Welcome to the Bell Curve System of Practicing

bell curveJust what is the “Bell Curve System”?

A Bell Curve is a representation of graduated increase and decrease of anything. It could represent income changes, temperature differences or the stock market. It is a gradual representation of change and this “gradual” change can be beneficial to your practice habits. I will illustrate this concept by using a practice habit most trumpet players use every day.

The proper use of the Clarke Technical Study book.

Open your book to the first series and we will begin.

Start on the first exercise and continue to the last example. Visualize the bell curve featured above. Your first exercise started at the lower left corner and as you ascended, your placement on the curve continued up to the top. Most musicians would then start on another type of exercise such as a lip flexibility exercise. When using the Bell Curve System, the player needs to gradually descend in order to continue on the graph. To accomplish this, you will need to retrace your exercises starting from the last to the first. This gradual decent will be more productive than jumping to another exercise.

Why do we need to gradually make changes in our playing?

A very good example of the benefits of gradual change in our practice routine would be our struggle to increase our high range. If a player attempted to increase his/her upper register by attempting octave slurs, the amount of stress on the embouchure would be considerable. If on the other hand the player executed skips of a third, the amount of stress on the lip would be lessened greatly. Now consider the amount of change on the lip if the player played up an octave through a chromatic scale. This last example is without doubt the smoothest and least taxing way to reach the octave above. Once achieving the highest note, the least amount of stress on your embouchure would again be a smooth descending pattern down to where you started. The gradual increase and decrease on your embouchure will greatly benefit your development.

In what other ways can a gradual or bell curve approach be implemented in your practice routine?

Range is one way to use the bell curve process; another is in increasing speed in your playing. Take the same Clarke exercise and this time use it to increase your speed in fingering. Play each exercise at a slow tempo and gradually increase the speed to a point where you want to achieve. Instead of beginning a new set of exercises, retrace your same scales back to the first and gradually decrease the tempo until you return to the first exercise at the original speed. By applying the same bell curve concept to the speed of your scales, you will gain more control than if you only run through the scales at one speed from top to bottom.

Once you understand the benefits of applying a bell curve approach to the simple exercises suggested here, you can apply the same concept to a more broad use, such as the material used in your practice period. A Bell Curve approach can apply to the beginning of your practice all the way to the last exercise practiced. Let me illustrate how this would be applied.

Daily practice session.

Begin at the lowest point on your bell curve. Start with a gradual warm-up such as long tones and gradually increasing your work load, then retracing from the most strenuous to the lest, where you started.

Now increase to the next level up your bell curve by beginning your next more taxing exercises such as a finger buster offered in the Clarke Technical Studies book. Begin easy and increase your work load toward the end and then again retrace your exercises back to where you began.

Again increase your work with something more taxing such as etudes. Begin easy, increase the difficulty and then retrace to the beginning.

Once you have reached the most taxing level of your practice period, it is now time to repeat everything in reverse, thus following the bell curve back to the bottom and thus the end of your practice session.

What are the benefits of all this increase, decrease work load routine?

Once you follow this pattern, your embouchure will let you know how beneficial it can be. Those days of “I don’t understand why my chops feel stiff” will be over. The gradual increase and decrease of your work load has great benefits such as a consistent and dependable embouchure as well as a consistent increase in other techniques such as flexibility, speed, and endurance. Those bad days will be noticeably fewer.

What other ways can the Bell Curve method be applied?

During a week period, this concept can be applied to each day of your practicing. Start the week easily and increase to mid week and decrease to the end of the week.

By now it should be obvious as to how you can apply the Bell Curve method. I’m sure you can find other applications for this method and benefit from the practice.

“Required Reading” Jonathan Saraga (Part 2)

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Welcome to Part 2 of our interview with Jonathan Saraga. If you missed the first segment, be sure to read it for as the title states, “This is Required Reading.

Now we continue with our interview.

Do you prefer big band or combo work?

