Jim Henry

Jim Henry

How Badly Do You Want It?

An excellent jazz trumpeter and no stranger to the lead chair, Big Jim, as he is affectionately known in the jazz community, has played and recorded with many internationally renowned jazz artists, most notably Joey DeFrancesco. We met up for some Mexican food in Scottsdale and talked about road life, playing jazz professionally, and getting one's head in the right place to create music.


On the Road: Lows and Highs
(mp3, 700k)

You Gotta Pay Attention, Man
(mp3, 400k)


JK: How do you view your role as a trumpeter, having played jazz around the globe with some truly great musicians?

JH: I decided when I was young that I wanted to be able to play something musical in whatever situation I was in, and I wasn't really all that hung up on whether it was singing or playing the trumpet or playing the guitar. And I still feel that way. The advantage that I have over some cats, Jim, is having been out there and doing it and realizing that you don't have to be in New York to do that, you don't have to be in L.A. What you have to do is do that wherever you are; it doesn't matter. Yeah, is the cutting edge in New York or L.A. in this country? Probably. Does that mean you have to be in the middle of it all the time? I don't think so, unless you really want to be and you're willing to make the type of sacrifices that it takes, and it sure takes 'em, man.

JK: What do you say to the student who has aspirations of playing lead or just playing some high notes?

JH: It's an admirable goal. To have good range is important, if possible. I say "if possible" because some people face different challenges. Most of the people I come across that are challenged range-wise, it's because of a couple of different things.

I laminated those sheets of exercises Bud [Brisbois] did for us, and I photocopy it for all my kids and say, "See that long tone exercise?" "You've got to do that every day," like we did it every day, to get some range. You have to dedicate yourself to it. You know my students who get range? I can tell you who they are, because they're not the ones that come back to me with "Well, it's boring!" Yeah, well, you know, a lot of things in life aren't exactly earth-shattering as far as keeping your attention, but do you want to be able to play? Do you want a sound? There's no one exercise that you can do that'll give you more than a long tone. They don't say "The long tone's the master teacher" for nothing. So I start 'em on that.

The other thing is that 99% of the people I get today don't know how to breathe! They do not know how to breathe, man, and I'm amazed that they can even run around at all. They're not getting any air. When I first went out with that 10-piece swing band, when we were off gigs at home in Seattle, I studied with this old dude named George Peckham who taught Dianne Schurr, among other people. George had this thing that we'd all been taught that we had to work too hard to breathe diaphragmatically, that it really took a lot less muscular effort than we were doing, that what we were doing was basically doing was playing for dramatics. So I learned how to take just as big, or bigger, of a breath without having to be as physical about it. So it doesn't just come down to a matter of physicality.

You know, it took me years to finally have the epiphany of the fact that I was working way harder to play the instrument than I needed to be working. It was until I started having some of the physical challenges I have now that I realized "You know what? You really don't have to work that hard!" And it's really the only way I can play much. I can muscle the horn up to about high A, but the only way I can play higher than that is to relax and back off some. It actually involves backing off more than it involves getting on top for me.

Like Bud used to say to us, you can get pretty much anybody to have a good, solid F or G, maybe an A, and then after that, it's a personal thing: can you vibrate up there? Some people can and some people can't, and a lot of people that can vibrate up there all the time are really freaks. Roger Ingram is a freak, man. Arturo's a freak. I don't mean in terms of a sideshow, I mean as an exception. There's several physical attributes coming together at the right time. I remember when Arturo was first in this country, everything he played was on a Bach 3C and a large bore Schilke-all that stuff. It's like these people that want to put Maynard down. Well, Maynard did what he had to do to keep a band on the road for a long time. The dude's 77 years old, man! I just want to be able to blow a note on the trumpet at 77 years old-that'd be nice. [NOTE: This interview occurred just one month prior to Maynard's passing.]

There's as many ways as there are people. It's a matter of how bad do you want it. You can remember the times you chose to practice when there were other things you could be doing. I can remember it, too. I can remember my band director showing up an hour early every morning in the winter before marching band so that I could go play whole tones in the auditorium.

How badly do you want it? What are you willing to do to get it? That's where a lot of cats from an economically challenged place have it all over cats that are privileged. And I say that, having spent the last several years of my life teaching the majority of students from an affluent area, the drive is not there. Either because they feel like they're entitled to it, or they're way over programmed to begin with.

