Generation Esmeralda featuring Jimmy Goings

From time to time I run across a musician or a band that I think should have extra recognition and today’s post features one such group.

Information taken from their Web Site.

Generation Esmeralda featuring Jimmy Goings is the current incarnation of the group Santa Esmeralda featuring Jimmy Goings. The group has come together through the urging of trumpet player, Tom Poole, from the original “Santa Esmeralda Touring Band” and Brazilian promoter, Sergio Lopes. Goings returns to the stage and touring in this new form as an exclusive tribute to the music and spirit of “Santa Esmeralda”.

“GENERATION ESMERALDA FEATURING JIMMY GOINGS”
The Band features Original Members from the 1978-82 touring bands:
JIMMY GOINGS: LEAD VOCALS/PERCUSSION
TOM POOLE: TRUMPET, FLUGELHORN
MICK VALENTINO: ACOUSTIC/ELECTRIC GUITARS
TONY BAKER: ELECTRIC GUITAR
With the addition of these fine musicians:
ARIANE CAP: BASS
PATRICK MOREHEAD: KEYBOARDS AND ORCHESTRA PROGRAMING
MIKE RINTA: TROMBONE
STEFFEN KUEHN: TRUMPET
LOUIS FASMAN: TRUMPET
ROBERTO QUINTANA: PERCUSSION
‘T’ MORAN: DRUMS

blog band 2

This is the kind of band that you wish was playing in your town regularly and they called you to join them. I am very impressed with the grove that they show and the tightness of the ensemble. I give this group the ultimate compliment a fellow musician can give……Bitchin’.

Learn to Bag IT!

oooo 020In an earlier post, (The Perfect “Free” Mute Bag) I mentioned the benefits of a beautiful bag which could be used to protect your metal mutes. The bag comes from Crown Royal & Company and can be secured free of charge from anyone involved with the sale or distribution of this fine product.

Today, I made use of the same bag to solve a situation in a show which required a very somber trumpet rendition of the Marines Hymn. At a very sad and sensitive scene in the show, the trumpet has an almost unaccompanied solo playing the familiar service hymn and as I searched my arsenal of mutes, the bag shouted to me, “Try me, Try me”, and I obligingly decided to give the little bag a shot at show biz. As I slipped the bag over my bell and secured it with its convenient draw strings, the looks for my fellow musicians was comical.

After performing the solo, I was convinced that my little bag buddy covering my bell was destined for stardom in showbiz.

I strongly suggest that you collect a couple of these versatile bags for you trumpet case for they are free and do as well as any on the market today.

Oh, did I mention that they are FREE?

Another Update from The Dark Side

6464354811_4d40b1b945I need to again give my readers an update as to the values of playing on a trombone mouthpiece at the end of each day.

If you are reading this information for the first time on the value of trombone mouthpiece playing as a benefit to trumpet playing, I will quickly fill you in.

In my first post on this topic (Has Your Faithful Blogster Turned To The Dark Side) I was interested in the value, if any of finishing the day by playing on a trombone mouthpiece to quickly relax the trumpet embouchure. My second post (Update From The Dark Side) reported that this routine was indeed improving my trumpet playing. Today I will explain why I am even more convinced that playing on a large mouthpiece such as a trombone or even a tuba mouthpiece can, and in my case does, improve my trumpet playing.

For several weeks now I have been religiously consistent in my daily practice routine. The first thing in the morning I warm up on chromatic scales, followed by some Clarke Technical Studies. Later in the day I work on flexibility exercises in either the Earl Irons 27 Groups of Exercises or Charles Coli’s Advanced Lip Flexibility book. In the evening I play about an hour on any etude book that is lying around and finish my practicing running through any concert or show material coming up. The very last thing I have been doing is putting my trumpet down and playing about a half hour on my trombone. The results of this schedule have been amazing for every morning when I start my routine again, my chops have always felt great and my playing has been consistently better. That was true until two days ago when I spent the day recording new trumpet arrangements and forgot to end with the trombone. The following morning was noticeably different. Placing the mouthpiece on my lips that day reminded me of my error the day before. Once again I felt as if practicing was similar to pushing a car up a hill with a rope. The response was not there nor was flexibility, tone or range.

How slow we are to learn and equally quick to forget.