“I’ll probably have to go with combo work. I really enjoy both for different reasons. Similar to the topic on preferred forms of improvisation, both of these require me to undertake a different role as a player. I enjoy playing in a trumpet section, and trying to blend in with the sounds and phrasing of 16 other musicians. There’s something to be felt when a big band is playing great together. In a combo setting I get to solo more, which I really like. There’s also a lot more opportunity to phrase and interpret music freely. I prefer playing in a combo because that’s where I really get to express myself, stretch out, and go for some things that in big band setting probably wouldn’t be appropriate”.

Which trumpet players do you enjoy listening to the most?

“Clifford Brown, Miles Davis, Woody Shaw, Louis Armstrong, Fats Navaro, Tom Harrell”.

Rate your preferences from most enjoyed from most to least- Cool, Bop,Fusion,Free,Others.

“My preferences to what I enjoy playing the most and listening to the most are definitely different. I really enjoy playing improvisational music of any kind. I enjoy playing jazz a lot; all different forms of jazz; early jazz, ragtime, swing, hard-bop, blues, all of them really, because I appreciate the history and spiritual evolution of the art form. I love listening to jazz. I love classical music, different world music, including ancient and traditional spiritual music, and folk music. I also love film scores, operas, country, 90’s rock, ambient, and the list goes on. The bottom line though for me is that there are artists I prefer to listen to or play with over others. If I am listening to or playing with someone I love to play with or listen to, than it matters not the genre. I have a love and appreciation for people in general so I can appreciate all music; because it’s made by people. My palette is very open to different types of music because I want to learn more about music and about what I want my music to convey and sound like and what I feel is necessary for me to express through my music. For me, it’s not the style of music, it’s the people and what they bring to the music that I’m interested in”.

Would you consider yourself a melodic improviser or more of a chordal player?

“I try to be a melodic improviser even though I know that I can get caught up in more angular harmonic or chordal shape movement. Sometimes it’s right for the moment and other times I would rather have played something lyrical. Lyrical, melodic playing is really what I’m striving for”.

How would you explain to the readers how and when you know what you are going to do before each phrase?

“I don’t; well at least I don’t want to. If I’ve been practicing and playing a lot, and the horn feels natural and I feel strong, flexible and centered on the horn, than I let my ears take the music where the music wants to go. If I haven’t been practicing as much, I have to think more so my chops can prepare to do what my ears want; which I don’t like doing at all. Ideally I like playing spontaneously and allowing my fingers to move based on what I’m hearing”.

When constructing a solo, what form or structure do you strive for or does it develop as you play?

“I tend to let solos develop freely and I let the music happen naturally. I have found that this may not always be the best approach for all situations. Improvisation is spontaneous but music has form, so there is already an inseparable combination of the polarities inherent within improvisational music. I strive to let the music play itself, by giving the music what it wants from my horn. I think the overall structure should just happen if you are really listening”.

If you were able to form a combo to listen to, which musicians would be in the group (both living and dead)?

“McCoy Tyner, John Coltrane, Elvin Jones, Jimmy Garrison – Coltrane’s combo from the early 60’s, no need to change something that worked so well”.

If you were to switch instruments, which one would you pick?

“Piano”.

Your style of improvisation includes a heavy use of sequential patterns; where did you learn to play them so well and how were you able to perfect them so effectively?

“A lot of the patterns I use now, I learned from people that I’ve transcribed or from friends that I have practice with. I really enjoy experimenting with shapes and scales. This is an endless amount of material to construct language from. With all that said, I think the real challenge is playing melodically and lyrically. My goal is to shape my improvisation around the melody. I try to incorporate shapes within the context of melody”.

Do you have a drum or bass background?

“No”.

What would you like our readers to know about you?

“That I appreciate them checking this interview out”.

What are you hoping for in the future for your musical accomplishments?

“I am hoping to make people feel good with music, and I am hoping to do this to as many people as possible”.

We would like to thank Mr. Saraga for taking time to fill in some of the questions I had and we hope that you all will check out Jonathan’s Web Site to learn more about this gifted musician.