Look at some of these younger cats coming up—regardless of what I think of them as a player, it doesn't matter—music is what they had. They didn't have a lot of other options, so they capitalized on what they did have. How bad did they want it? How hard were they willing to work?

We portray this to the kids as some sort of Sisyphean labor, but we don't let them hit on the fact that a quantum leap in ability is possible sometimes within only a few weeks or months. [Saxophonist] Tony Malaby made his quantum leap that summer he had to have his knees done. He couldn't move around. He couldn't do anything, man, but basically sit and lay down. But he had a piano, he had his axe, and he had a whole bunch of stuff that Liebman had laid on him at a lesson. And he just said, "Well, there's no time like the present" and went from being a good player to being a player. In like three or four months time! I've seen it happen. It's amazing when people go from this "I don't know if I can do it" to "I can do it!" thing. It's amazing what can happen.

I don't think this stuff is about competition. I don't dissuade my kids from entering the competitions and stuff like that, but I make sure that, as far as I'm concerned, that the practice of doing it is the important thing. And that as long as you work to the best of your ability and put your best foot forward, it doesn't matter whether you get in or not. What matters is that you work to the best of your ability; I make sure my students know that.

And man, the kids don't know. I think a lot of kids think that for these pro gigs that you get called for an audition. You know (laughs), there ain't no audition! You didn't audition for Joe Hen; you had about three nights; you went, you did your job, so you were still there. I've known Louie [Fasman, lead trumpeter for Joe Henderson] a few years, I know how that would have gone. That's how it would have gone for me with DeFrancesco, too. That and I was smart enough to realize very early on that I wasn't going to compete with these guys technically, so I assumed a role and that role was basically to be a foil to what they were doing.

Jim Henry

JK: Why don't you talk about that for a little bit, how you came to have, or how someone can develop, an awareness of where you fit in with the guys with whom you're playing.

JH: I think that I was fortunate in that I was encouraged from early on to improvise, and was taught by people like Grant Wolf and a lot of the other people that it was a group effort, like a team thing, that no one person was as important as the whole. 'Cause I've done that my whole life, man, even when I got the huge ego from other people I was working with. I don't like to work for people, I like to work with people. I paid my dues behind that with several cats. There were also several cats who were beautiful.

I'll tell you a story. We were at Rudy van Gelder's studio doing an album for Houston Person. The horns were me, Houston of course, and [trombonist] Steve Turre', and then Joey, Randy Johnston on guitar and Byron on drums. We were playing one of Illinois Jacquet's tunes, Red Velvet, an old tune he wrote for the Basie band in the 30s, before it was a big band, maybe a septet or nonet. And Steve Turre's vibing me, man, about "You're not playing 1 in the right place, 1 is really here" and this and that. I put up with it for about a half hour out of respect. Finally I said, "Look, granted I am from Arizona, and there's a lot of stuff that hasn't made it out there yet, but we have actually determined where 1 is!" He didn't like that, and I said "Look, man, it's not your gig, it's Houston's date. Houston, how do you want me to play this?" And Houston said, "I want you to play it the way you think it should be played, that's why I hired you for the gig." Which is the last I heard from Steve Turre' on that, and actually, by the end of the session, we were friends.

I probably got off the topic a little, but for me, it involves paying attention. You've got to pay attention, man. You can't be thinking about what happened yesterday, or what's going to happen tomorrow; you have to be present in the moment. For a lot of cats, that's really hard, 'cause you haven't been brought up to be that way. You've been brought up that you'll do this, this and this and this will happen, and you've been brought up that this happened in the past, so this can't happen.

When I was out with Joey DeFrancesco, we were playing the same ten or twelve tunes for five years. But, we also—and I'm not comparing us to the level of musicality of the great Miles groups of the 60s—we developed the same thing that they had which is that telepathy. It's not that you're reading someone else's mind, it's that they're predictable after a while, or the fact that they're unpredictable is what gives you that opening.

JK: What are your perceptions about being on the road, and how have they changed since you started?

