Horns of a dilemma
Movies: A trumpet player's take on two new brassy biopics
Searching for a proper trumpet movie proves problematic when Hollywood insists on blowing all the false notes in a bid to cook up drama and romantic heroes
by Charles Gordon
Trumpet players hardly every get to have movies made about them — unlike, say, ninjas. As luck would have it, there are two big ones out at the same time, Born to Be Blue, a fictionalized version of Chet Baker’s life, and Miles Ahead, a drama about Miles Davis.
As a trumpet player, woefully amateur but serious about it, I have to say that the real star of Born to Be Blue is not Ethan Hawke, the Hollywood star, who plays Chet, but Kevin Turcotte, the Toronto trumpet player, who plays the music of Chet on the soundtrack. More on that later.
In the jokes that are made about musicians (drummers who slow down, guitarists who play out of tune, unemployable trombonists) the stereotype of the trumpet players is the arrogant show-off. The trumpet ...
For Auld Lang Dies
Tribute: Dal Richards
The Bandleader who rang in New Year's Eve for decades rings out on the New Year's Day, five days shy of 98
By Rod Mickleburgh
VANCOUVER - I certainly didn’t know Dal Richards well. But I knew all about him, and I loved running into him. How often do you get to shake hands and say ‘hello’ and ‘thanks’ to a living legend? Vancouver’s King of Swing had a gig every New Year’s Eve for 79 years, which, as the whimsical Richards never tired of pointing out, must be some kind of world record.
This year, Dal didn’t make it. The bandleader, who really did seem like he would live forever, passed away five days short of his 98th birthday on, yes, New Year’s Eve. No one ever accused Dal Richards of not having a sense of occasion.
The thing about Dal was not only his accomplishments as a terrific bandleader and musician, but that he kept on playing. The years rolled by, and you kept wondering, will this be the year Dal Richards finally hangs up ...
Ornette Coleman’s death prompts a dramatic resurrection
Among the people at the bar in 1959 when the jazz revolutionary Ornette Coleman played his historic engagement at the Five Spot in New York was Charley Gordon, then a political science student who would have rather been a trumpet player. He worked that episode into a play, as yet unproduced. Coleman's death this week brought the play out of a desk drawer. This is a scene from A Different Drummer.
A nightclub, jazz playing in the background. Rich and George and a total stranger are sitting at the bar. Rich is drunk, talking to the Total Stranger.
You know the way I am, first thing I notice is the drummer. But I don’t know who this guy his. He’s just driving like crazy. The horn stuff is odd, but I’m just fixating on him. I’m trying to figure out who this drummer is. I’m 20 years-old, right, and I read Downbeat, cover to cover, memorize the fucking thing. But I never heard of this guy, never saw his picture. I know ...