How is it the middle of July already???
It's been quite a while since I've done regular blog entries... I would really like to make more time for that again... and I have been doing regular News Updates on the website as well. If you haven't been keeping up with the buzz at Harrelson Trumpets... the last year plus has been quite a ride. We've opened a new Showroom here in Denver. We were lucky enough to snag a space just a couple of doors down from the trumpet shop. Jason and I have been focused (when not designing and building horns) on moving the contents of the office in Minneapolis here to Denver. A journey that has taken over a year. We're consolidating... and organizing. This seems to be a never ending process. Just yesterday we pulled about 6 more boxes out of the trailer that are now slowly being assimilated into the office. (I finally found the box with the laminating sheets in it... after buying two other rounds of laminating sheets)
Yesterday we spent at the Rafael Mendez Brass Institute. Jason gave a short clinic on the Physics of Brass Playing. Today Joe is there taking care of the booth. It was a chance to finally show off our new mouthpiece and trim displays. We're utilizing the new Laser Cutter and having a lot of fun with how quickly (relatively) we can produce high quality results and prototype in minutes.
On the off chance you haven't heard about it yet... we're hosting a full weekend of open houses, shop tours and in house clinics NEXT WEEKEND! To find out more information and to register for your spot click here: http://www.whyharrelson.com/clinics--tours.html
Looking forward... I will soon be heading back to New Orleans to attend the Satchmo Summerfest. We are sponsoring the festival again this year. We're taking a year off from making a custom Satchmo Trumpet and instead sponsoring Kermit Ruffin's set for the festival. We're changing the way we donate and advertise the custom Satchmo Trumpet and we'll have more information on that in the coming months. In the mean time... look forward to an action packed weekend of photos and updates from me during the festival. I do my best to meet with as many of our clients as possible... and not only attend the festival, but their evening gigs as well.
If you're in New Orleans and would like to meet up with me... please send me an email to email@example.com ... or just call us at the shop 303-657-2747
I will be tracking down some of our old friend and clients in town including Kermit Ruffins, Leory Jones and Shamarr Allen... just to name a few! Really looking forward to making new friends and reconnecting with a few of the older ones.
And! Last but not least... our surprise visitors today.
I learned a new term recently... MOUTHPIECE SAFARI... it made me laugh.
Some of our clients were using it to descibe that ever elusive and thrilling hunt... for the ultimate prize... mouthpiece! What makes it even more interesting to me... is that we've been on our own Mouthpiece Safari of sorts here at Harrelson Trumpets for a few years now. Only we've been hunting in a different fashion.
We have been working to reverse engineer the most versatile and adaptable mouthpiece available in the world! We hope that instead of hunting for a mouthpiece anymore... you can simply design the perfect mouthpiece for you. A Mouthpiece that allows you to easily and quickly change the way it plays... all on your own. A mouthpiece that gives you the freedom to switch from jazz to lead and back again in a matter of seconds. A mouthpiece that can easily combine the characteristics of two or more of your favorite set-ups to make the perfect combination. It's been a long and technical process... but we're finally there. If you play on a mouthpiece that we don't have measurements for already... we can scan it for you and offer you a 5MM in your size or your size with variations. Jason has been working to not only create this whole system... he has done a pretty awesome job of writing it all out to explain all the different pieces of the system. There is a wealth of information here: http://www.whyharrelson.com/5mm-mouthpieces.html
I realize... first hand... that all of these sizes and numbers and combinations can be not only overwhelming... but can be confusing and intimidating. I have good news! You don't have to know ANY OF IT! All you have to know is what you play on now and what you'd like to accomplish with your 5MM Mouthpiece set up. Joe and Christine and Jason (when he has the time) are all happy to help you choose your mouthpiece options and are quite good at selecting the pieces based simply on your descriptions... and you wouldn't need to choose any sizes on your own... unless you want to. The thing is... once you get your original set up... you will have the numbered parts in hand and you could then easily select other sizes in either direction. Anyway... I think that it can be kind of confusing for people that don't have a mouthpiece already. There's no reason to be intimidated by the process or the numbers... because we can do all of that work for you. 651-330-7774
You can use this link: http://www.harrelsontrumpets.com/product_p/5mm.htm to order a mouthpiece and you don't need to pick any specific numbers... you can just call us after you place your order and we'll get you what you need.
This will get you a simple kit ... which includes one full 5MM Mouthpiece set up in any size you like. You can email us your size requirements or you can just give us a call and we'll figure it out for you. You can order just those pieces... or if you like you can order extra throats or cups etc. Please don't hesitate to call or email with any questions. We've been on this hunt for a few years.
