Our Big Band (Equinox Jazz Orchestra) played a gig this past Saturday night with guest artist Mario Guarneri. I just wanted to let everyone know that you couldn't meet a nicer guy and gracious musician. He was in town for an area high schools clinic and agreed to sit in with us on Saturday night. Although he is a fine player and who's flugel sound is one I would love to have, I think I enjoyed just sitting and visiting with him more than anything else. (For those who don't know, Mario is the inventor/developer of the BERP warm-up/practice aid.) We talked about horns ( he played an LA Benge not too much older than mine), the BERP, musicians he's played with, our kids (he coaches his youngest son's basketball team. I coach my youngest son's tee-ball team), making a living as a musician, etc.. Some insight on what kind of guy he is....He brought some CD's of his Jazz quartet with him and I bought one so I could get him to sign it for me and when I gave it to him he said "did you pay for this"? I told him yeah. He said, "I feel bad about taking money from a fellow trpt player I'm playing with." I told him don't worry about it, we all got to make a liviing. Well, after the gig he walks up to me, hands me a BERP and says "now I don't feel so bad about taking your money". What a guy! Now over the past 25 years or so I've had the opportunity to play with a few and attend master classes/clinics of some very fine musicians (Bill Watrous, Carl Fontana, Doc, Cat Anderson, Wynton, Buddy Rich) With the exception of Buddy Rich, every one has been as gracious and pleasant and easy to talk to as you'll find. Mario was no exception. We started with the Big Band tune "Things Ain't What They Used to Be" and toward the end there's a lead trumpet shout section that I get to cut loose on (my improv. chops suck, but my lead chops aren't too bad) and after it was over, Mario leans over to me and says.."you're pretty good for a tee ball coach"! Now, I know and he knows I'm not going to make a living playing the trumpet, but it's nice to get a little bit of validation and encouragement from someone who does! When the night's over, the last thing he says to me is "keep playing and keep coaching your kids. You'll love the first, but you'll love and cherish the second. If you ever get the opportunity, check him out sometime, you won't regret it.