“Required Reading”- Jonathan Saraga

7bf3d7e320c3b63ca5cfe274a6e80I try to stay up with the current trumpet scene and for that reason I ran across a phenomenal young player by the name of Jonathan Saraga. Most often when cruising the net I will hear a player who has great range and endurance but lacks ideas or technique. On other occasions I’ll run across a great improviser who unfortunately lacks chops or technique. In rare cases I stumble over a player who exhibits all of these abilities and I am in awe of their ability. This was the case when I listed to a young man from Manhattan, New York.

After a couple contacts, he agreed to share some of his thoughts with our readers. The product of our visits are recorded below. Some questions I asked were ones that may be of interest to our readers and some I was interested in him filling out a few questions I wanted to have answered.

My first impression of Mr. Saraga’s playing style was influenced by his musical contributions in a free jazz setting. I must admit I am not a strong follower or even a mild supporter of free jazz. My age I’m sure has something to do with those decisions. Yet, after hearing him fly through the areas of no form, I was impressed. To me, it was a contradiction of definition; the concept of free jazz as performed by Mr. Saraga. Even though he was playing in a free form venue, I recognized form in his solos.

This first experience of listen to Mr. Saraga was complicated as I listened to another example of his playing, this time in a straight ahead Bop setting. I knew I was listening to the same musician but was confused for this same musician was playing in a completely different setting with the same high level of musicianship. This is not a common occurrence in the trumpet world. Most players are well known in small circles of styles. After several more searches, I came to the conclusion that this trumpet player is comfortable in all settings and not only feels comfortable in various styles of music
but actually excelled in all of them.

As I continued to listen to even more recordings of this young man, I was reminded of another great musician and one of my favorite rock musicians, Jimi Hendrix. You may think it strange that a young trumpet player could be linked in any way with an early rock guitar player but to me they played in a very similar way. Both musicians were at one with their instrument. Hendrix performed as if the guitar was part of his soul and so also does Mr. Saraga. There is no hesitation between thought and execution. What the brain thinks, the body reacts instantly. When most musicians try to improvise (especially those who have graduated from college after taking Jazz Improvisation for one semester), they prattle on for many painful choruses repeating the same tired scales they learned in school which shows the listener that they had practiced their scales and learned nothing. In the case of Mr. Saraga, every note, phrase, dynamic, articulation and small nuance comes from his inner being and is effortlessly presented to his listeners with in a purely
creative performance.

I apologies for my over exuberance in regards to this musician but that’s how I feel and I’m sticking to it.

Now on with the interview.

Where did you go to school and was it helpful to your learning to play your horn?

“I went to SUNY Purchase (http://www.purchase.edu/), and absolutely yes it was helpful. I was around people who were incredibly motivated and passionate about playing music and jazz (thankfully). I was also around faculty who were as well, and really wanted to help us learn. I got to play a lot and if I wasn’t playing in a group, I was constantly either practicing, listening to or learning about music and how to get better because everyone around me was doing the same thing”.

If you had your choice of sidemen in your group, who would you want to play with?

“I would love to play my music with Eric Lewis on piano, Eric Harland on drums, and Boris Kozlov on bass”.

Who has been the biggest influence in your career?

“My first two trumpet teachers, John Lambert and Bill Dunn are absolutely my biggest influences. Without them I wouldn’t be able to play trumpet at all most likely, let alone,
be able to express myself through it. They have taught me so much about being a professional musician to playing the trumpet to everything in between. Every teacher I have had throughout school and programs I’ve attended have taught me something valuable that I can apply to my life. I’m constantly inspired by my friends and colleagues who are working hard to grow their careers as well. I also couldn’t be doing any of this without my parents support and encouragement which is invaluable”.

When did you start playing trumpet?

“6th grade, so, 11”.

Who has been the biggest influence in your style of improvisation?