You may have watched one of the live events or videos Jason has posted in the last week or so... but I wanted to also mention we're having a promotion right now. There are a lot of really neat prizes and give aways. Including mouthpieces... trim and gift cards. This is the graphic for that... but you can also learn more by going to our webstore... watching one of the videos online or just by giving us a call in the office. We're always happy to talk to you about that or anything else. This promotion goes through December 28th.
For the past few months big changes have been happening at Harrelson Trumpets and for me personally. We've temporarily closed the New Brighton office because we are focusing our attention on creating a show room and retail location here in Denver. The goal is to make Harrelson Trumpets a destination for clients and trumpet enthusiasts around the world. Denver is an excellent central location in the USA... with plenty of recreation and natural beauty to offer year round. So, planning a trip here to try out horns can easily tie into your ski trip or your backpacking adventure. We've had a huge increase in visitors to the shop in the past few months and I think this is a major factor. This last year I have been splitting my time between Minneapolis and Denver.... while in Minneapolis I have been maintaining the offices there and as of late working to wrap things up. My time in Denver has been focused on helping to streamline production and get the new showroom and retail space up and running. We are hosting a GRAND OPENING here on October 16th. We encourage everyone to come to this fun event. We will have more details coming soon... but you can expect shop tours... demonstrations... and lots of fellow trumpet enthusiasts. We currently have the largest stock of Harrelson Trumpets on hand in company history... and we're excited that visitors now have the opportunity to try a wide variety of our instruments just by walking in the door. At this time we are taking visitors by appointment only... but after the Grand Opening... we will have regular hours posted for our retail space.
From now until our Grand Opening... we are offering a FREE (6 piece) 5MM Mouthpiece Kit and a free ProTec Case on ANY of the Harrelson Trumpets we have in stock here: http://www.harrelsontrumpets.com/category_s/24.htm
We of course, would encourage you to come to the Grand Opening to pick up your trumpet in person... but if you'd prefer we're also offering FREE SHIPPING on all of these as well. We ship EXPRESS so it's next day.
In other news... the 5MM is in full production and we're constantly filling orders. This system is becoming more all encompassing everyday... and we're having a lot of fun working with clients to tweak their set up one piece at a time.
I have really been enjoying this opportunity to learn a new city while helping to usher our company to a new level. Jason and I have known many moments of success... each time we reach a new plateau we look around and think... wow... can you believe we've made it this far... look at the view. I am really enjoying this one. We are very excited about the new Showroom and Retail Space. We look forward to hosting visitors from all over the world and making new friends in music. We look forward to the future... because we feel there is so much more to do. Thank you to all of our clients and friends for your support and excitement... we love what we do.
I guess it's been quite a while since I wrote my last blog post. Jason reminded me of it last week and like always I said something like... "just as soon as I finish everything else"... which never happens. So, sometimes you just have to press pause.
We've been so fortunate to be incredibly busy this year. Every time we hit a new level, Jason and I take a moment to reflect on where we've been. The road has NEVER been easy... but it sure has been fun and interesting. I wouldn't trade this epic rollercoaster ride for anything. It really is true that entrepreneurs work ridiculous hours and have the craziest experiences... but when you're doing something you love it really doesn't matter... in fact it's a blast.
I was just reminded of this again. I spent the weekend up along the North Shore with a few friends. For my birthday this year I asked a group of them to come with me to the North House Folk School... where we crafted our own traditional snowshoes. The instructor has been a woodworker all of his life and the classes he teaches are all over the board... including boat building! It was obvious he takes great pride and care in what he does.
As we went around the room talking about what we did and why we were there... I was proud of what I had to say. Never have I told someone what I do and had them look at me and say... oh, that' sounds nice. Usually I am met with a wide eyed ...WOW!!! And dozens of follow up questions. That never gets old. Anyway... spending 3 intense days bending wood frames, chiseling out joints, planing, sawing, riveting and lacing... oh my the lacing... that takes forever. I thought a lot about what it means to build something of quality... with your own hands. Once you do this... you will never take it for granted.
I am Jason's number one fan. I have been for so many years. Back when he was just honing his craft and learning to love it. There was a lot of hard work and hard times that served as lessons. Jason loves the trumpet. He loves building them. He loves how they work. He loves playing them. He likes thinking about how to make them better. It is all he talks about. I talk to him several times each day. Many times for over an hour or more discussing the business and our plans... but mostly... about what he's excited about... what the next step is... and how he can't wait to get to that next level. There is always a next level in his mind. I think many times he is frustrated that he can't skip the next 5 levels and go all the way to the edge of what he wants. I have never met a man so excited about what he does... or so meticulous about the process. He takes great pride in each and every part of the instruments he builds. I have watched him do this for years. I could cry just thinking about it. I wish that everyone knew him the way I do... and could know how many mornings he is in the shop at 5am... and how many nights and weekends he is there until 11. How many machines have broken. How many fires were started. How many years he worked in an unheated garage. How many times we have both just almost been in tears over the next challenge that seemed to come at the worst time. And how many times we've literally screamed with excitement about the rewards. Harrelson Trumpets really is a family run American arts and crafts business that is run by people that love the instrument, love music and love their work. I feel like I went off on a huge tangent... when I started this entry I really didn't know what I was going to write... but I guess my weekend in the North just renewed my pride well made things. At a time when you can get almost anything in less than 24 hours... it's nice that there are some things still worth waiting for.