JH: Well, it certainly is glamorizing, but you know, I've been on the road in a van with a truck box, and I've been on the road in million-dollar tour buses and private planes, too. A lot of people think the road has this romanticism about it, but my personal opinion is that it has more romanticism when you're younger. For example, I went out on the road at 21 with that swing band and we traveled in a big, long van with a truck. We played kind of a combination of Louis Prima meets Duke Ellington, it was an interesting conglomerate. Sometimes we were playing at Harrah's in Tahoe, and sometimes we were playing at the Holiday Inn in Nebraska. When we'd play places like that we'd wear jeans and our band T-shirts, and we were lucky we had five horns and would play Tower of Power and Earth, Wind&Fire stuff. And to tell you the truth, there were some weeks we didn't have work, and this idiot running the band, we'd drive 1000 miles to a gig that didn't exist. You know, that was just the way it was. On the other hand, sometimes I had the most fun on those things, too.

Although, I have to say, playing in places like Wolftrap or Carnegie Hall, it doesn't suck, man! Being able to do that through the graces of somebody like Joey DeFrancesco saying, "I want you in my band." You know, I met Joey when he was thirteen years old—I came to a bad jam session, and he could play then. We hit it off immediately, and he said, "Someday I'm going to have a band and you're going to be in it." And five years later he called me up when he had his own band, and I was in it. And that was almost nine years of my life; it was a good run.

So there was the swing band in the early 80s: I was twenty-one years old, I was broke, living at home and under pressure to get a job so that I'd have some sort of money. I was going to ASU where they were treating me like an evil step-son, putting me third in the big band, putting me in combos with people that couldn't play. I figured I could always go to school.

I can remember things like the trombone player trying to drive 70 miles an hour uphill outside of Butte, Montana, putting a piston right through the top of the block. We didn't have any money, we were on our way to a gig. We all ended up at like, you know, the Pakistani Hilton. There were ten of us in the band but we only had enough money for two rooms. Some of the guys ended up sleeping in the truck and the van, that's how nice the hotel room was. So we had some of those, too.

Then again, I played in a lounge at the Montreux Jazz Festival that same night when Miles had done those last couple of big band concerts. There were a thousand people in a club that was supposed to hold three hundred people. That'll never be replaced. There's nothing that can replace being at that rehearsal, sitting there at a table with Miles Davis (laughs). Gimme a break! Or having him say that he heard me on the albums and that he thought I was a good trumpet player, I mean, what do I need? Who else's approval do I need? 'Cause he liked who he liked. And I had never have gotten that, would have never met him if it weren't for Joey putting me on his band. I met him once before when we opened for him with Francine [Reed]. He was having a hissy fit 'cause one of his belts didn't fit right; he wasn't going on. Gordon, the road manager fixed the belt, with sweat rolling off his face. That was the same night that Miles' drummer made Paul Stubblefield pay him $50 to use his drums for the opening, because there wasn't enough room for both sets. Miles got wind of that and man, did he get pissed. (Miles impersonation) "Stupid ****, what if you need to use his drums? You go give him his money back and apologize to him, and if you ever pull any *** like that, you're out of here!"

I remember the first time I met Elvin Jones, we were in Austria for the Vienna Jazz Festival. First of all, the festival was on the 6th. We were originally going to fly to New York on the 3rd, have 4th of July in New York, fly over on the 5th, and do the festival on the 6th. Well, we got called to do the Leno show on the 4th. They had been aligning the band to do Leno's show for quite a while, so it wasn't like they were going to say "Sorry"; we had to do it and there was no way around it. So that changed everything, we had to fly out there and do that show on the 4th. Although that was fun. Since it was the 4th and people had to work, Jay had a big barbecue out in the lot. He's out there cooking hamburgers and stuff. We had been opening for him in different places like Vegas and Tahoe to get on the show, basically. It wasn't so bad, and it was like super-golden scale, too. I played three minutes on the show and I think the check was $600.

You gotta remember, this was in the middle of Gulf 1, so there was no curb-side check-in. We got an 8:00 flight out of L.A. the next morning. We needed to get to JFK, from JFK to Frankfurt, to Vienna. Here we are in this van, the traffic's backed up, we're thinking we're never gonna get to check in. Cheryl, Joey's manager, says "Don't worry, it won't be a problem." She goes up the sky cap and says "We have a band and have to get over to Europe" and palms this guy a $100 bill. Next thing I know, we're at the front of the line checking in. But, we had to do all that flying and then play the next day. I was so tired by the time we got to Vienna, that I actually had to have the bellman come and stand outside the door and talk to me while I was in the shower so I wouldn't pass out. Thankfully, we had like nine hours before we had to play.

