The Power of Influence.

Today has been incredibly joyous for me. I hardly know where to start…

I was invited to sit in with The Northern Swing Orchestra at a small social club outside of Leeds, by both the bandleader, my friend Jonathan Wyatt, and their guest musical director, the seemingly ageless Ronnie Bottomley, now in his 90s, who wrote a new selection of fantastic arrangements for the occasion.

I had a number of old friends in the band, but it was a particular pleasure to be back playing in a trumpet section led by the great Dale Gibson, for the first time in close to 15 years.

If you’re in the UK, and a fan of big band music, then Dale’s name should be familiar to you. I certainly hope it is!

If you’re from elsewhere, then it may well not be. All I can say is: you’re missing out!

I’ve been fortunate to play all over the world, with all kinds of different bands, including some pretty famous ones. Somehow, as a lad from the small resort town of Cleethorpes in the north of England, I’ve wound up living in New York City, where I have the opportunity to play in many of the great big bands that city has to offer, often in the lead trumpet chair. My point is this:

When it comes to playing lead trumpet, Dale Gibson is the gold standard.

I was lucky enough, as a young man, to play with Dale pretty regularly. We have been friends for a long time. I’ve learnt a tremendous amount from him, over the years, although I don’t think I realized quite how much until today. When the band struck up, as we started our soundcheck/rehearsal, I was following along with the music, in my role as guest “extra” trumpet. The first trumpet section phrase comes in, and Dale phrases it EXACTLY the way I heard it in my head, from looking at it. It was precisely the way I would’ve tried to play it, except it sounded better than I would have managed.

That’s when I got it.

I don’t know when I’ll see Dale again, although I sincerely hope it’s sooner that another 14 or 15 years, so I took the opportunity, in person, to thank him and tell him how much he has meant to me as a friend, trumpet inspiration, and a mentor. His influence is in everything I play. Nonetheless, I’ll do so here again.

Thank you, Dale. It means the world that you like my swing quavers!

Also, thanks again to Jonathan Wyatt and Ronnie Bottomley for the invitation. Today was a good day!

Dale Gibson & Bryan Davis. March 5, 2023.
Dale Gibson & Bryan Davis. March 5, 2023.

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