It was a crazy week two weeks ago. I was about to pick up my horn to play the beautiful trumpet solo in Alaura’s Theme in “City of Angels” when I see my phone lighting up and buzzing me. It turns out it was Larry Clothier, Roy Hargrove’s manager/personal Saint. Roy’s horn had taken a couple of dives on stage in Paris and he needed his trumpet to headline a week-long gig at Blues Alley, one of the oldest and well-known jazz clubs in DC.
This confluence of events had me in a state of freaked-out excitement. I haven’t played lead trumpet in four years, a far cry from the symphonic music I’ve been doing, so I had to spend some time in the mouthpiece drawer. City of Angels is an LA detective story with a 40s big band vibe. I was asked to play in the pit orchestra, a combo of pros and students, for a Catholic University theater production. Needless to say, I had some work to do.
Roy’s horn was a bit of a mess, so I had some work to do there too. The leadpipe was kinked and bent, and valves 1 and 2 did not function because the slides were mis-aligned with the valve casings. The leadpipe to bell brace was jacked and it needed a serious bath. You gotta wonder how that happens. Thankfully, Roy’s daCarbo trumpet is ingeniously engineered with set screws that hold together modular components, making it easy to take it apart.
In the same week, I had to juggle 5 rehearsals and 3 shows, which made for some hard days and nights. And I missed the big Halloween party (see previous post). Even so, it was great to be back at it. Under the baton of Tom Pederson, the band and stage performers coalesced to pull off a great show.
With all this going on, it took me a day and a half to fix Roy’s horn and get it back together.
It’s a beautiful horn. The bell is carbon fiber and the valve block is black lacquered brass. The rest is lacquered brass. The carbon fiber bell gives it a rich, dark sound at lower dynamics but brightens up nicely at the other end of the spectrum. I couldn’t believe how efficient the horn is. You just breathe into it, and it speaks.
I was really bummed that I wasn’t able to hear Roy play it himself, now for the second time. Sometimes daily life just gets in the way. Even so, it’s really great to work on a legend’s horn. And it’s great to have the opportunity to play lead trumpet again in a show.
All in all, a crazy, wonderful week. I made some new friends in the band and hope to be playing more shows in the near future. And next time, I want to hear Roy play!