Working for two years (1959-1961) with the terrific Woody Herman band. The trumpet section was Bill Chase, Don Rader, Paul Fontaine or Bill Berry, Rolf Ericson and myself.
Musicians who have inspired me...
To keep on keepin' on!
I have been a professional trumpet player now for over 50 years. I consider myself very lucky to have made my living doing one of the things that I love and enjoy the most. I worked with the big bands of Woody Herman for two years, Tommy Dorsey for two years, Buddy Morrow for six months, and Warren Covington for about six months, plus quite a few other professional weekend bands. The bands of Les Elgart, Jimmy Dorsey and Art Mooney just to name a few. The only reason that I mention all that is just to show you some of my experience as a professional.
After my time with those bands, I moved to Las Vegas where I played in the show bands there for over 33 years. That was the real mecca for professional musicians and I played over 20,000 shows while there! Now that I think of it, that many shows is sort of unreal!
Vegas was really a town for trumpet players. The shows usually couldn't find enough players who were willing to work hard and stick with the job. A lot of those shows, especially the so-called "French production shows" were real killers. Production shows were actually variety shows with dozens of dancers, singers and usually bare boobed show girls plus all sorts of jugglers, comedians, acrobats etc. Watching the showgirls was a definite bonus and sometimes it was hard to keep your mind on the music!
Since I'm convinced that you are never too old to learn something new, I practice every day and am constantly trying to improve myself. You need to be an honest critic of your own playing. Being a trumpet player is not like being a carpenter or plumber where you can lay it down, go for a month's vacation and come back with no problems.
The trumpet is not an easy instrument to play and if you want to do it well, you are practically married to that "coil of torture."
Of course my biggest interest is with my family and grand kids. Very close behind them are big band music, musicians' humor, photography, and model railroading.
I have many heroes but, of course the main man is always Maynard Ferguson. I wore out so many of his records that I almost can't count them all. Just a few of my other heroes are Rafael Mendez, Harry James, Bix Beiderbecke, Bunny Berrigan, Jack Sheldon, Cat Anderson, Ray Anthony, Conrad Gozzo, Ray Triscari, Ray Wetzel, Buddy Childers, Al Porcino, Pete Candoli, and Conte Candoli. Every trumpet player that I ever listened to had an influence one way or another on my playing. I listened to everybody. I never really tried to copy them but I always wanted play AS WELL as they did.