As I’ve previously posted our Community Band ( http://www.lcbs.ca ) contracted with Jens Lindeman to have him come up and be the soloist at our 20th anniversary concert this Saturday evening. We met him on Thursday at our regularly scheduled practice. After cracking a few jokes (he is constantly “telling funnies”) we got down to business and worked through the pieces he’ll be performing. After that he left the room to give his chops a real workout (we could hear some ridiculously high piccolo work going on somewhere else in the school) while we got on with our other pieces. Eventually he came back into the rehearsal room, cracked a few jokes “aside”… then grabbed a chair and came to sit where he could read off my music folder (not a bad guy to have backing you up!) ((for those who are irony-challenged, that was a joke)) The meeting then adjourned to one of the local “watering holes” for the obligatory beer(s). Our lead trumpet said to me “intimidating to have him sit right beside you, isn’t it?” and I had to say “Not really… he’s so damn funny and down-to-earth that he comes across as “just another guy with a horn”! Maybe it was my beta blockers coming online (I suffer high b.p.). All I know is that it was an absolute gas and I enjoyed and will treasure every moment of it. As it turns out, he’d been in Lethbridge while he was a teenager in the provincial honours band and had met Phil Smith who was here at the same time. Our band director (who is stepping down after 10 years at our helm) even remembered the occasion as well as the music that was performed during that concert (which had to have been 20+ years back). Let’s say right off that he is one of the funniest guys you’ll ever meet; he’s got strong opinions on subjects that he has obviously observed and thought about for a long time; we received a taste of his “Mouthpiece Rant” which was posted here a few years back. I bailed out on the “hang” about 11 pm (my wife had to leave at 5 am the next morning and I didn’t want to disturb her by coming in at “all hours”) but apparently the rest of them continued until somewhere around 1:30. (I’ve heard that somewhere in there is a joke about the most popular people in the nudists' orchestra being trumpet players “because they can carry 2 coffees and 10 donuts at the same time”). He put me in mind of the class clown… the kid who, when the teacher says “Let’s all be absolutely silent for 5 minutes” waits until 4:45 and then rolls a marble across the classroom floor! We had this one piece with a long, held chord in the woodwinds that diminishes to silence at the end and suddenly there is Jens bent over his horn with the bell pointed at the floor squeeking out the obligatory “I goofed” solo note up in the altissimo register! Huge laughter all around. Friday morning was busy for me with “life stuff” but I managed to make it to the hall (curiously enough called "The Yates") around 10:30… just in time to hear the last half of his presentation to a fair sized group of band kids. He was great with them, answering some questions with a great deal of ability to target his answers to the age group and using a lot of age-appropriate humour for the rest. I think they went away “higher than kites” after that little talk. A small group of us sat down to lunch while he gave a talk on his observations of the state of the profession (professional music of various genres) and what he believes is needed to “put bums in the seats”. He laced his talk (I told him later that he should call it his “State of the Profession Rant”) with anecdotes about his tenure with the Canadian Brass (and other “gigs”). I think the funniest one was related to the C.B. performing with “serious orchestras”. Apparently the “wire choir” (my term, not his) is universally notorious for playing things slower than the actual marked tempo. So the C.B. would mark the music that they’d provide prior to a gig for “faster than intended” in hopes that they would actually get it at the “right” speed. Jens said that this worked fine until the day they met up with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Up on stage, the downbeat happens and the Brass look at each other and think “Oh crap…. We’re in for it this time!” Seems that Philadelphia was one of the very few who played it “as advised”! “Suck it up” is, I think, an appropriate paraphrase of what happened next. He discussed the travel that a professional soloist has to do: China on Monday, New York for the weekend, a trip to Europe somewhere (can’t remember), back to L.A., then Khazakstan (don’t ask), several other long-distance destinations, over to England (or some such) and all within 5 weeks. When to breath with such a schedule? “How do you handle jet lag?”…. “Suck it up”. “Put the hours in practice while you are young; once you’ve graduated you’ll find that you just don’t have the time because “life” gets in the way” More than a couple of jokes about we “weird computer geeks who spend all night on the keyboard talking trumpet”. (He had recognized my username when I introduced myself by saying “So you are trumpetjens from TM! Glad to meet you finally.” Alex will be glad to know that Jens also has a “Crackberry” problem same as her. He seemed to make good use out of his “office in a pocket”. Even had a photo of himself and his girlfriend when he was 15 years old on there! (Talk about a hairdo that needed a perm!… his, not hers). He is alleged to have called up Allan Vizzutti while we were in the bar to see if he recognized any names! (Allan was the guest performer at the band's 10th anniversary concert). After spending most of the “Masterclass” discussing some of the various topics (he is one of the best extemporaneous speakers on any topic that I have ever had the pleasure to listen to) we got down to doing a sectional with our trumpets. We presented some areas where we’d been having minor difficulties (Sunrise at Angel’s Gate… you probably know the lick: something from “The Rising Sun”…. Vizzutti’s piece; and “Carnaval; Variations for Trumpet Trio and Band”) he was able to very easily sort us out and explain and demonstrate what was needed. We got it; one more run through on Saturday morning before the concert and “It Will Be Good”. He’s going to be the guest performer tonight at the High School Graduation Mass for the school where we hold our rehearsals and where our director is the band instructor. He’ll be performing with our local semi-pro quintet group "Bridge Brass". I think the audience (students, parents and grandparents) are in for a VERY pleasant surprise since I don’t believe this (his appearance) was advertised. More on Sunday after the concert.