So we go to sleep, get up and go over to play, and they sent him an organ that didn't work. Fortunately, we were carrying around these two single-manual XB-2s. We were supposed to be on first, and then Elvin, he was the headliner. We told him the problem, and he said "It's alright with me; we can go on first, if it's alright with them. We can go get a beer afterwards." Elvin liked his beer. So they went on first. I can remember meeting him in this little makeshift green room, and shaking his hand. His hand was about that long (gestures), just engulfed my hand; I thought he was going to break it off. What a grip, man! But very gracious. So there were those type of moments.

The other side of it is hours and hours and hours on airplanes, hours and hours and hours in vans. I can remember one of our European trips, our last stop before we left France, it was a nighttime gig and we had to get up at some ungodly hour to get in the van so Joey could drive us four hours to the 10:00 a.m. plane flight. For some reason, Joey had said it was Ok for the guitar player to bring along his wife and kid. The daughter was like four- or five-years-old, and starts projectile vomiting while we're driving through France. I was like, "Oh, man, this is pleasant!" And so we get there, and of course, everything's screwed up. I had learned to just live in airports.

The angriest I ever was at our road manager was the day he misread our outgoing flight the next day as being 11 a.m. and it was really 9 a.m., so he woke us up at 9 and the flight was already gone. We only had to go from Hot Springs to New Orleans. However, since we missed the flight, the only way they could route us to get us there in time for the concert that night was to fly us from Hot Springs to DFW to Houston to New Orleans. I walked about five miles that day.

JK: Is there any way you can prepare yourself mentally or emotionally for that kind of experience, going out for your first road gig?

JH: I think you have to experience it. The things that helped me were to learn to be relaxed about stuff and to expect that some things were going to happen. Now if you're too tired, forget about it. The most important thing about being on the road and the biggest challenge is to stay well-rested. We're performers, artists, and the better rested you are, the better performance you're going to get. The only thing that trumps that is when you're so tired that your conscious mind has no capability anymore and you're running on sub-conscious. That's when you tend to get really creative sometimes. But it's kind of offset by the fact that someone can look at you cross-ways and you're ready to kill them just because of the sleep depravation, big-time.

Yeah, there's all sorts of things. It would sound kind of funny, people see my picture and see I'm a great big guy, but the best thing you can do is be in good physical shape, good mental shape. And the truth of the matter is, you've got to take care of yourself on the road, that's the bottom line. You've got to get enough sleep, you've got to eat well, and you can't be out there partying all the time. Now, was there a lot of that when I went out? Yeah, there sure was, especially when I first went out in the early 80s, but as time went on there was less and less of it, because basically, people weren't willing to lose the money. Especially record companies, it's very hard to keep a record contract these days if you're messed up behind drugs and alcohol. I would advocate that that's important; that's not way I went, but my circumstance was different, too. I probably would have been somewhat different had I known at that age that I was bipolar. A lot of what happened in those years I write off, pretty much, as self-medication. I pretty much do that because the professionals I've been around have said, "Yeah, that's self-medication, it happens all the time." But I wouldn't advocate it. I'm just saying, you've got to take care of yourself.

You're not going to magically move up five steps as a player if somebody calls you for a gig and you know you're not ready for the gig. Here's how I look at it: the difference between me and a lot of cats that would like to do what I did, is that I'm about two or three weeks away from being in shape. That's about it. It would take me about two weeks of playing be back, I mean out there playing. There's nothing that replaces that, no amount of practicing that replaces that, you know what I'm saying? Just like in real life, practicing does not replace playing. Students ask this: how much did you practice? Well, you know, we practiced a certain amount, but we were playing all the time. How much playing was going on? When you're out there giving it everything every night—the DeFrancesco group has a very high requirement, energy-wise—there wasn't a whole lot of practicing going on, there was a lot of playing going on. Except for the guitar player, and I think he's just visiting this planet, anyway. That's just the nature of the beast of the instrument. If you want to play the guitar at 90 miles an hour, then you're going to have to practice. He can definitely do that.

A certain amount of it, man, I don't think you can know until you're in it. Did you know it 'til you were in it? It's always a challenge to live with other people. We had plenty of gigs where we had roommates, depending on the gig, especially jazz gigs. You learn stuff right away

Jim Henry

JK: Do you think there are things people should be aware of when dealing with record executives, or stuff to look out for?

JH: I think you can boil it down pretty simple, if you always keep it in the back of your mind that record companies exist to make money. People forget that. And no matter what they say to you, the bottom line is the bottom line, and the dollar is the bottom line with those guys. They can say whatever they want, and they will. They'll say whatever they need to.