“It’s hard to say; I think that some of my friends that I would practice, play and hang out with in college influenced my playing. It’s like the stories about players from the 50’s and 60’s or any period really, getting together and shedding (*wood shedding- term used for improving ones ability), and trying stuff out. I think that is really important for a player. Playing lots of different kinds of music with lots of different people is a huge contributor to how I play. Listening to music is a big one too, as well as checking out all different art forms. I don’t think any one artist has really defined my style; whatever touches me… that’s what influences me the most. John Coltrane, Igor Stravinsky, the LeBeouf Brothers”

I hope you have gained a little insight into the background of this gifted performer. In our next post Jonathan will share his thoughts of his performing style and his expectations of his career.

Meanwhile, you need to visit Jonathan’s Web Site to fully understand how talented this man is.

A Beginner’s Guide To Transposition

Does your hair stand on end when you are faced with a part which requires transposition? Until you become familiar with playing notes that are not there, you will be uncomfortable. I will try to give you some helpful tips on how to reading transpositions at sight.

Learning to transpose music (which way and how far?)

Step #1

Extend your left arm to full length. Bring the palm of your hand in to face you. Think of each of your fingers as lines on a staff. Your thumb is now top line F, your first finger is now the D line, your middle finger is now Bb, ring finger G, little finger E.

Step #2

Establish what key the instrument you will be playing is in (Bb trumpet, D trumpet, C trumpet, etc.)

Step #3

Place the pitch of your instrument on your hand (staff). ie. Bb trumpet is still on your middle finger, C trumpet between your first finger and your middle finger, D trumpet on your pointing finger.

Step #4

Decide what transposition you will be adjusting to  (D music, C music, A music, etc.)

Step #5

If you are playing a Bb instrument and the transposition is for a C instrument, you first establish where you are (Bb middle finger) and where you are going (C one step above).

If you are playing a C trumpet and your transposition is for a Bb trumpet, you establish what you are playing on (C) and where you are going Bb and on your hand you can easily see the adjustment is down a second.

Remember this rule- Where am I on the staff and where do I have to go to get to the correct transposition?

The easiest and most common transposition is from Bb to C (up a second). I became fluent in this transposition after playing many years with a polka band in Illinois. Everything we played came from a fake book which was written in concert pitch (C). The best way to learn this transposition is to gather as many piano books with familiar songs as you can find. I would suggest that you begin with Christmas songs. Not because this is December but because you recognize the melodies and what you have to get used to is seeing one note and playing another. You will know at once if you have made the correct transposition if you know the song.

Not only will you have to move the notes around but you will also have to move the key signature. To do this, just use the same left hand you used before. If you are now in the key of F and you had moved up one step (Bb trumpet to C trumpet) do the same thing for the key (F up to G).

Now let us walk through a more difficult transposition-

You are playing a Bb trumpet and the music is written for a D trumpet. The rules are the same.

  • Left hand up
  • Establish Bb on your middle finger
  • Find D a third above Bb
  • Transposition is up a third
  • The part is written in Bb (two flats)
  • Your transposed key will also be up a third (D- two sharps)

Here is one more example-

  • Left hand up
  • You are playing a D trumpet (pointing finger)
  • You need to transpose for C trumpet (pointing finger to space below) or down a second
  • If your music is in the key of C (no sharps or flats) you transpose the key down a second (C to Bb).

This exercise would also fit a case where you are playing a C trumpet and reading Bb music.

Now that you hopefully understand the concept, you will need to be familiar with the terminology used to instruct you to transpose. I have included some of the most common terms for you to learn when first learning to transpose.

English- Trumpet- C,D,Eb, E, F,G,Ab,A,Bb,B,major,minor,flat,sharp

Italian- Tromba- DO,RE,MIb,MI,FA,SOL,LAb,LA,Sib,maggiore,minore,bemolle,diesis

French- Trompette- UT,RE,MIb,MI,FA,SOL,LAb,LA,Sib,SI,majeur,mineur,bemol,diese cis

German- Trompete- C,D,Es,E,F,G,As,A,B,H,dur,moll,ces

The material included in this post will get you started on your path to successful transposition. When you are performing orchestral material you will be expected to transpose at sight and in order to increase the limited knowledge you have gained here, I would suggest that you purchase the following book for additional study material-

One Hundred Studies for Trumpet by Ernst Sachse

Modifications To Your Mouthpiece

First warning! Modifying a mouthpiece could ruin it. With that note of assurance, let’s see what can be done to a mouthpiece to change its playing characteristics.

