Today, I took an entire day off from the trumpet. Looking forward to hitting it in earnest tomorrow.
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!
Leeds Gig Alert – March 5, 2023
This is one for my friends in the north of England, particularly in the Leeds area.
On Sunday, March 5th I’ll be making a cameo appearance with The Northern Swing Orchestra featuring Nicki Allan on vocals, and directed by Ronnie Bottomley, at the Swillington Miners Sports and Social Club, 9 Wakefield Road, Swillington LS26 8DT. The show is at 3:30pm and tickets are just £7.
No idea what I’ll be playing, but I’m sure I’ll find an excuse for high notes! 😉 Please come down if you’re around. It’d be lovely to see some old friends.
Nothing especially enlightening to share but work continues apace, behind the scenes. More website features and layouts getting updated soon…
Practicing without agenda…
Today was, ostensibly, a day off for me. I did pick up the trumpet and practice for an hour or so, but it was largely without agenda – not for a video, not to prepare something in particular – it simply felt good to check in on some fundamentals for a short while and put it down again. The rest of the day was for relaxing and visiting with family. I should take time for more days like today.