Longineu Parsons II

  • I am always amazed at the amount of talent that is out there that I haven’t heard of before. I saw this article on line from the “Tallahassee Democrat” about Longineu Parsons II. He is a 69 year old trumpet player and professor from Florida A&M. Below are two examples of his playing. Another great talent flying below my radar!

    Longineu Parsons keeps body in tune to deliver trumpet's message
    6:35 p.m. EST Dec. 21, 2019
    With every breath, internationally celebrated musician, Longineu Parsons II is practicing. He plays alongside his students as a music professor at Florida A&M University to stay sharp and merges art forms together with his “Kung Fu Trumpet” method to create ease in the body.

    Parsons describes the air from the lower abdomen, referred to as the “sea of life” in Korean practices, moving up the esophagus and through the mouth to facilitate a clear airstream. The body remains as straight as possible and breath must be controlled. Parsons also works with his students on activating the correct facial muscles and keeping the throat open so that a punchy note is “relaxed until you get to the point of contact.”
    “It is about being precise and only using the muscles you need to use,” says Parsons. “If you are not relaxed your opponent can seize on your tension and defeat you. If you are tense in your trumpet playing, it chokes off the sound.”
    Sometimes the subtleties of trumpet playing can be lost in larger venues. Parsons is excited to showcase the instrument’s range in an intimate performance at Blue Tavern on Friday, Dec. 27.

    He will play alongside his son and drummer, Longineu Parsons III. The duo played their first gig together when his son was just 5 years old. Parsons said his son earned a spot in his band at age 15 before launching his own career with the rock band, Yellowcard. Now, they are making new music together.
    Parsons is also looking forward to having his youngest son, a videographer and graphic artist, film the performance for an upcoming documentary on his life and teaching methods. Parsons explains how his martial arts approach to music has sustained his own practice for so long, in addition to swimming and integrating yoga, which has him physically training until midnight many nights.

    “I make sure I am in tune and connected to the instrument so that it is truly my body making the music and my instrument is more or less an amplifier,” says Parsons.
    Parsons never contemplated why he chose the trumpet. It was simply his automatic response when his junior high band director asked what he would like to play. Only in retrospect and after much reflection on the trumpet’s sound and history has he realized the instrument’s parallels to his life and personality.

    Parsons explains how the trumpet was the instrument of kings and generals. It gave orders on the battlefield before the existence of the two-way radio. It announced ranks in the royal court and alerted walled cities of visitors.
    In 1966, Parsons made similar waves by integrating a high school in Jacksonville. He continued to break sonic and social barriers in his career, performing for dignitaries, celebrities and audiences in more than 30 countries and standing alongside a number of jazz music figureheads. The trumpet has accompanied his every experience, no matter the adversity he has faced or chances he has been given in life.
    Though he has played for royalty, he says by his most memorable performance was for a fifth grade class at the Goodwood Museum & Gardens. It moved him to tears to see them come together and dance to his idol Louis Armstrong’s “What A Wonderful World.”
    “I realized that this whole struggle that I had been a part of in my life…well here’s a victory,” recalls Parsons. “My life is about showing the universality of being human by playing music from different cultures and times. These differences we have as people are opportunities for learning not reasons to fight, and the trumpet is good to shout that out.”

    Parsons was mentored by notable jazz trumpeter Nat Adderley and spent his life as a “perpetual student.” He holds a BS degree in music from Florida A&M University, a master of music in classical trumpet from the University of Florida, and recently was awarded his doctorate in classical composition from the University of Florida. When his students ask what he learned from playing with jazz greats like Cab Calloway, Parsons always says it was what he observed these musicians accomplish every night.
    “We would have to wheel [Cab] up to the stage and he would get out of the chair, stand straight up and put on a show for 40 minutes, go back off to the side and sit back in the wheelchair,” remembers Parsons. “But for those 40 minutes, it was no excuses. Every night he was on top of his game as an 80 year old man. When it is time for the show to go on, it is time for the show to go on.”
    The music Parsons composes and plays crosses the genres of classical, jazz and world music. His jazz thematic material is composed in the vein of his classical heroes like Bartok and Shostakovich, bringing string quartets and trumpets together. Out of all the new music Parsons will release this year, he feels vindicated to also be earning recognition from critics for a re-release of his first album, “Work Song.”
    Parsons says listeners at Blue Tavern will be treated to music from many decades, including his self-reflective newer work which he hopes will answer the question, “Who am I?” as it brings about his life’s various influences.
    “We always have to be in these little boxes, but I don’t fit in the box of academic or performer, classical player or jazz player,” says Parsons. “Why should I restrict myself to one certain thing? As a human being I am not restricted like that, so why should my music be?”

  • Yes, sprinkled all over the country are wonderful players you'll never hear.

    I was on the road once in Tulsa, Oklahoma and our guitarist said we should go out to an airport Holiday Inn lounge and hear this guy Tommy Crook. The guitarist was reading an interview of Chet Atkins and the interviewer asked, "Who does Chet Atkins listen to when you listen to guitar players?" and he said, "Tommy Crook".

    So we went and listened to this guy at an airport inn playing a solo act and he played his butt off. We later asked him why he didn't have greater exposure and he said that he hated to travel.

    A guy I've never heard of having wider exposure is Aubra Graves (sax). Man this guy is tasty. Here's a link but he has a number of tunes on YouTube.

  • Another one from Longineu Parsons II:

  • Global Moderator

    There never seems to be a shortage of talent. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for gainful employment!

  • @administrator said in Longineu Parsons II:

    There never seems to be a shortage of talent. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for gainful employment!

    There are about a dozen musicians in my band that could easily be considered professional just from their talent and abilities. But they'd starve to death if they were trying to make a living with their instruments.

  • Whether or not one can make a living on one's instrument deals a lot to do with a lot of factors.

    The mountain does not come to Mohammed. It depends on how flexible you are musically, how creative (and by that I mean adjusting to circumstances) you are, how wide a range of travel you want to put up with, what your income level vs. amount of work you want to commit to is.

    I made a full-time living for a good half a century, but I have to acknowledge that towards the end, I had to play a greater variety if music, travel got further and further away, musical techniques modernized (and by that I mean more incorporation of electronics, less reliance on groups of musicians). Income remained the same but it required a more resourceful approach. I call this last phase my "mosaic" period, where I had to do it all, simultaneously.

    Not judging, but for some the trade-off just isn't worth it.

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