If there is just one word I would use to describe Harrelson Trumpets client, and friend, Joshua Trinidad, it would be style. Like many people with real flair Joshua has a style that is all his own. He seems to be constantly evolving and experimenting with his art... always refining and exploring what it is to be himself. What more fitting stage for Wheelchair Sports Camp... than that of Westword's Artopia... minutes after the models left the stage after the fashion show. Every time I check in on Joshua... he's got something new up his sleeve... and I loved seeing him with WSC. This group has something I can't put my finger on... a style that is truly all their own. I caught up with Joshua after the show to find out a little bit more.
How long have you been a part of Wheelchair Sports Camp?
I have been part of Wheelchair Sports Camp for roughly four years.
How did you get involved?
I saw Kalyn Heffernan (Leader and MC of WCSC) perform at The Westword Music Showcase in 2011 (Denver's music festival). I wrote her an email asking if could sit in sometime and the sitting in turned into me joining the band!
What is the message behind the music?
For me, the message behind the music is about conveying to the world what can not be read in newspapers, books or learned. Wheelchair Sports Camp is a band that tells the story of the people. The oppressed people. We as musicians use our music to fight the "power". We are a band of underdogs, for underdogs, and about underdogs. But there are times when we get less serious and just have fun!
Are you recorded?
Yes- I am on two EP's with the band...
And now on the newest album that will be be coming out soon (no set date yet).
I see Wheelchair Sports Camp is going to SXSW... is this the first time?
No. WSC has been to SXSW a few times and has always done very well in connecting and performing at the events. This year we are performing on the official showcase stage and we will also be playing a few Colorado parties as well!
It looks like there is a tour leading up to Austin... has WSC toured before?
Yes- a pretty good sized tour. We will be opening for B. Dolan and Rubedo. We have been on a few tours. A couple of years ago we did the whole US with The Flobots. We also travel to England and Toronto often
There are some major cities on this list... you must be getting national attention.
Yes, WCSC is picking up a lot momentum. It has been like this over the past few years. We are happy that all of this hard work is starting to pay off.
What else is in store for you this year? Other projects in the works?
I am looking at re-starting my band Go Star (prog rock trio). I am also planning to do some playing in Norway in the Fall this year along with a new series of music videos coming during the fall session. So many projects - very little time.
For a full list of tour dates... more information about Wheelchair Sports Camp... or to buy your very own CD... http://wheelchairsportscamp.bandzoogle.com/
It seems like it's been quite a while since I took a break to write a blog. Things have been very busy here in the office this fall. Last year Jason and I really crammed a lot of travel and events in... I believe we had a festival, conference or lecture (sometimes two or more) every month from November to May... whew... it was a lot of fun... despite the food poisoning (yes that's how we spent the National Trumpet Competition)... we sorta took a brief step back this summer to regroup and recoup... but I am not in the process of planning our travels for the coming year.
So, here is where you come in! I am trying to line up lectures and events for Jason for the rest of 2015. So far I have events planned out for January-March and a few over the summer... but I'd like to open up the floor to you. Do you have a group of 5-10 or more trumpet players that you think would be interested in having Jason come out and do a FREE lecture on SWE Technology, The Physics of Trumpet Building, the new 5MM Modular Mouthpieces and Trumpet Technology? We like meeting with our clients or anyone that's interested in geeking out over trumpet and the science and technology behind what we do.
We also like doing music events and guest performances... so if you've got some ideas... please send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I would love to talk to you!
Also, if you're in Florida or Alabama we might be able to meet up with you in February... and we'll see you in Detroit in March!
Here's a little sample of the type of lectures/master classes Jason has done in the past.
Meet Pocket Watch! A groovy group of 8 ladies who throw down some of the most righteous funk beats I have ever heard. The band consists of:
Haylee Donnelson - Vocals
Jessica Anderson - Drums
Emily Olson - Electric Bass
Tamara Medaric - Keys
Emma Pederson - Electric Guitar
Toni Lindgren - Electric Guitar
Lucia Sarmiento Roccatagliata - Tenor Sax
Christine Palmer - Trumpet
I've been hearing a lot about these ladies lately... as this is Christine's latest musical project and we share the same office. The mystery has been building for a few months and finally I had the chance to see them play ~ last night. Pocket Watch filled the corner stage at the upstairs bar of Moto-I in Uptown. They have talent in spades and, well, they have fun! It's contagious. By the end of the night there were people dancing in every space not covered with a couch or a table. Tonight, they'll be playing a bigger venue with full instrumentation. Come dance with these ladies tonight at The Nomad... they'll be on around 10:30. I'll see you there!
