Well that is a common misconception! The number of notes available on the trumpet does not correspond to the number of valves, or buttons, as I like to call them. There are seven combinations, each one lowering the pitch a semi-tone from the open note (no buttons) and the harmonic series is available on each valve. So to play a scale, you are in fact accessing a note from a different fundamental’s harmonic series. Hope that clears that one up! As far as your second question is concerned, I thought the teacher said ‘trombone’ when we were asked which instruments we wanted to play in primary school. You can imagine my surprise when I was handed a Bach 6c trumpet mouthpiece.
When and how did you know that your profession in life was to be a musician?
Well I can’t really do anything else, so it was the only option! I guess it was a gradual thing for me, I never really believed I would be good enough to do it. Step by step from getting in to the Junior Academy, then the senior course, doing NYJO, actually getting work whilst at college, and still being alive nearly four years after graduating. Then you start to realise you might just about be okay!
What’s the best thing you ever learnt whilst studying at RAM?
Ooh tricky! Martin Speake taught me not to apologise for my playing. Perhaps the most useful teaching was Pete Churchill‘s composition course, learning about voicings and harmony. Barak Schmool’s world rhythm classes are pretty amazing, and very applicable to a lot of music that you end up playing in the professional world. And of course the more enjoyable artistic projects. I think the best thing about college is that all that analysis and theory teaches you to think about every part of your playing, from sound and time to repertoire, stylistic things and your own approach. Being versatile but always sounding like yourself is the ultimate goal I think, as a freelancing jazz player.
What’s the best thing you’ve learnt since you’ve finished your studies?
In a professional sense, take every gig you can, turn up on time, be smart, and be really nice to everyone and you’ll get gigs! On a more musical level, and maybe this is something I need to address more, decide what you really want to be and go for it! It’s hard to work out whether you want to be the best at the thing you’re good at (say playing standards or fusion etc), or work on your weaknesses and become an all-round better player. It’s a tough one, the balance between making the music you love and paying your rent!
Tell us about the most bizarre gig you’ve ever played?
It was a concert at the Barbican theatre playing the music of Scott Walker (lead singer from the Walker Brothers). He writes incredible music, but the subject matter was very dark! There was a song about Mussolini, which involved the singer being hung upside down singing the song, whilst a man in a boxing outfit punched a dead pig that was suspended from the ceiling with a microphone in it, so the thuds were amplified through the theatre. The song I was in was called Flugel Man, and was about herpes!
Any Blue Flamingo memories which stick out?
Well there are too many to mention! The Kentucky trip was obviously an excellent experience, meeting some fantastic people, playing great music with my friends and discovering bourbon and stetson hats. Your [Leah] sister’s wedding was fun too!
Are you a coffee or tea man?
Depends. Coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon, hot chocolate at night. So now you know what to buy me and when!
As usual, here’s the open floor. Anything you’d like to rant about? Arts cuts? Jazz? Beer? Plans for the weekend?
Have they cut arts? I thought it was always this bad. Yes we need more money, yes jazz is underfunded, no I don’t want to do my accounts, and I would love some theatres to put even just a bottle of water backstage for the band! Can’t think of anything else that particularly winds me up at the moment, apart from people who stop JUST at the top of an escalator.
Anything else you’d like us to know (gigs/bizarre hobbies/randomness?)
Gigs: Hmm, it’s my birthday on 12th December, and I’m playing at Ronnie Scott’s with the house big band, so come down after and buy me a hot chocolate!
Hobbies: include thumb twiddles, collecting loose change, buying vintage trumpet mutes, thinking of daft things to write on twitter, collecting quotes from footballers that make no sense, such as “there are people all over the country waiting to put custard in my eyes…” – Steve Evans, Crawley Town manager.
Randomness: All the animals that live in my back garden are themed on footballers, and Newcastle United. Even though I’m a Norwich fan. There’s Ruel (the) Fox, Mike Ashleigh (an actual magpie), Sir Bobby Robin and Squirrel Regis, and his two baby squirrels Shola and Sammy Ameobi.
Can I interview you next please? [Yes Fred, of course you can]
First Published Dec 2, 2011 @11:55