In the mid-1960's, a young trumpet player hit the Los Angeles studio scene. On one of his first sessions, the arranger decided to add some extreme upper register trumpet work just for the occasion. From that moment on, he became well known and well used in the studios. He could play everything from mellow jazz solos, classical solos, Motown horns, rock, big band lead and could be asked to take double G's up another octave. That player was the well respected but somewhat unknown Bud Brisbois. Bud's main claim to fame was his prodigious upper register technique, however he was also a great all around trumpet player and teacher. It wasn't unusual for Bud to play piccolo trumpet showing off his great technique and style, then switch to Bb trumpet to show his power, then to flugel to show his mellow side all in the space of one arrangement. Bud was widely respected in the trumpet community and throughout the jazz world as an excellent musician and extraordinary trumpet performer.
Austin Dean 'Bud' Brisbois was born in Edina, Minnesota on April 11, 1937. He began studying trumpet at the age of twelve and within several years he had already developed his upper register. Bud was primarily a self taught trumpet player, he stated that he learned a great deal about music from his high school band director, Butler Eitel at Edina High in Minneapolis.
Bud's younger brother Joe remembers how dedicated Bud was to practicing his trumpet, "Bud would sit in his room down in the basement for hours on end playing along with Stan Kenton recordings, he was really trying to perfect his art. Bud loved the Kenton Band. Our father used to have Stan and band come over for dinner after they played a local concert. After high school Bud wanted to go to the Westlake School of Music in California, so our dad sent him out there with money for tuition and everything. What our fatehr didn?t know was that Bud never attended a single class. He lived off of the money and went out every night to hear music. When the Kenton band played at the Palladium, Bud was there at the edge of the stage every night. After some time Stan came up to talk to him and recognized him and asked him if he would like to sit in. Bud did and had a great time. That Christmas Bud came home and dad found out about what Bud had been doing because Bud started talking about giving up music. Well during that vacation, Stan called and wanted to know if Bud wanted to go out with the band, and that was it."
John Zdechlik who is now a band director and composer at Lakewood Community College in Minneapolis, Minnesota grew up playing trumpet with Bud. "Bud and I didn't go to the same high school, but around 1952 or 53 we were sophomores or juniors in high school. Anyway, around Minneapolis there was this band made up of high school kids, a big band. There weren't many arrangements out for big bands back then except for the stock ones, which were terrible things. We happened to have quite a number of talented people on that band who copied records, we copied Kenton, Les Brown, Ted Heath, Count Basie. I was also an arranger at the time, that's when I learned how to write and arrange. So I wrote originals and we had guys that copied them. We had a unique library that nobody else had in those days. There were three trumpets, a couple of trombones, five saxes and a rhythm section. Jim Huard our bass player still tours with Ella Fitzgerald and Natalie Cole. Bud was in the trumpet section with myself and for a time Wayne Timmerman who used to teach in Tacoma, Washington and Arnie Ness who played lead trumpet for us and also lives out in Washington. Bud did all of the scream stuff. Bud had those kind of chops when he was 15 or 16. We'd sit there and work all night, playing hard and nothing would bother him. He could play double high C's then. Bud really figured out what to do and how to do it later on, but when he was a kid, he had no idea what he did, he just put the horn up and just do it. I used to go over to his house all of the time to hang out. Well, there were these old records that Maynard had made like "Hot Canary" and so on, we used to play along with those things, well I just couldn't do it, but Bud did."
"He was just a prince of a fellow too, a really nice guy. He was always a great dresser and came from a very wealthy family. He didn't throw money around, but the family was well off. I remember going to his house in Edina which is a wealthy suburb of Minneapolis. Well in the 50's, they had a swimming pool, nobody had a pool in those days, I thought my God, it was just so much fun to go out there. I used to go out to his house quite a bit and hang around."
"Well that band we played a bit too, every Saturday and other jobs also. It was a pretty good band for just a bunch of kids and we had all of these wonderful arrangements and copies. Arnie could sit down and copy records back in high school, he still has a marvelous ear, he would just pull them right off the records. Arnie, Bud and I played together for several years, then when everybody was a senior in high school, the band just sort of folded up as everyone went their separate directions. I remember this so well, Bud said to me 'well, I'm not going to college, I'm going out to LA and getting on Kenton's Band.' And by golly he did, it wasn't too long and he did. He just did it, just took off all by himself, I'm sure his parents didn't like it, but he was determined to do it, and he had the kind of equipment that Kenton was looking for. In those days he couldn't read worth a damn. He had a horrible time reading, he used to memorize things and sort of picked it up that way and when he went out there he really improved. Bud had a bass trumpet in those days, with a trombone mouthpiece, he could play that thing and then pick up his trumpet and it wouldn't make a difference, that's hard to do. It didn't affect his chops at all. Bud got on to that deal and bought one of those expensive things for fun, of course he didn't have to worry about money. Bud was also always horsing around with mouthpieces, he just never quite, he was a mouthpiece junky."
"Before we broke up that band, we made a record for our own purposes. Bud was featured on a few of the things, one of them was the tune "Embraceable You" that was a trumpet feature from the Ted Heath Band that we lifted for Bud. We were only 16 and we were probably the best musicians in town for our age and we had all come together in that band. We would just blow peoples minds when we played and then Bud would play something and they would just be stunned. I remember playing with those records with him and he could just 8-ball all of those Maynard recordings. It made no difference what time it was, the first hour or fourth hour of playing, it hardly affected him at all. He was quite a phenomenon. He played all of the time, he never really studied with anyone, he just played. He just figured it out himself. He was not particularly clean in those days, he wasn't polished at all. Arnie was an impeccable reader and solid lead player and Arnie would just insist that Bud and the whole band play everything right. We depended on Arnie, and Bud would take his suggestions very well, and work on it. Bud was also playing in his high school concert band maybe marching band, but our band was the real thing. We were good buddies and we used to hang around and practice together and listen to music."
Another high school friend, Roger Kirchner had this to say about Bud, "Bud had his full range of about a triple C in 9th or 10th grade. He used to practice with MF records, playing a third higher. He was a sophomore when I was a senior. We had a band director come over after one of his solos at a state basketball tournament and ask who the ringer was. He was really something. I played first chair and Bud second in our school band. He played the Haydn Trumpet Concerto for a state music contest and received an A. One of the comments was about the seemingly effortlessness of his high notes. If the judge only knew....He had complete control of the two octaves above high C. It seemed like he could pick up his horn and hit any note. He played with his full range through three-hour dance jobs in high school. Bud lost his first knuckle of his middle right finger in a construction accident. His glove got caught in a pulley somehow. It was a real tragedy, but it didn't slow him down. It was really a thrill to have played with Bud during high school."
Bud was a very warm and friendly person who helped out many trumpet players in need. Bobby Shew is a modern example of this type of player, someone who will share their knowledge at all times. Even as a teenager, Bud was always a very immaculate dresser and kept up his neat and tidy appearance throughout his years on the road. While most of the guys would wear wrinkled outfits and dress sloppily, Bud took care to iron his suits and keep everything clean. Bud was very meticulous, in the Louis Davidson book, Bud's section was incredibly neat, it looked like he used a ruler to make it very neat. This remarkable quest for perfection in his life obviously helped him to become a better trumpet player. He would practice his horn for hours on end trying to improve his playing ability and extend his range. He gradually worked out his own breathing method and constantly worked towards a mastery of the trumpet.