Thursday, September 18th
Pocket Watch @ Nomad World Pub
501 Cedar Ave , Minneapolis
I asked Christine to give me the inside scoop:
How long have you been playing together?
Pocket Watch is brand spankin new. I think Jess started to ferment the idea for the band around May of this year, and began to get a group of women together to raise some roofs in the Twin Cities. The group was pretty much set by July, we found we had a solid groove, and we hit the ground running. Many of the band members are current students at McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul, rounded out by some raw talent from the Twin Cities music scene.
What's the story behind the band name?
Although I wasn't there from the very start, I know a lot of names were thrown around. Naming a band can be an arduous process, but Pocket Watch just stuck. It's catchy, endearing, and we do have a great pocket as a band. :)
You've already been on TV?
Our first gig was a live spot on WCCO (CBS Minnesota)! We were advertising an outdoor women-in-music festival in St. Louis Park where the band would perform later in the day. It was a ton of fun and great exposure for us, but morning news means a sound check before most humans should be awake...
Tonight we're playing a set at the Nomad World Pub in Minneapolis - 9pm doors, see you there! We also just recorded our first studio video last week, so be on the lookout for that to be released soon! This is a great recent funk tune that we modified a bit to make our own. We're also hard at work on originals and developing our own unique voice as a band. Lots of fun stuff in store, so stay tuned. :)
Describe your sound.
Our sound is still in its early stages of development, but inspiration abounds in funk, jazz, and R&B. Groups like Lettuce and Dumpstaphunk are definite influences... hard deep grooves, tight mobile horns, and vocals that shift from sultry and mesmerizing to unbridled powerhouse. No matter what, you will want to move your feet!
Find out more:
While I was in Spain back in June, I took a weekend to visit clients in Madrid. It's one of the best decisions I've ever made. When I first arrived in Madrid, I will admit I was feeling pretty lost and a little scared. Compared to Barcelona, the city seemed HUGE and confusing. I don't speak a lick of Spanish (crazy I know) and it seemed nothing was in English... I'd been spoiled on the touristy streets of Catalonia. But it didn't take long for me to realize that Madrid was a very friendly place.
Joseph Siankope met me at my hotel and drove me down to the city center. It was a tough day for parking, because it was the last day the King was in power. So there were guards everywhere and some streets were closed off... but he stayed positive and smiling despite the traffic. Then he took me on a walking tour of the city. We saw the palace and the Almudena Cathedral. We stopped for wine with views of the beautiful buildings. Then we went for lunch. (in Spain that's at like 4pm). I met his sons and his wife. And then he said... there are some people I want you to meet... he took me in to the restaurant and I was greeted by a crowd of his happy friends. I received cheeky kisses from all of them and then we went outside to eat. His wife was so sweet and really wanted me to have an authentic meal. So she guided me through the menu one item at a time telling me what each thing was and what the most traditional dishes were. Joseph selected an amazing wine. I forgot to ask him what it was but it was the best wine I had the entire trip... and that's saying a lot. The food came out in waves... and there was way too much of it. But it didn't matter because we invited his friends to help us polish it off. We had a lovely time sitting and talking and laughing... I had just a very short amount of time before the gig and wanted to go back to the hotel first... so they all walked me to the taxi... instructing the driver to be extra nice to me and then all of them hugging me goodbye. It was the most welcome and happy I felt since my arrival in Spain.
I was worried when I arrived at the Espacio Ronda because I couldn't figure out where it was. After walking around for what felt like a very long time (but was probably only like 5 minutes) I found it and parked myself in the front row. Joseph introduced me to the band and they were all wonderfully friendly sweet guys. I wasn't sure what to expect. There was a small crowd and the Espacio Ronda has the feel of something more like a theater... Joseph told me that's not their normal venue but it happened to be the gig that was going on while I was there.
It only took half of one song... before I realized what a magical experience I was in for. Joseph introduced me from the stage and everyone welcomed me with applause... Throughout the evening he frequently would turn to just me and explain things in English... it made me feel very honored and taken care of. The music was unbelievable. I have seen countless New Orleans Jazz performances. I have been to Preservation Hall 4 times. Every August I take a trip back to New Orleans and spend the entire weekend... from the moment I wake up, until the moment I go to sleep... listening to Jazz. And, I thought Joseph's performance was one of the most moving things I have seen in my life. I wasn't the only person that felt this way... the room erupted in dancing. Much of the time we were singing along or clapping along. Joseph and his band turned what had felt like a cold and empty room... into an all ages dance party sing along. I have always felt like there is no genre of music I don't like. I always say, that for me, if you can really put your heart into what you're doing... then what you make will be beautiful. Joseph pours his heart out through his trumpet and his singing. There wasn't a single moment I was there that I didn't think he was giving it 200%... it was amazing.
