Jazz Professional



Continuing the Minstrel's Tale down along the Costa Blanca
The events portrayed in this series are not necessarily in chronological order

Anyone who understands jazz knows that you
can't understand it. It's too complicated. That's
what¹s so simple about it.
Yogi Berra

Chapter Twenty-five

Jazz Concert

October 15th, 2004
I have a gig in a couple of weeks. It's a big jazz concert in a place near Benidorm called Alfaz del Pi. I'm to play a solo with Eric Delaney on a chart I wrote last year for big band and gun battery. One number only, but in order to get the money I have to play the whole concert, so they've stuck me down on fourth trumpet in the big band as well. I shall switch off my hearing aid for that. Conny says it's beneath me to play fourth trumpet, but I told her that I'm a professional and we go everywhere, play everything, get the money and get out. Fourth trumpet it is - fifth if they have one. Renold Schilke

So I got the trumpet out and looked at it. Still the Schilke, Bill Chase Model, but I don't think dear old Renold would recognise it any more. Hi Renold.

The elastic bands around the water key have deteriorated, the felts have rotted, the tuning slide is stuck tight and the valves will not go up and down the way they are supposed to. I have no valve oil. Why should I have valve oil? I don't need valve-oil. I still have the (empty) bottle I used in the Radio Free Berlin Band (SFB) in the 1960s. Maybe I'll use the flugelhorn instead, stick the trumpet mouthpiece in it, like Shorty Rogers used to do, and frighten everybody. Won't that be out of tune? You bet! I'm well known around here through playing several years in the small group so I may get away with it. Trouble is - when you live here you don't need any clothes, so I only have jeans and summer shirts, white socks and weird beachcomber shoes. On stage I'll be a sensation, never mind the trumpet playing. Have to get my lip in now and try not to annoy the neighbours.

The piece I have to play with Eric starts off with an a capella big band tutti accompanied by a 15 inch gun barrage, with him hitting all three timps for all he's worth, BOOM! BOOM!! KERBLAM!!! End-of-the-world stuff. I come in after that rather daintily with a sweet little melody called Image—very few notes to play so I'll probably fool around a little with them, jazz it up a bit. He won't like that because he loves this tune but we'll be on stage andtiddle-diddle  he can't stop me because just as I start that he has to rush over to the xylophone and start going tiddle-diddle-tiddle-diddle-tiddle-diddle-tiddle-diddle at very high speed and he has to do that, with note variations about two hundred times, so he hasn't got time to snarl at me.

This is followed by a very tricky bit by me, black with sixteenth notes, all over the register at breakneck speed. It's the kind of passage that my pal Stan Reynolds used to say was best performed by rolling an orange backwards and forwards across the valves. I'm not too sure of this bit because the first valve on my flugelhorn is being rather tiresome at the moment, but if I'm nice to it I may just get away with that as well. (Click here to see the solo)

While I'm fooling around at this Eric is busily dashing hither and thither between gongs, bells and other tinkly things, with the odd BOODOINGGGG or two on the tunables on the way past. Then it's back to another crop of the tiddle-diddles. All this desperately rushing around hitting things always goes down very well with the audiences. It would be an added attraction if his pants could fall down while he's doing all this. I may suggest that to him. Jack Parnell's pants used to fall down in one number we did with his band. Very amusing that was. Can't recall the name of it. Just hope my pants don't fall down on this stage. I've had that happen before (see Ron's Pages, Munich).

Then it's on to the Grand Finale Konzertschluss. More end-of-the-world stuff finishing with a mighty CRASHBANGWALLOP while we hold on to the last chord, with all the Spanish trumpet players, and one or two of the trombones as well, fighting to see who can get the highest note. When we've finished all that Eric hits the giant gong one last triumphant BOING because it's his feature number and he's going to get the last word in, isn't he?

It was Dusko Goykovic's birthday yesterday, so I sent him a big email greeting, with balloons and my usual dancing penguins, named Benny, Milo and Ron, named after Bailey, Pavlovic and Simmonds. Move the mouse over the picture.

It's my own birthday tomorrow but we've agreed not to discuss ages or blow out all those candles any more. It's better that way.

Talking about the trumpeter Milo Pavlovic—he has just sent me a recording he has made of When Love Touches Your Life. He always was a most beautiful ballad player with a sound as big as a house, and on this title he really uses up all there is to use up on the trumpet, from bottom G up to double C. Marvellous playing. Thrilling, even.

Milo and I sat beside one another in the Berlin band for many years, with Carmell Jones on his other side. Before he came to Berlin he was the first trumpet player with Kurt Edelhagen's band in Cologne. That's the band where Jimmy Deuchar, Derek Humble and Ken Wray spent several years in the 1950s. Here's a photo of Jimmy, Derek and Milo taken in 1958 in Holland. This was before Milo grew his enormous black beard.

Milo has told me that he is now using a Schilke 20C4D mouthpiece. This was specially made for him by Schilke and is even bigger than the Bach 1C he was using in Berlin. It has a backbore you can put your finger in. Now Milo is a very big man so he's OK on it but anyone else, say a small Milo Pavlovicskinny guy, would lose his head inside this mouthpiece. To that Milo also has a trumpet Schilke made for him, another one-off—a Custom Modell 3LL, Very Large Bore. He told me that when, as a boy, back in Belgrade, he asked his father how he could get higher notes on the trumpet, his Dad said he had to get a bigger mouthpiece. So he got bigger and bigger ones, over the years from a Bach 7BW through to the 1C. Good advice. I wish my Dad had told me that. (Click the beard to enlarge)

Chapter Twenty-six >>>

Copyright © 2004, Ron Simmonds. All Rights Reserved