Parts of a trumpet/cornet/flugelhorn mouthpiece-

  • Rim- contoured section which comes in contact with the players lips
  • Bite- Inner edge of rim
  • Cup- Largest section of mouthpiece
  • Second cup- First area of increased air resistance
  • Throat- Most narrow path of the air stream
  • Back bore- Gradual tapering outward from the mouthpiece into the instrument
  • Shank- Area inserted into mouthpiece receiver

Rim alterations- none can be done without permanent damage to the mouthpiece

Shoulder- none can be done without permanent damage to the mouthpiece

Cup- none can be done without permanent damage to the mouthpiece

Second cup- Alterations to the second cup will automatically alter the length of the throat

Throat- Increasing the width of the throat will automatically increase the length of the throat

Backbore- Changes to the backbore may alter the length of the throat

Shank- Altering the outside of the shank will affect the distance from the end of the shank to the beginning of the lead pipe

Alterations and their affect on the mouthpieces characteristics-

Changing the shoulder or second cup can be done easily with a drill bit larger than the diameter of the throat. I do not recommend it unless you have this uncontrollable desire to ruin a perfectly good mouth piece. If on the other hand you have an old mouthpiece lying around that you will never play on, you might find the experiment entertaining. Whether you ever plan on playing on the mouthpiece would be something to mull over before you dig into it. By changing the second cup through enlargement and consequently reformation of the area, you should expect a substantial change in your resistance of air as you play. The shoulder is the first area of resistance when you blow into the mouthpiece and by smoothing or flattening out the slope at the bottom of the cup you will notice the air flows through much easier. Other affects you should recognize would be that your upper register will suffer. Tone quality will also darken from this modification.

The Throat of your mouthpiece can easily be altered and this is probably the most often changed area in a mouthpieces. When the diameter of the throat is increased, the usual characteristic change to the player is the feeling of less resistance and a bigger sound. The player may also feel that each note locks in more. This change will generally decrease your flexibility and make slurs a little more difficult. If you can visualize the change your wider throat diameter has made, you should understand when I say that the throat length has been dramatically lengthened also. Your throat is longer and at the same time you have shortened the length of your backbore. Change in one area will affect change in other areas. Players usually bore out their throats in order to decrease back pleasure and try to increase their sound. In some cases, they eventually get just the opposite effect for the increase in the length of the throat will sometimes increase resistance and defiantly will lessen your flexibility between notes. To open the diameter of the throat, all that is requires is a drill and bit. Second Warning! If you intend to open the throat, go easy. A very small amount removed will change your mouthpiece drastically. If you are still set on doing the change, start with a drill which is only slightly larger than the existing hole. In some cases, I suggest that instead of drilling, you might want to polish instead. If you wrap a small amount of cloth around your smallest drill bit, coat it with silver polish and then rotate it in the throat area for a couple of seconds, you may find that this amount of change is all you need. If you want more, coat the cloth with a small amount of rubbing compound which is available at your local auto supply store. A little of this goes a long way so work with it carefully. Another compound you can use is tooth paste. Make sure that you clean the mouthpiece out thoroughly before you place it in the horn to test. You don’t want the rubbing compound or tooth paste getting into your valves. Remember. You can’t replace what you just took out.

The Backbore of your mouthpiece should only be altered with the appropriate tool which is called a Morris bit and this modification is most often done by a professional who has access to an industrial lathe. Some modifications can be made to the inner edge of the backbore and I have found this work done on some mouthpieces which I purchased from the Schilke company. I’m not sure what the effect is on the tone or resistance but it was done at the company and the widening occurs only on the last quarter of an inch of the backbore which leaves only a paper thin edge to the shank.