After the show, Joepsh and Olga drove me across town to catch another client gig at Plaza Jazz... they both got out of the car to hug me goodbye. Sometimes you meet people and even though you spend just a few hours with them... you know that somehow you could be lifelong friends. I will forever remember the music and the kindness they shared with me.
Joseph has lived an interesting and diverse life. He speaks several languages. He truly cares about his music, his family, his friends and the world he lives in. And you can see that come through in everything he does. I did a short interview with him about his life and his music below... included are the photos and videos from the concert I attended at Espacio Ronda.
How did you decide to play the trumpet and when did you start?
When I was little I first played drums , double bass, vocals , tap dance and a bit of trumpet. I just swapped from instrument to instrument till I got to New Orleans – 1980. After blowing on Mr Satchmo´s horn in New Orleans, I discovered my true vocation in New Orleans Jazz.
Where are you from?
I was born in Zimbabwe in the deep rural area – countryside, without electricity , nor running water . I walked to school bare feet a 10 km distance everyday plus another 10 to get home. I was fit!!!
When did you fall in love with the music of New Orleans?
I fell in love with the music of New Orleans when I was about 11 . I learned to play this music in order to pay my education when I left the rural area for the town life. I listened to the LP recordings of Jelly Roll Morton, King Oliver, Kid Ory, Freddie Keppard, Louis Armstrong, Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, Sister papa Joe, Blind Willie Johnson etc.
Tell me about your time in New Orleans.
In 1980 I went to New Orleans for the first . I was in the Neptune Jazz band of Zimbabwe. I had never seen another New Orleans Jazz band before. I had known this music only from the recordings and there I was with real musicians. The audience appreciated our music. We were awarded Honorary citizens of the city of New Orleans. I met the owner of the Preservation hall , Allan Jaffe who gave me a cornet for my birthday as he liked my sound. He asked me to take up the trumpet seriously and preserve the good old music of New Orleans. I was handed the original trumpet of Louis Armstrong so I could blow on it. Boy, that was the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me as a musician. It was like my Jazz Baptism. Wooow!!!
How did you come to live in Spain?
I came to Spain on tour, liked it more than many countries I had visited before. Some years later I was back to Madrid for my studies. I met my future wife Olga. We got married and had two kids Joseph jr. and Alvaro. Spain is a wonderful country to live in.
Is music your full time job?
Music is not my full time job. I am into counseling. School counseling , workshops on diversity in education through music, workshops on African music and its culture.
Can you tell me about your music program.
Most of my gigs are Private events , jazz festivals , weddings , some jazz clubs and the before mentioned workshops .
Do you also teach?
What I have mostly taught is music and movement or Musik Garten, African music, through dances , percussion , songs and lately some trumpet too.
What's the music scene like in Madrid?
You don´t find much New Orleans Jazz or Traditional jazz in Madrid. Jazz organizers and jazz critics are mostly interested sometimes over blinded by sophisticated modern jazz which they sometimes even don´t understand.
How often do you perform?
More or less once a week.
What's the name of your group.
Joseph Siankope and his New Orleans Jazz Band
Do you have any recordings and where can we find them?
- The Ambassador plays New Orleans greats (Joseph Siankope and his New Orleans Jazz Band)
- Música e Interculturalidad ( Joseph Siankope - Editorial Catarata)
- Zimbabwe – Mestizaje de Ritmos Étnicos
You can find most of this stuff on Amazon
Do you have a favorite music memory?
I remember playing at New Orleans Jazz Festival – opening day, with more than a hundred musicians in the Mississippi river. The musicians were from all over the world and from the very the city of New Orleans. It was just awesome.
Where can people see you play (do you have a gig schedule online)?
I usually play in Madrid and most of my gig schedule is on my facebook.
How often do you go back to Africa and can you tell me about your projects there.
I haven´t been there for about four years now. I am working on a project to improve education and development in the rural areas through our NGO – ZIMESKO ( Zimbabwe España Kobani) Our dream would be to build a school at Magoli so that kids stop walking more than 10 km to school everyday with all the dangers they have to run into during these distances , thus danger of animals and men for the young girls. Some schools need repairing, school material , sponsorship, computers , books , pencils & pens, electricity ,potable water, housing for the teachers and a never ending list of needs….. We hope to accomplish our project in the near future. We sometimes raise funds through concerts and workshops and that is very slow.
Describe your "dream gig"... if you could perform anything... anywhere... with anyone what would that look like?
