The World According to Keitho

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Trumpet tocatta

Posted by keithosaunders on February 22, 2010

Every once in a while I go on a youtube binge.  Tonight I spent an hour watching jazz videos, primarily Freddie Hubbard, but also some Woody Shaw, Lee Morgan, Herbie Hancock, and Chick Corea.  With Freddie I am amazed not only at his chops but how fluid he was.  The notes streamed out in concise ideas and there was an electricity about him.   Every trumpet player wanted to be him. 

In my younger days I was drawn to the more mercurial sax players — Bird, Sonny Rollins, and Hank Mobley.  As I grow older I find myself leaning more towards the trumpet.  They can’t play as many notes as the sax — they have to come up for air — so their lyricism comes into sharper definition.  I really noticed it with Freddie tonight.  How he would play a phrase and step back, gearing up for the next one.   As a pianist they are more rewarding to accompany.  They leave space for your chords and the timber of their instrument compliments that of the piano. 

What put me off to trumpet in my younger days — the cockiness, which I took for arrogance — is now something which I appreciate.  You must be cocky to play that instrument, just as you have to be cocky to quarterback a football team.  Of course you have to be cocky to play jazz, period, but as a pianist you know that you are going to get a sound and you are buffered from the audience by virtue of your instrument.   Trumpeters are on the front lines — if they crack a note there is no hiding.

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