I thought I would start writing down my thoughts about music in the same way I have been writing about running. A good place to start for me is to say a few words about the instrument that got me started in the word of music, the trumpet.
I am a trumpeter, since the age of 9, after hearing my grandad Ron’s jazz records. When I heard big bands and New Orleans music, the trumpets were loud and proud and so triumphant they made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. When I heard a muted trumpet playing a ballad, it filled me with a warm melancholy that was emotional and mysterious to my young ears. I started to practice. First, my grandad showed me the ropes on an old cornet and then as soon as I can remember I started to improvise. My ears guided me through my improvising and I was able to solo long before understanding what I was doing musically.
The trumpet is a difficult instrument to master, It requires a physical and disciplined approach, a weight lifters mentality when exercising to increase range and master technique. A lead trumpeter in a big band for instance, must have great chops*. They need a combination of breath, muscle and fine technique to play a full range of notes with a controlled tone and perfect tuning. Learning any instrument requires patience and a keen interest in everything involved. I, however, was not a technician, I wasn’t interested in looking after my trumpet, wasn’t into talking about trumpets with other trumpeters. Ask me what mouthpiece I used, how big was my bell? No idea! I just wanted to play and improvise.
Although in awe of trumpet gymnastics, when younger, I did not aspire to this way of playing. I heard players like Miles Davis with his warm, melodic, almost nonchalant sound and I wanted to play like that. At that time, that was the way I wanted to express myself with the trumpet and it sounded effortless. However, many great musicians are like swans. They look majestic above the water, but underneath, where you can’t see, they are paddling like mad.
At points when learning anything, you hit a plateau, you realise you are going to have to put some effort in to get better and this tests your resolve. It happens at any age, any ability. Artists must keep learning and innovating, they must rise above to discover themselves further. When younger, I often lacked the discipline to keep progressing on the trumpet. I threw my energy into developing skills in other areas; I discovered singing and playing other instruments, composing and recording, all of which of course make me who I am today.
In the last few years, and for the first time in my life really, I have started to enjoy the act of studying my trumpet further, and studying jazz harmony. I love performing, but there are things you can only learn through sitting down and reading or working them out yourself and fortunately I find pleasure in it now, I feel proud about my small achievements and progressions. Perhaps the discipline I have learnt training for marathons has somehow translated over to the trumpet, or maybe I am just a bit wiser now and ready to learn again. I will endeavour to study and learn more throughout my life, to keep progressing with this challenging instrument I have found myself attached to.
One final note, I Brasso’d and polished my trumpet (Stomvi mambo) for the first time ever, what a great feeling to have it nice and shiny. It has survived a decade of gigs, travelling with me around the world. It has been dropped; dented, forgotten in numerous places, mysteriously disappeared and reappeared, left on a train, left off a train, jumped on mistakenly by an exuberant band member, it has sprung a leak live on stage which fired spit in my eye as I was playing (imagine a clowns flower), its been patched up, fixed three times and most recently, dropped out of a locker after a long haul flight onto a ladies head (A whole jumbo jet tutted at me). Poor thing, how did it end up with me!
*Chops are not something for the BBQ. To a musician, it means skill or excellence in their particular field. More specifically to a trumpeter, chops are also another word for embouchure*.
*Embouchure - The embouchure is the use of facial muscles and the shaping of the lips to the mouthpiece of woodwind instruments or the mouthpiece of the brass instruments, Embouchure is not a way of cooking chops.
At Brisbane Jazz Club, March 2014. I am singing and playing a great tune after I heard the Nat King Cole version.
"Boulevard of Broken Dreams" is a 1933 hit song by Al Dubin (lyrics) and Harry Warren (music), set in Paris.
The song appeared in the 1934 film Moulin Rouge and was sung in the film by Constance Bennett. I thought I would sing it and I tried it out in the video at the jazz singers jam night. I hope you enjoy it folks, this was a great trio to play with. John Reeves on piano, Peter Walters on Bass and Joe Marchisella.
If you didn’t already realise The You & The Night Album is on sale on itunes! We also have some CD copies here in Australia, if you want one contact us on facebook, we will also be selling them at our gig on Saturday. Here is the facebook invite
Here is a link to where you can download the first officially released songs I have written that are inspired by the sea, It is called Volume 1, so there will be a Vol 2 somewhere down the line! Have a listen and download them if you like what you hear. Cheers Leo x
Hi folks! Here is a link to a quick sample of our album that we are finishing at the moment. We will be releasing it in a month and hopefully selling it at our gigs in November. Here is a list of where you can catch us next month:
FRIDAY 15TH NOV 9.00PM - THE ANGEL INN, WANGFORD, SUFFOLK, NR34 8RL
SUNDAY 24TH NOV FROM 4PM - THE CASTLE INN, BUNGAY, SUFFOLK, NR35 1AF
FRIDAY 29TH NOV SUPPORTING IAN SHAW - PULHAM MARKET VILLAGE HALL, IP214SU
(FOR TICKETS AND INFO CONTACT 01379 852721- TICKET INCLUDES EVENING MEAL)
Great recording session in The Saints, Suffolk last Friday with Paul Fitzgerald who also took these pics. We are working on a our first Album and trying to capture our live sound, so all takes were recorded live and we are really pleased with what we had after the first day, plus it was really fun!
Here are some pictures from a lovely gig we did last weekend at the Waveney Greenpeace Winter Fair in Southwold, Suffolk.
Hello All. Here is a report in the Eastern Daily Press about my time in New York performing on Broadway and experiencing Hurricane Sandy. I am still here and to put things in perspective I would like to say that compared to 1000’s of people in New York still cleaning up their homes and businesses and still without electric and water after 2 weeks my experience was hardly an ordeal! There is still a lot to do and many areas will not be back to anything like normal this side of christmas.