Stan Kenton, one to always showcase a good trumpet player allowed Bud to add his high chops to many of the bands exciting numbers. Bud was featured as a soloist and a high note artist on many of the Kenton recordings during the time that he was on the band. On several live recordings during the "Kenton Medley," you can hear Stan encouraging Bud to go for that next high note. Many times Bud was able to do it too, ala Cat Anderson. Bud was one of the few players who could cleanly pick off notes well above double C.
Kenton trumpeter Dalton Smith told Lillian Arganian, a Kenton Biographer a bit about Bud in an interview, talking about the track 'Lonely Woman' from the "Standards in Silhouette" album, "Brisbois took off on a high note that went off the end of the piano, a triple C#, just right into the stratosphere. Bobby Knight confirmed the story saying some of the band members figured he'd screwed up and the take would have to be redone--but Stan liked the effect, so he left it on there. As Knight explained it, 'that note was a MISTAKE...but it certainly turned out right.' Bud could do that all night long."
As Kenton trombone player Archie LeCoque recalled the same session: "The album was done at the Riverside Ballroom in New York City, and we recorded most of "Standards in Silhouette" all in one day, and came back the next day to cut "Viva Kenton", the whole album in one sitting, and then got on the bus and split for somewhere, I don't remember where. The band was very tired, so we knew what was going on. It was hard, but at that time we were all young and straight-ahead, and we got through it, and both albums came out well. Bud Brisbois played lead trumpet, and I thought he did a phenomenal job, he really worked his rear end off."
Trumpet player Jack Sheldon mentioned Bud during an interview he was giving. "When I was with Kenton, the whole concept was sheer volume and sound. Stan would always be trying to get us to play louder and so we played louder and higher. One time, Bud Brisbois passed out and Stan just kept motioning for us to play louder."
Bobby Shew saw Kenton right after Bud got on the band and remembers it well, "I first heard Bud playing with Kenton in the late 50's, right when Bud had just joined the band, I mean he was bringing parts out in front and holding them while he played solos and stuff."
Bobby Knight recalled the Kenton Road Show tours and recordings with Bud. "On the final chord of Peanut Vendor, even with Dalton Smith way up in the clouds, Bud still tops him. Man, was he good and always hit them clean!" On tour through Mexico in 1960 we had an arrangement of "I'm Shootin' High" that Ann Richards sang a full chorus before the band came in with a unison concert C to start the second chorus. Bud was suffering from Montezuma's revenge, but every night he'd nail that double D on the head. Dalt was strong too. If you asked Bud what he saw in Mexico, on that tour, the answer was always the same; "the bottom of every toilet" He still played great."
Bud continued to play lead for Kenton off and on during the 60's where he again can be heard playing well into the upper register on several of the albums the band recorded. It was during this time that Kenton added the mellophone section. Bud had these words to say "To my ear, the mellophoniums were no good at all! They have disastrously bad intonation. Nobody could play them in tune. It's a very loud instrument that's uncontrollable! And FOUR of them, that was just too much!"
Bud had his sights set on the Los Angeles recording studios for quite some time, so when he left Kenton he migrated to the West coast and settled into the busy world of the studio musician. Bud's first studio work came on an album by Billy May titled "Bill's Bag." The strong trumpet section that included Conrad Gozzo and others asked Bud if he could play a couple of things up an octave, they knew he could do it because his reputation had preceded him. Bud obliged and turned out some great high note work on two of the tunes. Bud also recorded with the Billy May band for a movie soundtrack titld "Johnny Cool" which was recently re-released on CD featuring Bud's high note work. This was the beginning of Bud's busy years as a studio player. He always stated that 'my name was made with range, but it accounts for only 1/4 of my work on trumpet.' Well, that may be the case, but it is his high note work that is the most distinguishable and amazing.
Bud had the distinct honor of being the second trumpet player to perform Bill Russo's "Titan Suite" with the Chicago Philharmonic. This piece was originally performed by Maynard Ferguson in 1958 with the New York Philharmonic. Although it was a classical work with a large orchestra, the third movement was entirely composed of a high note trumpet feature. Bud performed it very well especially considering he was one of only three or so possible players who could have attempted it.
As the 1960's moved on, Bud was very busy in the studios. He performed and recorded with just about every big band in LA and recorded with many different styles of performers. Bud was also starting to receive offers to be a guest artist with various bands and at colleges around the nation. For a brief time in the mid-1960's, Bud formed his own big band which performed in the Los Angeles area. The band was full of top local talent, including sax players, Bill Perkins, Jack Nimitz and Bob Cooper. He was a guest with the USAF Airmen of Note in 1968 for a concert and performed to a huge crowd of 5,000, astounding them with his ever increasing range and power (Bud would later record with the Note for a Serenade in Blue radio program in 1972.
In 1965 trumpet player Richard Cooper first met Bud while he was playing lead at San Fernando Valley College (now Cal. St. Northridge), Bud had put together a Collegiant All Star Band. During that time, Stan Kenton had his Neophonic Orchestra going in LA and he formed a Junior Neophonic using a lot of the guys from Bud?s band. Richard also played lead with that group. Stan had Bud come in as a featured artist a few times to play with the Junior Neophonic Orchestra.
Richard Burkhart, who recently retired as trumpet professor at Ohio State University performed with Bud at a concert at Lamar Tech University in 1965 while Richard was teaching there. He remembers how warm and friendly Bud was and how amazing his playing was that night. Bud was featured with the band and as usual played some incredible stuff that night.
Some of Bud's best recorded work was done in the 1960's. He did two albums with the Onzy Matthews Big Band and two more where the band backed singer Lou Rawls. Who can forget Bud's rendition of "Flamingo" on "Blues With a Touch of Elegance" or his great lead and high note work on the Lou Rawls albums. It seemed that if Bud was involved in a session, the leader just said go for it and asked the arranger to allow Bud the freedom to put icing on everything. Check out the Four Freshman album titled "Got That Feeling." Bud is all over the upper register on this recording too. Bud's recording credits are obviously too long too list, but most of the recordings he is on have at least one cut worth finding.
Bobby Shew spoke freely about his good friend Bud, "Bud was heir to the Skippy Peanut Butter Company, his grandfather started the company, but Bud never really took much interest in it. When he put the horn down in the mid 1970's, he had some real serious personal problems, Bud had suffered from manic depression ever since he was a kid. I was playing with Louis Bellson at Donte's one night, and Bud walked in the door and stood along the wall, I usually waved to him, but I could see that he didn't have that friendly smile he usually had. He was such an upbeat guy and always happy, but this was soon after his wife had left him.
