I had the pleasure of performing again with the Temptations over the weekend. We did a show here in Houston on Saturday night, and then we drove to Oklahoma to perform with them again on Sunday. This video clip is from the exit music from Sunday’s show. It’s a short solo but I think you will enjoy it.
So Smooth – by Brent Carter
Johnny Gragg recently released a couple of videos that I played a role in creating. For this first video, So Smooth, not only did I play the trumpet, but I wrote the horn parts. The song didn’t originally have horns. After they asked me to do the session they hired me to write original horn parts for the tune on this video.
What Is Hip
Although Brent Carter is currently the lead singer with The Average White band, he used to be lead singer with Tower of Power. It was a treat to play this popular T.O.P. tune with someone connected with the powerhouse band that made it popular.
I did pucker out at the end. I’m not afraid to admit it. 🙂
The horn parts we read on What Is Hip were also mine. When I first got called for the gig, Kelly asked me if I could clean up the old parts. These were the hand written parts that we used to use in the old Cold Sweat days. What Kelly didn’t know is that I wrote those original parts. I think that was in 1990. I did a record lift for Cold Sweat, and yes, of course my writing is like 1,000 times better today.
So it was fun to go back to my old parts and “clean them up”. 🙂 It was actually a very interesting experience, going back to my old writing and looking at how I used to think back then.
If you have a band and need some horn parts, either lifted or original, please feel free to give me a call. I have written horn parts for dozens of bands.
Here is my first attempt to do a live video of one of my “unadorned trumpet hymn” recordings. This really is how it looks when I’m doing the recordings for those albums. I do not use headphones for the first part. There is no click track. It is all very natural.
I wanted it to be as real and as natural as possible. The only thing fake in these recordings is the digital reverb.
When I do the second trumpet part (usually on the second time through the hymn), I have to play it through a few times to get a feel for the tempo. I do not adhere to a strict tempo in the first trumpet part, so it’s a bit of a guessing game to do the second trumpet part, even though I was the one who played that first trumpet part.
By modern day music industry standards, these recordings are sub par. They are too loose. Not precise enough. But I felt it in my heart to offer something natural and less refined.
I do not know the exact scripture reference, but there is a place in the Bible where God tells them not to cut the stone used to build the alter. That instruction has been on my heart the entire time that I’ve been recording these unadorned trumpet hymns. I want to offer God, and you the listener, something that is uncut, unrefined, and in its natural state.
I do hope that you enjoy it.
Free Improvisation on Trumpet Number 18
Here is my 18th free improv video. I’ve been doing these free improvisations for about 18 months now. This one is different from the rest, which is the point, right? It is easy, when you are playing free, for the same old stuff to spill out.
The improvisations are something of a paradox. We need to implement structure, but in such a natural manner that there is a communicative flow to it. Without the structure, all of the music begins to sound the same. But conscious efforts to create structure will lead to sterile, stiff, inexpressive noise.
In this video, my intention was to barrow from the language of the free jazz trumpet players of the past twenty years. I am not as much of a master of this language as some, but it is not foreign to me. That said, I couldn’t do what I do if that language wasn’t completely internalized already.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy this taste of modern trumpet playing.
Judy Z. has been extremely busy this last month with marching band commitments, so I didn’t hear about her results until today. Judy is a Freshman in high school and placed third in her region’s jazz band auditions.
Judy has been my student for at least a couple of years now and is doing a terrific job.
Congratulations Judy! Keep up the good work!
Classic Hymns in a Classical Setting
Yesterday I had the privileged of performing with Dr. Shana Mashego and the Sacred Ensemble. This is a classical chamber music ensemble dedicated mostly to performing hymns. The video above is the last part of our service for Bear Creek United Methodist Church.
James Williams III
The other trumpet player in the ensemble was James Williams III. I always enjoy working with James. This was our first time to play classical music together. And that was nice. James is an active trumpet player in the Houston area.
He is very much involved with Conrad Johnson’s professional big band. I was in “The Big Blue Sound” for two stints long before Conrad Johnson passed away. It’s nice to see that the young people are keeping the band alive.
You Know How I Feel About Hymns
While I am not as disheartened today as I used to be, I still think that too many people have turned their backs on the traditional hymns. I have recently discovered that there are more people interested in hymns than I thought. So that’s good news. However, it’s nice to see that Dr. Mashego is doing her part to place the hymns back to the public’s attention.
There is a huge difference between hymns and songs. To me, singing hymns is far more than just a tradition. Hymns should have never been deemed as being “old-fashioned”. They never should have been replaced by songs. It’s not about old verses new, or about what’s popular or exciting.
I don’t want to get into it in too much detail here beyond just saying that it’s nice to see more signs every day that there is still a place for traditional music in the church. And for that reason, yesterday’s performance was much more than just a gig for me. I am already part of a movement to reawaken people’s love for the hymns. So yesterday’s gig was another way of doing that.
You can learn more about the Sacred Ensemble and it’s leader, Dr. Shana Mashego, at Mashego-Ensemble.com. The website includes video, photos, sound clips and information about their CDs.
Congratulations Myranda P.
I just got word that Myranda won a chair in the junior high All-Region band for her region. In fact, she placed second in the auditions.
Myranda began taking lessons with me just over a year ago. During that time, I helped her learn how to practice and now she uses what I taught her to reach her musical goals. Making second chair at region is evidence that it’s working for her.
Congratulations Myranda. Keep up the good work!