It would be so nice to return to New Orleans with my brothers and play that good jazz we used to play together with its unique sound . Play again in the preservation hall and the Mississippi river boats. Our last concert there was in 1984. So my brothers are back in Zimbabwe and still swinging but lesser than before. These guys play wonderful New Orleans Jazz.
I've heard from other guys in Spain that there's not much trumpet music in Spain... what's it like being a New Orleans style trumpet player in Madrid?
I love the style I play. People enjoy my music but New Orleans jazz has got a big audience in Spain, so we will keep on working on it. My aim is to bring new Orleans music to so many people somehow people here in Madrid consider me a New Orleans Jazzman and someone who represents New Orleans Jazz in Spain.
Any new projects on the horizon musically speaking?
Maybe some recording in short.
If your trumpet were an animal what would it be?
My trumpet would be a Cheetah. In fact it is my family totem, My surnames are Siankope Ngwenya and Ngwenya means Cheetah on land or crocodile in the water in our local languages in Zimbabwe and Southern Africa.
"The important thing isn't the style-
it's the quality of the music." ~Jorge Vistel
I spent the month of June in Spain. Originally my trip was planned to turn off work and turn on my art. You see when I am not at Harrelson Trumpets, I do photography and paint. I have art shows all around the country and quite a few right here in Minneapolis... but... I have had a very busy year here at work. Not leaving much time to concentrate on my art. So, I planned a month long sabbatical and packed a suitcase full of art supplies. After the arrangements were made I decided that I really couldn't stay away from what I love so much about my job here in the US for that long... and so side trips were planned for Madrid and Castellon. On those jaunts around the countryside of Spain... I found that I loved my job even more than I realized. The people I met with... their stories and their hospitality, truly were the highlight of my experience. Over the next couple of weeks I will be sharing some of that with you... and hopefully you will see what I mean, when I say, the people that play our instruments are really what this is all about. They are truly amazing human beings.
So, the first client I met with was Jorge Vistel. I am sure he thought I was a little nutty because when he met me (at my hotel, thanks Jorge) I had literally just arrived in Madrid after my high speed (330 km/hr) train from Barcelona. I booked my hotel because it was named after the train station... so... I assumed it would next to the train station. It wasn't. I walked a long time before dipping into one hotel and handing them my passport. The woman told me there was no reservation but I might want to try the other hotel nearby with the same name. Whew. So... eventually I found it. Finding my room in the hotel proved to be (surprisingly) equally confusing. So I was a little flustered by the time I met up with him.
Jorge met me and I was surprised at how young and cool he seemed. Smiling ear to ear with giant headphones around his neck. He took me to a Cuban restaurant and helped me choose my food. By night I guess they host Cuban music as well. I sorta wished it was night so I could see what he meant. After he walked me around town a bit and we stopped for ice cream. He explained the concept behind his new album and even let me preview a couple of the tracks. Then he told me I was the only person that had heard it yet... feel free to be jealous. It was clear to see, after only a couple of hours, that Jorge takes his music seriously and I had yet to hear him live. I excused myself early because I had a big day ahead in the morning and he reminded me of his show the following night at Bogui Jazz with the Cristina Mora & Ander García Duet.
I immediately liked the space at Bogui. It reminded me of what would happen if the old Dakota Jazz Club and the 7th Street Entry here in Minneapolis had a baby. Intimate, not too classy, not too snobby... just all about the music. I was literally one foot from the stage. Cristina's voice was hypnotic and Jorge seemed to dance around the lyric lines as if the two of them were singing duets. It was an awesome show.
The following day I met with another client (more about that later) and then went to catch Jorge at El Plaza Jazz (also in Madrid). That place was really cozy and intimate too. I liked the way the guy made gin tonics by taking the ice in one hand and then smashing it with the back of the spoon with the other. I sat on a couch about mid-way back and when Jorge caught my eye he told me to come sit by the musicians waiting to cue up on stage. That was the first time I saw them... the pack of Cuban allstars that I would later find them out to be. Among them was also a guy that studied at Berklee and spoke perfect English (a comfort), we even knew some of the same folks in Boston, and a hand full of other characters. This was a jam session to beat all jam sessions. I have literally never seen anything like it. I was, to say the least, impressed. That went on for I think 3 or 4 hours... pretty much non stop. I learned later that one of the players was Jorge's brother Maikel, a sax player, also from Cuba. I had a hard time figuring out who was who after a while... they were all about the same height and they all had dreadlocked hair. I think I asked more than once which guy was his brother. Just when I thought there couldn't be any more music to be had... Jorge turned to me and said, ok, now we go to the really fun jam session. (that was at 1am) I said something like... "I really don't think I can make it" he said... "You sleep in Barcelona, now you are in Madrid"... so we walked (me, and the Cubans) across town to Sala Barco. Jorge was right... this WAS the fun jam session.
