Now that I have a chance to breathe, I thought I would reflect on some of the highlights of ITG 33. I do this so that anyone who was there can smile with me again and also to encourage those of you who did not go this year (or have perhaps never gone) to attend the next one.

First of all, going to any ITG conference is sensory overload in the best way. There is some mythic belief for those who have never gone or like to make assessments from afar that it is only about meatheads in demonstration rooms playing high g’s (or trying very hard to do so anyway) and that macho swagger and tape measures (for mouthpiece boresizes!!!) are everywhere. Of course that exists, but it is the smallest portion of an ITG and quite frankly, has it’s own natural charm because it so represents the stereotypical trumpet psyche.

The reality of an ITG is that you get to experience five days of trumpet only around hundreds of other trumpet enthusiasts…if that doesn’t qualify as some of the most fun you can ever experience for our chosen passion then why are we doing it at all. Of course, this is only true if you choose to see your trumpet cup depth as always being half full and not half empty!

Some highlights this year…opening night…emphasis on Canadians:

Guy Few showing his stellar talent as both soloist (piccolo with orchestra) and pianist/trumpeter with Alain Trudel on trombone. Guy was the reason I chose to be a soloist back-in-the-day and to have him start off ITG 33 was an appropriate way for the audience to experience his stellar and unique talents.

Manon LaFrance playing Enesco and Neruda with strings…what gorgeous tone and phrasing she has. Very typical of my favorite overall school of North American playing, the Quebec approach which emphasizes class, intonation and tonal colour. Manon is a long time friend, principal trumpet of the Laval Symphony and the first woman to ever play in the Canadian Brass. Further, she is a great teacher and a role model for thousands of young players.

Dave Douglas…director of the jazz studies program at the Banff Centre and one of the most original musicians to come along in a long time. Dave has an integrity about his music that is uncompromising…he is a giant of a talent and I am proud to call him my friend.

Ingrid Jensen who is another one of the most important jazz musicians to come along in years. She has the highest standard of playing in the world and only happens to be both Canadian and female. Ingrid’s playing epitomizes honesty and class.

Brad Turner…I was so thrilled to reunite Bard and his jazz/rock/fusion award-winning band Metalwood for this conference. Brad is one of the most talented musicians you will ever meet. Plays trumpet, piano and drums all at genius level…he happens to be Canadian but anyone in the know recognizes him as an international giant.

Night 2 Italian Wonderbrass, Ole Edvard Antonsen, Big band soloists and Doc!!!

This night began with a group that I have simply decided to call the world’s greatest young brass quintet (average age 23), The Italian Wonderbrass. This statement is absolutely true since there is no way that you can get better than what these guys do, only different. Italian Wonderbrass plays a more standard kind of program which emphasizes musicianship and technique in a traditional performance context. For those younger players who heard them (or will hear them), please note that their musicianship is years ahead of what is ever seen at that age…we all have to put on a show when we play but it must start with the kind of fundamentals that this group has in place.

Ole Edvard Antonsen…WOW! I have known Ole for many years and first met him at international solo competitions where he was winning and I was trying to figure out how to…well years later I did…by watching him and learning! Ole is a player who can do anything on the trumpet and one of his chosen career path includes a more pop oriented program which was absolutely spell binding in it’s integrity and musicianship. Ole is my favorite kind of trumpeter, one who can anything traditionally and then chooses to help break the stereotype of our instrument by thinking outside the box and coming up with his own thing.

World premiere trio by Paul Merkelo, Rex Richardson, and Nathaniel Mayfield with strings...written by Jim Stephenson. What an awesome piece for orchestral trumpet, jazz trumpet/piccolo and baroque imaginative and definitely a first of it's kind in the world...Jim, you are to be commended.

Big band soloists:

Mike Herriott…Canadian multi-instrumentalist (trumpet, trombone, bass) who not only threw down with his own stellar composition, he also contributed all week in every other and capacity that was needed to make ITG a success…bass player for the Maynard tribute (10 minutes notice), going back and forth stages to play in the big band and play bass trumpet with Canadian orchestral principals, extra percussionist…Mike can do everything.