When Columbia dropped Joey, I was offered an A&R position on the west coast in L.A. and there two reasons I didn't take it. One was that it was decent money, but not enough money for me to live in L.A. in a way that I could tolerate living in L.A. You have to make a lot of money to tolerate living in L.A. If you can live in a nice area and can afford to do nice things, that's one thing; to live in somebody's guest house in West Los Angeles is not my idea of a good time. The other thing was that I didn't want to be sitting there freakin' lying to people, which is a lot what A&R is, telling them what they want to hear, or what they need to hear in order for them to do what the record company wants them to do.

They're the reason for the popularity of the modern-day emulators, starting around the Wynton Marsalis time—don't get me wrong, Wynton Marsalis is a excellent trumpet player, an excellent emulator, but he's not very innovative. He's a fabulous technical player, a good, very good classical player. I don't agree with his vision or his views of the history of a lot of the music, but boy, he can sure copy anything you put in front of him. It's been evidenced. When I first heard him in the early 80s, he sounded just like Freddie in Blakey's band in the 60s. And then there was the whole Miles thing, but he's not the only one. Roy Hargrove is another one. He started out when I was still out there with Joey. He was a punk with an attitude, sounded just like Lee Morgan in 1970, and with a big attitude about how he was the next new thing. At which point, one night after I heard enough of that after we'd played in Minneapolis, I said "Look, man, I heard Lee Morgan, too. You've got a lot of potential, don't get it tied up in what somebody else thinks, get it tied up in being your own person. Or you're not going to be one."

I can remember sitting at breakfast at the North Sea Jazz Festival in Den Haag with Tommy Flanagan. We were having a conversation of how the record companies were ruining the young lions, because they were letting them get away with this emulation phase of all the great players and not pushing them towards an innovative phase, and mentoring them with people like himself and Kenny Barron so they could move forward to their own thing, which had been historically the way it was done. Now they're left to find this on their own, or not find it at all. Unfortunately, what happens with a lot of them is that they start believing their press releases, then they're in real trouble.

I've seen them do it with lots and lots of trumpet players, man, I could sit here and name 'em off but it doesn't serve any purpose. That will only make me look bitter, which is the last thing I am. I've had more opportunities than most cats ever get and if I never get another one, I'm still fortunate to have had them.

One of the things you have to do is decide is "What do you want out of it? What are you in it for?" If you're in it for the money, then have the guts to admit to yourself that you're in it for the money. There's nothing wrong with being Kenny G, as long as you can look in the mirror and admit to yourself that it's all about the money, and you don't get any delusions of grandeur that what you're doing is for the greater good of moving the music forward.

JK: And on the opposite end of things, if you're in it for artistic purposes, don't be surprised if you don't make the kind of money Kenny G makes.

JH: And you never will. You think about how many people right now are just starting to see bebop, music that's over 50 years old, as being musically acceptable. When they first heard bebop, it wasn't any different to them then how avant-garde sounds today. It's just a bunch of labels, man. My experience with that style of new music, free music, call it whatever you want, is that it's often a lot more fun to play than it is to listen to. Historically, the purpose of art is not to make money; the purpose of art is to provide what life or nature does not intrinsically provide. Or the eastern view, to try and improve upon what is already here.

It's like the old cats used to say, "You've got to tell your story." It can't be his story, or her story, it's got to be your story. And you've got to have a story to tell. That's the other part that I don't think people get. I've had a lot of different life experiences, some of them really pleasant and fun and some of them not. But they all have added to who I am as a player. Didn't Bird say "If you don't live it, it won't come out of your horn?" That kind of fast living usually leads to that kind of an ending. You know, I understand that.

You have to understand with me, man, I'm grateful every day I wake up. "Hey, here's another day!" There's times when that's harder than others. I've also learned over eleven years of sobriety, you know, doing what the doctor said and taking my meds, I'm pretty good at what's the disease talking and what's me. I can actually kind of watch things go past.

With a lot of my kids I use meditation techniques, because they're so over-scheduled to begin with that they've got to get some way of realizing that time is relative. They go "Well, man, it's so hard for me to think about this or that" and I'm like, "Look, sit down in a comfortable position, close your eyes—or stare at a spot on the wall three or four feet away or whatever—and just focus on your breathing, in and out, in and out. As thoughts come and go, let 'em come and go. Try not to get attached. Just watch the movie." And now it's getting to the point where my kids start to ask me about that stuff.