This was a danceable chill locale and I remember all types of instruments. I think at one point there was a clarinet... and a guy doing skat from stage wearing a Hawaiian shirt. After he got off stage I turned to him and said... wow that was fantastic (in English of course) and he said... thanks, did you understand any of what I was saying... NO, I admitted. He laughed. That jam lasted until about 3 am I believe. I asked how often they do this... Jorge said they do it all the time. They go anywhere they can jam... it's what they like to do. Someone was teasing him saying that if he could he would go to every jam session. The next day Jorge rounded out my time in Madrid by taking me out for amazing Italian food! and walking me to the train station. He stayed with me all the way until I checked in, I think he could tell I was totally lost. Overall my time with Jorge was really inspiring. He told me about life back in Cuba and coming from a long line of trumpet players. He said it was a little strange in Spain... no one plays the trumpet, but in Cuba EVERYONE does. He said he used to hate the trumpet. His father would make him practice all of the time and all he wanted to do was go play. I guess you could say things have changed a little. I think Jorge Vistel eats, sleeps and breathes music. He was very excited to share his new recordings and videos with me. He really cares about getting it right. About touching the audience. I had a wonderful time with him and I can't wait for the release of his new album at the end of this year. Thanks again Jorge for sharing your time with me and showing me what it means to love music in Madrid.
Below is a short interview with more information. If you'd like to contact Jorge directly you can do so here: email@example.com
How did you come to play the trumpet?
In my family there´s a lot of trumpet players, including my father, so I grew up listening to it and loving the sound.
When did you start?
When i was 6 years old, at home, with my father.
How long have you been in Spain?
What's the difference between the music scene in Cuba and the music scene in Madrid?
In Cuba the music is very important, they promote a lot the art in general. Here in Spain, there´s not a long tradition of jazz. It really didn't start until the 70's here.
Tell me about the group of you that came to Madrid from Cuba... how did that happen?
We came during a tour, in 2005, and stayed in Italy. After a while in Italy we came to Spain.
What kind of music do you play?
I play Jazz but also i play a lot of styles. The important thing isn´t the style, is the quality of the music.
Do you have any recordings?
Yes, i have one edited called Evolution with my brother, Maikel, in our project: Vistel Brothers. Also I have two records almost ready: Van Hasselt & Vistel Project (with fresh sound records). And my trio project called Cimarrón with Inner Circle Music, the Greg Osby label in New York.
What is the inspiration behind your latest recording?
The Yoruba religion, the roots of the Afrocuban culture.
When does it come out and where can people find it?
It comes at the end of this year,and you can listen to it on spotify, iTunes, amazon, etc. In the web site of Inner Circle: http://www.innercirclemusic.net
How often do you play gigs?
it depends, but normally two times a week.
What's an average week like for you gig-wise?
I practice everyday, and study the music I'm gonna play.
Where can people see you play?
A lot of places in Madrid, and around Europe when I'm on tour.
Have you toured with any big names?
Yes, i toured with Quincy Jones, David Murray, Doug Hammond, Peruchin Jr., Oscar Valdés, Henry Cole; and reulary I tour with Alfredo Rodriguez band.
What's your idea of the perfect gig?
A perfect gig for me is when i can touch the emotions of the public with my music and get a feedback with them. But always there's things to improve, nothing is perfect.
Any tours coming up?
Alfredo Rodriguez in Spain and Norway in July, and later with Ralph Peterson in Spain.
I first met Ryan Dolan on a lecture/performing tour in Detroit earlier this year. He was a guest artist on the Harrelson Trumpets night hosted by the Gary Greenfelder Orchestra. When he took to the stage I was quite literally, blown away... and so were the others seated near me. I turned to one guy and said... wow he sounds amazing. He replied, so, that's Ryan Dolan... he subs for me a lot but I've never met him. Ryan isn't the most boastful of fellas and so at that meeting I didn't even know he was in the Third Coast Kings. Much to my surprise they are taking the world by storm. Here's a little interview I did with Ryan about his music, the band and what lies ahead...
How long have you been playing the trumpet? / What made you decide to go into music / How did you start out?
I started playing trumpet as a tiny 10 year old. I was very small for my age and could barely hold the thing up. I was the worst of our three trumpet players and our first band director was not very passionate about his job to say the least. (He would just put on the movie Amadeus out of the blue whenever he didn’t feel like teaching.) After 6th grade, we moved over to the High School building which had a combined Junior High & High School band made up of 7th to 12th grade with a newly hired Band Director, Brian Roelandt. This is where it all changed. They could have based the script for the film Mr Holland’s Opus on those years. When he started there was one small concert band of about 30 kids and he grew the meagre program into 2 concert bands, a 90+ person marching band, a full jazz band, and a music appreciation course, all in a school of around 400 students.