Adjustments can be made to the fit of the shank as it enters the mouthpiece receiver. The Bach mouthpiece company insists that there should be approximately a one quarter inch gap between the end of the mouthpiece and the beginning of the lead pipe. On the other hand, the Schilke company insists that there should be no gap between the two; they should be as close to touching as is practical. The effect on this disagreement can be easily heard and felt for the gap produces a more defined center to the trumpets tone and the lack of gap produces a broader sound as illustrated by the Bach sound and the Schilke sound. To experiment with this change in gap and the corresponding change in sound, all you need to do is gradually sand down the area which enters the mouthpiece receiver. As you work the silver plating down, the mouthpiece will extend further into the mouthpiece receiver until it butts against the lead pipe. At that point you will have to cut a little off the end of the mouthpiece in order for it to fit securely in the mouthpiece receiver. That is how you get the “no gap” position. Now if you don’t like what you have done, you have two options. 1. Buy a new mouthpiece or 2. Wrap some tape around the shank. If you are dead set on trying this modification, please try it on an old, never used mouthpiece for I’m not going to buy you a new mouthpiece if you don’t like what you did.

The best suggestion I can give you is to read all you can on this subject and down load the mouthpiece brochures from the leading mouthpiece manufactures listed below. Then, before you do anything drastic to your favorite, one of a kind mouthpiece, try scrubbing it out with your mouthpiece cleaning brush with a little tooth paste and you might find that your old mouthpiece plays better than you thought.

Schilke trumpet mouthpieces

Bach trumpet mouthpieces

Bob Reeves

Warburton

Recent Loss to the Trumpet World- Mr. Don Thomas

Don ThomasTo most trumpet players, names such as Maynard Ferguson, Clark Terry, Doc Severinsen, Miles Davis and others are easily recognized through the many records on the market today. Strangely enough, many of these great players would have been overshadowed by the talent of a quiet, soft spoken trumpet player from Fort Worth, Texas. This incredibly talented and not well known to the public trumpet master was Mr. Don Thomas.

While attending North Texas State, I had the good fortune to not only have meet Mr. Thomas but also record several jingles with him in the studios in Dallas. Little did I know at the time that I was sitting next to a legend in the trumpet world. I remember him as a kind and always cheerful man who was always there to help anyone needing advice about trumpet playing. I vividly remember one session where Don introduced me to his son John Thomas. Before the session, Don called this high school age student over and said, “Bruce, I’d like to have you meet my son, John. He’s a trumpet player also”. If you have not listened to John, you need to for he is also one of the leading trumpet players of our time.

I have included some material from Don’s death announcement which you need to read and I have also included a few videos of this masterful musicians playing so that you will understand just how gifted this kind man was.

BY TIM MADIGAN| tmadigan@star-telegram.com|Thursday, Jan. 09, 2014

In 1973, jazz legend Ella Fitzgerald headlined the first-ever pops concert for the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. A few days later, she was a guest on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.
“We all gathered around the television to watch,” remembered John Giordano, the retired longtime conductor of the symphony. “Johnny asked Ella what she had been doing lately. She said: ‘As a matter of fact, I just played with the Fort Worth Symphony. They had the best lead trumpet player I’ve ever worked with. His name was Don Thomas. ”

Introducing Jonathan Saraga- “Required Reading”

7bf3d7e320c3b63ca5cfe274a6e80
I try to stay up with the current trumpet scene and for that reason I ran across a phenomenal young player by the name of Jonathan Saraga. Most often when cruising the net I will hear a player who has great range and endurance but lacks ideas or technique. On other occasions I’ll run across a great improviser who unfortunately lacks chops or technique. In rare cases I stumble over a player who exhibits all of these abilities and I am in awe of their ability. This was the case when I listed to a young man from Manhattan, New York.

After a couple contacts, he agreed to share some of his thoughts with our readers. The product of our visits are recorded below. Some questions I asked were ones that may be of interest to our readers and some I was interested in him filling out a few questions I wanted to have answered.