I try to encourage them just to play. I get 'em into Aebersold right away or some other play-along, to play tunes. I try to get 'em so that when their really stressed or they have all these demands put on them, they can just go play. I think that's extremely valuable, that stuff.

JK: That concept of "watching the movie" is essential to playing a solo that's going to mean anything to anybody, to not get bogged down by over-analyzing it. If something comes out that doesn't work, you need to be able to detach from that and move on.

JH: That's right. And just because it doesn't work in one situation doesn't mean it won't work in another. Jamey Aebersold isn't wrong when he says that you can pretty much play anything you want if you play with conviction. Well, if you're open-minded enough, too. If you're sitting on a minor 3rd and it's a major 7th chord, there is going to be a rub. I try to get my kids to hear tonalities, even in the bop tunes; sometimes especially in the bop tunes. Just like if you're in a two-chord tune like So What or Impressions, then you have to try to get them to see what it's like to super-impose some other harmonic stuff over it. Otherwise, you're gonna run out of stuff pretty quickly. The Dorian scale only goes so far.

At its most basic level, for a rhythm changes tune in the key of C major, the "A" sections are in C, period. At its most basic level, it goes around the cycle for the bridge, period. So basically, if you can play in three keys, you can play rhythm changes. That's first and foremost. I try to get my kids to break it down into the lowest common denominator, and not sit there and think "Well, it's got 37 changes, and here's the first 8..."

They ask me, "Well, what are you thinking about there?" and I'll say "I'm not thinking about anything, I'm playing." You can't think and play at the same time, effectively. I'm thinking when I'm in the practice room, but when it comes time to play, that's over with. What am I thinking? I'm thinking I hope I'm not thinking about anything. I've got to be in the moment, here. That's so exasperating for people at a certain age.

Then, I spend a whole lot of time with them in Jamey's ear training book, because it's thorough and it's cheap. You know, you don't have to spend $200 for an ear training course, which is more confusion than it's worth. I know Jamey could have been a quadrillionaire if his focus was on making money. His focus is as an educator. All those guys that are doing that, it doesn't pay any real money. There's a reason why Kenny Barron and Hal Galper do it, 'cause it's good to give back.

I personally think that the two [Mark] Levine books, The Jazz Piano Book and the Jazz Theory Book, are wonderful. The theory book is the only book you need; you could buy one theory book your whole life. Parents go, "Wow, it's $40!" "But it's the only one you'll ever have to buy! Laminate it!"

One of the things I joke about all the time when people ask me what I'm doing, I tell 'em I'm trying to teach North Scottsdale kids to swing. On one level it's a joke, but on another level it's not, and I even tell that to the kids. I mean, nothing could be further from their natural thing—they're not growing up in New Orleans or in the Village. Their parents aren't jazz musicians, and hey, I grew up in Scottsdale, too.

What's the difference? Well, I can remember the time when we first got hip to Clark Terry. We had to be twelve, thirteen years old, and we started hearing Clark and those guys and it lit a fire. The difference was that we listened. I encourage the parents of kids to give them an iTunes allowance, with the proviso that a certain amount of it has to go to jazz tunes. You gotta live it, man, you gotta live it. I don't know how, without making a concerted effort. Not that we didn't have to work at it.

One of my students will say, "I don't think I can do this," and I'll say, "Well, then you probably can't!" (laughs) If you keep telling yourself you can't do it, you know, you probably can't. You'll make it so you can't, that's the way this game works. Keep telling yourself you can do it.

I don't teach through negative reinforcement, Jim. I can count on one hand how many times I've ever gotten upset with my students, and I've never raised my voice with them. If it's not positive reinforcement, I don't give it. Even if it's something where they say, "I want to know, straight-ahead, your opinion on this," and my opinion is that it's not good, I will find some positive things to say about it along with the things I feel need to be changed.

JK: I know that what you've shared today has come from a personal investment of considerable time and energy throughout your life. If you had one parting thought for young musicians, what would it be?

JH: Don't be afraid to share who you are with your music. Express yourself by being yourself. It's all that you can be and it's enough, it's plenty.