"Bud was always willing to take time out and help people. He helped the trumpet players in the group Matrix quite a bit. He helped me out a lot too. People kept asking me about this breathing system that I use and where did I learn this and I said hell, it was Bud, I got the book from Maynard, but Maynard didn't show me shit, he just gave me the book. So I read the book and went 'what?' So I went to Bud one day and asked him if he knew anything about this breathing shit from this yoga thing and he was like oh yeah, that's basically what I use. Bud used sort of a combination of this and sort of the Costello thing. Basically Bud played with a real sort of jaw out, sort of bulldog jaw out which is Costello, which appears to be an upstream. Bill Peterson told me that when he was taking lessons from Bud, Bud would draw a circle, like he was looking at the inside rim of a mouthpiece and then he would pinpoint little spots inside the mouthpiece where he thought of different notes where he would change his airstream. He'd point his airstream at different spots inside the cup. So Bud used a combination of Costello, then the abdominal support thing which is the wedge. I've taken it further, I took some of the stuff Bud was doing and added some other stuff to open up. I saw the problems that Bud was having and tried to fix them. If Bud was here now and I could show him what I know now, it would blow him away. Some of the problems that Bud did have was that he never got a really big sound, which is because he was using the Costello pinched aperture thing. He could control the shit out of it and but couldn't get much sound and it drove him nuts.
"When I was at North Texas a few years ago around Thanksgiving, after the concert I was backstage and was hanging around when I saw this guy coming over and went 'holy shit that looks like Onzy Matthews' and it was, he came over and said 'hey Bobby' in his sort of drawl voice, and I went like 'where the fuck have you been?' It turns out that he has been back from Paris and living in Dallas with his father who is sick for a few years. Well, we got to talking about Bud and I asked him what ever happened to those charts from that "Blues With A Touch Of Elegance" album and stuff, he said 'man the airlines lost them, they lost a whole crate of my music' all of the things he'd done with that band.
I was in the studio when they were recording that album. I was next door in studio B at Capitol with the Norad Band doing a session from 9-1, and they were in A. We finished around one O'clock which was when their session was beginning. We were leaving and we saw all of these guys walking in and so we asked what was going on and someone said it's 'a jazz big band.' We asked if we could come in and watch for while, they said ok as long as we were quiet. We sat there and we heard them do a few tunes and then I sat there and watched Bud Brisbois do take after take of "Flamingo." Boy, it was unbelievable. That band did three albums and then two backing Lou Rawls. Bud had some good shit on the Lou Rawls albums. Onzy really loved Bud. When we were talking about Bud, he had nothing but good things to say. He was like 'that motherfucker used to sit there and play that lead book and do "Flamingo" every fucking night man and just nail it. He never missed it. That cat could play that fucking thing all day long.'
"Bud was the trumpet player on all of the Jetson cartoons. Lennie Neihaus wrote a ton of tunes for Bud or for Doc and then Bud and I ended up with the charts." In all of Bud's studio work, many reviewers had good things to say about his playing, "climaxed from a staggering high G from Bud Brisbois trumpet, Bud Brisbois high ranging trumpet takes care of the top, then the fantastic Brisbois boiling to the top of his horn in a truly harrowing display of upper registry, features soaring trumpet by Brisbois." Bud was also allowed some more laid back solos at times and his style also received the praise and admiration of both critics and his peers.
Bud had a desire to become a rock superstar and he began taking singing lessons from Lee and Sally Sweetland in preparation for his group "Butane". Bud used his ties in the studios to parlay an extra hour of studio time after one session for Chuck Barris, the TV game show host, (Themes from TV Game Shows) into a chance to record some stuff with his own group. Bud was able to get four full tunes down with his group "Butane." This was in the early 1973. Although he did do a lot of studio work, he wasn't real hot on the situation, "It sure gets boring at times, like live TV., when you're just sitting there and not playing, but trumpet parts can be pretty difficult--like those fade endings and high sustained notes." When the Butane band was put together, Bobby Shew was on lead, Oscar Brashear was the other trumpet player, Bobby was doing most of the music copying and Mike Barone was doing a lot of the writing and Don Menza contributed a few things before he quit the group. Don felt that the Butane band just wasn't going to work with jazz players, he thought that Bud should use rock musicians and Bud just didn?t want to go that direction..
Drummer Jim Nelson played with Butane for about 5 months or so between 1973-74 where they played primarily at Donte's in Los Angeles. The Band was made up of Joe Dibartilo bass, Tom Garvin piano, Charlie Loper trombone, Dick "Slide" Hyde on bass trombone, Bobby Shew and Oscar Brashear trumpet, Jack Nimitz, Pete Christlieb and Don Menza on saxes.
Trumpeter John Entzi remembers seeing Bud perform with the Atlanta Symphony in Greensboro, North Carolina in the early 1970's. "He was performing with Henry Mancini in the Greensboro Coliseum. He came out and played three choruses on "Peter Gunn," well we were on the floor...hardly anything below a high C and ended his chorus with a triple G...Henry shouted at Bud 'Hey Bud, would you like a couple more?' this time he ended on one of the loudest triple A's I've ever heard."
Mike Vax, fresh off the road with the Kenton Band in the early 1970?s became friends with Bud in Los Angeles. "I had the wonderful pleasure to perform with and get to know Bud. He was a great guy. I had lunch with him not too long before he left LA, and he was sort of dejected. "Butane" wasn't taking off like he had hoped, and he was getting tired of the LA scene."
"I can remember playing "Scrapple From the Apple" one time with an all-star group where Bud and I were the two trumpets. He told me to take the melody up an octave, and I said 'why should I do that when you are here?' He said "just go ahead it will be great." So I played it up an octave and HE played it up two octaves! Well as you can imagine, the audience just went wild! What fun! I also had to play some parts that were done much earlier with the Kenton Band that had Bud's name on them. Always a challenge!"
Roger Ingram first met Bud in the mid 1970's, "When I was in high school with my jazz band at the Reno Jazz Festival. They were auditioning people for the Monterey Youth All Star Band. Bud Brisbois who was a judge at the festival was there to audition all of the trumpet players. All of the players were standing there in line waiting to go in the room with Bud to audition. I finally went in and Bud knew me right away from my set with the Eagle Rock Band that afternoon. He said 'I want you to play lead with the band, now we have about ten minutes to kill, so why don't I just give you a lesson.' He put his mouthpiece in his piccolo trumpet and played a screaming high note Bb blues solo around G's above double C for about five minutes in my face. It was louder then shit and I was just standing there with a big silly grin on my face. I mean it was louder then shit. He said 'got any questions?', I said 'how do you do that?', 'well you got to make sure that you have your chops set right and your breathing is right.....to put it in a nutshell, you have to make believe that there is a little round balloon in the middle of your chest and fill it up, not overfilling it, when you have it filled you grip it there and push the air out. For your chops there is only one right way for each person, but the universal rule for everyone is that you have to make sure that your corners are strong, and that's what Arban's book is for, then you play around with equipment till you find what works for you. The important thing to think about is to not force anything and be patient and to build gradually build a foundation and to remember that you can't try to build a skyscraper until you have a strong foundation laid down. Do plenty of sit ups so you don't get hurt in the process.' When I walked out of that room, all of the kids thought that it was me playing in the room. They were just scared shitless because they had heard all of those triple C's in the room. That night when they announced the band, I got the spot even though I had never played a note at my audition. Bud was a great man and I really admired him for the way he played, it's a shame the way his life ended."
Gary Grant studied with Bud for 3 years; the first 2 years were when he was in the Navy. After the Navy, he went to the University of North Texas where they didn't know that he was coming, they already had the bands set, but Gary was such an exceptional player that they moved some people around and Gary moved into the lead chair in the 1 o'clock band. Gary then went out on the road with Woody Herman. After Woody, he then moved to Hawaii where he led his own big band and small group. In 1975 he moved to LA where everybody had heard of him and he quickly moved into the studio as a sub. Gary hung out with Bud quite a bit. At the time, Bud was doing the Donny and Marie Osmond Show, when Bud went to Phoenix, Gary took Bud's place.