Now that I have returned to “the better way”, my confidence in knowing that the time spent on a trombone mouthpiece at the end of the day has been reinforced.

Spending a short amount of time cooling down on a trombone mouthpiece has again been shown to be very beneficial and if you have not tried it……..why not?

Which is the Best Trumpet Stand?

Eventually all trumpet player will be faced with the realization that they need a trumpet stand. Whether its use will be in the practice room, the recording studio or the recital stage, the need for a stand will have to be faced. Fortunately the cost will not be too expensive. Most stands range from fifteen to thirty dollars. When trying to decide on which one to purchase, several issues should be considered.

Stability-The most important issue will be stability. Will your instrument be safe when placed on the trumpet stand?  I would not consider any stand that has less than four legs for obvious reasons. The more legs, the more stability.

Material– Some players prefer metal stands and others prefer plastic. The plastic is usually lighter and the metal is most often stronger. The only time plastic might let you down would be if your trumpet case were left out in the cold in December in the middle of Iowa. Plastic tends to be susceptible to chipping and cracking in extremely cold temperatures. Metal does not have that problem.

Construction and design– You will find that some manufacturers are gifted when it comes to functional design and others should have stayed home. Good construction and design reflects itself in ease of use and extended life expectancy.

Packing– When faced with carrying equipment, how easily your trumpet stand packs is very important. Several of these models will store in your trumpet’s bell while in the case. This is the perfect way to travel, if you can trust the stand in your bell while traveling. When I carry my stands, I place them in a separate case in order to protect the inside of my bells.

Contact in bell– Even though you will not see the scratches deep inside your bell, you will still know they are there. It is best to have the contact point inside the bell to be as protected as possible and the better stands have made this provision.

Price– From the list below you will find a range of prices from $11.99 to $29.00. This is not a great difference so how do you decide? Remember that the most important feature of a trumpet stand is its stability. If I have not rated it a five in this category, I wouldn’t  consider it. The cost and delay of a dented valve casing will cost you many times more than the cost of your trumpet stand.

Rating– I have given each stand my own rating and this is only my opinion. On the BrassWinds site you can read other players opinions on several of these stands listed.

I have owned several of these stands and the last three I have purchased were from K&M. I have a three legged stand for my cornet and the only reason I have that one is because at the time I purchased it, they did not offer a five legged model. If I were to recommend my top two favorite stands, they would be-

#1 K&M Trumpet Stand (5 legs)

#2 K&M Trumpet Stand (5 legs)

What can I say, I like it.

If you are thinking of buying a stand for multiple horns (trumpet, cornet, flugelhorn) you might be tempted in buying the Hercules Stands DS513B Dual Trumpet/Cornet/Fluglehorn Stand . Just remember that when you pick up one of your horns to play, you have just lost your stability. Something else to think about when considering the three horn stand, you might not be able to fit it on the band stand between you and the other trumpet players. Three separate stands will cost you more money but each will be equally stable at all times and you will be able to move them around to fit on a tight stage or recital hall.

Here is just a sample of the more popular trumpet stands available-

K&M Trumpet Stand (5 legs)

Stability     Material     Construction/design     Packing     Contact  in bell     Price     Rating

5                 5                 5                                       5                  5                             $23.99     5

K&M 15210B Trumpet Stand (3 legs)

Stability     Material     Construction/design     Packing     Contact  in bell     Price     Rating

3                 5                 5                                       5                  5                             $19.99     3

On-Stage Stands Trumpet Stand (3 legs)

Stability     Material     Construction/design     Packing     Contact  in bell     Price     Rating

2                 3                 3                                       3                  3                             $12.95     3

Mainline Trumpet Stand (4 legs- 2 short, 2 long)

Stability     Material     Construction/design     Packing     Contact  in bell     Price     Rating

2                 3                 2                                       2                  2                             $13.99     2

K&M Universal Stand (3 legs)

Stability     Material     Construction/design     Packing     Contact  in bell     Price     Rating

1                 2                 1                                       2                  1                             $16-24     2

Hercules Stands Trumpet / Cornet Stand (3 legs)

Stability     Material     Construction/design     Packing     Contact  in bell     Price     Rating

3                 5                 5                                       3                  3                            $30.95     4

PACK A STAND Trumpet/Cornet Stand (4 legs)

Stability     Material     Construction/design     Packing     Contact  in bell     Price     Rating

4                 3                 3                                       3                  2                             $15.19     3

Hercules Stands DS410B TravLite In-Bell Trumpet Stand (5 legs)

Stability     Material     Construction/design     Packing     Contact  in bell     Price     Rating

4                 5                 5                                       4                  4                             $24.95     4

RainX For Problem Valves

RainX

Some time in every trumpet players life they will run into valves which do not function as they should. They may go down but at times will not come back up.

Here is a solution to the problem which I have tried and most recently been reminded.

I’m starting to play a new show in Branson and I decided last week to switch to a different trumpet than I have been currently using. For our Branson Trumpet Ensemble concerts, I prefer my Bobby Shew horn but decided to get a little more edge for the new show and brought out my older Yamaha ML for the occasion. It had not been played for a few years and I was amazed that the valves were working well after being left in the case for this length of time. I hit the valves with oil and it was back in business. For a week I had been using it and decided to clean it before our first rehearsal. After a complete cleaning, I noticed that the third valve was sticking and remembered that it had that problem the last time I used it. I also remembered how I solved this problem. I treated it with an application of RainX.

Most of you will be familiar with this product for it is available in most discount and auto stores and is used to help keep your windshield clean when using your windshield wipers.

The last time I used it on my third valve I remembered that it solved the problem so I took out the third valve to reapply the RainX again. I noticed that the valve was in the same condition as the other two valves which confirmed the fact that the first application did not harm the valve in any way. On with the RainX and back to practicing again. The valve was restored to working condition again and all is well in my trumpet life.

If you are faced with a problem valve, you might try this trick for it has now proven itself twice.

Till Brönner – Absolutely Brilliant!

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The name Till Brönner might not be on every trumpet players list of great jazz musicians, but it should.

The first time I listened to this gifted musician, I was amazed by the deep background of his styling. Many times I thought I was listening to Miles, other times I heard Chet Baker and still others, Dizzy. For such diversity to be bound up into one performer as young as Mr. Bonner is a true gift.

To describe his effortless playing I am reminded of one of my all-time favorite musicians Jimmy Hendrix. What Hendrix was able to do so effortlessly on his guitar is how Till Bronner approaches his trumpet. Whatever each performer has in his head, is possible through his instrument and I repeat, effortlessly.

Mr. Bonner was born in Vierse, Germany and has been influenced by many styles of jazz, including Bop, Fusion, Pop and Country. His trumpet styling has also been influenced by such musicians as Freddie Hubbard, Dizzy Gillespie and Chet Baker and his most influential teachers were Bobby Shew and Malte Burba.

Till was raised in Rome and received classical trumpet education at the Jesuit boarding school Aloisiuskolleg in Bonn followed by a study of the jazz trumpet at the music academy in Cologne under Jiggs Whigham and Jon Eardley.

All this talent coming from a very gifted man of only 42 years.

Many of the greats have past (Miles, Dizzy, Baker) but their legacy continues with such great talents as Till Bronner, Chris Botti and a few others.

If Mr Bronner is new to you, do yourself a favor and purchase his recordings for his talents are too great to be hidden under a bushel basket (Matthew 5:15).

Do You Ever Get Tired of Practicing?

Photo Credit - fmgbain on Flickr

In order to answer this question, we must first ask an even more basic question. Why do we practice? This has an easy answer for most of us want to improve and we know that this is possible only through regular practice. If this is true, then why do we get tired of doing what helps us to become better musicians?

Being older than dust has made me aware of many important truths in life and one is the fact that I want to play well for myself as well as for those listening to me perform. I have proven to myself that without regular practice I am not able to achieve this goal. That is the reason that I have spent years sitting in cramped, smelly practice rooms all over this country. It’s not the isolation or the cramped surroundings that spur me on. It is the knowledge that the more I practice correctly, the better I play. Why then, after a few weeks of regular practice do I start loosing my interest to do what makes me a better musician. Am I that immature that I loose the drive to practice or is there something wrong with my basic approach to practice?

After years of banging the valves down and hitting the flexibility exercises, we all learn what helps us and what does not, what is beneficial and what is a waste of time. With this knowledge, we begin to put together the most efficient practice routine for our needs. Once this routine has been established, we are dedicated to that routine every day. Day in and day out, day in and day out, etc. As we begin to gain musicianship, we also begin to loose interest in what makes us better. What a strange situation this puts us in. “I know what works, but I get tired of doing it”. Once staleness has set in, we loose interest and start skipping a day or two until guilt takes over and we again start to rebuild what we have lost through the lack of practice. Has this ever happened to you? It used to be my downfall regularly. Practice, improve, get bored, skip a day to get the urge back and start all over. If you can recognize this pattern, I would like to address a few assumptions-

Practice improves your playing skills

  • Practice requires regular application
  • Consistent practice can create boredom
  • Boring practice is not productive
  • Adding more material to your practice routine requires more time
  • More time spent practicing increases boredom

If the above assumptions are true, what can be done to improve our situation? In my case, I have developed a very time efficient routine where I spend no more that 30 minutes warming up in the morning. Later in the day I devote about thirty minutes to lip flexibility exercises. In the evening I will do my solo, ensemble and/or my recording chores. This will usually require an additional hour of my time. This routine has been very successful for me for keeping my chops up when I am not doing regular (paying gigs) playing. I have everything in my routine to keep me satisfied and still improving my skills. It does help to be retired. If you, on the other hand, are one of those young, up and coming “hot dog trumpet wonders” your schedule would be doubled or even tripled in order for you to advance at the rate required to be one of the young and up and coming “hot dog trumpet wonders”.

Now that I have established what works for me, how have I been able to sustain the incentive to continue this routine when boredom sets in? It’s easy. You have to establish two productive practice routines so that you can switch when you begin to tire of the first. The second practice material needn’t be completely different from the first for the original worked for you and you want your alternate material also to be of benefit.

Morning Warm-Up

My favorite warm-up session begins with the Mouthpiece Warm Up posted on Jay Lichmann’s  site at-

This is followed by his Bending Warm-Up at-

Then I practice his Arpeggio Study page at-

That takes care of my morning warm-up and for you hot dogs, double or triple these exercises to fit your needs.

Afternoon Practice

This session is spent on flexibility exercises which are very important to my schedule. I gain in many different areas through these exercises.

These exercises can be found at-

Mr. L Lichmann’s arpeggios stop on high C# but I continue up to an F above high C for increased range. Another alteration I have benefited from is once I have gone up to G above the staff; I play the same exercise an octave lower in order to keep my embouchure relaxed. The alternation of the upper exercise followed by the octave below has helped me greatly. Another change has been to place a fermata on the highest notes of each high exercise and a fermata on the lowest note of the exercises played an octave below. This was also done to keep the lip flexible while playing the lower octave and by placing a fermata on the high notes as I ascend, I gradually become “friends” with these notes and was able to spend more time with them. For the more advanced and challenged, continue with his other exercises for an additional hour or more. This would also be a good time to do your melodic playing for tone development.

Evening Practice

During this period, I hit all the fun stuff that I have wanted to play all day. This time never becomes boring for it is always changing and is based on practical playing not maintenance playing. This session can range from an hour to several hours and depends only on what I have to learn or how long my chops hold out.

All of the above routine is what I feel works best to keep me in shape and improving during the down times (no gigs). This is also the practice routine that will eventually become boring to me and at that time, I will switch over to my alternate program which is very similar to the first with only slight variations. This switch will increase my interest and positive attitude towards practicing again. Most often this alternate program will be needed for only two or three days and at that time I am ready to go back to my first program. The material is very similar between the two but the slight change makes all the difference to my outlook on practicing.

Alternate program

As you can see when comparing the two programs, there is very little difference in your exercises. If the first program is the best, the second will be similar but will look different enough to keep your interest. After a few days on program two, return to your first program and you will have regained your interest in practicing.

Try this concept and let me know what you think. It has worked for me and I do hope you will also gain from the practice.

Tracks Or No Tracks? That Is A Question

Have you ever been to a live show and wondered if the music was actually live or were you listening to a recording and the musicians were only pretending to play? I am constantly asked this question and it brings up a very heated discussion each time.

Lip sinking and the use of prerecorded tracks have been discussed for many years. The first time I was exposed to the practice was many years ago while playing a Holiday On Ice show. The band was doing what bands do and the leader bent down to ask if we needed a break. We were surprised by his question and responded, “What do you mean”? He explained that all of the band parts were prerecorded and if we wanted a break, we could rest for a while. So we stopped playing and to our surprise, the sound never changed. We were shocked to discover that everything we were hearing was not us, but was a recorded tape of another group of musicians. This practice is called playing to tapes (tracks) and is very prevalent today in the entertainment industry.

Every person I have visited with about this practice says the same thing, “I don’t like listening to tracks, I came to the show to hear the real thing”. When I am told this, I usually respond with “Would you accept mistakes and a less than perfect performance”? No one has ever agreed to a less than perfect show! We are so conditioned to perfect performances that we wouldn’t know how to act if we were faced with a less than perfect performance. Almost all of our broadcasts are prerecorded and if they’re not, you will be able to tell. Through the use of digital technology, we are able to speed up, slow down and even improve a singer’s out of tune note with ease. Through the wonders of science, we are now able (and are expected) to produce only perfect musical performances. Have we become spoiled? Of course we have. We want perfection and we expect perfection. If a singer has a bad day, we don’t care. If a trumpet player cracks the last note, we become very critical. The recording industry and the entertainment field have created a perfect world which does not accept anything other than perfection. The question is, can the public accept this perfect world or are they willing to give a little to the live musician?

Prerecorded shows have been around as I said for a long time and even the musicians are not sure what is live and what is Memorex. I have played shows with the singer not more than two feet away and I could not tell if he/she was going out live or if I was listening to a tape. I have many times played my heart out and was not sure if they were sending my sound out or they were hearing someone from LA  who had recorded my part recorded years previous. We must congratulate the recording industry for a job well done even though we might not agree with what they are doing.

The question still remains. Is it better to go live and accept less than perfection or is it better to use tracks and give the audience a perfect show? When deciding this issue, remember that singers get sick and musicians make mistakes. Knowing this should help the average listener decide their preference. I am constantly asked by my neighbors, “Are they using tracks, or is the shows live”? My answer is the same, “What difference does it make”?  Their response is also the same, “I want to hear the real thing, not prerecorded tapes”. My next response is always the same again, “Would you have enjoyed the show as much if you heard mistakes”? At that point they have nothing more to say.

Tracks do have a humorous side and you may enjoy these stories. During one of my shows, a fellow musician pointed to a person in the front row and described him as a former trombone player. While he was with the band, he purchased a broken accordion at a local pawn shop and on every show, would pick it up and pretend to play when the tracks featured an accordion (which was not on stage during the show). He became very proficient at lifting the instrument and faking his part to the point that he was eventually nominated as the best accordion player in the area. This is a true story for I visited with the player after the show and he confirmed the nomination and the condition of his unplayable instrument. Then there was the show that featured a very prominent harp (harmonica) solo. A friend of mine surprised me when he stood up, drew a harmonica from his pocket and proceeded to play the most beautiful harp solo into his mike. Later I asked him if he really played the solo and he admitted that the solo was on the tracks and he had not played a note. The reason I questioned him was the fact that I do play harp and I couldn’t tell if he was or wasn’t playing. He had all the moves down cold. He ascended in the correct direction on the harp and even tapped the harp on his sleeve as if to remove condensation from the instrument. He later shared this next story with me. While on tour with his show, he would replace his harp with a remote from his hotel room and the audience never knew the difference.

You may wonder if what you are listening to is real or tracks when you see your next show and you may find this interesting to know. Most shows rely on the drummer to start numbers and for that reason, the responsibility of keeping the tracks and the live musicians together is relegated to that musician. It is important that the tracks and live performers line up and you will need to focus on the drummer if you really want to know if you are listening to tracks or the real thing. You can usually tell if tracks are being used by looking for a light blue cast off to the side of the drummer. Tracks are triggered and controlled by a computer which can be easily detected by its blue screen. The drummer and the sound person will also be in constant communication in order to coordinate the tracks. I will warn you that knowing this information will distract you from the real reason you went to the show. Too many times I go to a show to be entertained and come home not knowing half of what went on during the show. This is a good example of “Paralysis through analysis”.

There is another issue when discussing the use of prerecorded tracks and that is the use of solo background tracks.