—July 2006

Artist Info


▸Questions: bigjimsjazz@qwest.net
▸Lessons/Gigs: (480) 947-2913





▸Custom made Bach w/solid sterling bell (patterned after a '58 Martin Comittee Large bore [.470]


▸Dennis Wick 4E for lead and more demanding high register work.
▸D.W. 4 for Jazz solo and more mellow work.
▸I also play a stock Bach 3C for some classical work.


▸Late 50's Cousnon from Paris (pre-burn). ▸Wick 4fl mouthpiece (same rim as the trumpet pieces but very deep and bowl shaped with a huge (19 or 20) throat. It's a challenge to do much above the staff with it but it posseses the most gorgeous dark sound (at least so I've been told).

Gig Bag/Case

▸I don't really use gig bags as I tend to find a lot of new dents in my horn when I do. Instead, I use a Wolfpak trumpet/flugal combo case. It is semi soft-sided yet still offers excellent protection without weighing a ton.


▸Yes, I use them...when I have to. (LOL)
▸Seriously, I like the Joral bubble harmon (aluminum-the copper is too heavy and has too dark a sound IMO).
▸I like Booby Shew's harmon a lot as well although I am always teasing him that for a hundred bucks it ought to come with it's own case (it ships wrapped only in bubble wrap).
▸I also like the old "Stone lined" velvetone mutes which are basically cup mutes with the inside of the cup lined with a stick on fake velvet substance. They are extra warm and mellow. Dizzy played them instead of a regular cup and I like to, too.
▸The other mute I use extensively is the "Plunger". I have several of them in both the tradtional and small "cup" size. I generally cut a hole where the stick would normally go in to let some air through and loosen it up a bit. You can buy a plunger at any real hardware store. I say "real" because the discount stores, who shall remain nameless here, tend to stock an inferior grade plunger which is made very thin and tends to sound more like the thing it was designed to remove than a good trumpet plunger sound.


Two come to mind:

▸When I played the Tonight show w/Joey DeFrancesco it was the 4th of July—like triple golden scale—we played like a 3 minute tune and my check was a little over $600.
▸The other was a New Year's Eve gig a few years back (also with Joey D) when we were on the NPR live broadcast from Palm Springs. Joey gave us each $1000 and by the time the radio money was added in it was almost twice that—for playing one set, no less!


The most fulfilling gigs for me have always been when the music just "clicks" and everyone is locked in together and the music just flows. To me, that's what it's really all about. The bread is nice but if I had wanted to make a lot of money, I would have become a lawyer like the rest of my family (no disparagement to lawyers, but I'm glad I didn't become one—it was just not my dream).


▸The obvious ones: Dizzy, Miles ,Clifford, Clark Terry, Freddie, Maynard, Trane, Wayne (Shorter), Bird, Dexter, Sonny, Lester,...
▸The not so obvious ones: Art Farmer, Nat Adderly, Tom Harrell, Booker Little, Lester Bowie, Ingrid Jenson, Ron Stout, Greg Hopkins, John D'earth, Tim Hagans, Ralph Allesio, Eddie Henderson, Joe Henderson, Dave Liebman, Joe Lovano, Roland Kirk...
▸And these are just the first few trumpet and sax players that come to mind! ▸THE KEY IS TO LISTEN TO GOOD MUSIC ALL THE TIME.


▸Both the Mark Levine books (Piano and Jazz Theory) are excellent.
▸Dave Liebman wrote a great book- I can't think of the title.
▸"Effortless Mastery" by Ken Werner is a great book.
▸Any or all of the great books of literature-after all we're all doing the same thing, trying to tell a good story.
▸"Siddartha" by Herman Hesse comes to mind as does "The Profit" by Kalil Gibran.
▸"Tropic of Cancer" by Henry Miller
▸I also like the works of the Persion poet Rumi and the Catholic monk Thomas Merton.
▸Ram Dass (Richard Alpert) has also written some great books on self awareness: "Grist for the Mill", "The Only Dance There Is."
▸So many great books, so little time.


Kind of Blue, Miles Davis. The album I would take if I were to be trapped on a desert island and could only take one CD. A true masterpiece that showcases multiple styles and talents.
Giant Steps, John Coltrane
Jazz at Massey Hall, Bird and Diz
Blue Trane, John Coltrane
Bright Moments, Roland Kirk
Lookout Farm, Dave Liebman
▸Too many more to mention.
▸Variety truly is the spice of life. I literally listen to music from all over the world; that's a lot of what keeps it interesting to me.

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