"Bud's problem in the studios was that there wasn't much high note work, so he had to develop the rest of his playing. He was a delightful human being, really a gentleman. I remember going to see him after concerts and his eyes were pink from all of the pressure, but Bud could handle all of the physical stuff."
As the early 70's hit, Bud was really becoming a well known performer. With all of his exposure with Henry Mancini on television, Bud was hired to perform on an episode of the show, the "Midnight Special." On this show Bud and his group "Butane" performed several features on the show, including a vocal for Bud. Bud's group included trumpeters Al Aarons, Paul Hubinon, Bobby Shew, Oscar Brashear and others during this time period. Bud's group Butane was also busy making the rounds of all of the local LA clubs. They had steady gigs at Donte's and Shelley Manne's Manne-Hole.
Around this time, Bud found his way into Bob Reeves Studio to get a new mouthpiece. "Bud came in with a Burt Herrick MP and wanted something different. His horn wasn't slotting the half steps very well. I also made some new valve caps for one of his Holton horns and did an alignment to fix the slotting. His Herrick mouthpiece had a 39/64 diameter, and was deep like a 10 ½ C. I made him the mouthpiece and I remember when he came to pick it up, it was a hot summer afternoon and I had the back door open and a fan blowing, Bud came in to try a the mouthpiece and played a big fat high C, then he started playing painfully loud double C's and this old grey haired man came in yelling 'you call that music?' apparently the guy lived upstairs and it woke him up. After the adjustments, Bud loved the horn and he actually left his Herrick mouthpiece and took the new Reeves to his record date that night with Mancini. I still have that Herrick in my toolbox. Over the years I have actually had about 15 people order the same moutpiece that I made for Bud, some thought that it would make them play high, one guy just wanted to have it to hold onto."
Ed Barr, who is currently teaching at Valdosta State University had Bud as a guest with his high school band in the early 1970's. "Bud had some atrocious intonation problems, he was a guy that really didn't sound great until he was above the staff. At least not on that day, but wow, when he was around double C it was really something."
Bud was also a big hit on the festival scene as a guest artist and clinician. He was featured at the 1973 National Trumpet Symposium in Denver, the National Association of Music Merchants in 73, the 1975 Wichita Jazz Festival, NAJE conventions and many others. In 1973 Bud was featured with the Inglewood High School concert and jazz bands playing a suite written for Bud by Lennie Neihaus title "Latin Holiday." Bud performed several numbers with the Jazz band and then returned to play "Stars and Stripes Forever," Bud played along with the piccolo parts on piccolo trumpet. Bud was also featured with the El Camino College Marching Band in a show comprised entirely of Niehaus arrangements written for Bud. Mike Miller arranged some popular television themes for Bud to play during a concert at UCLA in 1975. Lennie, who along with Mike Barone wrote most of the tunes that Bud was featured on over the years and is also responsible most of the duets in Bud's Trumpet Today duet book, as well as the classical solos in Bud's other book. Both of these books included 45 rpm records with Bud's playing on them. On the duet record, he is playing the duets with himself and stretches way into the upper register to triple G's and more. Bud's register building exercises are still used by many teachers.
(Shew) "Then Herb Alpert brought Carmine Caruso out here to LA to do a clinic at A and M records. Well, we all went down there for this clinic and shit, there was Bud. I couldn't believe it, I went to try to talk to him, but he just wasn't the same person. He didn't seem to be too jovial, he was sort of half interested in what was going on. The next morning, my wife and I were driving down Victory Boulevard in North Hollywood ready to get on the freeway and I looked there on the sidewalk and there's Bud Brisbois, I was like 'what?' I pulled over and tried to talk to him. I was like 'hey Bud what's happening?' he was like 'huh' and just stared at me like he wasn't interested at all. I said 'are you in town for a while?' he says 'yeah for a few days' or something, well people were beeping their horns at me because I was blocking the on ramp, so I said 'look man call me, where you staying?' give me a call before you leave town.' I never heard from him again, the next thing I heard was when a friend of mine in Arizona called me the morning after he killed himself.
"Anyway, that's what had been going on when he walked into the club one night.. I waved to him and didn't even get a smile on his face. He had this sort of zoned out look, so I just figured what the hell. He sat there and listened to the band for a while. He had helped me so much with the breathing thing, Bud Brisbois was really the guy who straightened out the wedge thing for me. All of sudden, my chops were getting up where his were, that was really the first time he'd heard me play in a while, playing the lead book and getting up to double C's and things, I thought maybe he was pissed off to hear me play all of that shit. That was the last time I saw him for a while, then I heard about the Peanut Butter thing. But what actually happened is that he had gone to some shrinks and had himself committed to an institution to try and get some help and get his head back together. He admitted himself to try and get past all of this manic depression shit. When he got out he went to work as a Porsche salesman in Beverly Hills for a while, then he went out to Scottsdale, Arizona where he had a sister and lived with her for a bit. He got his own place, and it's during this time that his grandfather had died or something like that and he inherited the Peanut Butter Company, but he really didn't get involved in that.
"Bud was out here at Bob Reeves getting some mouthpieces made and was back into playing the trumpet again, but that was it, to my knowledge he never made a public appearance again. (I found out he did make a few) Other people had seen him, but I'd never seen him and I never really did understand that, because we were the closest of friends. We used to confide in each other and play together all of the time. We did all of these MoTown sessions, most of the sessions were three guys, me, Bud and Oscar Brashear, and occasionally Bobby Bryant or Al Aarons, but that was it. Bud and I did a ton of things, we worked for Billy Strange, we did the Country and Western awards show every year, we did tons of rock and roll things and tons of screwball shit, Bud and I were sitting next to each other constantly for jingles and all kinds of shit. I mean man it was devastating when I got that call on Sunday morning, it was at about 8:30 in the morning. The story I got was that the day before was his sisters birthday, and her husband and Bud and the family had decided to take her out to a nice dinner at a place in Scottsdale. The went out and had dinner and a few drinks and so forth, came back to her house and they ended up in one of the rooms in the house, conversing and having a little bit of wine or something and Bud went into the living room or someplace where there was a sofa and laid down for a while and fell asleep. An hour or so later he woke up and walked into the kitchen where everyone was still sitting and they all said you know 'hi Bud' or whatever and Bud said 'look, I just came in to say good-bye.' They were like 'ok well your splitting, well thanks for going out with us, see ya Bud, bye.' He just said good-bye and went from there back to his house and picked up a revolver and went out into the desert and put the revolver up to the back of his neck and pulled the trigger. He knew how to do it, he separated his spinal cord, I mean he really knew how to do it, he had thought this out and found out how to do it right. I mead he had really thought it out and that's fucking weird, he'd obviously thought about his through his depression and so on, he'd been on some medication for years. It's really been a heart breaker for me for many years ever since that happened. I've never completely gotten over it, every time I get together with somebody and talk about it I get all choked up about the whole thing, it's just such a shame to lose somebody like that, such a great player and who knows why. It's the same thing with Frank Rosolino who also killed himself. I've always wanted to do some sort of tribute to Bud but I've just been too busy these last several years.
