Yeah, I know. I’ve been a professional trumpet player for over half of my life time, I have recorded several dozen CDs for other bands and artists, but I have never finished a CD project of my own. That is, until now. Vintage Trumpet Treasures is my first CD “as a leader.” It has taken me so long to get here that I feel as if I’m supposed to say something profound about the project, but the truth is that this first recording was intentionally meant to be “nothing to write home about” (which I will explain shortly). So describing the CD in a way that gives it value is a little awkward. Why would anyone want a CD that isn’t very exciting?
I decided at the beginning of the project that this recording would not be about my playing ability. I couldn’t see flaunting my abilities as a trumpet player when everyone who knows anything about multi-tracking knows that even an unskilled musician can have impressive results that way. Flaunting my technique in that context would make me the laughing stock of the trumpet community.
My goal was to turn that around and offer something different. I wanted to use technology to capture something more quaint and understated. I wanted the recording to have a theme that would draw attention away from my playing and take the listener on a journey. It is my hope that anyone who listens to Vintage Trumpet Treasures will travel with me back to a time when life was simple.
To me, David Copperfield by Charles Dickens is a dreadfully boring book to read. If you like modern novels (you know, those I can’t put the book down until I’m done kind of novels), something like David Copperfield is going to put you to sleep.
Years ago I read an article clarifying the difference between modern novels and the classics, especially the classics from the late nineteenth century. The article described the typical plot from a Dickens book as gradually unfolding and placed more emphasis on the atmosphere created by the book’s settings and characters. In contrast, the more modern novels are sensational, tending to be more baiting and thrill seeking.
I experienced this gradual unfolding when I read David Copperfield. Compared to the novels I was accustomed to reading, the plot seemed to meander. Yet, in exchange for my patience, I now have clear and vivid images in my head of many of the scenes from the book. Very few books have ever left as lasting as an impression as David Copperfield did for me.
Gradually Unfolding Music
I had this gradually unfolding concept in my mind the entire time as I was working on Vintage Trumpet Treasures. My goal was to create a CD that is to modern music what David Copperfield is to modern novels. The CD project is not an opportunity to demonstrate my skills. If that was the intention, I would have recorded something else. Besides, I’ve been in this business too long now to have to be showing off anymore.
No, the primary objective of Vintage Trumpet Treasures is in creating a CD that, although it doesn’t impress, unfolds in such a way that the music becomes just as vivid and memorable as the scenes from a classic novel. My hope is that you will pop the CD into the player and soon forget you were listening (how many recording artists would ever admit to wanting that?). If I have reached my objective, you should be singing the melodies in your head hours after the CD stops playing and not even remember where you heard them.
Today’s instrumental music is very much like today’s literature. As modern musicians we are all competing for your attention and we have a tendency to reach for the shocking or grotesque to win you over for a few seconds at a time. The unfortunate result is that, as modern listeners, we are now forced to wade through a steady stream of repulsive musical outbursts. We eventually find ourselves tuning out the musicians’ desperate pleas for our attention the way someone would tune out hawkers at a flee-market. We become numb to what would normally be offensive music only to find that our unresponsiveness has pushed the musicians to strive for even greater degrees of sensationalism.
The music on this CD is not like that. Almost all of the compositions on Vintage Trumpet Treasures are in a style that was prevalent between 1850 and 1920. There are marches, polaccas, waltzes and quick steps. All of the music is rich, wholesome and gradually unfolding. The harmonies are fluid and pleasing and dissonance is always quickly resolved.
If you are familiar with my compositions and my improvisation, you probably know that this is not typical for me. I have always reveled in delayed resolutions of harsh dissonance. I enjoy the use of various degrees of dissonance for portraying various shades of emotion. The absence of dissonance is sort of like a shortage of vocabulary. Limited degrees of dissonance translates into fewer words a musician can use to describe his innermost feelings.
However, the variety of dissonance is lost in an environment where everyone is now aggressively competing for your attention. The subtleties of a fine desert at an expensive restaurant are lost when you spent the entire meal gulping down sodas. The sweetness of the sodas over stimulates your taste-buds and you cannot truly taste the desert the way it was intended. The same is true of dissonance. We have grown so accustomed to the dissonance in our musical diets that we can no longer taste music the way it was intended.
It is my desire that Vintage Trumpet Treasures will cleanse your musical palate for what is to come. It is not a rebellion against modern music, but serves instead as the musical equivalent of lemon water. This fun, clean music should serve as a reset button in your musical life, taking you back to a time when music was more pure and wholesome.
On a more spiritual level, Vintage Trumpet Treasures represents something more than just a collection of old songs. It’s a return to a time before technology sapped every free moment from our lives and replaced it with life crippling brain candy.
No! I am not saying that everything was better a hundred years ago. I’m not that ignorant. This music comes from the same era that gave us Plunkett of Tammany Hall and the Spanish American War. It was towards the end of the industrial revolution and pollution was out of control. Life was dirty and hard.
Yet, there are certain aspects of life from that era we would benefit from if we could regain them today. The Vintage Trumpet Treasures CD hints towards some of that goodness. This CD serves as a reminder of times when couples courted before they married and children addressed adults as “sir” and “ma’am.” It takes us back to a time when a man’s word was worth something and lying was considered wrong or even at times criminal.
The music of this era was written before there were iphones, before television, before radio, even before electricity. The fastest form of transportation in those days was trains pulled by steam engines. Music was often played at home, for fun, by one or more family members and photographs were a new technology.
That’s what Vintage Trumpet Treasures represents to me, an attempt to capture all that was good in people at the turn of the century, over a hundred years ago.
From the Scientific Method
1. Allegro Marcia
6. Mira’s Sarabande
7. The Legends of Zing
Duo No. 1
8. Allegro Moderato
11. Andantino Grazioso
12. Tempo di Marcia
14. The Hunt
15. Andante Cantabile
16. Andantino Grazioso
20. Air Varie
21. Andante Sostenuto
Just for those who are into that sort of thing.
Bach B flat Trumpet
- 25R Leadpide
- 72 Bell
- Lare Bore
Giardinelli 1C Mouthpiece
Yamaha Flugel Horn (Kopprasch only)
- Rose Brass
Warburton 2FLX Mouthpiece