As far back as I can remember I wanted to be a musician. I used to stand in front of the mirror in my room as a young boy, singing into a hairbrush to David Bowie and Kiss songs, pretending to be a rock star. My parents started me on piano when I was 8 years old, and I took lessons from Mrs. Rabinowitz for 8 years, hating it the whole time. My mother used to bribe me to practice by giving me a quarter for every 15 minutes at the piano. I joke that that’s when I became a professional musician! 😉
In my house growing up we heard equal parts 60’s folk/rock (Simon & Garfunkel, Peter, Paul & Mary, Beatles) and classical music. The first instrument that caught my attention was the cello. I loved the low-end vibe and the voice-like quality it intoned. I decided that I wanted to play the cello, and told my teacher so when in the second grade we were told we had to pick an instrument to play. But I was a rather small child, and was told that I couldn’t handle the cello and would have to play the violin instead. The horror! I didn’t want to play the violin. But it seemed like a stepping-stone the cello, so I acquiesced. However, two weeks before music classes started, everything changed. My whole school was bussed to another school in our district for a concert in their multi-purpose room. That day I saw the most amazing performance I had ever witnessed. I sat at the feet of a man wearing a dashiki and blowing the crap out of a trumpet. He was soloing, leading the band and entertaining the audience, all at the same time. It is a moment I will never forget, and one that changed my life forever. That man: Dizzy Gillespie.
After that, I knew I was a trumpet player. Plain and simple. My parents were foolish enough to agree to buy me a trumpet, and I put my family through the singular hell that is living with a child trumpet player. If you haven’t experienced this yourself, let me just say that it takes about two years before even the best of kids can make a pleasant sound come out of a trumpet. It’s not pretty. But I persevered and by high-school was the #1 trumpet player in my school. I played in marching band, orchestra and a county-wide jazz ensemble. And I thought I was the MAN. No one could touch me. I gained enough confidence to enter college as a music major, which is where I got my first real smack-down, musically speaking. In one day I went from being the best trumpet player around without even trying, to the worst trumpet player in the school. It wasn’t long before I decided that I couldn’t keep up with the kids who wanted to spend the whole day in the practice room. Mom had long since stopped paying me for my practice sessions, and I was 18 years old and on my own for the first time. I decided to enjoy the college life, put down my horn, and turned my attention to radio.
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