"When Bud was in Scottsdale, he finally started to get interested in music again. Grant Wolff who is the band director at Mesa Community College in Mesa, AZ. told me that one day during a rehearsal in walked this guy and who just sat there and watched the rehearsal for a while. At the end of the rehearsal he went up and introduced himself as Bud Brisbois, Grant was just stunned. Bud asked if it would be ok for him to come and sit in, Grant was like 'of course not.' Bud started coming over and started practicing and getting up in the section and helping all of the kids. Grant said it was just one of the most phenomenal things to watch Bud and all of the things he was doing for these kids, he was so warm and generous it was great."
Grant remembers that time well, "Bud just wandered into the hallway one day. I didn't know who he was to look at him. Well, I introduced myself to him and when he said 'Bud Brisbois,' I just about dropped my bottom lip. He said that he was in town for a while and was checking some things out and he had talked to some people and wanted to come over and see what the program was about and meet me. We talked for a long time and then he told me he was living here and was going to make Phoenix his home.
"At that time I had a rehearsal band that played every Monday night at various places around town. Bud started playing in that band. He really had a tremendous desire to learn improvisational skills because he'd always been a lead player. He really wanted to learn how to improvise. At that point I didn't know that he a really low self esteem and he never thought very much of his trumpet playing. He'd just put the horn to his mouth and play things and everybody would go 'Wow man,' and to him it was nothing. He just didn't conceive of himself as what he really was. He had been through a lot of problems with his personal relationships which was hard for me to understand, because for the short time that I knew him I really had a lot of feelings for him. He was a real good friend, he was somebody that would call me in the middle of the night and say 'I have to talk to you,' I wouldn't even hesitate. What we would talk about was his image of himself. He had said 'you know I haven't played much for awhile,' well he still played better then any trumpet player I've ever heard. Standing right next to Bud in a trumpet section you wouldn't really hear the way Bud projected his sound, even right in front of the band you wouldn't hear that projection as much as if you got in the back of the room, then the sound would just pin you against the wall.
"I put him to work with the trumpet students here at school and he picked up some other students in town. He did some clinics at different places in town and some of the high schools. I got him to judge a couple of festivals and he was really doing good. We went to the NAJE convention in Dallas that year. We hung out with saxophonist John Park who was on the Kenton Band at the same time that Bud was. Man it was wild to hear those two guys talk about all of their experiences on the Kenton Band. Bud knew everybody at the convention. He had asked me to introduce him to people, but I felt like he was introducing me to everybody. One of the reasons that he went was that I found out how good he was with kids and I wanted to make him get out and do this thing to make him really feel like he was a valuable human being because he really was. He did some performances with us and some guest spots where we would play a bunch of the charts that were written for him. He always had trumpet parts all over his townhouse. He'd have leadpipes and all kinds of stuff all over the place. He was always experimenting to try and find a trumpet that was more of a expiration of him.
"He was such a fun cat too. One night we were going up to NAU's Jazz Festival where I had got Bud to judge. We were on our way up and it was snowing up north, so we stopped to get some food and chains and there was a guy with us who owns a music store in Albuquerque. Well, we got to the snow and it was time to put the chains on the car and I said 'you know Bud, it's been a long time since I've had to put chains on a car, I don't know if I can do it,' he says 'oh, I know how to do it.' Well, he's done under the car and he says 'god I must have forgotten,' about an hour later between the two of us we finally got them on. We were going up the road and right in front of us there was this blazer sideways in the middle. We got out and there was this young lady driving it who was on her way to meet her husband who was coming in on the train. Bud say 'well I'll drive the station wagon and you drive her car.' So I'm driving her car and pretty soon I feel this heavy breathing over my shoulder, so I asked her if there was somebody else in the car with us, she said it was just her dog. I turned around and it was this big Doberman Pincher. Well we finally got to Flagstaff and I parked her car. I told the story to Bud and he couldn't believe it so he had to go check everything out.
"Anyway on the way back down to Phoenix, Gary Foster was with us, he had flown in to be the guest clinician. Bud said you know Joe Pass is over at the Scottsdale Center for the Arts. So we all went over there and we were sitting in the elevator backstage because they wouldn't let us off to see Joe. Well if I had a recording of all of the stories that those two guys were telling, it was unbelievable. We picked up Joe and hung out all night until Joe had to go to the airport the next morning. It was just little things like that. No matter what he wanted to go see what was going on. He was always turning kids on to new types of trumpets or new players. He was really active. He was really a fanatic about breathing and compressing the air, he would sit there right in the middle of rehearsal and show kids how to do it and cheer them on everything. There was never a negative word that ever came out of Bud's mouth about anybody or anybody's playing, he was always positive. To turn around and not see how he couldn't see those good things about himself. Even we he was down, to me he wasn't really dark, when he would call me in the middle of the night for coffee, we'd go and basically I would just listen to him talk, he would talk through things."
Bill Blackwell also met Bud in Arizona. Bill was a student at ASU playing lead in the lab band, "I was standing outside and having a smoke, and this guy walks up and saw my trumpet case. He asked some questions about the town and the music scene and said he played trumpet. I mentioned a Marvin Stamm clinic that was going on that day, the guy said he new Marv, so I asked the guy to come into the rehearsal and he followed me. Bob Washut who was the director of the band was in the way when we went in. When the guy introduced himself, Bob dropped the new chart he was holding in his hands and could barely shake hands. Bud hung out for a while and I asked for some lessons. Which really helped me out.?"
Bob Washut who was teaching at Arizona State University also became close friends with Bud, "when I met Bud (c. 1977) he had moved to Scottsdale to get away from the LA studio scene and whatever. He started to hang around the music program at ASU and got caught up with the vibe and the students, etc. His interest in more creative musical endeavors was emerging. He talked about developing his approach/ability to trumpet playing in a jazz language, i.e., playing interesting lines in the trumpet's upper register, not showbizzy, but musically. He, Grant Wolff, and I went to the 1978 IAJE convention together in Dallas and he heard the group Matrix, led by John Harmon. He was knocked out and befriended the guys in that band, planning a collaboration. It was shortly after that collaboration that he ended his life. No one knows why...at least to my knowledge.
"Bud was a very warm cat. He "swapped" me trumpet lessons for jazz/theory lessons. The piece I wrote, "Elegy for Bud, was a heartfelt tribute to the way he touched my life (and that of others) when I knew him."
Grant also remembers his infatuation with the group Matrix, "at that same time we heard the group Matrix and he just fell in love with that group. As a matter of fact they came through town and he went back to Wisconsin with them and played on a concert with Matrix at Lawrence University. I was supposed to go back with him the and I was planning on going and then something came up so he went by himself. It was when he came back from there, he called me to tell me that he was back. It must have been the next day that I got a call from his sister saying that he had committed suicide. I don't know what happened. They guys in Matrix loved him and everybody back there just thought he was fantastic but there was something still that was eating away at him that he didn't understand. After his death, his sister took one of his trumpets and a few other things and I took the rest of his stuff, his charts, books, tapes, and his Calicchio trumpet. Matrix later came back to do a tribute for Bud."