Many times we are asked to play a solo for whatever the occasion and have no one to accompany us such as a piano player or organ player. What should you do in this situation? Let’s be honest now for few people want to hear a trumpet by itself unless you are playing taps. For that reason I feel that accompaniment tracks are acceptable and even encouraged.

To illustrate my point, I have listed a few accompaniment tracks which could be used in situations such as these.

You get a call to play for a wedding outside and they request Ash Grove. For an outside program, it would be impractical to move an organ into the words for one solo. In that case you might want to play it this way-

Ash Grove

A small church has requested that you perform for them and requested Victory in Jesus. Same situation as the wedding-

Victory In Jesus

The call this time is for a grave site funeral and the request is for Great Is Thy Faithfulness-

Great Is Thy Faithfulness

Now we are playing an Easter sun rise service,-

The Holy City

A family gathering at Christmas time,-

Jingle Bells

school talent contest,-

On My Own from Les Miserable

Christmas party for your boss!-

Winter Wonderland

Next time you are watching a television broadcast and marveling at the tremendous musicianship of the entertainer on the screen, switch your channel to American Idol and decide if you would prefer to watch prerecorded perfection or live performances on a regular basis.

Arban Trumpet Method – What is it?

Joseph Jean Baptist Laurent Arban (28 February 1825 – 9 April 1889) was a cornetist, conductor, pedagogue and the first famed virtuoso of the cornet à piston or valved cornet. He was influenced by Niccolò Paganini’s virtuosic technique on the violin and in an (arguably successful) attempt to “prove” the cornet as a true solo instrument, developed extreme virtuosic technique on the instrument.Born in Lyon, France, he studied trumpet with Francois Dauverné at the Paris Conservatoire from 1841 to 1845.

He was appointed professor of saxhorn at the École Militaire in 1857, and became professor of cornet at the Paris Conservatoire in 1869, where Merri Franquin was among his students. He published his Grande méthode complète pour cornet à pistons et de saxhorn in Paris in 1864. This method, which is often referred to as the “Trumpeter’s Bible,” is still studied by modern brass players. His variations on The Carnival of Venice remains one of the great showpieces for cornet soloists today.  Arban died in Paris on April 9, 1889.

Source: Wikipedia

The mere mention of this great cornet players name brings into focus events and memories for all trumpet/cornet players around the world. Why is this man’s name so recognizable and revered? Why do we all shrink when comparing our ability to this instantly recognized player when few know much about him? The contribution to the world of brass players is astounding!

Every brass player either has or has played from the Arban Book which many refer to as the Bible of trumpet players. Not only trumpet players have benefited from these pages but also have all brass players. The trombone version has the same respect as does the trumpet version. The material compiled into these pagers is the most complete and beneficial exercises, etudes, solos and duets ever collected for brass players. If I were stranded on a desolate island with my horn and only one exercise book, I would pick the Arban, hands down.

What Makes the Arban Book So Important?

14 characteristic studies
14 characteristic studies

Included in the Arban’s Complete Conservatory Method for Trumpet (Cornet) Newly Revised, Authentic Edition is everything you need to know and practice. Each major section is preceded by the author’s explanation about the section, the reason for its importance as well as suggestions on how to best use the material. Unfortunately, few of us ever read this material and just jump into the playing of the exercises. The written instructions are as important as the exercises.

In many instances, some of the dated material is updated by the editor as in the case of the reference to the use of low F below the staff where Arban explains how to execute a passage with altered fingerings and the Editor, at the bottom of that same page states “there is no necessity for playing the F below the staff”. The suggestions made by Arban were very helpful to me when I performed with the Barnum and Bailey Circus on a third cornet part for I ran into low Fs often.

Some have criticized the Arban Complete Method for its age and the fact that it has not kept up with current playing styles. Some say that there should have been more high range exercises included. To that I say, “play the exercises up an octave and stop complaining”. Some have said, “There are no jazz exercises in the book”. To which I suggest “Swing the eighth notes and stop complaining”. Some have said “I wish there were piano accompaniments to the 14 Characteristic Studies in the back of the book”.

To which I say “they are now available.”
Listen to an example:

Due to the fact that the Arban Complete Method has been in public domain for such an extended period, many publishing firms now offer their printing of the same material i.e.:

If you would like to play two characteristic study as duets with your friends, you can find an arrangement of #1 HERE and #9 HERE.