My thoughts and out loud thoughts on composition, performance, and many things musical.

Trumpet and the Chicago Experience

Yesterday, from Michigan City, IN, I traveled by train to Chicago with friend and coworker SSG Mark Koenig.  The train was an awesome quick ride (1.5hr?) and we arrived around 4pm or so.   Our first stop was to Andy’s Jazz Club to see the Chicago Jazz Orchestra.  It was then, seeing a larger jazz band live, that I was reminded I really do like jazz.  Usually I am only comfortable, musically, with small trios or quartets.  They.were.awesome.  Their sound was wicked and they were all in sync with each other.  I should also mention that I almost got in free because I was carrying my trumpet with me.  The lady said, “Oh you’re a band member then? Come on in!”  Alas, we paid.

After an hour set, Mark and I traveled over to Symphony Hall and waited for Mr. Tage Larsen!  I had scheduled a lesson with him weeks earlier and finally I was there!  We met him and walked down into the basement practice rooms.  Over an hour and 15 minutes, as I was hopefully-not-visibly nervous as hell, as I butchered through etudes and excerpts (arrghh!! always better in private practice right?) Tage gave me really great musical advice and life advice.  I’m sure he recognized I have a way to go but he certainly reassured the time it takes is a lot.  I wasn’t really sure what I wanted out of the lesson.  He didn’t necessarily tell me anything new, but he helped with my lesson experience and explained to me that I just need to keep at it.  It was WONDERFUL having Mark in the room with me because he could sit back and the ask questions my nerves made me forget.  So, it was more of a trio lesson/masterclass than a one-on-one. And if you’ve never talked to Tage Larsen, he is easily one of the top 5 most polite and personable persons I have ever met.  He was VERY encouraging.

After a lot of great musical and career-related advice, and a lot of sweating, we left and debriefed the lesson while walking back to Andy’s Jazz Club.  Mark said some great things.  He pointed out that of course it didn’t matter if I didn’t play excerpts and etudes well in the lesson.  He said one thing I won’t forget.  He said, “Joe the very fact that you perfected Taps and played it in front of the world, twice, is testament that you can play.  You could play Taps perfectly in practice, so you did in performance.  Of course you didn’t play them perfectly in the lesson because you haven’t played them perfectly in practice.”

THAT was a reality (and fairly obvious) check that needed to be stated.  And it’s common sense.  I feel like I have ended up teaching myself for the past few years at school because my teacher didn’t do the job I would have liked him to do.  I’ve been my own teacher, and I need not be.  Mark was a real help giving me advice from his years of playing.

After much debriefing we grabbed a slice of pizza and went back to Andy’s Jazz Club to see The Guy King Trio. They were also amazing.  It was great to hear how so much music could come from 3 musicians.  The drummer was amazing, but the organ and guitarist were exceptionally jaw-dropping.  Guy King was definitely a Wes Montgomery influenced guitarist by his family Wes sound and licks and use of his thumb-only playing.  I loved it!

Chicago was wonderful, necessary, and a great reminder that despite any path or struggles, life or financial or whatever, I will definitely be a musician a career, hobby, and lifestyle.  Everything about it is great. I’m so excited.

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