The group Matrix first met Bud in Arizona and became tight with him, some of the guys would stay at Bud's home in Scottsdale when they visited the Southwest. The guys would always go over and hang out as Bud would throw a party for them. Matrix leader and keyboardist John Harmon remembers that Bud had a real affinity for Budweiser beer, at one party someone accidentally called Bud 'Bob' from that moment on whenever someone wanted another drink they would ask for a Bob-weiser. John remembers playing golf with him and having a great time hanging out with Bud. When Bud went to Wisconsin he would stay with John and the band. One night over sandwiches and coffee Bud proposed that he would like to play with Matrix. John said, "ok, Matrix featuring Bud Brisbois on trumpet,' Bud said, 'no, I want to join your trumpet section.' In May of 1978, Bud did one Saturday night concert with Matrix in a joint event with Fred Sturm's Lawrence University jazz ensemble and the studio orchestra, which featured composer Mike Gibbs. Bud played a few things with the Jazz Band and then the last tune before the break was a tune that had a piccolo trumpet solo in it for Bud. Bud was absolutely great on it according to John and the crowd was so excited with their applauding that Bud came back up and played the end of it again. To do an encore before intermission is just something that was and is still unheard of. We had a big party after the concert that weekend and then put him on a plane on I think Monday or Tuesday and then like the next day, or the day after that, I got a call from his brother in law and he said, 'John, we have a problem.' Man I was absolutely crushed."
Fred Sturm, who is now the Jazz Studies Chair at the Eastman School of Music also had a brief but close relationship with Bud. He remembers that last concert at Lawrence University where he was teaching at the time. "The concert featured Bud, the group Matrix, composer Michael Gibbs, and the Lawrence University Studio Orchestra. Bud was featured on Bb, flugel, and piccolo on an arrangement that I did for him -- a Gino Vanelli tune called "Where Am I Going?" Find a recording of that tune by Vanelli -- the lyrics still haunt me when I think of how close to home they might have been hitting for Bud at that horrible point in his life.
"Bob Washut at the University of Northern Iowa had some impressions, too; his gorgeous original called "Elegy for Bud" will touch you very deeply.
"He had a profound influence upon my students and I in just the short weekend that he was with us. Bud was living in Scottsdale and had befriended my old bandmates in the group Matrix; when I was making plans to bring Matrix home to Wisconsin for a performance with the Lawrence University Studio Orchestra (we were re-creating Michael Gibbs spectacular "Smile of the Beyond" that he recorded with John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra), Matrix leader John Harmon suggested that I include Bud in my plans. Days after I informed John that I had no budget to afford an artist of Bud's caliber, Bud called me to ask if he could pay his own way to Wisconsin and perform free of charge! I couldn't believe it.
"I'll never forget the performance. Mike Gibbs was wonderful, Matrix sounded spectacular, and the Studio Orchestra was so together. But Bud brought the house down. I had scored his feature to begin on flugelhorn -- few people knew how lyrical and rich his sound was on that instrument -- and then went to a piccolo trumpet section over the strings (descant piccolo ala Bach) and closed with Bud soaring above all on his Bb. I was conducting only a few feet away from him, and I had chills from head to toe. The audience wouldn't let him go. So we took the Bb section again as an encore.
"The next day, we had a huge party in Winneconne, Wisconsin at John Harmon's place. Bud was animated, friendly, cheerful. He was taking photographs constantly -- someone told me later that when they developed the film from his camera, it was filled with shots of children, flowers, trees.
"On Monday or Tuesday, I received a call from Sandy Sandburg (Sandy was the head of either Getzen or Holton at the time), inquiring about Bud's whereabouts. Sandy had heard the horrible rumor that Bud had died. I called Bud's home, tried Grant in Mesa, called the Musicians Union in Phoenix. Then we called the police department in Scottsdale, I believe, and they confirmed that Bud was gone.
"Weeks later, my wife and I were in the hospital awaiting the birth of our first child. We were awake most of the night and watched a program on Rosemary Clooney and manic depression. Only then did I realize how much more we might have recognized had we just known more about that illness.
"All of us that were there with him in those final days felt those same sad feelings that we might have been able to help, somehow, someway."
Everyone Bud touched felt friendship and respect for him as a great individual and trumpet player. It seems as though Bud was just really unable to cope with his inner demons and that's what led to his downfall.
In June of 1978, the world lost a great musician, a fantastic trumpeter and a well thought of human being as Bud committed suicide in Scottsdale, Arizona. In addition to this article, I am working on a CD, which will be a tribute to Bud, and his trumpet playing, including performances spanning his career in music.
Bud was very involved in the study of the trumpet and methods to improve ones playing. He really tried to stress proper breathing and the proper setting of the diaphragm tension before playing. This is better explained in the transcribed clinic I have included. A short explanation of Bud's beliefs include his stress of overall physical fitness. He stressed that to play the trumpet, one must be an athlete of sorts. Running, walking and swimming are very good to improve the capabilities of your lungs. He stressed that the diaphragm should be set for each range that you are playing in. High notes come about with a combination of high air velocity coming from the diaphragm and passing through a very small, yet relaxed aperture, proportionate to the range you are playing in.
Of course each player must be using equipment that they are comfortable with and a set up that allows the air to continue through the horn at a high speed. The internal pressure of the body can be compared to that of a aerosol spray can. Bud never believed that pedal tones were good for anyone interested in developing a good high register. Bud would try to practice for 1 1/2 hours a day including his warm-ups. Bud swore by the Royal Canadian Air Force fitness guide book. He continually stressed the exercises included with this text.
Bud's equipment preference changed many times throughout the years, he went through Bach, Getzen, LeBlanc and Holton horns, in his collection he also had a Callichio trumpet. The Holton model was the ST 200 with a ML bore (.465), it had a thinner-gauge, one-piece, hand-pegged bell. Bud settled on a Bob Reeves mouthpiece. He described his mouthpiece in the following way, "one with a fairly flat rim, medium width with a rounded bite, so as not to cut the lip tissue. A very small cup diameter, close to a Bach 10 1/2 C. The cup has a fairly conical shape, which prevents the air resistance from becoming too excessive. The backbore should have a fairly even taper that perfectly meets the receiver in the leadpipe of the horn."
"What I would like to do is explain the breathing technique that I use and believe in and then explain the building of this and explain some of the other problems that most young trumpet players seem to have when building an upper register.
"First of all, the main and most important thing and not stressed enough upon by teachers is the importance of breathing, learning how to breath, knowing how to set the air and giving yourself a strong foundation for building or getting a good strong sound. I am a firm believer, I'll preface all of this by saying that there isn't any good trumpet player who doesn't start from the bottom up instead of the top down on his instrument. Any brass player that feels he can start high and then build a good low register, I find wrong, I tried it myself and it didn't work. It only worked so far, then I really had to build a good foundation. I believe that you have to learn your breathing, your instrument from the bottom up instead of from the top down.
