I hope all of you are having (or have had) a relaxing holiday season, and let’s hope for opportunity amongst the challenges of the new year. I am taking a much needed break right now, resting up and preparing for 2009. I think it’s going to be an interesting time for all of us, with the promise of real change having arrived at last.
The greatest, the most significant giant left on trumpet has left the building. Freddie Hubbard passed away on the morning of December 29th, 2008, having enriched the world of music immeasurably and influenced the world of jazz and trumpet profoundly in his 70 and 2/3rd years on earth. He was and is my greatest hero. Since the first time I heard “Red Clay” at 14 years of age, Hub has personified the music to me, and I consider it an honor to have known him, as a fan and as a (very junior) colleague. The times we played together with Art Blakey on special concerts were life-changing experiences for me; Hub had so much music emanating from him that some of that magic could almost stick to you if you were really aware and sensitive to it. I’ll be continuing to learn from him as long as I’m around.
My article on trumpet warmup routines “A Lifetime of Chops: Warm Up Tips for Maintaining Trumpet Embouchure Longevity” was published in the January 2009 issue of Downbeat.
Two recording projects that I was involved in over the last year have been nominated for the latest Grammy Awards; Lila Downs’ “Shake Away”, which I co-produced, arranged and played on, and long time colleague Conrad Herwig’s “Latin Side Of Wayne Shorter”, which I was a featured soloist on. Good luck to the artists!
I had a great time performing with Eddie Palmieri’s “La Perfecta II” for the holiday week between Christmas and New Years at the beautiful new Yoshi’s San Francisco in the rejuvenated Fillmore District. “La Perfecta” is still the greatest dance band of all time!
Early in December, I was out in Denver for what’s becoming an annual get together with some great Denver musicians at that city’s premiere jazz club, Dazzle. This is my third season having the wonderful Jeff Jenkins (piano) and Bijoux Barbosa (bass) as part of my group there, and this year I had the rare pleasure of working with the truly great Paul Romaine on drums as well. We also performed a concert (and I conducted a clinic with the support of my instrument company Yamaha) at the University of Colorado – Boulder, hooked up by my ex-student Ben Markley, who’s a doctoral candidate there. Things were swinging!
Hang in there everybody, as we enter a new era (hopefully a better one)! Yes we can….