during an opening night celebration. Arnold Palmer was the MC of the event. We were there again to play at a luncheon, when Arnold came up to me and asked me if I could get the trumpet section together to play the opening to Maynard's arrangement to "The Theme from Rocky" and he would pay us each $50 to play the opening (in 1979 $50 was good money). I said no problem, and were would we meet. Arnold told me in front of his manager's motor home.

    We met soon in front of the manager's motor home and Arnold greeted us at the door and told us to come in. There on a sofa was the manager, totally passed out from the excesses of the prior evening. Arnold the cued us and said, "Play that opening". We did, at full volume. The manager did not even flinch. I was not a physician at that time but I said, " I pronounce the manager as dead". Arnold payed us on the spot and we moved on to our regularly scheduled program.

  • Jr High School (Middle School)
    JFK Assasination
    Was called to the school office
    Played Taps while the flag was lowered to half mast.

    Post 9-11
    Played for Catholic Mass for Stewardess who died in the PA crash

    Taps for the deceased (and fallen) - 82nd Airborne annual meeting Colorado Springs ( early 1990s)

  • I was playing a 2 valve G bugle but without a doubt my favorite musical memory was being part of the Santa Clara Vanguard 50th Anniversary Alumni Corps and our performance at the end of DCI Semi-Finals at Lucas Oil Stadium on August 11th, 2017.



  • Marching through Red Square. First western military unit to do so.

    Playing at D-Day anniversary at Normandy with Walter Cronkite and Pres. Reagan.

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