"I was just talking to Roy Cummings (long time trumpet professor at the University of Washington) last night and he said something that I guess I have said ever since I have been doing clinics and that is that in order to have good consistent playing in all registers of the horn, you build a foundation just like you would build a building. I have used the same analogy that Roy brought up last night, you never start building a building with the 13th floor and then build the 12th and 11th. You build a good firm foundation, strong foundation and build up and learn your horn from the bottom up. The scales, the techniques and everything else and you build your range gradually, knowing that every step of the way what you do, how to do it and build the proper muscles. I also will draw parallels to an athlete, a good strong miler in track, doesn't go out the first day of spring training and try to run the fastest mile, he builds up slowly and tries to develop the muscles instead of trying to break the record the first day, he gradually builds and builds and builds the particular muscles that he uses in his body and we do the same thing as trumpet players. So, your not going to wake up one day and all of a sudden have the trumpet licked and know how to play high. You build low and build the proper muscles and build the proper range that you can build as an individual with the strength and the tools that the good lord gave you to build. Some of us can play higher than others, but we can all build a good consistent range, not everybody can play a double C, but they can play higher with more consistency, more accuracy, more penetration if they build properly as opposed to the player that just builds wrong. Now, I will try to show you, I wore this shirt today, my skinny shirt, because it will show you what happens in the middle part of me, if I had a sport coat on I don't think you could see. Because I have developed this breathing technique that I will go through to a point where it doesn't even seem hard, sometimes I'll be playing a high note and it doesn't even seem like I'm even doing what I'm saying I'm doing, but I do, do what I'm about to tell you.
"Now first of all, taking a good breath, not what we call a Superman type breath or a He-man type breath, but a good strong fill this area of your body type breath, not to the point where your straining everything, but a good one. Taking it in through the mouth and filling this cavity in here. Now there are different books out calling it by technical terms, but I call it the diaphragm, which is not supposedly the correct term, but I call it the diaphragm, not a breath like Superman, this type thing up here (high chest), because that does nothing, you can't support, you can't build, you can't put any concentration on the air if you just take it up here. You fill this area in here and you fill it ALL. You don't fill just half of it but you fill it all, but you don't take the type of breath where your really straining. But a good one, and through developing you develop this area in through here. So we take our air and put it here. With this type of a breath, then we put support or what I call compression on the air, we put pressure on the air once we get it down here. Now, the pressure that I put on whether it be in the low register or the high register, we take a breath we put pressure on the air and then we attack the note. But we have set up everything here first before we attack the note. So we take our breath, (plays strong middle C), I put a certain amount of compression for the middle C. As I go lower, maybe a little less compression, as I go higher I use more compression on this area. If I hit a high C I will have air compression and I will explain that in just a minute. (plays strong high C). Now that is a high C and you don't see all kinds of strain or anything, but there is more compression or more strain or more concentration on the air down here, to hit that note. Now to get this sensation for what I call the compression on the air, it's a gripping of the air from all sides, it isn't pushing out, pulling in, it's a sensation, a feeling of taking the air and setting it with everything we have around here. Now it sounds like I'm squeezing and I'll tell you about that later too. It's not a constricting of anything in here, but it's a feeling of putting pressure on the air down here, pushing it from all sides, from the bottom up, from the top down, from the front in, from the back, so it's all concentrated, so your putting pressure on it from all sides. So the higher you go, the more of this pressure you put on the air. The only way that I can explain this sensation is that if someone were to come up to you and you were just standing there relaxed and all of a sudden they double up and are going to let you have one, right in the stomach your going to go (breathes in and tightens) place tension, but it isn't a tension of pushing out and pulling in, it's a tension that happens everywhere around the air to prepare for that blow, so your feeling the sensation of gripping all around here and that is the sensation you get when you grip this air. Now the higher you play, the more of this gripping of this air that you get or that you put on the air so that the air has more compression, if you have a can of compressed liquid of whatever you have and you feel this ssssss if there's more pressure, pounds per square inch, that ssssss is going to have more intensity. That is the same intensity that you are going to have as you go higher, you put more of this compression on the air. You grip the air with the muscles that you have. Now it takes time to develop these muscles, it doesn't happen as I say overnight. But this is the compression of the air. You take the proper air and you put the compression on it. As you're in the low register, you still put compression on it but as you go higher, you put more of this compression. So we start in the middle register ...(plays strong middle G, G, a little more compression and a B, B, a little more compression and a D, D, a little more and a G, double G) now that's a high G, now most of you, to hit that high G if you were ever going to hit one, which is a good 5th above a high C which is probably a high note for most of you, you'd be pulling in with this arm, about as hard as you possibly could, tensing up here, not taking in any air, not supporting from here, and we get (plays a squeezed high C) or something like that. The mouth squeezed and nothing happened, but if we take a good breath, support it and put compression on it, the proper compression for that note. (strong high C) we have a note that projects, we have it all from down here, and good solid corners and we project the note, we can do just about anything we want to on it, we can put vibrato on it, we can fill it up, we can play it soft, we can play it loud, (plays high C, C with vibrato, G, double G and tongues 8th notes) it's all from down here, everything we do is from down here, the compression. As we go lower we relax the compression, but we don't relax, we still have tension, we just decrease the tension as they say, not relax it. As we go higher we put more of this compression or tension on the air. Like gripping it.
"Now as we are developing this breathing and tension or muscles in through here, because this little thing (mouthpiece) isn't going to do much for us. Oh, by the way by developing and utilizing this compression and building the muscles here, we put our pressure here(stomach) as opposed to here(chops), so we are utilizing less pressure here(chops). I am a firm believer in using a certain amount of pressure, because your not going to get the sound you want if you don't use some. But we don't use a lot of pressure, our pressure is down here(stomach), this a pressure tank. I don't care how strong you are, this dog gone thing(chops) just isn't going to take it, so we put a pressure here(stomach) (plays high C) it's all coming from here(stomach). Just a certain amount of pressure, just in order to maintain the mouthpiece there and not kill ourselves. (plays D, high D, double G) I'm not killing anything but down here(stomach) and not busting anything up here(chops). Now if we have good support, and we have good compression down here(stomach), we don't need it from here(chops). We leave this(chops) with the least amount of pressure that we can get by with so it vibrates very easy and all of our pressure is here(stomach). Now watch me put pressure for the double G, before I hit the note (plays double G), (again), it's all from down here(stomach). By developing all of this area down here(stomach), we alleviate the pressure and also can breathe totally relaxed in here(throat and neck, upper body). So the note sings out, we don't squeeze, we don't have tension. The only tension we have is here(stomach) and we build these corners, right here so that we with compression in the corners here we alleviate everything here(chops) and we are just free to function like it's supposed to.
"Now we build these(chops) as well as these(stomach) muscles through lip flexibility exercises, right back into your Arban's or whatever you want through flexibility exercises and breathing and with the compression. That gives us nothing but flexibility, a sound that will sizzle all over a band of any kind and it gives us endurance and everything else. I'll try to play a two octave arpeggio ( plays G, B, D, High G, B, D, double G, and down) I'm setting, taking a breath, hitting a G in the staff, hitting it, putting more compression on it, tightening up here as I go higher, as I get to the top, this is good and tense, this as all of the compression as I come down. It takes a lot of time to develop this it just doesn't happen fast. The only thing I think of consciously is thinking of playing everything as open throated as I can , and not thinking of EEE. Every time I thought EEE, I felt pinched. So even as high as I'm trying to play I think Ahhh, so I'm open, Always. EEE just seems to pinch the sound. I'm thinking of the concentration here and here. I try to think of everything as open and as relaxed as I can. You have so much support that you can do whatever you want. (plays G to double G arpeggio). As I get up to the high G, the tension increased here, the compression increased here. With me it isn't as visual as with most players, because I just put it in one spot. And I've got it in one spot so much that I don't crunch down to hit a double G. It looks fairly evenly relaxed when I hit a G, but I'm working like a son-of-a-gun in here when I am playing a G, and there is total concentration on the air. (plays arpeggio again, then up a step) I went up to a high double A, still with the same intensity and feeling, just a little bit harder here and here then for the G. Maybe just a little more intensity, but the throat was open with an Ahh sound. That's the only way I could play the A and put vibrato on it. If I was thinking EEE, it would have the tendency to go sharp on me as I squeeze. As I said I am speaking about what works with me and all of the players I work with. They don't think vowel sounds, they just think open and relaxed and a big round sound with an edge. And it's all developed here and here.
"I am a firm believer in physical exercise. There are a lot of players that don't believe, but they are a lot bigger then I am, maybe even 50 pounds bigger. For me I do work out, sit ups, push ups, running in place, it's a very grueling ten minute workout that I've done for the last ten years. It's very exhausting and it gives me the strength that I need, because I'm just not a very big guy. I'm bigger then say Doc Severinsen , he has a yoga technique, where as mine is calisthenic that I do four or five times a week, it's very exhausting and it's taken again a long time to develop. It keeps strength in here that's incredible then I augment that with one other pushup exercise. I go between two chairs and let all my weight go down and touch with my legs bent, let my knees touch the floor and then go all the way back up. I've worked that up to 35 or 40 of those. And that keeps everything extremely strong in the back and everywhere else. Even though your using it here, you need to keep everything else strong and use every muscle in your body to increase the intensity. The exercise helps me to increase my endurance. Like tonight I will play some extremely long phrases and I will be playing in the upper register, and stay there, and when I come off, I can go right back up again, it won't be that I go up and get stuck, I can go anywhere if I'm strong.
"I have had tests done on me to measure my pressure, I don't use as much as players who can't play as I high as I can. I've had tubes in my mouth as I play double C's and G's above, I just don't muster up as much compression, it's just my air. My concentrations in such a compact area and I know exactly what to do with that air and I've done it for so long that I only use what is needed, so I don't over strain anything. We had a 2 hr. rehearsal for the show tonight and I was playing as strong and higher at then end then when we started. For most guys their level goes down, but for me I play stronger, louder, higher as I get going. Sure I start to get fatigued, but I snap back because I'm in shape. For me the physical exercise is very important.
"If I were to think of all of these little tiny things that go on or supposedly take place, I'd drive myself crazy. I don't think of things in terms of degrees, it's a feeling, a sensation, it's building. Now if your going to do lip slurs, which are the best builder for here in the world along with building this part, your going to get a sensation. It's a basic idea and basic feeling. (plays shake, and flexibility exercise) As we go higher I pull a little bit more, focusing on the muscles. It's a matter of building the tension and your muscles.
"I can't stress the lack of importance of this little thing here (mouthpiece) everybody gets caught up with it. It doesn't matter as long as you have the proper breathing and compression. It's a mental block that people get into. If your building everything else correctly, it will take care of this (chops). I don't care if you've been sleeping all night and get up first thing and play a high C, it's not practical, but you can if you have everything else functioning.
"I do pivot a little, but I don't stress it. I don't really think about it. It works for me but I don't know about everybody else. It all boils down to what works for any particular player. I avoid movements of the horn as much as possible.
"I can't stress enough to work on lip flexibility. Play a scale from middle C to low C, then middle C to high C, slurring it all, repeat it several times, then change keys, or just expand the scale both up and down. Concentrate on your breathing and the compression of air. It's what works for you, the pivot included (plays G arpeggio 1 octave, then down to low G to demonstrate slight horn tilt) It becomes a natural feeling with the slight pivot and not something awkward. I think of opening up in the low register, just singing the note out to get a full sound, support your low register just like the upper register. We put more concentration on the air when we go higher, but we still focus the airstream as we go lower.
"I can't stress enough, quit getting hung up on unimportant things, just worry about what counts. Build the things that we all have to have, then you can worry about the small things.
"The best breathing exercise I have ever known, and this works within a week. Stand in front of a mirror, without a shirt on. This takes one week, ten minutes a day. Put your hands high on your sides and take a breath and try to push your hands out as far as you can. Then count slowly as you release your air (1, 2, 3, ...) as soon as you completely out of air, take another huge breath. Make sure you are watching yourself in the mirror. The first day you may be able to get up to 15 or 16, by the end of the week, your up to 25, 30, 35, 40, some up to 50 and 60. This is the normal way to breath and take in air, and so few of us really know how to do it. I didn't know how to do it until I went to see this Dr. to help my singing. That is the proper breath to take. Now as I said before, we don't take in that huge of a breath to play trumpet. We don't take in as much air as we possibly can, take the air in to fill what we just developed. Repeat this for ten minutes a day.
"The sensation when we are playing trumpet, that is the area that you fill. That has put the air in the proper space, so at least we know how to breath properly. Now the compression on the air, that is the thing the sensation that I told you was coming up. Bang, we put tension all around the air. We are taking the breath in properly, we know how to put the tension on it, if you want to build strength in this area, you can get all of the information in a cheap book, called the Royal Canadian Air Force exercises. That is the 10 min. exercise I just showed you. I do it the first thing in the morning, so I don't procrastinate all day long and then give up.
"I probably use more air in the lower register then up high, it's just the intensity of the air that is important. It's the pressure behind the air that is important. I really don't use a lot of air now that I think about it. It's just what's behind the air, the compression. (plays high C). Driving it forward, keeping the compression, keeping it open and having it really sing out the best I can. With everything working together. When I got louder, I pushed a little bit more air through the horn.
"My equipment fits me only, it doesn't fit anybody else. Play what works for you, don't worry about what other people play. This set up fits me.
"Hey how you doing, here's another good trumpet player that just walked in the door. If you get a chance, go out and hear him. He was beautiful last night. Freddie Hubbard.?
"The warm up that I use, is always in the low register with long tones and low lip flexibility exercises. Making sure we warm up all of our muscles. The only way to play up high is to be completely limber. Start in the low register, then mid, mid-high, then above. Playing legit exercises and resting in between. If you rest, you give the blood a chance to circulate again, instead of breaking down the muscles and never giving them a chance to rest. I tend to use the St. Jacomes book when I'm at home. I just make sure that I rest in between each section of my warm-up and practicing. I never do pedal tones, the only time I did they just about destroyed the rest of my playing. So they don't work for me, but you might be different.
"A question from Freddie Hubbard about switching mouthpieces on flugel and trumpet and adjusting the bore size, he was 'getting sick of it.' I don't recommend it Freddie, I don't know too many guys that do it. Different mouthpiece makers are coming out with different backbores where you can screw the same rim on. But that might work, but I find that when I switch from flugelhorn to trumpet I used to have a heck of a time going from flugel to trumpet or from Bb to piccolo, because the feeling here (chops) was murder. The feeling was just not right, I just wasn't getting the same resistance from it. So what I did, was I had Bob Reeves who makes mine do some adjusting to my mouthpieces and it all started working much better.
"I have to go out and get some dinner before the concert tonight, so if there aren't any more questions, I guess that's all.....