My first impression of Mr. Saraga’s playing style was influenced by his musical contributions in a free jazz setting. I must admit I am not a strong follower or even a mild supporter of free jazz. My age I’m sure has something to do with those decisions. Yet, after hearing him fly through the areas of no form, I was impressed. To me, it was a contradiction of definition; the concept of free jazz as performed by Mr. Saraga. Even though he was playing in a free form venue, I recognized form in his solos.

This first experience of listen to Mr. Saraga was complicated as I listened to another example of his playing, this time in a straight ahead Bop setting. I knew I was listening to the same musician but was confused for this same musician was playing in a completely different setting with the same high level of musicianship. This is not a common occurrence in the trumpet world. Most players are well known in small circles of styles. After several more searches, I came to the conclusion that this trumpet player is comfortable in all settings and not only feels comfortable in various styles of music
but actually excelled in all of them.

As I continued to listen to even more recordings of this young man, I was reminded of another great musician and one of my favorite rock musicians, Jimi Hendrix. You may
think it strange that a young trumpet player could be linked in any way with an early rock guitar player but to me they played in a very similar way. Both musicians were at
one with their instrument. Hendrix performed as if the guitar was part of his soul and so also does Mr. Saraga. There is no hesitation between thought and execution. What the
brain thinks, the body reacts instantly. When most musicians try to improvise (especially those who have graduated from college after taking Jazz Improvisation for one semester),
they prattle on for many painful choruses repeating the same tired scales they learned in school which shows the listener that they had practiced their scales and learned nothing.
In the case of Mr. Saraga, every note, phrase, dynamic, articulation and small nuance comes from his inner being and is effortlessly presented to his listeners with in a purely
creative performance.

I apologies for my over exuberance in regards to this musician but that’s how I feel and I’m sticking to it.

Now on with the interview.

Where did you go to school and was it helpful to your learning to play your horn?

“I went to SUNY Purchase (http://www.purchase.edu/), and absolutely yes it was helpful. I was around people who were incredibly motivated and passionate about playing music and jazz (thankfully). I was also around faculty who were as well, and really wanted to help us learn. I got to play a lot and if I wasn’t playing in a group, I was constantly either practicing, listening to or learning about music and how to get better because everyone around me was doing the same thing”.

If you had your choice of sidemen in your group, who would you want to play with?

“I would love to play my music with Eric Lewis on piano, Eric Harland on drums, and Boris Kozlov on bass”.

Who has been the biggest influence in your career?

“My first two trumpet teachers, John Lambert and Bill Dunn are absolutely my biggest influences. Without them I wouldn’t be able to play trumpet at all most likely, let alone,
be able to express myself through it. They have taught me so much about being a professional musician to playing the trumpet to everything in between. Every teacher I have had throughout school and programs I’ve attended have taught me something valuable that I can apply to my life. I’m constantly inspired by my friends and colleagues who are working hard to grow their careers as well. I also couldn’t be doing any of this without my parents support and encouragement which is invaluable”.

When did you start playing trumpet?

“6th grade, so, 11”.

Who has been the biggest influence in your style of improvisation?

“It’s hard to say; I think that some of my friends that I would practice, play and hang out with in college influenced my playing. It’s like the stories about players from the 50’s and 60’s or any period really, getting together and shedding (*wood shedding- term used for improving ones ability), and trying stuff out. I think that is really important for a player. Playing lots of different kinds of music with lots of different people is a huge contributor to how I play. Listening to music is a big one too, as well as checking out all different art forms. I don’t think any one artist has really defined my style; whatever touches me… that’s what influences me the most. John Coltrane, Igor Stravinsky, the LeBeouf Brothers”

I hope you have gained a little insight into the background of this gifted performer. In our next post Jonathan will share his thoughts of his performing style and his expectations of his career.

Meanwhile, you need to visit Jonathan’s Web Site to fully understand how talented this man is.