Chris Jaudes…Broadway superstar lead player and a musician with the highest integrity and professionalism. Also another one of those players who I totally admire in that he learned everything he does through careful, intelligent practise. Understands the mechanics of the instrument and openly shares his knowledge…beautiful player!

Andrea Tofanelli…happiest trumpeter alive, always enthusiastic and positive, has the most fun of anyone I’ve ever seen playing triple C’s…on command, in front of 1000 people at the final concert…alone on stage…cajones baby!

Walter White…one of the most complete players on the planet who just does anything on the trumpet that he imagines…also has one of the fullest, centred and unique sounds that you will ever hear in your life…Walter is THE model of efficiency.

Adam Rapa…irrepressible, youthful enthusiasm and talent that is beyond description…we will be hearing much more from Mr. Rapa…I love his creativity.

Ingrid Jensen again…her own composition played with the type of class and integrity you would expect from such a super talent…she lets the music speak for itself.

Sean Jones…OK…overpowering talent and stage presence comes to mind…so does trumpet monster!!!

Wycliffe Gordon…the trombonist who stole the show at ITG…yes, that was engineered by design for those who picked up on that subtlety.

Doc Severinsen…need I say more. We had a twenty-minute chat on stage where I felt like a kid in a candy store. Only a handful of players ever receive iconic status and Doc certainly fits that bill. The night was long (for lots of pre-ITG reasons that you don’t need to know about…organize one yourself and see what happens!) but it was capped off with a mass trumpet ensemble playing Well Get It with Doc. This was exactly the way Doc wanted it to be…everyone together, playing one of his favorite tunes, having Wycliffe Gordon stretch to four solos on a chorus instead of two…a fact that half the trumpets didn’t hear Doc mention at the soundcheck but it didn’t matter because the vibe was so good and Wycliffe commandeered the audience with his blowing…it was also the only time in history that the trumpet 2 part of that duet was ever heard alone before being heard again in it’s original context after Wycliffe finished preaching…remember, a half-full-glass!

Doc Severinsen came to ITG as my friend as he had promised all along that he would…shlepped all the way up from Mexico to be there for 36 hours and he was thrilled that he did. The most meaningful two hours of the day for him may have been a private luncheon that I organized with Maurice Murphy, Allen Vizzutti, Dave Hickman, Fred Mills and Mark Gould! Some of his closest friends and colleagues in one quiet room…the stories were legendary. Anyone who would even suggest that Doc would either not come or might have regretted making the trip simply doesn’t know the facts…should always check with the source first…and see your glass as half full…makes everything more pleasant!

Mark Gould and Pink Baby Monster …OVER THE TOP WONDERFUL…and not nearly as offensive as I thought (or hoped) it was going to be! Canada has long had a tradition of satire, we are not afraid to poke fun at ourselves and others…I think that’s because we are not a litigious society. When I saw Mark’s first version of this show a year ago, I insisted that he bring it to ITG and I knew that Banff was the perfect neutral site to do it. This is the same man who played principal trumpet in the Metropolitan Opera for thirty years and conducted Sergei Nakariakov in the Haydn Cello Concerto hours earlier…his show was wonderfully unique, highly imaginative and, well, you just had to be there in order to understand that four life-sized naked dolls on stage could be outrageously funny as representations of sheer greed and the ostentatious nature of a capitalist society….a surprise walk on by the Mnozil Brass only added to the genius of the evening.

Sergei NakariakovI!!! What a fantastically musical, technical and prodigious version of the Haydn cello concerto on the flugelhorn…Sergei simply defies normal description and showed us that sheer imagination and careful, intelligent work on the trumpet can create a spellbinding live performance. In spite of his mind-blowing technique, Sergei practices everything SLOWLY and PERFECTLY. He is a modern day trumpet genius and an obvious hero to many, especially young players. If you want to be Sergei, do what he does…PS he can do it all in less than three hours a day…think about that and try not to ‘race’ to the finish line!

Allen Vizzutti with Altius brass and 12 principal trumpets from orchestras across Canada. Allen’s playing is perfect! I mean that as the greatest compliment possible to his effortless approach which, incidentally, can be learned if one take’s the time and attention to do so. Allen was not just given a gift from the mountain top (get the parallel…I’m funny/weird at 6am). No, ALLEN IS SMART and that’s why our jaws constantly hit the floor when he plays. He wrote a grand finale with all the orchestral players performing funk inspired versions off the top twenty excerpt hit list…brought the house down as you can imagine. Proud to call him my friend and fellow ‘focused-mouthpiece-enthusiast’…more on that another day!!!

Wycliffe Gordon and Sean Jones in a gospel inspired program. For any of you who have not yet heard of Sean Jones, you will! Currently playing lead and blowing with Wynton’s Lincoln Centre Jazz orchestra. What a force of musical nature he is…awesome! As for Wycliffe, yes, he was brought in by design to show trumpeters how a trombonist can steal a show. I have heard Wycliffe pick up my horn and play the opening of West End Blues flawlessly…I hate him even though he can kick my *%# quite literally. He had the same impact on trombone last week and kept everyone in check with his sheer presence…probably the only trombonist ever featured at an ITG conference and those of us who heard him understand why.

Guido Basso on flugelhorn. There is a reason why Guido was featured on the final night of ITG, he embodies everything that one can possibly say about musical class and elegance. For those that do not know his work as soloist and with the legendary Boss Brass big band, be sure to check him out. Guido is the only man in the world who can finish a trumpet/flugel set on harmonica and make you feel like you just saw the musical soul of mankind without needing anymore played.

Mnozil Brass…the greatest…period! They are well documented here and can simply not be compared to anything else in the world right now…highest level of virtuosity and they are bringing musical humour, poignancy and staging genius to the masses…turtlenecks be gone.

Bill Chase tribute with GG Shin. Hearing GG sing live was an incredible experience. He has ALL the power, range and showmanship that he did 35 years ago. The playing was awesome and GG’s larger than life persona made these two concerts a real happening. Ray Vasquez put this together and I had suggested using Benoit Glazer, Andrea Tofanelli, and Lorenzo Trujillo to fill in the section and rotate parts…not only because they are all fantastic players, but also because everyone had a great attitude and rehearsed and played selflessly because of the music. Ray is a huge Chase devotee (as are all the other guys) and he brought GG Shin on board. Everyone got to play the hot book and it was a testament to the fact that this concert was to honour the music of Bill Chase and especially GG who was the live voice for the band…he was awesome!

Boston Brass quintet, US Army quintet, Synergy Brass quintet, True North Brass quintet, Italian Wonderbrass quintet…seeing a theme here? I love quintets (have a bit of history with the genre) and everyone of these groups has carved it’s own unique niche. If you are a working quintet you are to be respected…it is a very difficult career path to choose and those that do it are to be commended. It is also pointless to even draw comparisons unless a snifter of cognac, large leather chairs and a Montecristo No. 2 are involved…then all bets are off!

We had featured artists playing everything from Yamaha, Monette, Courtois, Bach, Schagerl, Besson, Scodwell, Kanstul, Conn, and Schilke and probably others that I have left out…the number of horns out there has gotten to be really cool. The variety was amazing, the displays were great and I think that people were happy with both the number of horns they could try and extras that could also be looked at. Every one of the presenters is to be commended for coming since crossing the US border is always a hassle when bringing in products to display…I thank all of you. PS…what a kick to hang with Tom Crown. You know, the guy who is painted on the bottom of many of our mutes…oh yes, and for you younger players especially…A LIVING LEGEND IN THE INDUSTRY!!! Hope you had the chance to talk with him…and not just about mutes. Rain or shine, he comes to all of these conferences and he alone is reason enough to attend an ITG. There were many other stellar acts at ITG but I simply did not get to see them (ah, the fires that burned behind the scenes), however, I would love to read about them from some of you who were there.

That’s it for now…I’m on vacation and still without my Blackberry…hope it found a good new home but if it were to appear anonymously sometime, it would be welcomed back like a wayward prodigal son…and for a substantial reward!

Jens Lindemann
Jens Lindemann's Web Quarters