I still remember sitting down for that first rehearsal: Someone in the school entered my name into the system as ‘Nolan, Ryan’ (Nolan Ryan was a famous Detroit Tiger at the time) and I was so shy I didn't’ even correct it. The first thing we tried to play as a band was the High School Fight Song. It was in cut-time, which I had never even heard of. The music was probably pretty simple, but at the time it looked impossible. After a few days I went to talk to Mr. Roelandt after school to tell him I was quitting. Instead, he gave me my first actual one-on-one lesson and after a few minutes of talking about some basics I had never been taught, my tone opened up and I was playing a high D above the staff. It was a eureka moment for me. The next day he brought me in a mix-tape with some Maynard Ferguson & Louie Armstrong on it and I was hooked. That day changed the path of my whole life. I could have quit that day, and maybe never looked back.
Who are some of your musical influences and why?
When I was growing up it was Doc Severinsen. My parents took me to see him with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra when I was just starting out and I was blown away. He played Carnival of Venice and Flight of the Bumble Bee and all kinds of really impressive show pieces, all in one of his crazy suits. After intermission it was all pop and big band music. I remember being really impressed even at that age that someone could be so good at what seemed like two different things.
Is music your full time job?
The occasional bank heist helps pay the bills.
Were you born and raised in Detroit?
I was born in Detroit, my parents moved next door to Harper Woods when I was just starting school. I moved to Ypsilanti to study with Carter Eggers at Eastern Michigan University and grew roots and have been here ever since.
What's the music scene like in Detroit?
Detroit’s music scene is in flux. There is a healthy roster of fantastic musicians, but fewer and fewer places for them to play. The city is going through hell right now, but the arts seem to be weathering the storm better than other sectors. There are still great venues that have music on any given night. If you know where to look you can sometimes find secret parties where upwards of a thousand people are in attendance, often in a warehouse building or industrial space with live music going on and on into the morning.
Tell me about Third Coast Kings... how long have you been with the band?
We are an old school funk band and we play what we call ‘Deep Funk’. Think dusty 45s, B-sides, and gritty instrumentals. We want to be so pure to the funk style that when people who haven’t heard of us listen for the first time they assume it was recorded in the 70s. I’ve been with the band since our first show almost 8 years ago now. We just released our 2nd album on the Record Kicks label called West Grand Boulevard
So... you're going to Japan!? How did that happen?
Where are you going to be?
It is really exciting to go back on tour. We were invited to play at the Fuji Rock Festival in 2012 and it was really a dream come true for all of us. It is huge music festival in the mountains and the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen. It was like a dream, you could walk out of a crowd of 50,000 people watching Radiohead and cross a stream where every rock has a smiley face painted on it into woods where there are giant eyeball balloons in the trees to make them look like cartoon characters and then stumble into a carnival where there are giant robot monsters made out of Volkswagen Beetles. This time we are excited to play in the city, which is just as magical as the festival. We will be at Club Quatro in the Shibuya district of Tokyo September 25th, and the Shangri-la in Osaka on the 27th.
Do you guys have a lot of recordings? Where can we find them?
We just released our 2nd album on the Record Kicks Label called West Grand Boulevard. Both our albums are available on Vinyl, CD, and digital and we also have a couple of 45s and a few other exclusive tracks on some Record Kicks compilations, as well as several music videos, which can be found on youtube.
Do you write music?
I have written a couple songs for TCK, now we compose all of our material as a group.
When you're not playing with TCK what kind of other playing do you do?
I play in some swing dance groups, occasionally play musicals, do freelance recording, and I sub in with many of the bands in the area. I also just enjoy practicing on my own and working on etudes and other trumpety stuff.
What else is in the works for you in the coming year?
Lots of plans! We are working on a European tour for this fall, we have another music video in the planning phase and have a ton of shows booked for this year, from Ann Arbor to London to Tokyo.
What's your current gig schedule like?
We are on the move, and busy.. We have shows all over the place this summer. We are booked more than 30 shows out right now and are already getting some bookings for 2015.
Musical highlight of your year?
Getting my new Harrelson Summit One! Releasing an album that we worked so hard on is what I’m most proud of, but really I am just excited to travel the world playing music with my best friends.
What do you listen to when you're not recording/performing?
What's in your cd player?
Some bands I’ve been into lately are Slavic Soul Party, Orange then Blue, Kashmere Stage Band, Onda Vaga, Snarky Puppy & NO BS.
If your trumpet were an animal which animal would it be?
Probably something like my dog, Watson, They are both high energy, loud, really excitable, and friendly…. but I’m still not sure I trust either of them....
I am the PR, Advertising, Marketing, Web and Social mind at Harrelson Trumpets. When I am not at work- I paint: